Montreal's reputation for effervescent nightlife reaches back to the Roaring Twenties, specifically to the 13-year experiment with Prohibition in the United States. Canadian distillers and brewers made fortunes -- few of them with meticulous regard for legalistic niceties -- and Americans streamed into Montreal for temporary relief from alcohol deprivation. The city already enjoyed a sophisticated and slightly naughty reputation as the Paris of North America, which added to the allure. Nightclubbing and barhopping remain popular activities, with nightspots keeping much later hours in Montreal than in archrival Toronto, which seems to still heed Calvinist notions of propriety and early bedtimes.
Montrealers' nocturnal pursuits are often as cultural as they are social. The city boasts its own outstanding symphony, French- and English-speaking theater companies, and the incomparable performance company Cirque du Soleil. It's also on the standard concert circuit that includes Chicago, Boston, and New York, so internationally known entertainers, rock bands, orchestra conductors and classical virtuosos, and ballet and modern-dance companies pass through frequently. A decidedly French enthusiasm for film, as well as the city's increasing reputation as a movie-production center, ensures support for cinemas showcasing experimental, offbeat, and foreign films, as well as the usual Hollywood blockbusters.
And in summer, the city becomes even livelier than usual with several enticing and often overlapping events: the Festival de Theatre des Ameriques, the flashy Montreal International Fireworks Competition, the renowned Festival International de Jazz, the humor-packed Juste pour Rire/Just for Laughs Festival, the Festival International Nuits d'Afrique, and the Festival International de Nouvelle Danse, which attracts modern-dance troupes and choreographers from around the world. To this bursting roster, the city has added the Montreal Highlights Festival/Festival Montreal en Lumiere, held for 2 weeks in February and dedicated to the arts, which, by this gastronomic city's measure, includes chefs the caliber of Paul Bocuse; and Les Franco Folies de Montreal, presenting artists and musicians from French-speaking nations during 10 days in July and August.
Concentrations of pubs and discos underscore the city's linguistic dichotomy. While there's a great deal of crossover mingling, the parallel blocks of rue Crescent, rue Bishop, and rue de la Montagne north of rue Ste-Catherine have a pronounced Anglophone character, while Francophones dominate the Quartier Latin, with college-age patrons most evident along the lower reaches of rue St-Denis and their yuppie elders gravitating to the nightspots of the slightly more uptown blocks of the same street. Vieux-Montreal (Old Montreal), especially along rue St-Paul, has a more universal quality, and many of the bars and clubs there feature live jazz, blues, and folk music. In the Plateau Mont-Royal area, boulevard St-Laurent, parallel to St-Denis and known locally as "The Main," has become a miles-long haven of hip restaurants and clubs, roughly from rue Laurier to rue Sherbrooke. Boulevard St-Laurent is a good place to wind up in the wee hours, as there's always some place with the welcome mat still out, even after the official 3:00am closing.
Finding Out What's On--For details on performances or special events that are on when you're in town, pick up a free copy of Montreal Scope, a weekly ads-and-events booklet usually available at hotel reception desks, or the free weekly newspapers Mirror and Hour (in English) or Voir and Ici (in French), available all over town. Fugues, available at the tourist information office opposite the Beaudry Metro station or online (www.fugues.com) provides news and views of gay and lesbian events, clubs, restaurants, and activities. For extensive listings of largely mainstream cultural and entertainment events, log on to www.canada.com/english or www.montrealplus.ca. A similar service is provided by Hour at www.afterhour.com. Also try the official website of Tourisme Montreal: www.tourisme-montreal.org.
Cinema--In Montreal, English-language films are usually presented with subtitles in French. However, when the initials "VF" (for version francaise) follow the title of a non-Francophone movie, it means that the movie has been dubbed into French. Policies vary on English subtitles on non-English-language films -- the best idea is to ask at the box office. Besides the many first-run movie houses that advertise in the daily newspapers, Montreal is rich in "cine-clubs," which tend to be slightly older and show second-run, foreign, and art films at reduced prices.
In first-run movie houses, admission is usually C$9.50 (US$6.80) for adults in the evening, C$5 to C$7 (US$3.55-US$5) for adults on some afternoons (usually Tues and Wed), and C$4.50 (US$3.20) for seniors and children all the time. The Centre Eaton, 705 rue Ste-Catherine ouest, near the corner of rue McGill, has a multiplex cinema with six modern theaters.
Foreign-language and independent films are the menu at Ex-Centris, 3536 bd. St-Laurent (tel. 514/847-2206; www.ex-centris.com), and the architectural surroundings are at least as interesting -- sort of a post-machine age spaceship. A hip bar-cafe is also on the premises. The films are in English about half the time. Call and ask. Similar fare, without the jazzy setting, is presented at the repertory Cinema du Parc, 3575 av. du Parc (tel. 514/281-1900; www.cinemaduparc.com). The National Film Board of Canada (Cinema ONF), 1564 rue St-Denis (tel. 514/496-6887), shows Canadian and international films, primarily in English and French, particularly classics. Shows are Tuesday through Sunday; call for times.
Imposing, sometimes visually disorienting images confront viewers of the seven-story screen in the IMAX theater in the Interactive Science Centre in the Vieux-Port (Old Port; tel. 514/496-4629), and at Imax Paramount Montreal, 977 rue Ste-Catherine (tel. 514/842-5828). Efforts are made to create IMAX films suitable for the entire family.
Gambling--The Casino de Montreal (tel. 800/665-2274 or 514/392-2746; www.casinos-quebec.com), Quebec's first, is in the former French Pavilion, which was left over from the 1967 Expo World's Fair, on Ile Notre-Dame. Its several floors contain over 120 game tables, including roulette, craps, blackjack, and baccarat, and more than 3,000 slot machines. Its four restaurants get good reviews, especially Nuances. There are also four bars and live shows. No alcoholic beverages are served in the gambling areas. Patrons must be 18 or over. The casino is open around the clock. Tickets to the cabaret can be purchased at the casino or on the Internet at www.admission.com. They are priced from C$39 (US$25) for the show alone, or from C$65 (US$42) for the show and dinner. The originally strict dress code has been relaxed somewhat, but the following items of clothing are still prohibited: "cut-off sweaters and shirts, tank tops, jogging outfits, cut-off shorts and bike shorts, beachwear, work or motorcycle boots, and clothing associated with violence or with an organization known to be violent." To get to the casino, take the Metro to the Ile Ste-Helene stop, which is adjacent to Ile Notre-Dame, and walk or take the shuttle bus from there.
Montreal loves its night life as it offers something for everyone. Whether you're a connoisseur, a party goer, or just want to meet new people, you'll find it here. Montreal's night life finishes at 3am, but you'll find plenty of after hours clubs in the city if you're not ready to call it a night. The legal drinking age is 18.
The Montreal night life can be categorized into 4 areas, each with its own character.
Crescent Street, Bishop Street, Ste-Catherine Street
This is the most famous area and comprises of restaurants, clubs, cafes and boutiques, all of which are steps from each other. The Crescent strip hosts many festivals and events throughout the year offering live entertainment and street shows. Currently, the hot spots of the strip are Club Vatican, Newtown and Le Boom. Additionally there are many great Irish-style pubs to go along with the always packed dance clubs. You'll also find many clubs that cater to meeting new people and lots of European style strip clubs.
Le Plateau Mont-Royal
The Plateau is the trendiest area in what many feel is the hippest neighborhood in Canada. It is filled with every kind of bar to suit any style, many catering to those looking for the newest and trendiest spots. Keep on the look out for the new buzz that will quickly become the place to be. Typically, there will be large crowds of people fighting to get in to these clubs and those on "The List" will cruise past the velvet rope. As our VIP, we'll make sure you don't wait any line ups or pay any cover charge to get in.
The Latin Quarter
The Latin Quarter offers a little something for everyone. This area is known for its laid back attitude and francophone influence. There are many bars specializing in locally brewed beers and lots of clubs catering to international flavor. During the summer months this area gets completely transformed as it hosts the largest Jazz festival in the world featuring hundreds of shows and live entertainment. Millions of people frequent this event and partake in a culture fest unlike any other. You'll also find the world famous and largest Just for Laughs comedy festival here every July. See Montreal info for more information.
Known as "The Village", you'll find lots of great bars and restaurants in this area, many known for their happening venues. You'll also find that this area accommodates gay and straight people alike, all of which are accepted in this neighborhood. Additionally, Montreal will be hosting the VII gay games in 2006..
Whichever spot you choose, you'll always be close to that vibrant and active night life for party goers and wanting adults.
Montreal by night is an adventure waiting to happen. Internationally reputed to have the best nightlife in the world, no traveler leaves unfulfilled. With its hundreds of night clubs, whether it be jazz or blues, classic, R&B, house, fusion, rock or dance, you'll find it here. Relax with a martini and a cigar or share a pint with the gang, there is something to suit every need. Its' erotic industry is also world renowned. Montreal is a safe and exciting city that pleases all.