Tag Archives: Nuit Blanche

Nuit Blanche: Montreal’s most-nighter

Art Souterrain was one of the few parts of Nuit Blanche that didn't shut down before 3am

When I think of the term “all-nighter”, I think of staying up until well past sunrise. I think of fighting off sleep and cheating it out of a day. I think of a desperate compromise with one’s own body in order to accomplish something important.

Two weekends ago, Montreal had its annual Nuit Blanche, with things that would normally only be open during the day staying open well into the night. A novelty, perhaps, but a way to drive people – particularly young people – to go to places they wouldn’t normally go.

I was working that night, but only until midnight. With hours to go between that point and sunrise (by definition, it was literally the middle of the night), I had no worries that I would find some fun stuff to do that would keep me entertained for hours.

But unfortunately, “all-nighter” has a peculiar definition a city so well known for its night life. Going through the guide (my first time using its smartphone app, which was pretty good), I found so many activities I would have liked to try closed their doors at 3am or earlier. Some didn’t even go past midnight.

Looking through the guide online, I did a count. Of all the activities mentioned:

  • 27 ended at or before midnight
  • 13 more ended at or before 1am
  • 39 more ended at or before 2am
  • 75 more ended at or before 3am
  • only 17 extended past 3am, plus two outdoor installations, plus the Art Souterrain underground installations

By my count (which might be off by one or two, and also includes some activities that were later cancelled), the 174 activities included 154 – 89% – that shut down by 3am.

I love the PowerGlove. It's so bad.

So instead of wandering around downtown enjoying hours of fun activities, I spent about an hour and a half having fun and then the rest of the time looking for whatever scraps were left.

Eventually I gave up and went through the Art Souterrain, a collection of art installations accompanied by artists’ statements that are in some cases unintentionally hilarious or too optimistic about the effect they will have on the viewer.

But even then, I was stopped going from Place Bonaventure into Central Station when an iron gate met me at the top of the staircase. I had to abandon my underground city trip halfway through because one of its parts didn’t want to stay up late.

I’m not expecting that every Nuit Blanche activity must keep going until 6am. And if the choice is between presenting something that ends early and not presenting it at all, then by all means put it on the program. But it wasn’t so long ago that this night ended with a free breakfast at Complexe Desjardins at 5am, something that thousands of people gathered for.

Now it seems to end with people giving up on finding interesting things to do and going home on that all-night metro.

Hopefully something can be done to make Montreal’s all-nighter last through the night.

Art Souterrain continues until Sunday through Montreal’s underground city from McGill metro through Place Bonaventure and the Palais des Congrès to Place des Arts.

Nuit Blanche Part 3: The all-night metro

Télécité time

The count stands at three. Only three times since it opened in 1966 has the Montreal metro run throughout the night:

  1. March 4, 1971, during the “storm of the century”
  2. Jan. 1, 2000, to help New Year Decade Century Millennium partiers get home
  3. March 1, 2009, during the Nuit Blanche

There are reasons beyond financial ones for the metro to stop running during the night. Overnight is when the tracks are cleaned, when maintenance is performed, when money is transferred. Subways that are open 24 hours (like in New York) have extra tracks that can be used when one is closed, but Montreal doesn’t have that luxury (unless it wants to run the metro only one way).

But, as in the examples above, exceptions can be made once in a while. The STM decided to make one this year, and organized itself to keep all 68 metro stations open throughout the night, and have trains running on all four lines.

Continue reading

Nuit Blanche Part 2: Art Souterrain

Art Souterrain

I’m not an art critic. Or an art lover. Or really an art anything. So when I look through the guide to the Nuit Blanche, I glaze over all the art galleries, dance performances, films, plays, DJs or anything else of the sort. Instead, I concern myself with fun things in the Old Port or anything that’s funny.

But something about this “Art Souterrain” project caused me to want to go there. It was free, it was in a heated environment, and you could walk through it all without waiting in lines, checking your coats or feeling guilty about leaving early. You could spend about 10 seconds at one installation and then move on to the next one. And that’s pretty much what I did.

Continue reading

Nuit Blanche pop quiz

I had fun at the Nuit Blanche. I’ll put together a longer post with lots of pictures over the next day or two, but since it’s 6am and I want to get some sleep, I’ll just post this quickie.

Nuit Blanche pop quiz

When was this photo taken?

(I’ve scrubbed the EXIF data in case any of you want to be cute)

For bonus points, where was this taken?

UPDATE: Alex gets it right below, and I’ll just quote him: “Assumung 24:00:00 is midnight, then 28:00:00 would be 04:00:00 and 28:58:20 would be at 04:58:20, which means that if the metro left at 04:58:20 and there are 00:02:40 left before departure, the current time is 04:55:40 (AM)”

Some background: These are clocks installed at every terminus to tell the train driver when to depart. The top number is the time of departure, bottom left is the number of the train, and bottom right is time remaining to departure (it counts down to zero and then counts up until they reset it for the next train).

For scheduling purposes, the STM’s daily clock doesn’t reset at midnight. As far as bus and metro drivers are concerned, there are departures at 25, 26, 27 and 28 o’clock instead of 1, 2, 3 and 4am, as these departures (of day and night buses) are considered part of the previous day. You can even have two schedules running simultaneously if a night bus and early morning bus are on the road at the same time.

What’s so unusual about this sight, of course, is that trains don’t normally run at 4am. The last terminus departure is at 1:30am on Saturday nights on the yellow line. The last train leaves service 25 minutes later when it arrives at the Côte-Vertu station, making it 1:55 am or 25:55. Seeing the clock go up to 28:58 pushes it to new heights. (For those curious, the clock reset itself minutes later to 5am.)

Christelle got the second part of the question right (without getting the first). The picture was taken at Snowdon on the Saint-Michel-bound platform.

Nuit Blanche: Metro doesn’t close tonight

What, you were planning on sleeping tonight? What are you, crazy?

The city opens up with free exhibits, events and parties all across downtown from the Old Port to the Canadian Centre for Architecture for the Nuit Blanche all night (though most of the fun ends around 3am).

All-night metro

The STM, which runs free shuttles between locations, has agreed to keep the metro running all night long, and even has a contest going related to finding metro art at various stations throughout the night. Details and forms are available at the Berri-UQAM service centre or Nuit Blanche info kiosks.

The extension of service doesn’t apply to buses though. Most day routes are timed to coincide with the last metro trains, which depart Berri at 1:30am on Saturday nights. If your trip home involves bus travel, you might want to be on that train.

Otherwise, the night bus network runs as normal, and because it’s Saturday the busier routes (358 Sainte-Catherine and 361 Saint-Denis) run about every 10-15 minutes.

Stuff to see

I was going to give some suggestions for stuff to go to, but I’m not an art critic, so I’ll leave it to these guys instead.

The official site (unfortunately) has been turned into a Facebook page, and the link to the official PDF is dead.

Here are some quick tips for tonight, for those still near a computer who are going out:

  • Go to the Old Port. Some of the best free stuff happens there and it’s a fun atmosphere
  • Bring something to drink if you’re planning on being out all night
  • Dress warmly, preferably in layers if you’re spending time inside and out (or, like me, just ignore that and bring a big coat you can put on and take off)
  • Don’t try to go to too many events, especially if they’re far from each other. The shuttle system is efficient, but with all the people on them they’re not terribly fast.

Finally, it seems my favourite event, the free 5am breakfast at Complexe Desjardins, isn’t happening this year.

See you out there.

Metro to run all night during Nuit Blanche

The metro ... after dark?

The metro ... after dark?

According to Metro (the newspaper), the STM is announcing Wednesday that it will keep the metro (the subway) running all night during the Nuit Blanche Feb. 28.

The STM has only done this twice before, once during a snowstorm in 1971, and again on New Year’s Eve 1999. The overnight hours are when maintenance is performed on the tracks, cashes are emptied and other similar stuff is done.

The Metro article is so far the only source that confirms this story (Midnight Poutine surely uses it as a source without credit and Montreal City Weblog picks the story up from there), and its wording isn’t very clear, making me suspect they might have gotten the story wrong.

UPDATE: It’s true. The STM confirmed it today. The metro will run all night long (presumably all lines), in addition to the regular night bus service. (Though considering most of the Nuit Blanche activities are in the Old Port, the Plateau and the Quartier des Spectacles, the metro might not be the most convenient method of transportation between them – it’s more useful for getting home afterward.)

In the past, the STM has opened up the Place des Arts metro station during the Nuit Blanche for performances in the metro, though it confines it to the mezzanine and doesn’t have actual trains running.

Kudos STM, but would it kill you to do the same on New Year’s Eve once a year too?

UPDATE (Jan. 29): The STM is focusing on art in the metro, including a 15-station art rally quiz thing.