One Night, Many Freebies: Walking Through Nuit Blanche
This year was the 10th anniversary of Nuit Blanche, the city-wide all-night festival that celebrates visual arts, music, film, dance, theatre, cuisine, literature and more. Over 150 events are scattered throughout the city, tens of thousands of Montrealers braving the snow every year and trekking from downtown to the Plateau and Old Montreal.
This humble film student set out to make the most of his first Nuit Blanche experience.
We started the night off classy with a visit to the Museé des Beaux-arts for a free chocolate tasting with exquisite offerings from Venezuela, Ecuador, Madagascar and others. Arguably the best part of Nuit Blanche is the never-ending supply of free stuff.
We then decided to head to the main site and braved the anarchy of Place-des-Arts Metro—packed in a tin can surrounded by drunk sardines—to reach the Place des Festivals.
The impressive large-scale attractions like the illuminating ferris wheel and snaking toboggan slide were worth it; we even contemplated getting in on the action. The ludicrously long lines lead us to quickly discard that idea.
Heading over to St. Laurent Blvd., we entered Société des arts technologiques for some eclectic chiptune music (also known as 8-bit, the genre derived from manipulating old computers and video games—including Gameboys—to synthesize their electronic emissions into trippy beats).
We grooved to music straight out of Legend of Zelda on the chic upper level, and played video games created by indie Montreal designers on bean bag chairs at the lower level.
Then we hiked over to Old Montreal and stepped into the Montreal Trade Centre for a photo art exhibit, but we got distracted by a performance art piece with a man in a glass box half-filled with balloons. Eventually we ended up committing fully to exploring the Art Souterrain for hours— venturing through malls, metros, train terminals and ice rinks.
Some art installations included a paper airplane battle-royale station, a huge human ear made of thousands of clay strings, an interactive “Simon Says” colour and music game stretching down a hallway and a fort constructed with crates large enough to host half a dozen art-goers, with everyone’s inner-child smiling with glee.
We almost called it quits at 3 a.m., but stayed strong and backtracked to the Hilton Bonaventure for a rooftop swim under the stars and snow. We were unceremoniously turned away for not having an advance ticket—immediately regretting decision to trek out to the Hilton.
By 4 a.m. it felt like a pretty respectable time to call it a night. For the unilingual, a “nuit blanche” is staying up all night. Well, we came pretty damn close.