Nuit Blanche; one of the biggest night’s In Montreal’s calendar, was illuminated with DJs, art exhibitions, food joints and fairground rides.
The Nuit Blanche scene: shoulder-rubbing-crowds, booming music, food trucks, neon lights and lots of fun. The event is always a hit due to the unlimited, free activities. This year was no disappointment.
The festival lures you in with the variety on offer. Attendees included families, students, adults and party-goers.
It was a bustling experience; somewhat overwhelming. Intoxicating aromas of smoked sausage around the fire pits, people singing, dancing and neon lights. The festival consumes you fast if you aren’t prepared.
That’s why I’m sharing my experience with you guys in the hope that next year, you can enjoy it with the same intensity that the night throws at you.
Surviving Nuit Blanche
Hold on tight – it’s a long night. Be sure to make a plan before you arrive – unless you have a clear idea of what you want to do, the festival can chew you up.
Check out their programmed themes for a quick, tailored evening. There are 3 themes: a family night, an artistic evening and a mix-it-up option for those who love it all!
Map It Out
MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE also provide a digital map of the festival, outlining where you can find each activity. Take note: out-and-about this map can be confusing. It’s not responsive – meaning on mobile devices it’s complicated to read.
Pro tip: my advice would be to do your research before you go – note down the addresses. The website also has a cool feature called ‘My Festival’ where you can cherry pick events you want to attend and keep them saved. You can find this feature along the menu of the index.
The good news is you can’t go wrong heading to the heart of it all on 400 Boulevard de Maisonneuve O, Montréal, QC H3A 1L4. This is where you will find fire pits (cook your own sausages!), cool little igloos hosted by SAQ and a family fun zone.
It is packed full of activities and acts as the hub of the nightlife.
Take Public Transport
Each year, the STM offer a 24hr service on the metro, buses and shuttles. Getting about is simpler than ever!
Pro tip: I recommend taking the Metro – as a lot of the sights can be found along a 4 mile walk in Montreal’s Underground City. If you have will and a hunger for art – this is ideal for you.
Sad fact: unlike the many events, these services are not free!
If you are coming from outside Montreal and taking the car – there are plenty of parking options available. Parking in Montreal can be tedious and expensive. Especially when a festival is happening.
Pro tip: we parked at Metropolitan Parking Inc: 1801 Av McGill Collège, Montréal QC H3A 3P3, Canada which is less than a 10 minute walk from the festival centre. It’s also one of the cheapest, underground parking options: just $8!
One of the features that stood out was the Family Fun Zone. As a parent myself, I understand how complicated it can be to get the balance between entertaining your kids and not breaking the bank. Fortunately, most of the activities your little ones can enjoy here are free.
For The Foodies
It is a well-known fact that the Montreal food scene is hot, hot hot! And for the foodie in your life, Nuit Blanche provides. What kind of foodie are you? For the sophisticated one – make a reservation at one of the many restaurants partaking in the festival. Or go casual and grab some fast-food.
Food trucks are scattered all around – catering to your foodie needs: poutine, beavertails and the Food Network to name a few.
A heads up: food trucks are popular. Prepare to queue for at least 20 minutes. Choose your truck wisely!
If queuing is not for you, may I recommend attending a food event instead. These activities usually require a reservation and often charge around $50 for tickets.
Your food choices range from culinary tours, to fine dining, a la carte menus and food tastings. Check out what restaurants you can try out here (click on the ‘Fine Dining’ menu option.)
Montreal’s art scene always draws me in. Whether a festival is on or not, you can wander old Montreal’s many art galleries and soak up some artistic inspiration. Fortunately, at Nuit Blanche, artists showcase their work till 2am for FREE.
We wandered the Belgo Building (which is just a few minutes outside of the main area). Spanning 4 floors with long corridors; enter the doors to artistic expression. The event is unassuming; you feel like you’re wandering through your old school late at night.
There was choice aplenty for the artistic types; with art galleries taking part all over the complex. Refer back to the digital map to locate where they were.
In downtown Montreal, you are spoilt for choice with hotels. Select hoteliers opened their doors to weary explorers. I would recommend booking a hotel if you plan to enjoy the festivities over the weekend. You will need a comfy bed to crash after all the walking that comes with Nuit Blanche.
Some of the hotels even indulged guests in a la carte menus!
For the risky types: ever wanted to stay in 5 star accommodation at a seriously reduced price? Check out Montreal en Lumiere’s ‘Mystery Hotel’ package. You don’t know where you’re staying until after booking!
You can find who took part in the festivities here.
The Music Scene
Montreal has an impressive music scene – it goes alongside our partying nature! As you approach the Open Site, you can hear distant booms of subwoofers. And as the lights guide you, so does the sound of a diverse musical line-up.
For The Movie Buff
If you want to get away from the crowds, the noise and the chaos, the festival also hosted late-night movie screenings. One of the showings, (which really stood out, due to the event’s name) was Total Crap: a montage of some of the worst cinematic moments in history. And for as little as $5, there was SPASM – a series of short films with a side of drag queens.
For a more serious movie night there was Cinéma au Palais: a series of short films made by young adults and teenagers depicting what it is like to live with autism.
If you haven’t guessed by now, the festival offers a magnitude of activities. There were dance contests, improvisations, readings and writing workshops, an Ice Dance Show, Inflatable water course and late-night Yoga.
Last But Not Least
If you’re planning to attend next year, (and hopefully you are after reading this), it’s most important that you soak up all that the festival has to offer. Montreal is a vibrant, cultural, expressive city that parties hard till the early hours – especially during Nuit Blanche!
The greatest part of the festival is how it caters to all personalities and all types of groups. So, in that sense, this is one of the optimum times to visit. Just be sure to wrap up warm because our little part of the world can get VERY cold!
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