Last weekend, I was in Montreal for the Festival International de Jazz – an annual event now in its 31st year that draws around 2.5 million concert-goers for 650 shows (many of which are free) over 12 days. This year’s festivities included stellar performances by such big-name acts as Lionel Ritchie and the Brian Setzer Orchestra, with many more still to come before the festival’s end on July 6.
For those who won’t make it to the Jazz Festival this year, don’t fret – since last summer, Montreal has kept the party vibe going year-round at the festival’s permanent home, the Maison du Festival. You can catch concerts and other performances at the Maison’s l’Astral, an intimate venue in the heart of the city’s revitalized Quartier des Spectacles. Upcoming shows include performers from Montreal’s Just for Laughs festival and local soul singer Nadja.
Even if you’re not there for a show, stop by the Maison du Festival to check out La Médiathèque Jazz/La Presse, a permanent archive of the festival’s history, as well as special exhibits in the Galerie Lounge. Next up are exhibitions by celebrated Montreal graffiti artist Zilon (August 5-September 26) and official Woodstock photographer Elliott Landy (October 14-December 24).
Built up an appetite from all the music and art? Head to the Maison’s Bistro La Balmoral, a French-inspired restaurant with a spacious terrace perfect for summer evenings.