Last updated: 03:06 PM ET, Wed February 17 2016

Montreal's En Lumiere Festival Programming Dazzles

Destination & Tourism | Charu Suri | February 17, 2016

Montreal's En Lumiere Festival Programming Dazzles

Photo via Twitter/MTLenLumiere

The 17th annual Montreal en Lumiere festival will be held in sparkling fashion from February 18th to March 5th, and it’s got programming good enough for repeat visits — with a special spotlight on one up-and-coming Asian city.

Beyond the light displays and a general ambience that mixes seasonal revelry and cultural pride is a full roster of performing artists, ideal for any music fan.  

Light festivals have long been symbols of dispelling darkness: India’s Diwali and Taiwan’s Lantern Festival are just two popular examples.

This year, Montreal’s main plaza — the Places des Festivals — will house several events. Located next to the Place des Arts, the Place des Festivals is a massive public space that will showcase musical bands, displays and more.

READ MORE: Montreal Allowed 24/7 Store Hours to Attract Tourists

From Thus Owls, with their weave of pop, folk, rock and skronk (a nod to Tom Waits) to the new Japanese instrumental trio Mouse on the Keys which combines funk, jazz, post-rock and electronica, Montreal en Lumiere’s voice can be heard loud and clear.

In customary fashion, the festival will spotlight the treasures of one international city. This year, it’s the Chinese metropolis of Shenzhen, which will highlight a new direct Montreal to Beijing flight (the spotlight last year was on Switzerland). Shenzhen, considered as one of the world’s fastest growing urban centers, has over 10 million residents and is a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

To commemorate this spotlight, the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra will present a program of Chinese and European works with violinist Dan Zhu. For those who have known and loved Charles Dutoit and his work with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, it is time for a reprise. Dutoit will lead the orchestra on February 18th and 20th with a program featuring the legendary Argentinian pianist Martha Argerich in honor of the conductor’s 80th birthday.

Among the gastronomic pavilions, fire-breathers and illuminated marionette shows, the sounds of world music will echo everywhere.

Betty Bonifassi will showcase her new album of slave chants, which fuses electronica and rock. Remi Chasse, "The Voice" finalist in 2014, will be on hand after releasing a single and his debut solo album with singer/songwriter Ray Marcianno. There will also be country folk music with guitar prodigy Joe Grass and his band, who has sold albums in over 66 countries.

The giant illuminated marionette show created specifically for the festival is one of the ways technology and tradition dovetail: these string-controlled dolls are bathed in a brilliant glow. Another fun way is light painting (a digital way of painting) and an interactive campfire that responds when you clap your hands.

But the China-oriented theme won't be farther than right around the corner.

It will be hard to miss the representations of Confucius the revered ancient teacher, philosopher and politician (known in Chinese as “Kongzi”).

One hundred miniature Kongzi figures are taking over the center-west steps of the Place des Festivals, right next to 15-foot ice sculpture! There will also be a Grand Chinese Ferris Wheel that will bring guests closer to the sky.

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This year will also mark the very first Festival of Lights in Montreal’s Chinatown, which will illuminate Place Sun Yat-Sen to celebrate the year of the monkey.

“We had over one million visitors in 2014 for this festival,” said Laurent Saulnier, VP of programming, “and we expect many more this year.”

Tickets can be purchased on this website.

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