Even though Christmas is over, winter definitely isn't. To be fair, winter has barely begun and there's plenty of time to enjoy the snowy season. And winter in Montreal means one thing: sledding!
Already, several Montreal parks are opening up their slopes for sledding, tubing and tobogganing — depending on weather conditions, of course. The beauty of it is that many of the city's premier sledding locations are absolutely free to enjoy.
Here are some of the city's best designated public sledding spots.
Address: 463, rue Sainte-Catherine O., Montreal, QC
Why you should go: Three similar interactive works, titled Les Diamants, will spend the holiday season on the front lawn of St. James United Church. You spin them around to enjoy a little light and sound show.
Sure, there are COVID-19 measures in effect, but you can still get outside and explore your city. From enchanting scenery to winter sports to illuminated walks with a cup of hot cocoa in hand, Omicron can't take away ALL our fun.
Why You Need To Go: Feel the magic as you skate across this illuminated 500-metre trail at Parc Jean-Drapeau. According to the website, it's "refrigerated and regularly maintained, thereby ensuring a memorable experience, especially after a small snowfall."
When: December 24 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and December 26 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Closed December 25)
Address: 105, rue Sainte-Catherine O., Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Go: With more than 30 local artisans, in a setting fit for a Christmas movie, The Great Montreal Christmas Market is the ideal holiday weekend activity. On-site, you can taste all kinds of delicacies such as tartiflette, waffles, churros and hot chocolate.
Address: Starting at Lola Petite Bourgogne, 2652, rue Notre-Dame O., Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Go: If you're up for a challenge this weekend, the escape game company A/Maze has put together an outdoor escape game, "The Winter Store Fronts," a holiday treasure hunt in the streets of Little Burgundy. To play, you'll use a special journal to solve riddles that "the holiday spirit spread around the neighbourhood shops."
Address: On Rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest, between Crescent and McGill College
Why You Need To Go: This Saturday, warm your heart with a choir that will sing holiday classics with a hip-hop twist. With a cup of coffee or hot cocoa in hand and their sweet voices ringing in your ears, you might just believe in the magic of Christmas.
Why You Need To Go: The borough of Verdun is known for being one of the most decorated neighbourhoods on the Island of Montreal. Take a stroll through its streets and take in the bright lights that could almost blind Santa Claus.
Every morning, as Colin Riendeau sits by the window of his Plateau-Mont-Royal apartment sipping tea, he looks up at a huge grey concrete wall. Now, after seven years, he's doing something to change that. By partnering with Montreal artists, MAPP_MTL and MURAL, Riendeau is helping to transform the eyesore across the road into one of the area's biggest and most vibrant murals.
Before the final mural can be painted, Riendeau and the artist collective — consisting of multimedia director Aude Guivarc'h and interactive designer Hugo Daoust (who's also a media artist and creative coder) in collaboration with several mural artists — are projecting digital, interactive versions of potential mural designs onto the 13-story building as a test run, beginning this weekend.
How did this project come together?
Art by Dalkhafine | Image courtesy of Colin Riendeau
The wall is one side of the 13-story "Habitations De Mentana" building, low-rent housing run by the Office municipal d'habitation de Montréal (OMHM).
"Some see it as an ugly slab, others call it home. I see it as a canvas: a future work of art that can motivate, inspire and bring together a diverse neighbourhood," said Riendeau. "I want people to look up and be proud of where they live."
Riendeau said he set up a meeting with the OMHM in January 2020 and they were "really interested" in the idea of putting up a painted mural — but then the pandemic happened.
This posed a "huge problem," Riendeau said, because the OMHM would normally require him to conduct a door-to-door survey "to make sure the community is involved and the residents have some say in what goes on to the building."
He leveraged his background in the arts to gather a team, and they got creative in order to find and execute an innovative solution.
How will this project work?
With funding from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the collective is turning several muralists' concepts into animated, digital murals that'll be projected onto the building.
The projections serve as a COVID-19-friendly way of showing community members samples of the potential mural designs. Once the residents have seen all the options — probably during a month-long, larger-scale event in spring 2022 — they will choose one to be a painted, permanent fixture.
Riendeau said they are aiming to have the permanent mural completed as part of next year's MURAL Festival or Montreal International Projection Mapping Festival.
Three of these digital murals are set to be tested this weekend: one by Montreal artist Dalkhafine (Delphine Dussoubs), one by Montreal artist Mort and one by Vancouver artist Birdfingersss (Paige Bowman).
They'll be projected from the roofs of neighbouring buildings as well as from Riendeau's infamous window, which currently has a 100-pound projector that he described as a "microwave from the '70s" wedged in front of it.
If you swing by the "Habitations De Mentana" building after dark, you should be able to get a first look at what's to come.
Not all of the animation is ready yet. But the idea is that, eventually, depth sensors will be positioned to create an "interactive zone," so when pedestrians walk by or stop in front of the wall, their motion triggers the animation.
"It will create a back and forth of interactivity where if you have two people that cross paths, they can stop and talk to each other," said Riendeau. "That's the whole purpose of this — to create a conversation point [...] which will also bring people together."
It's unusual to see a multimedia installation that uses this calibre of tools and technology outside the Quartier des Spectacles, the collective told MTL Blog, which is why Guivarc'h called it "a nice surprise for this neighbourhood."
"Even though we are using high-end tools and technology, this is about [...] the people that live here and bringing them something colourful and fun," added Daoust.
While there are still a few months to go until the main event, Riendeau said he wants this weekend's test run to "light up the night sky," providing the community as well as passersby with "hope" and "joy" during a "dark period of the year."
"It's our Christmas present to the neighbourhood," Riendeau told MTL Blog.
The Saint-André Wall Project (Le Mur de Saint-André)
When: The test run will take place Saturday, December 18, and Sunday, December 19, from around 7 p.m. to 10 or 11 p.m. Plans are in the works for a larger, month-long interactive installation exhibition in spring 2022, eventually resulting in a permanent painted mural.
Address: Rue Saint-André between Avenue Duluth Est and Rue Rachel Est on the wall of the building "Les Habitations de Mentana," Plateau-Mont-Royal, Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Go: Watch as a Montreal eyesore transforms into a vibrant, colourful work of art. This innovative mural project is designed to light up the night sky, providing hope, joy and inspiration to passersby while enlivening a local neighbourhood.
The fate of humanity rests in your hands — well, at least if you sign up to play Rain Corp., a recent escape room game added to the roster at Escaparium's Laval location, which bills itself as one of the biggest escape room games in Canada.
The sprawling 2,500-square-foot room allows you to fully immerse yourself in gameplay and completely escape from reality while you race to solve puzzles and find clues, almost as if you were a character in a dystopian sci-fi film.
Players will be propelled into the world of multinational robotics conglomerate Rain Corp., which is developing "new military applications" for several of the world's greatest powers. As NATO attempts to undermine the company while anticipating a threat to international security, Rain Corp. is also losing control over its own research. The end of the world is nigh... or is it?
The game, which opened in July 2021, can accommodate three to 10 people but the Escaparium team recommends between three and six players.
From the decor to the storyline to the set, this massive escape room is designed to WOW — and the reviews are reflective of that.
The activity lasts 75 minutes. The game leaders rate the difficulty level of the adventure a 4/4, but the scare factor and physical factor are rated as 1/4. So you'll need to be quick-witted to win but you don't necessarily need to worry about exerting too much energy or screaming at the top of your lungs.