As a child I used to daydream about what it would be like to visit a dog show. Years of looking at The New York Times’ coverage of the Westminster Dog Show trained me for the day that I would finally see a dog show in the flesh. I would say it was akin to the armchair traveller finally leaping into a real life voyage — and perhaps also like young fashion students attending their first fashion show in Paris. Well, this was not Paris, nor was it in New York City where the Westminster Dog Show holds their annual event. But I was excited to drop in for day two of the three day Annual Montréal Dog Show held by the United Kennel Club. This year’s event was conveniently at Place Bonaventure in downtown Montréal from Friday November 7th to Sunday the 9th.
This morning I ran my third half-marathon for the 24th edition of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Oasis Montréal Marathon. My main goal for this race was quite simple: I did not want to get injured. If you have ever run a race, you know the importance of pacing and for my first two half-marathons I made a neophyte mistake: I went too hard, too early and ended up hobbling for the last eight to ten kilometres with an achy knee. Last year, I could not believe I made the mistake of not pacing myself yet again, so this year I vowed to do better. So I made the goals of warming up for the first one-third of third, then slightly increasing my pace for the next third of the race, and finally pushing myself in the last kilometres. And I was so glad I made these simple goals as I ended up shaving off a whole twelve minutes off last year’s horrible time and obtain a personal record this year.
Tam Tams Drumming Sessions
Every Sunday (depending on weather)
George-Étienne Cartier Monument at Mount Royal Park
Montréal, Québec, Canada
Living in Montréal means that I often act as hostess to various friends and family visiting the city. My guests usually know what they want to do while they’re here — visit cool bars, go to the Old Port, and eat poutine at 4 am. Often, however, they have never heard about the Tam Tam sessions in Mont Royal so if we have a lazy Sunday in the works we’ll make our way over to the mountain after brunch. It’s hard to explain, though, what the Tam Tams are about and really, even, why we should go and see this event. Hippies drumming and free-flow dancing in a circle? I admit, it’s not for everyone but it’s a big part of this city and it’s a different part of Montréal living that I like to expose my guests to if they’re open to alternative cultures.
Montréal’s annual comedy festival is back and flashbracket was there too to soak up the summer laughs. Every year, we try to see one or two shows, and this year we opted for The Ethnic Show hosted by Maz Jobrani and Date Night: The Relationship Show hosted by Godfrey. But you don’t need to buy tickets to partake in this summer festival favourite — head to Montréal’s Quartier des Spectacles at Place-des-arts metro and see the free outdoor stage events, spontaneous on-the-road magic and comedy acts, and a funk-playing bank dressed up as aliens (see picture below).
The last night of Montréal Jazz Festival, officially known as Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, closed on Sunday after eleven days of free and outdoor concert events, ticketed attractions, and lots and lots (and lots) of roaming spectators across the grounds at Place des Arts in Montréal.
The 35th edition of this annual summer festival did not disappoint. The lineup of free and outdoor, or ticketed (with fees) events included a range of artists that were not only rooted in jazz but meandered into the other usual genres such as pop, hip hop and rock. This year’s participants had heavy hitters such as Cassandra Wilson, Angélique Kidjo, Keith Jarrett, married couple Elvis Costello and Diana Krall (who performed individual events), Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, and Mulatu Astatke; Canadians Rufus Wainwright, Nikki Yanovsky, Coeur de Pirate, Barenaked Ladies, and Michael Bublé; and contemporaries represented by Snoop Dogg, Of Montreal, St. Vincent, frequent participant Ben Harper, Bonobo, and Deltron 3030 who closed the festival with a free outdoor concert.
Oh wow, POP Montréal was three weeks ago! Alas, I never got around to blogging about it until now. But I had such a great time wandering around the Mile End and partaking in various events of the indie music festival, including the very much loved arts and crafts fair, Puces POP. Hence, this is worth mentioning now though we’re already midway through October.
It was actually my first time dropping in at Puces POP which, as part of the POP Montréal festival was held in the basement of Église St-Michel, the looming landmark in the Mile End neighbourhood. A few years back I had attended the performance by the Montréal art bands The Luyas and Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, but every September I am so swamped with fall time busyness that POP Montréal comes and goes without a blip. Until this year. I had a good friend visiting me from Toronto and because she is always in the city for work, I figured it would be fun to show her around other parts of the island and indulge in some artsy-fartsy-ness, a throwback from our old days in art school.
This morning was the 23rd Rock ‘n’ Roll Oasis Montreal Marathon, which started at 8:30 am at Jacques-Cartier Bridge for the half-marathon and full marathon races. I took part in the half-marathon (21 kilometres or 13 miles), and the event drew a record number of runners — 32,000 in total for all races, with 14,000 registered in the half-marathon, and 7,000 for the full-marathon. When we waited in our corrals on the bridge, the runners were getting excited and jumping up and down, and we could feel the bridge shake from the weight of participants! A tad scary, if you ask me. Like other races, the run had staggered starts so by the time our corral was brought to the starting line it was about 8:50 am. The morning called for a 40% chance of precipitation and it was spitting by the time we started the race, but it ended up raining heavily for the first seven kilometres. Rain doesn’t faze me so much as the huge puddles and overflowing streets, but most of the run ended up dry but very cloudy.
I started off great and felt good about the pace I was initially keeping, which was about three minutes slower than my 10K time. However, by the 14th kilometre I slowed down severely — at snail’s pace or about 10% of my previous running speed. I injured my right knee, a new injury, and though I don’t remember what exactly happened and how, I could no longer bend the knee anymore or put much weight on it. It felt sort of like a very old affliction I had in my teens when my right hip became slightly dislocated; my knee was making a similar popping sound as that hip injury, but the pain wasn’t too bad — it just made me slow. So I kept this awfully slow pace for the last 7 kilometres through a very awkward limp-run and by placing most of my weight on my left leg. While the race for me was definitely doable on a cardiovascular and leg work level, I couldn’t run at my limits due to this annoying grievance. At the end it was all about mental gymnastics as I had to talk myself into continuing on with the race and getting through the last third of the run on a limp. Disappointingly but as expected, my race time was actually slower than last year’s run by four minutes. Whatever, I have next year to look forward to!
After crossing the finish line, my friend and I grabbed our checked-in bag and walked home and we passed through the full marathon race continuing through the neighbourhood. When we came home we could actually hear the cheers from the spectators. Because we live in the Plateau we were lucky that we could stagger back home without a car which would have been a nightmare as many of the roads were closed around the city. We showered, replenished ourselves with food and fluids, and were surprised that we weren’t as wiped out as I was last year. I definitely trained better this time around and I’m used to the long distance runs and hill work, but I guess I’ll have to look into what caused my knee injury and probably do some strength work in that area once I give it time to heal.
I guess I made some mistakes with this second half-marathon that resulted in my injury, but I also made a lot of good choices in preparing for this race.
Here’s what I did right this time around:
Fall is upon us, and before the summer’s over several neighbourhoods in Montréal hold bi-annual sidewalk sales. The city has these outdoor street sales to promote retail clearance events and snacks from food vendors, which is the perfect time to get reacquainted with what is happening on the main streets. These sales mean that the roads get shut down, the people come out, and you get a reason to stroll around your block to see what’s going on.
My neighbourhood in the Plateau recently held its end of summer sale, Vente Trottoir l’Avenue Mont-Royal (Sidewalk Sale of Mont Royal Avenue), along the main street of Avenue Mont-Royal and the streets were packed with vendors, shoppers, and curious onlookers. Avenue Mont-Royal is known for being dotted with funky and independent fashion stores, trendy bars and restaurants, and cute bakeries. The Plateau is kind of the francophone equivalent to the adjacent anglophone neighbourhood of the artsy Mile End, home of Arcade Fire, Stars and other musicians. I am on a budget so no purchases were made, but it is always fun to see the people come out of their row houses to grab some snacks and stroll around the streets in the last days of summer.
Just For Laughs mascots at the Twins Parade
Every year at Montréal’s Just For Laughs festival, the comedy organization holds the incredible Twins Parade where twins from around the world are invited to march in this surreal event. This means that twins, triplets, and sometimes quintuplets arrive in this city as part of yet another summer festival and march down the streets in a themed, coordinated fashion. This year’s parade theme was “Cowboys and Cowgirls” and took place yesterday, Saturday July 27th.
Unfortunately, my plans to watch the parade and attend one of the many featured shows — this year’s comedians included the likes of Dave Chapelle, Joan Rivers, Godfrey, Jimmy Carr, and others — fell through. However, I did dig up some photos from a Twins Parade a few years back and while these photographs do not bring the event any justice, they do provide a snapshot of some moments in the entertaining event. My best description of this event is that it is like a dive through the rabbit hole — taking in this parade is truly bizarre (everyone looks the same!) — and you may start wondering what substance got tossed into your coffee this morning. Just For Laughs 2013 closes today, so if you did not catch the festival this year come back next year in mid-July to partake in all the fun the festival has to offer. Go to www.hahaha.com for more details.
Twins walking down rue St. Denis, organized by age group
Just For Laughs Festival at Metropolis
Welcome to the fifth instalment of the Montréal Bachelor(ette) Party Planning Guide. Previous posts on the series outlined the bachelor/bachelorette party scene and hotels here in Montréal, restaurants (parts one and two), and bars and clubs. A listing and links to the previous posts can be found at the end of this post.
Today’s guide focuses on the various activities that your party group can plan for your trip to Montréal. Thankfully, in addition to all the restaurants, bars, clubs, lounges, and pubs that the city has to offer, we also have a slew of city-planned events happening year round. We love the arts, culture and shamelessly sexy business so Montréal has just about something for everyone. Summers carry the bulk of the major events (and attract most tourists) since, well, Montréal is pretty cold city during most seasons. If you get here for July and August, you are almost guaranteed the hot and sticky weather many Americans and Canadians from the rest of the country experience; May and June can sometimes hold onto the regular programming. That being said, make sure you check the weather forecast for the city prior to launching on your trip, and remember that carrying an umbrella and dressing in layers can thwart the possibility of you walking around the city cold and wet (it happens to us all the time).
So here is a (non-comprehensive) list of major events in Montréal starting from the beginning of the year in January. Note that some of the events listed take place in multiple seasons, especially the festivals that start in spring and end in the fall, so check out the Spring listings if you are planning your visit for the summer or fall months. Additionally, year-round activities that you and your group can pursue regardless of the season are also listed at the end of the post. Make sure to click on the links (in bold) to find out the exact dates and more details of each event.
Igloofest in the Old Port
Considering how cold the city can get in the winter (-30°C without windchill anyone? I will go ahead and translate that to -22ºF for American readers), you would think Montréalers would be huddled away at home toasting our baguettes on an open fire. Well, if you have been living here in this city long enough, you know that the winter stinks and you cannot get away from it. So what do you do? Embrace it! Which means we even hold outdoor festivals in the dead of winter in the form of Igloofest. Igloofest — as the name implies — is an outdoor electronic music festival that is scheduled in mid-January to early February. Here you will find bars built with ice blocks, revellers bundled in parkas and snow boots (do not attempt to wear skimpy running shoes!), and DJ’s rocking away in the cold. And pick up some kitschy but cool Igloofest hats as your souvenir and proof that you braved the Montréal winter.