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Montreal Celebrates its 375th Anniversary!

Joyeux anniversaire, Montreal! The Quebecer city was founded 375 years ago, and is celebrating by pulling out all the stops to offer its residents a panoply of cultural events.

On May 17, 1642, a group of priests, nuns, and French settlers founded the village of Ville-Marie on an island in the Saint Lawrence River. The village took the name of the island in question — Montreal — and became the economic capital of New France. Every anniversary, the city now gives Montreal and Quebec residents a chance to honor their French heritage.

This year, the festivities will kick off on Wednesday, May 17, at 8 am. Citizens are invited to watch a march of the Maisonneuve Regiment in front of the City Hall, followed by an anniversary mass at the Notre-Dame Basilica, attended by the mayor of Montreal and the prime ministers of Canada and the Quebec province. Homage will be paid to the founders of Montreal, Jeanne Mance and Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, on the Place d’Armes at 10:30 am.

As part of an art installation set to be exhibited for the next ten years, the Jacques-Cartier bridge will be illuminated from 9:45 p.m. on May 17. Celebrating the French explorer who first discovered Canada in 1534, some 500 projectors and 2,708 tube lights will offer a colorful depiction of the seasons, weather, traffic and general spirit of the city of Montreal.


The Montréal Avudo multimedia show. ©Compagnia Finzi Pasca

From May 17 until September 2, videos, 3D animations and archive footage will be projects onto water fountains set up on the Saint-Laurent River in the Vieux-Port neighborhood. This multimedia show, christened Montréal Avudo, will take spectators on a journey through time to witness the past and the future of the Francophone city.

And from May 19 until 21, Montreal will be welcoming “the Giants” from the Nantes-based street theater company, Royal de Luxe. These robotic figures measure more than 32 feet high, and will be parading through the streets in the city center. A special Giant has even been designed for the occasion, and will be unveiled in honor of the city’s 375th anniversary.

Discover the full list of events on the Vive375 website.