I stand by what I said a few posts ago. Quebec has turned winter into a reason to celebrate. They do not seem content to wait around until the [late] spring and summer roll around. Festivals abound.
Nuit Blanche, for those who might not know, means White Night…meaning a night when you don’t see the black of your eyelids. You’re supposed to stay up all night, or at least until a solid 2 A.M. Nuit Blanche takes place in Montreal, at the end of a week-long festival called Montreal en Lumiere. More correctly, I might say that Nuit Blanche takes place all over Montreal, not just in Montreal. Sure, there is the epicenter of activity in Place des Festivals and Place des Arts, but there are activities reaching from the Old Port to Olympic Stadium to the Plateau. Food specials, art exhibitions, interactive art projects, shows, free concerts, fireworks, etc.
There’s a lot to do at Nuit Blanche. The program is huge, overwhelming, and just barely helpful. I must have spent nearly two hours on the website, trying to determine what activities were the “main” activities. The program and the website seemed to be so egalitarian that I couldn’t make heads or tails of anything. So we made no real plans except to show up to Place des Arts, eat something less-than-healthy, and find some subterranean art (Art Souterrain). Maybe, just maybe, if we had it in us, we would go to a beer tasting over on the Plateau.
We started early, heading out around 6:30 PM toward Place des Arts (an easy walk from our place). I did quickly notice that we were still among children and families at this hour, but it was still less crowded than it would be later. Place des Arts/Place des Festivals was filled with food vendors, oddities, stages, and fire pits. Though I almost always succumb to the most cheesy tourist activity, (to truly complete your Nuit Blanche experience you must roast a marshmallow!), even I could not be convinced to spend 3.50 (especially now that the Canadian dollar has dropped again–time to save) from just one guimauve. I’d rather eat a sandwich for the price of two marshmallows.
This year’s theme city was Buenos Aires. Think tango, think generically delicious reds, thing over-prized and under-size homemade jars of dulce de leche. Think hearty sandwiches. While waiting in line I took the opportunity to eavesdrop on the French and Spanish speakers that surrounded us. Shortly after the pit stop in Buenos Aires, we ate what I thought was my first real Belgian waffle. It was too good and too small. I later received a food history lesson from a French conversation partner, who exposed the Belgian waffle as a misnomer. Giggle.
We waited in line twice to enter the RBC Dome, but didn’t make it in time for the show/exhibition, which apparently ended at 9 PM. Waiting in line did, however, afford us a great view when the fireworks display began.
After the fireworks, we headed underground to avoid the snow and the cold. Montreal has over 20 miles (32 kilometers) of Underground City, which was virtually covered from one end to the other with art for the event. Each art installation was manned by a smart, enthusiastic, oh-so-intriguingly-sophisticated artist or volunteer, dressed in head-to-toe black of course, so you could learn more about whatever mind-boggling art piece you are staring at. We walked for nearly three miles underground, wandering from fountain, to clustercuss of yarn, to texting hamburger, etc.
Ten points if you can tell me what the medium for the above piece is.
Beef can be vulgar, you know.
Though I don’t have many photos of the interactive art activities, they could be found throughout.
We decided to pop out to join the Eloi of the world in Old Montreal. Notre Dame is so adorable at night.
At this point, we confessed to each other that:
- a) our dogs were barkin’
- b) we were just generally tired as well.
Thanks to the combination of good conversation and a less comprehensive night-time public transportation system, we had a later than expected night the night before, so our Nuit Blanche was more of a [what I might refer to as] a “gray night.” We ended up in bed by midnight. I had the intentions of a youngin’. It was going to be epic. I thought this ole gal had an all-nighter left. Nope. I guess I’m old already.