Montréal en Lumière 2018: Montreal's Festival of Lights

  • 01 of 07

    Every February and March, Montreal Lights Up With Food, Art, Music and More

    Montréal en Lumière 2017 is Montreal's festival of lights, one of the city's higher profile annual events.
    Courtesy of Montréal en Lumière © Frédérique Ménard-Aubin

    Montréal en Lumière 2018: Montreal's Festival of Lights

    You may have heard of the Festival of Lights held in Berlin every October. Or maybe Diwali, the ancient Hindu festival of lights springs to mind. Hawaii has its own variation on the theme too. But in Montreal, it's called Montréal en Lumière* and it's a totally different beast.

    For one, we don't put menorahs on display like during Hannukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, nor don windowsills with candles like in Lyon, Montreal's sister city. Instead, organizers coordinate the display of light installations in key downtown locations and on select building façades.

    In 2018, Montréal en Lumière runs from February 22 to March 4, 2018.

    The focal point of Montréal en Lumière is Place des Festivals' 6,141 square meters (66,101 square feet) of public space adjacent the city's performing arts complex Place des Arts and Montreal's chief contemporary arts museum.

    Montréal en Lumière Isn't Just Lights Though

    Innovative and unexpected light installations are part and parcel of the experience, no doubt there. But there's more than lights to the festival of lights in Montreal. Think fine dining events, live performances, free all-night activities, and more. Click through the slideshow for a walk-through of the festival's annual highlights.

    *That's French for "Montreal in Lights."

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  • 02 of 07

    Inside Montréal en Lumière's Outdoor Site

    Courtesy of Montréal en Lumière © Frédérique Ménard-Aubin

    An integral part of Montréal en Lumière's programming lies in and around the festival of lights' outdoor site located in Place des Festivals' public space. The outdoor site also spills out onto Ste. Catherine Street and Place des Arts' adjacent plaza.

    Local DJs, live concerts featuring local French music artists, an ice slide 110 metres (361 feet) long and a zipline spanning two city blocks allowing festival-goers to zoom over the outdoor site are the leading attractions.

    In 2018, the outdoor site is open February 22 through March 4, 2018 with the bulk of the fest's free entertainment and activities scheduled on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Complete programming available here.

    Free curling, free zip lining, illuminated art, and more, at ground level, you can roast your own sausages and marshmallows on an open fire because... why not? Stranger things have happened downtown. There are also gourmet food stations selling everything from soup to maple products to cheese fondue, depending on the year.

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  • 03 of 07

    Festival of Quebec Cheeses: A Montréal en Lumière Tradition

    Festival of Quebec Cheeses
    Courtesy of Montréal en Lumière © Benoit Rousseau​

    Montréal en Lumière might be about lights, but it's also about food. Lots of food. The Festival of Quebec Cheeses is just one of the festival's gastronomic attractions. My favorite gastronomic attraction. A free one. It's held across the street from the Montréal en Lumière outdoor site, at Complexe Desjardins.

    In 2018, the Fête des fromages d'ici runs February 22 through February 24. Details here.

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  • 04 of 07

    Nuit Blanche at Montréal en Lumière

    Montreal en Lumiere 2017 festival events, concerts and free activities.
    Courtesy of Montréal en Lumière © Frédérique Ménard-Aubin

    Nuit Blanche is easily the biggest attraction linked to Montréal en Lumière, one held the last Saturday of the festival that involves more or less 200 free activities that stretch out until dawn.

    In 2018, Nuit Blanche runs March 3, 2018.

    As someone who's a Nuit Blanche veteran, I've had awesome experiences. And I've also had dreadful ones. So I put together a list of Nuit Blanche tips to help you plan for a great one.

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  • 05 of 07

    Underground Art at Montréal en Lumière

    Montreal en lumiere
    © Evelyn Reid

    Usually debuting the same night as Nuit Blanche, Art Souterrain is an annual event devoted to underground art. And when I say underground, I mean it. The entire event is set in Montreal's Underground City, one that features anywhere from 75 to over 100 art installations throughout the city's subterranean corridors.

    In 2018, Art Souterrain runs from March 3 to March 25, 2018. The best day to walk the circuit is during Nuit Blanche itself since there are volunteers stationed at every installation to help folks navigate and to explain the ​back story of each installation.

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  • 06 of 07

    Montréal en Lumière Concerts

    Montréal en Lumière 2017 events include free outdoor concerts.
    Courtesy of Montréal en Lumière © Frédérique Ménard-Aubin

    So Montréal en Lumière does lights. It does food too, notably cheese. But it also delves into music, proposing free concerts most if not every evening at Montréal en Lumière's outdoor site. Artists tend to be local French language musicians.

    As for bigger international names, they're far more likely to be scheduled on the paid concert roster. Check Montréal en Lumière's website to see the full lineup of who's performing at this year's edition.

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  • 07 of 07

    Montréal en Lumière Fine Dining Events

    Montréal en Lumière 2017 events and gastronomy.
    © Marie-Claire Denis

    Last but not least, Montréal en Lumière proposes themed fine dining evenings with dishes prepared by guest chefs flown in from various regions around the world. Each edition usually spotlights a Quebec region. In 2018, it's Côte-Nord.

    Check Montréal en Lumière's website to make reservations at one of this year's fine dining events.