Montreal gears up for 375th anniversary with year-long calendar of events
Rendering of the new Alexandra Pier cruise terminal

Montreal gears up for 375th anniversary with year-long calendar of events

TORONTO — Montreal’s milestone anniversary is 375 years in the making, generating big buzz from coast to coast. And though its anniversary date falls specifically on May 17, the milestone occasion warrants a year’s worth of celebrations and exciting exhibits that highlight the city’s history, people and joie de vivre.

With a jam-packed calendar of events, tourist volumes in Montreal are expected to jump by 5.3% over 2016. Some 10.7 million visitors are expected to bring in $3.6 billion tourist dollars, an 8.1% hike over last year. By way of comparison, Montreal welcomed 10.2 million tourists in 2016, for a total of $3.3 billion tourist dollars.

According to Tourisme Montréal, growth will primarily come from the overseas market (7.5%) and the United States (5.7%), thanks in large part to new direct flights from key destinations like China. But due to the fact that Montreal’s anniversary falls at the same time as Canada’s 150th anniversary as well as the 50th anniversary of Expo 67 (which is widely considered to be Montreal’s debut as an international destination), domestic numbers are also expected to rise, with Canadians finding a renewed interest in discovering their own country.

Montreal gears up for 375th anniversary with year-long calendar of events

Living connections – A work of illumination for the Jacques Cartier bridge

“2017 is a very exciting year, with Montreal, Canada and Montreal Expo all celebrating anniversaries – the timing couldn’t be more perfect,” Martine Venne, Manager, Media and Leisure Market for Tourisme Montréal, told Travelweek. “This year we invite everyone to celebrate our history, our European feel and what makes Montreal different through our food, culture and events.”

Montreal will commemorate its 375th anniversary with a total of 175 special events that take place throughout the year. Expected to be a major highlight is the illumination of the Jacques Cartier Bridge, a project that reportedly cost $39.5 million. Debuting on May 17 and expected to run for at least 10 years, the nightly light show will change colours and speeds according to the city’s overall ‘mood’, which will be tracked and measured on social media.

Montreal gears up for 375th anniversary with year-long calendar of events

Montréal Avudo

Equally spectacular are Montréal Avudo, a multimedia show in the old port of Montreal that will be offered for free from May 17 to Sept. 2, and Cité Mémoire, an interactive nightly guide and free app that highlights 17 points of interest throughout the downtown core, with four additional landmarks added this year. At each landmark, guests are invited to activate a short projection show, and listen to audio that streams through their phone.

Other 375th anniversary highlights include:

  • AURA (March 20-Oct. 30): This artistic project presented by the Notre-Dame Basilica and designed by Moment Factory sheds new light on the history and architecture of the Basilica as well as on the art that adorn its walls.
  • The Giants (May 19-21): These 18- to 30-foot-high ‘Royal de Luxe’ giant puppets will parade on Montreal’s streets over the long weekend.
  • La Grande Tournée (May 12-Sept. 17): A nomadic circus troupe will take over Montreal’s 19 boroughs over 19 weekends, featuring street performers, travelling art exhibitions and food trucks.
  • Leonard Cohen – A Crack in Everything (Nov. 9, 2017-April 1, 2018): the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal presents this homage to the acclaimed songwriter, poet and singer.
Montreal gears up for 375th anniversary with year-long calendar of events

The Giants

In other news for the city, a major undertaking is currently underway to redesign and renovate the Alexandra Pier cruise terminal. When completed next May, the new $78 million terminal will be able to welcome an increasing number of cruise ships to Montreal’s shores, including those by major cruise lines like Holland America, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea and Viking Cruises.

On Montreal’s cruise season, Sylvie Vachon, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Montréal Port Authority said: “The 2017 season looks promising, with a 25% increase in traffic being projected, which would bring the total number of cruise passengers and crew members to a record of more than 110,000. The rehabilitation work being done on the new maritime terminal is going according to schedule and we will be ready to open its doors on May 6, just in time to welcome the first ships of the season, the Veendam by Holland America.”

As for new hotels, Montreal’s got several in the pipeline, including Village by the locks, opening May 16 in the historic Lachine Canal, and the 90-room Hôtel Mount Stephen, opening in May in a 100-year-old historical building downtown. This summer, Hôtel Monville will open its doors just steps from the Palais des Congrès, with 269 rooms and suites and more than 4,000 square feet of meeting space, while the Hôtel Fairmont Queen Elizabeth will reopen in June following a major $140-million refurbishment.

Anticipating a busy summer ahead, Tourisme Montréal has launched the Montréal vous accueille project, a major initiative that aims to improve the city’s tourist welcome. This includes an expanded team of tourist information representatives, destination experts riding a welcome tricycle through tourist areas, and a mobile app that suggests tourist offerings based on individual preferences.

In addition, Tourisme Montréal has relaunched Passeport MTL, a single card to discover the city’s top attractions. Priced at $85 for a 48-hour pass or $99 for a 72-hour pass, the card gives users access to 23 attractions and unlimited public transportation using the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) network, which includes the 747 bus that runs between Montréal-Trudeau airport and downtown.

“Increasingly, tourists are looking for more authentic experiences and opportunities to live like a local while they travel. That’s why we’re encouraging Montrealers to be more welcoming than ever as the city celebrates its 375th anniversary. After all, Montreal residents are our best ambassadors,” said Pierre Bellerose, Vice-President, Tourist Welcome, at Tourisme Montréal.
For more information on travel to Montreal and the city’s 375th anniversary celebrations, go to

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