Montreal, Canada’s Cultural Capital

August 13th, 2019

Nothing new here, Montreal has a long history of continuous cultural vitality. Like the big cities of North America, it has many museums, theaters and sports halls, libraries and theaters that offer a busy schedule of shows, concerts and art events. However, Montreal’s ambition goes much further: thanks to the coexistence of the French and English communities and the growing efforts to heighten its cultural promises, the city intends to quickly become the cultural capital of North America. And it’s on the right track…

An already vast and varied cultural heritage

Just for your info, almost 90,000 people worked in the cultural sector in Montreal in 2017 and this represents about 4% of total jobs in Grand Montreal. You now understand that this city takes culture very seriously.

In fact, there is not a single neighborhood in Montreal that does not have a concert hall, a cultural center, a museum, or a theater. Le Quartier des Spectacles, for example, has at least 30 theaters, adding up to 28,000 seats!

One part of the neighborhood, the Place des Arts, is the largest cultural complex in Canada. It has superb concert halls such as the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier or the Cinquième Salle and theaters such as the Théâtre Maisonneuve and the Théâtre Jean-Duceppe, which offers a varied program of young artists as well as Montreal stars. Place des Arts also hosts productions from the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and the Opéra de Montréal.

The other part of the Quartier des Spectacles is the Quartier Latin, near the Université du Québec à Montréal in Ville-Marie. It is the definition of the intellectual and cultural quarter with the Grande Bibliothèque du Québec which gathers 4 million documents including 1 million books. Not far, Quebec’s Cinémathèque has impressive collections, books (45,000), photos (600,000), posters (28,000), enough to entertain you on days when it’s chilly outside…

Year-round cultural events

You would be wrong to believe that the cultural life of Montreal stops at the sight of the first snowflake, no, no, no. The year is full of events and festivals, from January to December and there is something for everyone: the FrancoFolies of Montréal, which promotes French song and attracts a million people every year, the Montréal Festival of Lights. Or one of the biggest winter festivals in the world, the Fêtes des Neiges. Or even Montreal’s Feux d’Artifices.

When the weather is nice (we’re talking about September), do not miss the World Film Festival, which introduces an amateur audience to the cinematic diversity of the 7 continents and more than 70 countries. On the program, they feature more than 230 films!

But when you ask a Montreal resident what festival not to miss in the city, he will surely answer with: The Montreal International Jazz Festival. This major event in Quebec’s cultural life brings 2 million visitors a year.

Montreal, the future cultural capital of North America

The combined influence of the French and English communities gives Montreal a distinct status in the world of culture and elevates the city to become a Canadian hub for the arts and media of the French language. No wonder then, that the cultural offer is immense. And the government is putting its money where its mouth is: In the face of economic upheavals in the digital age, the government has recently implemented the Digital Cultural Plan of Quebec. It is designed to help cultural sectors adapt to information and communication technologies, from the perspective of cultural, economic, tourism, educational, heritage and social development.

In short, not a cloud on the horizon, the Montreal cultural weather is in good shape and it’s looking sunny as far as we can see.