Lonely Planet Writer

Montréal is apologising to its neighbours for the massive birthday party they're planning

The Canadian city of Montréal is making unusual preparations for its 375th anniversary … by apologising to its neighbours for the party it is about to throw.

The French-speaking metropolis has put together a year-long series of 175 cultural, sporting, musical and historical events to celebrate their birthday. Among the events planned are an Igloofest, world snow-mobile champions performing tricks in a downtown square, an ice canoe challenge, and the Olympic sport of curling under lights.

An array of both large and small scale urban projects are also planned to leave a lasting legacy to the city. Two new sections of an ambitious plan to reclaim a giant dump as a green space will be opened during the year. A new pedestrian route will be opened linking the city’s famous Pointe-à-Callière Museum to the foot of the mountain that gives the city its name – Mont Royal.

A new public space will also be created covering a highway that runs through the city, and creating a new link between old and new in the city. François Poulin, the city tourism marketing director, told Lonely Planet: “The idea was inspired by what you would normally do if you were planning to have a big party.”

The Montreal apology has been extended to Ontario and New York.
Montreal at sunset. Image by Songquan Deng/Shutterstock

“You would drop by your neighbours’ house a few days or weeks before to apologise in advance for any noise or disturbance it might cause – and you’d invite them to join the party.” Their ‘sorry’ campaign launched in Toronto late in November and in mid-January, they will turn their attention to the neighbouring province of Ontario and the north-east of the US, particularly New York.

The city had set a target for 2017 of 10 million visitors, but actually managed to attract that number during the course of this year. They’ve had to set a new target and, between the city’s normal tourism and the anniversary events, are hoping to welcome 10.7 million people this year.