Montreal is known for an amazing art scene and block after block of incredible street art murals. I was lured there earlier in the year, but knew we would have to go back for the MURAL Festival. I’ve loved street art for a couple years now, having fallen in love with it deeply in the Azores. I had never knew the variety there was to street art, and my own desire to see more and more grew. Montreal has over 80 murals in the city, with over 20 of them new for MURAL Festival! I wanted to see every one of them. Quickly I learned even in 2 days, that would be impossible. We were pleasantly distracted by thrift stores, Portuguese bakeries, cafes, live music, street performers and French bakeries ( I have a sweet tooth if you didn’t know). I knew there would be amazing street art at Montreal’s MURAL Festival but I didn’t know it would be so much more than street art!
From our hotel we walked to the festival, in Montreal everyone thinks that wherever your destination is it is walking distance. It was only a couple miles but we didn’t know by the end of the day after mural hunting we would walk 9 miles. Don’t get me wrong, we love getting exercise especially when indulging in local treats! The center of MURAL Festival is Saint Laurent Boulevard, with murals off some side roads and some a few blocks away. The main street is closed to traffic and the festival takes over the area. Mural Festival was started in 2000 to help revitalize the area that had many failing businesses and run down factories. The festival brought art, culture and beauty back to the community, and the people followed. Mural Festival is now the largest street art festival in North America! Saint Laurent Boulevard divides the city, once separating the English speaking and French speaking communities. Now the street is an eclectic mix of old (some businesses are almost 100 years old), new shops, French, Portuguese, Latin, Chinese and Italian culture. Walking down the street I spied a rooster painted on a wall, then some blue tiles, I knew we were in the Portuguese section. The street art told me before I saw the sign for the Portuguese bakery I went in.
The festival is an experience to be enjoyed and savored. As much as I wanted to check off all 80 murals or even the 20 new ones I knew it would not do justice to the meaning of the festival. I was there to enjoy the area, help local businesses, experience the live shows and concerts and of course enjoy all the culinary delights of Montreal! We talked with locals, got recommendations for the best poutine, listened to a street art tour and laughed with a few street performers. The street art was what drew me to the festival, but the experience of the festival is what made our weekend special.
I got some great tips from Pier about Montreal- nothing like tips from a local!
We made the mistakes so you don’t have to- Tips for you:
- Bring a backpack, so you can be hands-free for photos and have somewhere to put your purchases
- Bring lots of water, it was hot and walking for miles will tire you out
- Cash- not all of the vendors take credit card you don’t want to miss out on the mango on a stick!
- ATM card- in case you run out of previously mentioned cash. There are many ATMs available
- Hat- summer sun can sap your energy
- Sunglasses- glare from looking up at the murals into the sun (no worries if you forgot a hat or sunglasses- many stands sell them)
- Comfortable shoes- you will be walking, lots if you want to see many of the murals
- Power sticks- our phones died twice. We found a charging station but with the number of photos we took our phones died again.
Many of the artists will be working on their pieces into the final days of the festival. You may even get a chance to talk to some of the artists. Personally, I love seeing art in process. I marvel at how easy these artists make it look. I’ve tried my hand at it, but my drippy piece was unoriginal yet it still took me quite a while to produce that!
If you can take a street art tour, you will learn about the artists and about some of the pieces. Montreal’s festivals try to be affordable for all so the tours are not expensive at all!
Meet Some of the Artists
This artist wears a mask and never shows her face. She calls herself an artful vandal. Her art is full of messages and she wants people to look at that not her face. “Most people have a theory about what a better society should be. Here is mine: The most important thing, the ultimate foundation for humans to achieve any stable society or hopeful future is Dignity.” – Miss Me
The creator of the biggest mural in Mural Festival’s history. A tribute to the late Leonard Cohen. “This mural tested my boundaries and limits. I did it all without a projector, and I was definitely obsessed with getting Leonard Cohen’s likeness to be on point, the drawing alone took me 5 days!”- Kevin Ledo from MURALfestival.com
I was stopped in my tracks when we stumbled upon his piece. The woman’s eyes looked into me and through me. His work can be found around the world on streets and in galleries. Learn more about Rone in this interview by 30 Summers.
Fluke is the president of A’Shop an artist run production company that specialize in graffiti murals, street art and more. Fluke got into street art at just 9 years old and was mentored by Montreal’s graffiti artists.
“I love street art, but I hate tagging,” but you can’t say that because it’s the same thing, and street art is a product of tagging. Without the graffiti there would be no street art.” – Fluke via StArtStreetArt.com
The Street Art Photos You Have Been Waiting For!
Have you been to a street art festival? MuralFestival in Montreal was our first and we couldn't recommend it more! Of course there is amazing street art everywhere but there are live street performers, concerts, giveaways and great food! This won't be our last street art festival💜💙💛 . . . . . #roarloud #Montreal #streetart #MTL #MuralFestival #Canada #travelgram #streetartglobe #CheapoAirchat #exploremore #travelblogger #Ilovemontreal #cityadventure #streetartdaily #streetartfestival #Welovestreetart #visitmontreal #forbestravel #traveldeeper #cityshot #ipulledoverforthis #streetartfiles #adventurenearandfar #travelbreak #ttot #instagood #Fodorsonthego #purple
Each year the MURAL Festival grows and works to improve on the prior year. Montreal is known as the city of festivals, Montreal’s MURAL Festival is my new favorite but I’m ready to check out all the festivals this great city has to offer!
My love of street art continues to social media, please join me on #StreetArtChat the last Monday of the month for a Twitter chat all about street art. Our first chat will be July 31st- it was great- check out the recap here! Join our StreetArt Facebook page for updates and questions or our Twitter page. Be sure to check the page for any time changes- our 8/28 chat will be at 7 PM EDT.
Do you have the street art bug like me? Check out this post to see where you can find street art festivals around the world! I want to see them all!
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