Press release for immediate distribution

Winter is not for scaredy-cats!

MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE once again heats up the city

Montréal, Monday, March 2, 2015 — The 16th edition of MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE, presented by RBC in collaboration with Bell has proven it beyond all doubt: MEL fans from near and far are definitely not afraid of a little winter! The cold may have tested our limits, but it did not get the better of us! Montrealers (and tourists, too) flocked out to thumb their noses at the weather during this record-breakingly cold February; clearly, they’ve all embraced this festival, no matter what the weather brings. This magnificent edition dedicated to Switzerland, our featured country this year, has just ended; hearts are beating a little more softly, everyone is catching their breath, their senses still reeling from the excitement. And as we take stock of the last 11 days, one thing is certain: from the performing arts to fine dining, from free outdoor festivities to the wildest night of the year, everyone celebrated, laughed, cheered and had an absolutely memorable great time. A really, really, really great time!

Et par -20 °C, les Montréalais seront des milliers à s’emmitoufler pour assister à de nombreux spectacles et activités en plein air. […] Dans cet incroyable foisonnement, qui fait de la ville un cas unique au monde, Montréal en lumière est exemplaire. Et pas seulement parce que c’est l’un des plus grands événements hivernaux de la planète. […] Exemplaire, l’événement l’est aussi pour ce qu’il dit de l’esprit québécois. […] Enfin, Montréal en lumière est exemplaire par son concept même : il mêle les spectacles de musique, théâtre, danse ou humour et la gastronomie. Les chefs en sont les vedettes, (presque) autant que les artistes.

Valérie Lehoux, Télé (France), February 19, 2015

It was an action-packed winter! Start with our outdoor site, the headquarters of fun, with a ton of free activities—including the newest star attraction, an absolutely crazy Zip-line—and all its (also free) shows every evening, rekindling the party flame for all those who braved bitterly cold temperatures to celebrate together. Our stages and venues turned the spotlight on an array of local and visiting artists, who performed to packed houses. The greatest in gourmet dining came from Switzerland as well as Washington, D.C., our featured American city, and Lanaudière, our Quebec region to discover, served up by our fifty Finest Tables—with many of their events sold out—along with innumerable other surprising offerings, from tasting sessions with the world’s greatest sommelier to a very convivial Swiss fondue, and heartwarming gatherings for roasted marshmallows around blazing braziers.

If the extreme temperatures sometimes cooled off sales on the outdoor site, the weather was relatively milder on both Saturdays, the two most important days for festival attendance. We recorded an increase in the number of festival fans attending indoor venues, and thanks to surpassing box office objectives (before even counting the two Bell Centre shows starring Bryan Adams!), the festival should reach the budgetary goals established by its board of directors (comprising members of the tourism, economic and cultural sectors of Montreal and presided over by Michel Archambault), perhaps even generating a small surplus, which would contribute to reimbursing its accumulated deficit.

Our outdoor site, the place to party

The coolest party around […] they have created a packed calendar of activities that lures out even the most frosty-toed revellers – and that makes Montreal in winter an unlikely, yet irresistible, holiday destination.

Ute Junker, (Australia), March 28, 2013

Montreal’s downtown is transformed into a winter wonderland for the Montreal en Lumiere festival

Ingrid Abramovitch, ELLE Décor (USA), February 20, 2015

© MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE – Benoit Rousseau

Since last year, the free outdoor site has undergone a complete transformation of its activities and lighting effects, a metamorphosis that guaranteed an endless array of surprises and fun. Indeed, UNESCO even named the 16th edition of MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE as a special event as part of the International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies! Our featured country was well-represented throughout the festival program, including on the outdoor site, with the Maison de la Suisse (and its permanent line-ups!) and the kaleidoscopic Ferris Wheel, and Alpenhorn virtuoso Eliana Burki in her outdoor concert. This year’s major surprise was definitely the RBC Zip-line, a favourite that allowed festival fans to “fly” over an illuminated site, from the Place des Festivals all the way to St. Urbain Street. Other popular innovations included the Milk Mini-Slide for little ones, right next to its famed big sister, as well as interactive installation The Pool by Jen Lewin presented in the Cercle Bell, a gigantic luminous ping pong game activated by fans leaping from one pastille to another. Good news: the installation will remain in the Quartier des Spectacles until March 15. The Casino de Montréal Garden of Light, an essential gourmet stop, was a true oasis, with its assorted meatballs—a culinary delight!—smoked fish, tartiflette and even sugar pie courtesy of Jean-Pierre Curtat, chef of Le Montréal! Let’s not forget the free outdoor shows and the Bell DJs/VJs on the RBC Stage, with a grand finale starring Misteur Valaire, followed by Ariane Moffatt and friends in her DJ incarnation. And hats off to all the artists who braved spectacular temperature inversions for their fans, especially Vincent Vallières in our opening outdoor concert, with the incredible showman and his dynamism and good humour completely unaffected by the polar cold—much respect! And on the first Saturday of the festival, the Lanaudière region came to the rescue of frigid festival fans with a heartwarming bowl of creamy Lanaudière parmentier!

The performing arts in the spotlight

Montrealers love their festivals [...] [Montréal en] Lumière is a wonderful panoply of performances

Joe Diaz, The Weather Network (USA), 12 février 2015

La programmation culturelle du festival […] est si généreuse qu’on ne sait où donner de la tête.

Moi & cie, March 2015

MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE once again amazed and delighted fans with its explosive program, making it a hit in every respect—packed venues, memorable premieres, magical discoveries and revelations, passionate crowds… First off, congratulations to Bobby Bazini and Stephan Eicher, who lived up to their prestigious titles as honorary co-presidents. The Swiss singer’s countrymen and women—Kadebostany, Anna Aaron, Bastian Baker and Daniele Finzi Pasca, with his wonderfully poetic Icaro—made us all eager to discover even more of the Swiss arts scene. Of course, we’re not leaving out the opening concert starring Bruno Pelletier and Guy St-Onge with the Orchestre Métropolitain, the 30th and final performance of Ne me quitte pas: a Tribute to Jacques Brel, which unleashed a tidal wave of emotion in the room, the return of the Tragically Hip, or the first delirious visit by crowd fave Christine and the Queens, Harry Manx, Betty Bonifassi and Jay-Jay Johanson. In keeping with tradition, the festival presented an impressive series of Montreal premieres, including Stefie Shock, Jérôme Couture, Marie-Pierre Arthur and Guillaume Beauregard. Finally, in a spectacular announcement courtesy of Alain Simard, we announced the return of legendary Maestro Charles Dutoit, who will grace our 2016 edition, conducting the OSM for two incredible concerts in the Maison symphonique with his fellow Swiss artist Martha Argerich on piano!

Fine dining takes centre stage

Un festival unique au monde celui de Montréal […] Il sait mettre en lumière la grande gastronomie avec des représentations spectaculaires qui démontrent le vrai sens de la fête chère au Canadiens […] Véritable ode à la bonne chère, cette exquise kermesse gastronomique montréalaise.

Gastronomie & Tourisme (Suisse), December 2014

MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE has clearly established itself for years now as one of the largest events in Montreal, and ranks among the most important events in the country, in large part thanks to its fine dining program, the spearhead of the festival, with a Finest Tables program that has put Montreal on the international map of essential gourmet experiences. Thanks to its unique “pairings” concept, our world-class creative chefs annually welcome their international peers, thereby mutually enriching the culinary savoir-faire of all concerned, from the kitchens to the tables. This 16th edition of the festival was particularly prestigious, welcoming Switzerland as its featured country, the nation with the most Michelin Guide stars per capita in the world, represented by a delegation of fifteen chefs including Pierre-André Ayer, president of the Grandes Tables de Suisse and owner of Michelin-starred restaurant Le Pérolles in Fribourg, who served as honorary president of the program. And we also welcomed another illustrious guest, his fellow Swiss native Paolo Basso, no less than the 2013 best sommelier in the world.

We can never offer enough thanks to our Finest Tables, loyal partners that annually succeed in renewing their concepts and products and impressing us with their ideas. Foodies and gourmets love their incredible menu of options and offerings, which is obvious from the impressive number of sold-out activities.

Jean-Talon Market hosted the Lanaudière region, showcasing the wondrous wares of its producers and chefs, who presented an array of products and hosted workshops. Presenting Québec Chefs and Cheeses, in the au Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, was completely sold out once again. This year, the competition featured 4 finalists from the popular Radio-Canada show Les Chefs!, with Jonathan Rassi winning over our 400 guests/judges and taking home the $5000 prize. The Festival of Quebec Cheeses in Complexe Desjardins was more popular than ever, with record sales—the event sold more cheese in three days than last year’s edition did in four! Finally, the latest MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE innovation, the Salon du livre gourmand presented by Renaud-Bray in partnership with Les Éditions La Presse (free admission), was another hit: this Pop-Up boutique, designed especially for the event and held on the Complexe Desjardins’ Grande-Place was right at home in this edition, presenting myriad new wrinkles, hundreds of books, discoveries and little treasures, and autograph sessions with such luminaries as François Chartier, Marilou et Alexandre, Paul Gilbert, Bob Le Chef

Winter = happiness

To recap… Winter = Happiness at MEL, and that was certainly true of this luminous 16th edition. Smiling faces were everywhere, children laughed and played, and the mood was joyous throughout. Tourists flocked to the site…

… le Montréal sous zéro attire de plus en plus de touristes étrangers […] C’est même la saison touristique qui connaît ici la plus forte croissance. Au cours des 15 dernières années, le nombre de touristes a grimpé de 2 % de juillet à septembre, de 10 % d’octobre à décembre… et de 18 % de janvier à mars !

François Cardinal, La Presse+, February 28, 2015

…right alongside Montrealers, who lived up to their international reputation for joie de vivre, plunging wholeheartedly into an incredible and undreamt-of urban winter program that reawakens the city every February, a program so rich and varied that National Geographic magazine has ranked our festival among its 10 must-see global winter destinations. In short, with MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE, Montrealers have not only accepted their northern climate, they’ve embraced it, rediscovering their city from another perspective, writing an annual love letter to every glittering wintry facet of Montreal.

Montréal en lumière […] non seulement on y était, mais ça ne se voulait rien de moins que l’astre qui, plus que jamais, brille et réchauffe le cœur de la ville engourdie : la solution aux engelures, quoi. Et au déneigement. Et aux lèvres gercées.

Sylvain Cormier, Le Devoir, November 6, 2014


This 16th edition also enjoyed brilliant media coverage, especially of our Swiss-themed events. The festival welcomed international media from the U.S. (The San Francisco Chronicle, The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The National Culinary Review, The Kitchn, The Daily Meal, Paste Magazine, Condé Nast Traveler, USA Today, National Geographic Travel, USA Today — 10BEST, Yahoo Travel, Gayot, Fox News, The Weather Network, ELLE Decor, EATER, Honest Cooking, Alimentari Magazine, Glamour Magazine, My Modern Met, Local 22 WVNY (ABC), Local 44 WFFF (FOX), Seven Days Vermont, Burlington Free Press, EATER DC, DC Life Magazine, BizBash,, Courrier-Journal,, The Tennessean, Ithaca Journal, IndyStar, Lo Hud, Florida Today,, JCOnline, The Star Press, The Advertiser, Star Gazette, Press Connects, The Statesman Journal, DelawareOnline, Main Street, Wire Magazine), Canada (The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, The National Post, FEAST : an edible roadtrip, Magazine Découvertes,, enRoute edition, Ottawa Citizen, WestJet Magazine, Eat Drink Travel, The Telegram, The Chronicle Journal,, Worldviews Project,, Travel Press, PAX News), France (Télérama, Les Inrockuptibles,, TV5 Monde, Huffington Post, TF1, Montréal L’Essentiel — Éditions Nomades, Québec Le Mag’, SPM 1ere, Voyager Loin, Votre tour du monde, Quebec Le Mag’, Durs à Cuire), Switzerland (Le Temps, 24 heures, Le Matin, Tribune de Genève, RTS (Radio), RTS (Télévision), SWISS Magazine, Hôtellerie Gastronomie Hebdo, La Coopération, L’Express, Le Nouvelliste, Gastronomie & Tourisme, ByLyria Magazine), the U.K. (London24), Netherlands (The Velvet Escape), Taiwan (, India (The Hindu), Japan (ABC ASAHI), China (Xinhua News Service) and Peru (Orbita Popular).

MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE: wired and connected

Following on its instant success last year, the mobile version of the festival program confirmed its popularity this year, drawing a record number of wired festival fans—206,624 visits. And that does not include the increased popularity of the festival website, with 366,608 visits.

Our team created forty videos capturing highlights of the festival: artist performances, the electric ambience of the outdoor site, gourmet events and exclusive interviews with major chefs, and behind-the-scenes moments, all hosted by journalist and commentator Olivier Robillard-Laveaux and accessible in the multimedia section of our website and our Youtube channel. Also, this year, the festival once again welcomed Valérie Roberts as its official blogger, while new participating blog collected posts by restaurateurs, bloggers, journalists and festival fans looking to share their thoughts on the festival and Montreal fine dining.

A tremendous increase in subscribers to MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE and Nuit blanche on social networks, Facebook and Twitter racked up almost 6 million visits during the event. Thousands of festival fans flocked to Twitter and Instagram to share their experiences live, using keywords #NBMTL and #MTLenLumiere, and there were over 24,740 viewings on YouTube for the 2015 edition. The Nuit blanche free mobile application for iPhone and Android presented by Hydro-Québec was a huge hit once again, with 82,860 users—18,897 more than last year!

MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE and its partners

Let us close by offering our warmest thanks to all those near and far who make up the team that allows us to stage a festival that unites us all: our 300 partners from all sectors, including RBC, Bell, Hydro-Québec, the Consulate General of Switzerland Montréal, Swiss International Airlines, Switzerland Tourism, the Producteurs de lait du Québec, the Casino de Montréal, Sun Life Financial, the Société des alcools du Québec, Complexe Desjardins, Provigo, Rickard’s, the Hotel Association of Greater Montréal, as well as all of our other official partners and suppliers. We also thank our three levels of government for their constant support: the Government of Québec — the ministère du Tourisme, the Secrétariat à la région métropolitaine, the ministère de la Culture et des Communications and SODEC — the Government of Canada — Economic Development Canada (with special thanks for their investment in our newest products, the Zip-line and the Garden of Light) and Heritage Canada — as well as the Ville de Montréal, Tourisme Montréal, the Conseil des arts de Montréal and the Partenariat du Quartier des spectacles.

The 17th edition of MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE will be held from Thursday, February 18 to Sunday, February 28, 2016.

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