By Christopher Morales, Taking the Kids Correspondent
MONTREAL — In 2017, the city of Montreal is celebrating its 375th anniversary, and the festivities run all year long! With activities ranging from festivals, shows and more, there is always something new to explore. Although there are new happenings, they all tie to the existing gems in La Metropole. For yours truly, a freshman at Ithaca College, this was a first visit to Montreal, a six-hour drive over spring break.
Hotel Intercontinental was home for our trip. The luxurious hotel is located at Centre de Commerce Mondial, offering 334 guestrooms and 23 suites. You can access amazing amenities such as a restaurant, a bar, a fitness center, a pool, a large office space and more. What was most interesting about this hotel was the accessibility it had to the streets and underground tunnels that connect to other buildings and the metro. Using the affordable Société de Transport Montréal, thousands of people were on their way to a sports game.
There is an active sport scene in Montreal. The Montreal Canadiens are the hometown heroes of hockey. They have won 24 Stanley Cups to date, and the fans are always present at the Centre Bell. Another sports team worth seeing is the Impact de Montreal soccer team. The Impact de Montreal are a soccer team that participates in Major League Soccer, the first-division American soccer league.
The Impact held their home opener on March 11th to over 34,000 spectators at the historic Olympic Stadium against the Seattle Sounders. The Impact held a strong 2-0 lead before the final 10 minutes when the Sounders snagged a couple of goals for a draw. One thing for certain is that Impact de Montreal games are worth checking out.
Once the daylight shined through the window pane, it was time for a city tour. René Lemieux is a tour guide from Tourisme Montréal, and he provided insight about the city he has loved serving for the past 30 years.
René emphasized how Montreal continues to embrace old architecture of buildings and monuments while constructing around them for new experiences. For example, the Jacques Cartier Bridge will be lit this year.
The Jacques Cartier Bridge sits above the Saint Lawrence River, and starting this year, 365 shades of light will glow for a breathtaking sight. On May 17th, 2017, a lighting show will fill the city with colorful joy. Once the show concludes, the lights will rest on one shade. Every day forward, the lights will change to a new shade.
Montreal is full of art museums and festivals, each offering a distinct experience to enjoy. An untraditional form of art is street art. However, in Montreal, it is a great tradition celebrated during the Mural Festival in the summer. Some of these murals change and others last throughout the year. Regardless, it is a wonderful reason to take a walk through the city.
For families wanting more experiences outdoors, Parc du Mont Royal is the perfect place to be. Parc du Mont Royal is home the high mountain seen through the Montreal skyline. During the winter, there is a rink for families to enjoy ice skating and more. During the summer, the park is home to various events such as Les Tam-Tams Du Mont Royal. It also holds some of the most incredible views of Montreal, providing the perfect background for holiday photos.
If you are ready to go underground, you will be astonished after a visit to the Pointe-à-Callière museum. Pointe-à-Callière is arguably the heart of Montreal, considering its land has been used for a Catholic cemetery, the William Collector Sewer and Place Royale. This is a must-see museum.
Frédéric is a kind and knowledgeable tour guide who offered a tour in English for visitors. The tour was called “Where Montreal Was Born.” We passed through various artifacts, multimedia displays and walls constructed centuries ago.
Frédéric said, “You can imagine the puzzle for archeologists. It’s one thing to know what it is, but it is another thing to understand its purpose.”
Montreal was once only seen as a place for trade. Now, it is more than that – a place of discovery, a “puzzle” for families to figure out what life was like then compared to now.
Not a puzzle but rather a fun maze is roaming through the exhibits at Musée Grévin Montreal. This wacky wax museum is guaranteed fun for families as they stand face-to-face with famous, international celebrities. The list goes from television personalities to artists to athletes and even cartoon characters!
Now through April 16th, 2017, families can enjoy standing the world of beloved French cartoons Astérix et Obélix. There is a library for children and their parents to read over some of their amazing adventures. Find out about more upcoming exhibits on social media @GrévinMontreal.
You can find more adventure on this 375th anniversary year by visiting Au Sommet Place Ville Marie observation deck. The observation deck offers some of the best views of Montreal and surrounding areas. With viewpoints both indoors and out, you will be left in awe at the beauty in front of you.
A unique element to Au Sommet Place Ville Marie is that there are 10 stations, each with an array of presentations to learn more about the culture in Montreal. You can skim through videos, archive photos, and social media posts. Toward the end of the presentation, you will receive a mission. Should you choose to accept it, you can collect the mission on a tracker. Before you leave, you can visit a kiosk to have your top four missions printed and/or emailed to you.
“A traditional planning tool for a more affordable vacation to Montreal is by getting a Family Pass offered by hotels partnering with Tourisme Montreal when you book family packages there. You can get two (2) free tickets for kids 12 and under when you buy one adult ticket. This pass can help save you money on visits to Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Science Centre, A/Maze Escape Game, Atrium Le 10000, Biodôme – Space for Life and more! The pass is valid for seven (7) consecutive days after your first use, now through January 5, 2018. Click on this link to learn more about getting your family pass today.”
There is an endless list of activities – many free – going on and around Montreal. You can visit the 375th Anniversary website for more information or you can use the 375MTL mobile app (available on Android and iOS).