08 MAY 2017: Montreal plays host to some very big events, including the Montréal International Jazz Festival, Just for Laughs and the Formula One Grand Prix. It is a city of crowd pleasers. Montréal is prepping to celebrate 375 years which incidentally falls on May 17. But like most parties in la belle province one day will not do the party trick. Try weeks and in this case, months of celebrations.  

So, when Tourisme Montréal alongside a team of local tourism partners sponsored a Travel Massive soiree for a crowd of social media influencers in Toronto’s lively King Street West district last week, the message was clear. Get ready to blow out the birthday candles.

The packed Library at Brassaii in Toronto morphed into a mini-Montréal. Food stations of poutine and gravy, and counters of freshly shucked oysters, grilled vegetables and chunks of cheese satiated the massive Toronto group as servers toted hamburger sliders and other finger fare to an alumni of Montréal converts.

During the event, the sponsors conducted an informal poll: “Has anyone not been to Montréal?” Not a peep sounded.

Before giving the mic to Tourisme Montréal’s Monica Orr and Martine Venne, Mariellen Ward, the co-founder of Toronto’s #TravelMassive, a social media organization of bloggers and industry members, relayed how Travel Massive which started in Sydney, Australia has become one of the world’s largest travel associations with its first chapter debuting in … drum roll please … Toronto.

“It kind of started here, in Toronto,” smiled Mariellen who added the chapter is set to celebrate its own seventh year anniversary in August.

Martine Venne, media manager at Tourisme Montréal spoke on the various special anniversary events such as the five-story robotic giants from street theatre company, Royal de Luxe soon to take over downtown Montreal; and, the high-tech lighting installation from Montréal’s Moment Factory that will illuminate Jacques Cartier Bridge; to other whimsical wonders.

Reps told Travel Industry Today among all the years to visit Montréal, this year, and particularly this summer, is the ultimate time to visit.

“There’s such an extraordinary abundance of unique events mixed in with the regular events we usually have, whether it’s free symphonic orchestras, special exhibitions at museums, everything is blown up for the 375th anniversary,” says Monica who encourages you to visit the website http://www.375mtl.com/en/ for more special events details.

Here are some reasons for a Montréal summer vacay:

Art The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts  is transforming Rue Sherbrooke from the musée (museum) to the McCord Museum  in a festive fanfare of 200 flags known as La Balade Pour La Paix which represent the 200 participating countries from Expo 67.

Acclaimed French designer Jean-Paul Gaultier, the master of avant-garde fashion, gets an exclusive show, “Love is Love” opening on May 27. This exhibition which closes on October 9 will feature 35 wedding gowns that have appeared on Gaultier’s runways.

“Because you know when he finishes a fashion show it’s always with the wedding gown,” smiles Pascale Chasse with Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal.

Anne-Marie Barnard from Canada’s premier museum devoted exclusively to contemporary art, Musee d’Art Contemporain de Montréal whispered how the venue is planning a future renovation “from the inside” so visitors should come now to enjoy the contemporary collection of over 7,000 pieces including Matisse and Picasso.

In addition, the museum which has been coordinating a major Leonard Cohen exhibition for some years will launch a commemorative Leonard Cohen (November 9-April 1) exhibition titled, Leonard Cohen: Une brèche en toute chose / A Crack in Everything. Contemporary international artists will create performances, music, and artwork to pay homage to the renowned late poet/songwriter creating unique pieces inspired by the legendary icon.

Accommodations In Montreal, find an array of hotel inventory. There are cheerful, affordable with Montréal’s flare for au modern in hotel brands like Alt and the longstanding hotel fixtures like the renovated Fairmont Queen Elizabeth scheduled to reopen this summer.

Julie Tremblay from Groupe Germain Hotels, the parent company of the no-frills chic Alt Hotels says the Alt brand has eliminated the pre-set check-out times (“stay as long as you want on the check-out date,” she offers) while across the chain expect year-round flat hotel rates.

Meanwhile Montréal’s newest lifestyle hotel, the 127-room Hotel William Gray in Old Montréal which opened last summer, is the latest from the hotel company, Group Antonopoulos. This new boutique hotel combines two heritage buildings one of which was the original home of Montréal’s sheriff Edward William Gray with a new build. The hotel also houses the second location of the storied Café Olimpico. The original Italian coffee house fixture is located in Montreal’s Mile End district.

Guests at the Travel Massive/Montreal event toasted Montréal’s birthday with champagne and a yummy birthday cake along with some lucky guests winning door prizes and a trip contest.


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Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

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