Montreal during the Jazz Festival
June 16, 2008 7:12 AM   Subscribe

Should we go to Montreal during the Jazz Festival? Or will it be "too crowded" if we're not super-into jazz?

We're not huge jazz fans, although we'd certainly check out a concert or two while we're there. I'm mostly concerned with crowds and traffic. If we stay, say, downtown, will we have trouble driving into the hotel due to road closings? Will we be miserable riding the Metro? Will the streets and restaurants be overrun with unwashed jazzheads?

There appear to be plenty of available hotel rooms in the city, so I'm guessing that things should be okay, but I just want a sanity check before we make any arrangements. Thanks!

(I've read all the great Montreal travel questions, too, but, of course, any new suggestions of awesome, possibly Jazz festival-time-specific things are welcome.)
posted by uncleozzy to Travel & Transportation around Montreal, QC (10 answers total)
I've been to Montreal during the F1, and from what you say (available hotel rooms - there are never any hotel rooms available during the F1 weekend), the city is probably busier during the F1 than during the Jazz festival...

That said, it's probably a MUCH better time to go, mainly because there is so much going on. During the F1, there are parties all over the place, so I imagine the atmosphere is equally festive. Also remember Montreal is a pretty big city, so even if something major is going on, people have to go about their business and you will be fine.

posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 7:31 AM on June 16, 2008

Best answer: The Jazz Fest is definitely a great time for a visit. The city is generally very busy around that time of year, but not to the point where it's impossible. The festival area itself is of course super-busy, but if you wander to other parts of the central part of the city you won't really notice it that much.

The main thing is that once you're in Montreal you'll want to spend most of your time walking, in cabs, or using the metro to get around - so the driving thing isn't that big a deal. I would avoid hotels directly adjacent to the festival if I could, but you still want to be downtown, so don't take that to mean that I suggest you stay in a suburban hotel (such as one in Dorval or elsewhere).

What hotels are you considering? Maybe being specific will let the Montrealers here answer you better.
posted by mikel at 7:33 AM on June 16, 2008

I've been during JazzFest. The only thing that was nuts was the area right around the performances. If you're on foot or on the Metro, you're fine -- it's just crowded. Were you to want to take a cab, you'd be screwed.
posted by desuetude at 7:36 AM on June 16, 2008

Don't worry. The jazz fest crowd is really concentrated around the place-des-arts area. Apart from that, you'll be perfectly fine riding metro and visiting Montreal. It is a good time to visit! Also check the festival's schedule; there are many shows that are not exactly jazz (lots of world music, blues, some rock...)
posted by ddaavviidd at 7:45 AM on June 16, 2008

Response by poster: Awesome, thanks, folks. I figured it wouldn't be too bad. We were "accidentally" in Salzburg last summer during the festival there, and while there was a lot of foot traffic (an almost shocking amount, actually), things generally weren't too bad.

And mikel, we haven't decided on a hotel yet (at all), although the one's we've looked at all appear to be a few blocks outside the place-des-arts, so we ought to be okay.

Thanks again.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:09 AM on June 16, 2008

The Jazz Fest is an excellent time to come and visit us. Lots to do, and the atmosphere is great, and aside from the huge opening show the crowds are large but not unwieldly.
posted by Vindaloo at 9:46 AM on June 16, 2008

Response by poster: (I have no idea where that bonus apostrophe came from. My heart breaks.)

At first, we picked Montreal because it was the most interesting place we hadn't been within a day's drive of home, but the more I read, the more excited I become. It's a shame we'll only have 2-1/2 or 3 days to spend.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:57 AM on June 16, 2008

Sounds like you've already got your answer, but if you need more anecdotal evidence, I happened to be in Montreal over the Jazz Festival weekend a few years ago. I didn't notice anything unusual until we took a walk after dinner and stumbled onto a free concert by The Funk Brothers (the Standing in the Shadows of Motown band)! Other than giant crowds at the festival locations, we had no problems with crowding at restaurants, transit, or tourist attractions.
posted by Gortuk at 10:21 AM on June 16, 2008

For a non-traditional hotel experience, I have stayed at Le Gîte du Plateau Mont-Royal Guest house many times, and always have a good time. The private rooms are cheap (maybe 80/nite, usually), but as far as I can tell they've only got shared bathroom facilities. The rooms I've stayed at (both hostel-style and private rooms) have had balconies, which is great in the summer.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 10:41 AM on June 16, 2008

Montreal was at its busiest two weekends ago- for the Canadian GP. I've been to that race at least a dozen times. Talking to concierges and taxi drivers over the years they seem to all be in agreement that it's by far the most crowded the city gets.

I've stayed it every hotel in that city. I recommend The Ritz-Carlton and The Hotel Vogue. The Hilton is nice if you want to stay a bit removed from the center of things.

And the Metro is nice and probably the most un-claustrophobic I've ever been on.
posted by Zambrano at 11:04 AM on June 16, 2008

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