It’s the most anticipated celebration, in a city that wrote the book on celebrations, of the year: New Year’s Eve. Whether it’s an elegant meal with friends, top-notch live entertainment, taking in fireworks in a spectacular setting, or clubbing ’til the sun comes up (and then goes down and comes up again), Montréal has something for everyone, and then some. Let the following be your guide to great New Year’s Eve times.
Make merry outside for free
It’s only fitting that we kick off with Merry Montréal’s free New Year’s Party on the Old Port’s Quai Jacques-Cartier because it is THE outdoor concert, countdown and dance party on this night. Now in its sixth edition, Merry Montréal pulls out all the stops for its live music roster every year, uniting many of Québec’s best musicians – which this year include Afrikana Soul Sister, Andréanne A. Malette, Roxane Bruneau, Hubert Lenoir and more, hosted by comedian Neev – on the big stage. The site opens at 7 pm and the concerts kick off at 10 pm, followed by the New Year’s countdown at 11:59 pm, fireworks at midnight and then a dance party featuring DJ Magic Stan from 12:15 to 2 am. In short, Merry Montréal’s got you completely covered.
Bet on these perennial crowd-pleasers
The Casino de Montréal has a full menu of New Year’s activities and live performances that defy the rules of time. Free shows at the Valet de carreau bar (with its massive multimedia wall) commence at 4 pm with The Playlist cover band, and then more bands and DJ sets follow all the way until 6 am. The Pavillon du Québec will also see dance action from 9 pm to 4 am courtesy of DJ Bruno Berdnikoff. Additionally, the Casino’s five restaurants, including that of three-Michelin-star French chef Joël Robuchon, will be open and working on a first-come, first-served basis. Balcon Cabaret Music-Hall on Sainte-Catherine Streetwill be doing what they do best when they bring the house down with a soul, Motown, funk and groove live music mix featuring vocalist Shaharah (and full live band) belting out classics by the likes of Mary J. Blige, Michael Jackson, Lauryn Hill, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder and more. The dinner-and-show ticket includes a four-course menu, the show and a glass of bubbly at midnight. However, if the ‘80s are more to your tastes, restored cinema/theatre La Tulipe’s popular Pop 80 dance night will host a special New Year’s edition complete with champagne and canapés at the stroke of midnight.
Dance your way downtown
Get the night flying at Jet Nightclub, Crescent Street’s largest nightclub, which is promising the “ultimate New Year’s Eve experience!” for you and 999 of your friends, including a range of VIP ticket packages plus a live countdown on giant screens, a huge balloon drop and party favours for all. Also keeping the Crescent Street New Year’s energy peaking is Club Electric Avenue with an ’80s-’90s vibe at its NYE Glitter 2019 partay, as well as Copacabana, which will be spinning Top 40, house, R&B and electro. A couple blocks away, Le Cinq offers a singular dancing environment: it’s situated in the private chapel of a heritage building. Their annual New Year’s Eve Madness event features several packages – ranging from “Senseless” through “Irrational” to “Crazy” and up to “Insane” – for a party that spans three rooms. And the only thing insane about Bier Markt Montreal is the number of beers they have on hand: over 150 beers from 30 countries (with European-style food pairings that range from charcuterie to oysters to, whoa, a 50 oz. steak) and, of course, a beer cheers when the ball drops. And just to make sure all bases are covered, Montréal institution the Sir Winston Churchill Pub Complex has all the things on three floors under one roof: a nightclub with a bangin’ dance floor, a live music pub space, and a laid-back club lounge with a glamorous décor. You could pay a small cover for each, or a $60 VIP pass will get you into all three (whatever you choose, you’ll be rewarded with a glass of the sparkly stuff at midnight). Get a sense of the fun you’re in for here.
The Main events
Over on Saint-Laurent Boulevard – or “The Main” as it’s known to the homegrown – there’s club scene action all along the strip, beginning on lower Saint-Laurent. The ultra-modern Society for Arts and Technology (a.k.a. the SAT) is one of the more unique spaces in the city, and this year’s dance party in the immersive, one-of-a-kind “Satosphère” space will be helmed by DJs Pierre Kwenders, Lexis, and DJ Frog B2B Lis Dalton. And just half a stone’s throw north, at premiere Quartier des spectacles venue Club Soda, the annual Fluid New Years dance party will be in full effect. The operative term at Fluid is “all-inclusive”: admission, coat check, open bar all night and all tips are included in the price, so they invite you to leave your wallet at home. Further up the street, the two floors (one a lounge, the other a dance club) of party mainstay Rougewill be bouncing to the sound of hip-hop, club anthems and Top 40, while over at Muzique similar musical stylings will be on offer in multiple themed rooms at their annual Montréal Ball.
Parties in one-of-a-kind spaces
Two rather extraordinary venues will be throwing bashes in the city’s burgeoning southwest district, beginning with wholly unique Griffintown party palace New City Gas, built in the historic, industrial-age New City Gas complex that lit Montréal streets once upon a time. Their Vicetone Dom Pérignon Luminous NYE party starts bumpin’ at 10 pm. Over in Little Burgundy, the Final Fantasy New Year’s Eve event takes place in the Salon 1861 space, the reimagined former Saint Joseph’s Church built in 1861. Its 40-foot arched ceilings will provide a heavenly backdrop for this fully tricked out, VIP New Year’s experience for some 1,200 folks. And New Year’s celebrations will (literally) reach new heights this year, as restaurant Les Enfants Terribles and the Observatoire Place Ville Marie throw a Gatsby-themed bash at the top of the iconic Place Ville Marie skyscraper. After a 5-course gourmet meal at Les Enfants Terribles restaurant on the 44th floor, attendees will be invited to the observatory on the 46th floor to continue festivities including the big midnight countdown and, after that, a DJ, bar and dance floor.
If you’re the kind of person who only gets their party started by the time most clubs are closing, the Gay Village has the answer for all New Year’s Eve night owls. Circus will close the book on 2018 with the third edition of their annual “Epilogue” New Year’s event, a total of 14 hours of partying in three rooms (trance, techno and hip-hop) starting at 10 pm. And at the nearby Stereo – which boasts the city’s best sound system – they’ll be going for 29 hours (yes, you read that correctly) at their two spaces, Stereo Nightclub and StereoBar. The fourth edition of their Vision NYE party, featuring Chicago electronic music legend Felix Da Housecat, starts on December 31, 2018 at 10 pm and ends on January 2, 2019 at 3 am. Godspeed.
Eat like it’s your last day (of 2018)
Resolve to eat well this New Year’s Eve as Montréal’s many world-class restaurants get creative with their cuisine. To wit, let Maggie Oakes – Brasserie Montréalaise, where the finest Québec-produced foods are featured, offer you a luxurious environment and a special five-course menu, live music, an oyster bar and champagne. Delivering lively evenings for the past 10 years, the popular Méchant Boeuf Bar-Brasserie is preparing a five-course menu with a DJ spinning tunes and an endless mimosa option for brunch on both December 31 and January 1. Inside a beautiful century-old building with stone walls, a fire place and a heartwarming atmosphere, Verses Bistro will present a five-course meal of contemporary cuisine showcasing locally sourced products. Pastis is king Modavie, where they’re putting together a special five-course Mediterranean holiday menu complete with live jazz, and expect an equally lively atmosphere at BEVO Bar + Pizzeria, where they’ll offer a three-course menu of traditional Italian cuisine. Enjoy a five-course menu of gourmet comfort food in Taverne Gaspar’s warm and rustic setting, while the elegant, Parisian pub-inspired Brasserie 701 will have a specially prepared menu and DJ entertainment. Kyo Bar Japonais is promising to transport patrons “9,000 km from Montréal” with its New Year’s Eve Izakaya tasting menu and selection of over 25 sakes. The much-loved Vieux-Port Steakhouse will ring in the New Year with a gourmet buffet, an open bar and bubbly at midnight. Authentic urban Italian eatery Joiea Socialewill have two special services (three-course and four-course) at their “Midnight Kiss” event. A contemporary Greek and Mediterranean fine dining experience is yours to be had at Ikanos, who will also be offering two New Year’s Eve services. And restaurants in the city’s Little Italydistrict are getting into the swing of things in a big way with inventive and outstanding holiday menus from the likes of Cucina Antica, Ristorante Pizzeria Corneli and Quindici 15.