April 2, 2009

Montreal's Jazz Festival, bi-lingual all the way

Montreal, Canada
If you plan to travel to Montreal, Canada in July 2009, and you are also a Jazz lover, don't miss this exciting event:
July 1-12, 2009

This festival is definitely a highlight of all Canadian events. Known well to the locals, as well as by many around the world, this international jazz festival would even make New Orleans proud. And it's easy to get to for an American, taken that there are quite a few American airlines that offer flights to Montreal from various cities in the U.S.A., not to mention that the North Americans can simply cross the American-Canadian border by car.

And yes, I’ve been to the festival once, in 2003, but can still tell you as it was yesterday that the rush of seeing so many nationalities, of all age and status, in one place and with just one goal – to have a damn good time, was pretty liberating and overwhelming (in a very good positive way.) Streets were filled with people, sitting and standing, dressed casually wrapped up with plaid blankets or dressed in latest couture (as it is a place to be and be seen among the Canadians) – a great place to meet someone as well, but most importantly – every year Montreal does such a superb job with city decorations, musicians’ selection, street vendors’ choices and security that one keeps on coming back year and year after. The smell of all kinds of street foods, including the local delicatessen – crêpes, left wanting nothing more than making repetitive trips back and forth between jazz spots and crêpes’ vendors.

Held annually, The Montreal Jazz Festival was conceived by Alain Simard in 1977 who wanted for Montreal to have such a one-time event where multiple artists join to celebrate the Jazz culture. However, it was not until 1980 when a full-blown to the size it meant to be in the first place, the festival took place in Montreal. That was the beginning of the new era for the then-quiet and relatively un-tourist city. Twelve thousand attended the festival in 1980, and now, more than 25 years later, the attendance figure is in six digits. Last year alone the festival has been attracting and hosting more two million people in the past couple of years. Jazz mini and maxi concerts are held in a wide variety of venues, from relatively small jazz clubs to the large halls of La Place des Arts. Over almost 10 days, more than 500 concerts take place around the city. But the plentiful green Montreal has enough of parks and gardens that are being Jazz-utilized during the festival, including the beautiful, ala-Barcelona river-front.

The gigantic summer music celebration features 11 days of non-stop entertainment, from noon to midnight, right in the heart of downtown Montreal, and close to the old town (historic part of the city.) Several city blocs will be closed to traffic, making it a very pedestrians-friendly city for the time-being of the festival. De-traffic will also secure safety for families with kids, cafes and bistros, street performers and parks. It’s the summer celebration par excellence for people of all ages and origins, a cultural breath of fresh air, and a place for incredible musical discoveries with influence such as JAZZ, BLUES, LATIN-JAZZ, BRAZILIAN, CUBAN, AFRICAN, REGGAE, CONTEMPORARY, and ELECTRONICA.

And for some who love French culture, Montreal offers a bi-lingual experience - enjoy and practice your French; speak English or French at all times. Not to mention the French crêpes (originated from Brittany, a region in the northwest of France) on "wheels", or served on a cart, just as hotdogs and pretzels are around New York. These crêpes made authentically enough to not want to go to France, that is if you cannot afford it right now (but do plan to visit France in this life-time.) Sweet crêpes (crêpes sucrées) made with wheat flour or sour or savoury galettes (crêpes salées) - are just about two choices of French original crêpes offered around Montreal, with the most concentration in the Old Town of the city.

The local Montreal restaurant and hotel guides offers some tips on what to expect in dining experience while you stay in the city, visit Restomontreal.

With a family or solo, there are events and activities that suit just about everyone who comes to Montreal to experience local and international jazz talents. Moreover, if a few days is enough for you to experience Montreal, Quebec City is just about 160 miles away.

And if you haven’t still committed to the idea of making a trip to Montreal, you might want to pre-check the festival’s music collection by ordering one from last year’s festival, Live at Montreal Jazz (2008).

Sites that offer flight deals to Montreal, compare, plan and fly:
Flights to Montreal
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