Thursday, February 17, 2011

12th Festival Montréal en lumière (Montreal Festival of Lights), Feb. 17-27

The 12th edition of the Festival Montréal en lumière (Montreal Festival of Lights) kicks off tonight and continues until February 27. This is an all-encompassing festival that brings a touch of excitement and culture to the dreary days of February. It celebrates music, food, performing arts and outdoor activities. It all culminates with the Nuit blanche à Montréal on February 26-27, with 175 activites that are mostly free.

This year's festival has a focus on women. Honourary co-president of the festival actress Carole Bouquet will read excerpts from Lettres à Génica, folies d’amour by Antonin Artaud. The other co-president is soprano Marie-Josée Lord, who will perform a solo recital at Théâtre Maisonneuve, Place des Arts, accompanied by the Orchestre Métropolitain.

Other performers you can look forward to include Vanessa Paradis, Omara Portuondo, Lizz Wright, Emilie Simon, Béatrice Bonifassi, Ladies of the Canyon, NEeMA and Emilie-Claire Barlow.

56 of the world's top women chefs will be guest chefs at local restaurants including Honourary president Anne-Sophie Pic, the only woman chef to rate three Michelin stars. She will be at Toque!, while others include Elizabeth Falkner at DNA, Melissa Craig at Chez L'Epicier, Nathalie Beauvais at La Porte, Roberta Sudbrack at Cafe Ferreira, and Cristina Bowerman at Graziella.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Winter comes alive!

Finally-it’s here! Today, winter and the city come alive, thanks to an incredible array of marvelous performances spanning every genre, delectable gourmet dishes laid out on every table, and free large-scale outdoor activities lighting up every corner of frosty February. To help you get the most out of this marathon of winter pleasure, here’s a brief glimpse of what awaits us at the MONTREAL HIGH LIGHTS Festival, from today through Sunday, February 27:

A massive urban happening for the first Saturday of the Festival!
with Misstress Barbara and her DJ Mobile
Saturday, February 19, from 9 p.m.
Yes! The High Lights Event, the massive urban happening created for the 10th anniversary of the Festival, is back by popular demand. After amazing audiences with dizzying array of different formats two years in a row, the blowout takes on yet another form this year. A tour de force of urban entertainment, it is held in good or inclement weather and is one of those rare moveable feasts that takes on a different site and concept year after year. In this 3rd edition presented by Solotech, follow Misstress Barbara and her DJ Mobile as they lead into the High Lights Event with a rolling mixed-media spectacular at 9 p.m., heading along Promenade des Quais from the Celebration of Light site (Quay Jacques-Cartier) to the Café des Éclusiers (corner of McGill St. and De la Commune St. W.), at the foot of famed Silo nº 5. The DJ-singer then takes the reins and ignites the party under a sky blazing with light and colour!
The free outdoor site opens at 6 p.m.
Old Montréal and the Quays of the Old Port: the heart of the BMO Bank of Montreal Celebration of Light! Just steps away from Métro Champ-de-Mars, the city lights up with a multitude of mostly free activities, offering enjoyment for young and old alike-anyone who’s young at heart and ready for winter fun! Here’s a glimpse of the incredible array of events lined up for these two exciting long weekends:


Grand opening night
  • La Brigade trad! (Quays of the Old Port Events), starring Rapetipetam and the Celebration of Light performers, 7:30p.m.
  • The Countdown, 8 p.m., followed by
  • Ima (BMO Shows)
  • DJ Roux Soundsystem and VJ Factory Girl (AXA Electro Evenings), Sphère AXA, 9p.m.

Friday, February 18
  • La Brigade trad! (Quays of the Old Port Events), starring Rapetipetam and the Celebration of Light performers, 7:30p.m.
  • Fireworks, 8 p.m., followed by
  • LorraineKlaasen (BMO Shows)
  • DJ The Gulf Stream and VJ Ma”, Sphère AXA, 9p.m.
Saturday, February 19
  • Meet and Greet, in the Sphère AXA:
  • autographs and photos with personalities from the Télé-Québec program Tactik, 3 p.m.
  • Les Petites Tounes (BMO Shows), 2p.m.
  • Tams-Tams d’hiver! (Quays of the Old Port Events), 7:30 p.m.
  • Celebration of Light Fireworks, 8 p.m., followed by
  • Manu Militari (BMO Shows)
  • DJ Vincent Lemieux and VJ HpNoTik, Sphère AXA, 9p.m.
Sunday, February 20
  • Meet and Greet, in the Sphère AXA:
  • autographs and photos with personalities from the Télé-Québec program Kaboum, 3 p.m.
  • Skate with your Alouettes!, BMO Skating Rink, 2:30 p.m.
  • Les Petites Tounes (BMO Shows), 2p.m.
Every day
  • Corno Exhibition, Art and Desire 2011, in the Galerie Lounge TD (Maison du Festival Rio Tinto Alcan). Free admission. February 17 to May 15.
  • Festival of Quebec Cheeses, Complexe Desjardins, until Saturday, February 19
Opening hours of the Celebration of Light
Old Montreal and Quays of the Old Port)
(accessible from metro Champ-de-Mars)
Thursday, February 17, both Fridays, February 18 and 25: 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Saturday, February 19 (High Lights Event): noon to 11 p.m.
Saturday, February 26 (Nuit blanche): noon to 3 a.m.
Sundays, February 20 and 27: noon to 6 p.m.
A Festival for the whole family!
Thanks to the BMO Bank of Montreal Celebration of Light, the fun starts before the weekend kicks in, with an incredible array of activities for the entire family, in Old Montréal and on the Quays of the Old Port:

Non-stop activities…

… in Old Montréal
o The Ice Slide-a 120-metre thrill ride
o The Sugar Shack (Cabane à sucre)-maple products and hot maple milk
o The Brazier Bars-marshmallows and grilled sausages
… and on the Quays of the Old Port
o The BMO Ferris Wheel and carnival attractions including games of skill and fortune-telling from NomadUrbains.
o The Hydro-Québec Dome offering warming infrared rays
o The BMO Skating Rink featuring skating workshops
o AXA Photo Studio
o The BMO Shuttle, offering free rides
Don’t forget to mark these down in the family funbook!
Meet and Greet, in the Sphère AXA:
  • autographs and photos with personalities from Télé-Québec programs
§ Tactik, Saturday, February 19, 3 p.m.
§ Kaboum, Sunday, February 20, 3 p.m.
The BMO Shows - BMO Stage, Jacques-Cartier entrance
  • Les Petites Tounes - Saturday and Sunday, 2p.m.
The Quays of the Old Port Events
  • La Brigade trad!-Thursday, February 17 and Friday, February 18, 7:30 p.m.
  • Tams-Tams d’hiver!-Saturday, February 19, 7:30 p.m.
  • Calling All Nighthawks!-Saturday, February 27, 7:30 p.m.
  • Du haut des airs! - Friday, February 25 and Saturday, February 26, 7:30 p.m.
  • The Pointe-à-Callière Port Symphonies-Sunday, February 28, 1:30 p.m.
The BMO Fireworks
  • The Countdown-Thursday, February 17, 8 p.m.
  • Fireworks -Fridays, February 18 and 25, 8 p.m.
  • Celebration of Light Fireworks-Saturday, February 19, 8 p.m.
  • Pleins feux sur la Nuit blanche-Saturday, February 26, 8 p.m.

Omara Portuondo. Opening act: Harold Lopez-Nussa solo) - Opening concert - It’s Cuba served up on a platter as we kick off the Caliente series? Si! Those who caught her show Gracias at the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal two years ago will certainly want to queue up for a second serving of boléro, jazz, chanson and Cuban music from Madame Buena Vista Social Club. Those who didn’t won’t want to miss this either-it’s not every day we get to welcome the Billie Holiday of Cuba-celebrating her 80th birthday this year! Opening the evening, one of Cuba’s most promising talents. February 18, 8 p.m., Théâtre Maisonneuve, PDA. Presented by L’Oréal Canada in collaboration with Radio-Canada.

Marie-Josée Lord et l’Orchestre Métropolitain
- Honorary co-president of this edition Celebrating Women, charismatic and fiery soprano Marie-Josée Lord follows the release of her self-titled album with a premiere concert at the Festival, a solo recital accompanied by the Orchestre Métropolitain conducted by Alain Trudel. Unforgettable as Marie-Jeanne in Starmania (Opéra de Montréal), she’ll transport us to her colourful, magical opera universe, blending genres with finesse, wherein Plamondon, Lama and Vigneault are entwined with Gershwin, Bizet and Puccini. February 19, 8 p.m., Théâtre Maisonneuve, PdA.

Carole Bouquet, Lettres à Génica, folies d’amour (excerpts) by Antonin Artaud
- In another register, we welcome magnificent French actress Carole Bouquet-also co-president of this very special edition-delivering a fascinating musical reading of excerpts from Lettres à Génica, folies d’amour, by Antonin Artaud, in the intimate confines of the Gesù. And frankly, we can’t think of a better person to do justice to this exceptionally searing portrait of a “total collapse of the soul”, these letters to a lost Romanian love, than the great Bouquet-a two-time César winner (including for Best Actress), a woman as comfortable with a Racine tragedy as with the comedy of Leconte. February 18 and 19, 8 p.m., Gesù - Centre de créativité

Vanessa Paradis, acoustic concert
(opening act: Albin de la Simone) - We first heard her in Joe le taxi, first saw her in Noce blanche. Ever since, we’ve watched her grow up-at times, discreetly. She last appeared here on the silver screen in L’Arnacoeur, and she’ll be back with Café de flore, the forthcoming film by Jean‑Marc Vallée, director of Crazy. Meanwhile, we’re thrilled to welcome Johnny Depp’s wife back in the flesh, bringing her acoustic show to Place des Arts. An all-too-rare visit you absolutely cannot miss! Opening the evening: magnificent French singer-songwriter Albin de la Simone, Vanessa’s current musical director and arranger. February 20, 8 p.m., Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, PdA. Presented by Air France in collaboration with ARTV.

Alex Nevsky
- After being hailed as a rising star by Catherine Pogonat on Tout le monde en parle-and being named “Coup de cœur Télé-Québec” at the Festival de musique émergente de Abitibi-Témiscamingue (Emerging Music Festival)-and after his killer performance at the FrancoFolies this summer, Alex Nevsky finally launches his highly-anticipated debut album, De lune à l’aube. It’s rock, pop, kitsch, slam, and all superb! A show under the musical direction of Brigitte Poupart, making a major return to Montreal. February 17, 8 p.m., Club Soda.

Émilie Simon
- Whether it’s the Francos de La Rochelle or in Montreal, or the Festival de Jazz last summer, she’s a favourite everywhere she goes! What is the source of her spell: is it her avant-garde electropop? Her poetic lyrics? Her seductive musicality? In any case, we’ve definitely ascertained the existence of an Emilisimonian virus that overtakes everyone it touches. Rediscover the performer and her latest English album, The Big Machine in the intimacy of L’Astral, for one night only! February 17, 8 p.m.

Ladies of the Canyon
- Four lovely local musicians and singers, signed to Warner, influenced by such rock-solid influences as the Eagles, The Band and Fleetwood Mac, and sometimes compared to the Dixie Chicks. If that weren’t telling enough, the group borrowed its name from a classic Joni Mitchell album. It’s country blended with folk, on a debut album whose title may well prove telling: Haunted Woman. February 18, 7 p.m.

Celebrate the legend of Bob Marley with The Wailers
(opening act: Jah Cutta) - It’s a rare pleasure indeed! Two years ago, they shared a stage with Lee “Scratch” Perry. Aside from that, you’d have to go back to 1997 for their last Montreal concert! It’s Jamaican heat, fiery rhythms and the rich legacy of Bob Marley in Montreal in February. Opening the evening, Canadian reggae great Jah Cutta. February 18, 8 p.m., Métropolis.

Random Recipe
- Hard to label this energetic, colourful quartet (MIMI winners for Best New Group 2009): blend in a bit of everything-rap, bossa nova, a little rock, folk, jazz, hip hop-shake with two female MCs (Frannie and Fab), a guitarist-bassist-keyboardist (Vynz) and a percussionist-keyboardist (Liu-Kong)… An utterly unique hybrid. February 18, 9:30 p.m., followed by DJ MHMHMH. Presented by les Vendredis de la Pleine Lune.

Tickets are available at the venue or site of the show, from the Admission network (514-790‑1245 or 1-800-361‑4595; or, and the Place des Arts box office (514-842-2112 or 1-866-842-2112;
The Festival of Quebec Cheeses is in full swing-but only until Saturday!

The Festival of Our Cheeses is back! Yesterday was the opening day of the 6th edition of the event, offering the public a marvelous opportunity to meet the cheesemakers of Quebec, whose diverse array of exceptional quality products never ceases to impress. Our cheesemakers will be happy to answer your questions, discuss their creations and the regional qualities that contribute to the flavours and define the character of their cheeses. Visitors can taste the Québécois “classics” and make surprising discoveries… all the while enjoying excellent wines. Presented by Quebec Cheeses, until Saturday, February 19, in Complexe Desjardins. Today and tomorrow, from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free admission.

A record amount of sold-out activities!

With 75 activities already sold out, were getting the distinct feeling that the SAQ Wine and Dine Experience presented by Air France is a hit with Montrealers! It may be too late to book a seat for some of our events, but there are plenty of other new discoveries waiting to be made. Here are a few suggestions:

Happy Hour at Accords: Ladies of the Vines
, Thursday, February 17 to Saturday, February 26, starting at 5 p.m. - Come mix and mingle with la crème de la crème of female winemakers. Enjoy a smorgasbord of wines paired with chef Marc-André Lavergne’s hors d’oeuvres, as you hobnob with the wine producers and Accords’ own team of sommeliers. Good times guaranteed all Festival long! Accords.

Her Kind of Evening
, Thursday, February 17 to Saturday, February 19 and Thursday, February 24 to Saturday, February 26 (with Anne Bourgoin); Sundays, February 20 and 27 and Monday, February 21 to Wednesday, February 23 (without the guest chef), starting at 6 p.m. - Au Petit Extra goes all soft and sensual to give you a culinary experience with feminine flair! On the menu: a delectable, delicate, subtle meal prepared by our own chef Nathalie Major and enhanced by the casual setting, all under an enchanting musical theme. Nadia Fournier-famous for co-authoring the Guide du vin with Michel Phaneuf-will win you over with her wine pairings, while pastry chef Anne Bourgoin of Sainte-Adèle’s La Clef des Champs will have you eating out of the palm of her hand with her latest masterpieces, each more decadent than the last. Au Petit Extra.

Inspired Version
, Thursday, February 17 to Thursday, February 24 and Saturday, February 26, starting at 5 p.m. - For one glorious week, chef David Chaussé is concocting a four-course meal-inspired by Charlevoix’s countless top-quality products and paired perfectly with vintages selected by our sommelier. L’Autre Version.

Laloux welcomes oenologist Christine Leroux
, Thursday, February 17, starting at 6 p.m. - Quebec-born and Bordeaux-trained Christine Leroux is the consulting oenologist at a slew of wineries in the Okanagan Valley. For one evening only, enjoy wines from three of these estates paired with each of the five courses in a tasting menu put together by chef Seth Gabrielse. Laloux.

Three Evenings with Paula DaSilva,
Thursday, February 17 to Saturday, February 19, starting at 6 p.m. - Philippe Mercier’s culinary team is thrilled to welcome Paula DaSilva for three exclusive evenings of epicurean discovery. The renowned chef of Miami’s avant-garde 1500° will be your guide on a fascinating culinary journey of enchanted flavours and bold presentations- the very elements that made her a close second in Gordon Ramsay’s notorious Hell’s Kitchen. Le Samuel de Champlain.

Red, White, and… Bubbly?
, Thursday, February 17, Friday, February 18, Thursday, February 24, and Friday, February 25, starting at 5 p.m. - At this year’s Festival, happy hour at Les Cavistes is all about Charlevoix. Chef Stéphanie Gagnon’s Charlevoix charcuteries and appetizers will be perfectly paired with vintages selected by female wine specialists. Three wines and three hors d’oeuvres in a casual bar-side tasting, now that’s a fine way to kick off the evening! Les Cavistes.

Cooking with friends!
, Thursday, February 17 to Saturday, February 19, 6 p.m. - For three memorable evenings, chef Deff Haupt’s friends are coming to dinner-German chef Claudia Schröter of Cologne’s Taku (Excelsior Hotel Ernst), and New Zealand winemaker Swan Michel from the prestigious Georges Michel Estate in Marlborough. On the menu: a panoply of choice products and Asian-inspired dishes, accompanied by Michel’s outstanding vintages. Renoir.

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