Montreal culture and nightlife
Montreal is a fascinating fusion, combining European influences from its French and British colonial history with a uniquely North American culture. Ethnic populations from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere in the Americas have also made their mark, adding vibrancy to the city’s character.
Worldwide, Montreal is recognised as a cultural centre because of its thriving film industry, arts, literature and theatrical and dance companies. Each year, the city hosts upwards of 90 different festivals celebrating art, music, theatre, literature and fine food and wine.
Montreal is known for its high number of restaurants, offering everything from sushi and falafel to bagels. Traditionally though, Montreal’s cuisine has its roots in the winter provisions of early European fur traders, with a focus on filling starches and fats. It has also borrowed heavily from the French.
Montreal is the birthplace of poutine, which Canadians have adopted as something akin to a national food. Poutine consists of French fries covered in brown gravy and topped with cheese curds.
Also associated with Montreal are hearty meat pies, pea soup, ham dishes, pommes persillade (cubed, fried potatoes topped with a parsley-butter mixture), ragoût de boulettes (a meatball stew), Le Riopelle de l'Isle cheese and whippet cookies, which feature a biscuit base and a marshmallow-like filling with a chocolate coating.
Early spring is the time for maple syrup. Throughout Quebec, maple trees are tapped and the sap is collected and boiled in huge vats. When the syrup is thrown onto the snow, it hardens into maple syrup candy, which has a consistency similar to hard fudge.
Montreal is deservedly famous for its nightlife, with a diverse mix of clubs, pubs, bars and lounges offering everything from African and Latin music to live jazz, electronic music and dance music from the best of both local and international DJs.
One of the most popular nightlife zones is Saint-Denis Street, known as “the Main”, in the Quartier Latin. Here you’ll find buzzing clubs full to the brim with French-speaking Montrealers. More popular with the English-speaking population are the many clubs and night spots that line Crescent Street and neighbouring streets in the western section of Downtown.