Montreal’s Year-Long Birthday Celebration Ends in Spectacular Style
Travel Montreal turned 375 years old. Find out how the whole city will celebrate it.
In the brisk winter night there is an anticipatory moment of silence. The excitement in the air can be felt as people wait in groups — friends, families, and those who all want to share in the final celebration of the year to close out Montréal’s 375th birthday bash.
There will be activities all day long, including the Banquet populaire at noon, the illumination of the Jacques-Cartier Bridge right before midnight, and many more events going well into the night and new year. Welcome to Montréal’s biggest New Year’s Eve party.
While people may invite a few friends over for coffee and cake on their birthday, what does a city do to show that it’s pleased as punch to celebrate all those years? It sings, it dances, it feasts and it shows the world who it is in spectacular style.
First comes the family feast
Nothing says “celebration” more than an all-out, come-one-come-all, traditional (and free!) banquet.
Starting at noon on December 31, Montréal is laying out the welcome mat in first-come-first-serve fashion, and offering goodies such as pea soup, tourtière, pouding chômeur, and other delectable delights while supplies last, at the beautiful Marché Bonsecours, a popular heritage market found in Old Montréal.
Dance till dawn — or at least 2 a.m.
Once the evening hits, music turns from folk to rock and EDM at Montréal’s Old Port during Merry Montréal at the Jacques-Cartier Pier. Starting at 9 p.m., this party will help you get your groove on with some of the best Québécois musicians the country has to offer.
From 9 p.m. until 11:45 p.m., Mes Aieux, Daniel Bélanger, Vincent Vallières, Laurence Nerbonne, DJ KXO, Pierre Kwenders, and Les Deuxluxes. At 12:15 a.m., as le Grand Decompte ends, the new year will roar to life as Champion et ses G-Strings hit the state, spinning beats for the delirious dance crowd until 2 a.m.
The entire Jacques-Cartier Pier will be transformed into a giant, illuminated dance floor and the music is simulcast at the Clock Tower Quay and at Place Jacques-Cartier so that the whole city can join in the party. Show off your best dance moves starting at 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.
The big bang
Everyone likes fireworks: They are mesmerizing, boisterous, sparkly, and just plain pretty to look at.
As the clock chimes midnight, the Jacques Cartier Bridge will illuminate the city in a spectacular, one-of-a-kind pyrotechnic performance that will be shown on screens throughout Old Montréal. A specially created, stellar soundtrack fills the night so that you are surrounded by sights and sounds.
But the festivities are not restricted to New Year’s Eve. Cité Mémoire, a permanent attraction, is a cinematic series of 25 tableaux displayed between the brick and stone heritage buildings of the old city. At the Clock Tower Quay, “Suzanne” tells the story of a man and woman who, both lulled by the sound of the river’s currents, meet at the crossroads of two different realities, set to the iconic song by the city’s own Leonard Cohen. (If you’re a fan of the songwriter, check out “Leonard Cohen – A Crack in Everything” at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal)
Or hop on board La Grande Roue de Montréal, the largest observation wheel in Canada, open until 2 a.m. on New Year’s Eve.
La Finale marks the renewal of Montreal, following the 375th anniversary. The city is constantly moving, even more optimistic, intense, and energized, surprising and eclectic, more human than ever.