June 25-29, 2015

Join us in Montréal, Canada for 5 nights and 4 days of live music, amazing food, thoughtful speaker sessions, behind the scenes activities, and great conversation with the fascinating locals and your fellow travelers alike!

Our event program will kick off on Thursday, June 25 at 5:30pm for a welcome cocktail reception, and will conclude with a farewell party on the night of Monday, June 29. (Note: when making travel arrangements, plan to arrive in Montreal during the day on the 25th, and plan to depart the morning of June 30th).

*All details subject to change.



5:30pm – 7:00pm

Welcome Reception at the Museum of Fine Arts

Meet and mingle with the AFAR team and other attendees at this casual reception in the Canadian art pavilion of the impressive Museum of Fine Arts, located just steps away from the Ritz Carlton hotel. Over cocktails and light canapés, we’ll hear welcome remarks from the charming and engaging Mayor of the city, Mr. Denis Coderre.


Free time/dinner on own

(We’re pleased to offer restaurant recommendations for anyone wishing to dine later at one of Montreal’s fabulous eateries.)


10:30am – 1pm

Speaker Session: Monique Simard, cultural leader

We’ll gain a deeper understanding of Quebec’s arts and cultural scene, its history, its politics and its incredibly exciting future from a woman whose trajectory includes stints as an activist, a filmmaker and producer, a politician and, now, the head of SODEC where she is responsible for promoting and supporting the development of Quebec’s cultural enterprises. Lunch will follow.

1:30pm – 3:30pm

Afternoon Breakout Sessions, various locations

View full selection here

3:30pm – 5:30pm

Free Time

5:45pm – 8:30pm

Dine Around at top restaurants

With more restaurants per capita than any other North American city, Montréal is at the forefront of the culinary scene, and tonight we’ll be treated to small-group, intimate dinners with some of the city’s finest chefs. This is your chance to engage personally with your host chef and learn more about the Quebecois way of life through food, wine and storytelling.

9pm – 11pm

Montreal Jazz Festival – Opening performance

The Montreal Jazz Fest, one of the largest in the world, kicks off its 10-day festival tonight! Following our Dine Around, AFAR Experiences attendees will be offered preferred access and VIP seating for the grand opening performance by the wonderful American group, Beirut.


10am – 12pm

Speaker Session: History through design

As Montreal’s 375th anniversary approaches in 2017, the city is preparing to greet the world’s visitors with a captivating digital and multimedia project to tell the story of this historical place. We’ll learn more about the project, and in turn get a history lesson ourselves as we walk the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal to learn about the area’s historical significance.

12:30pm – 2pm

Lunch at Le Marche des Possible

We’ll have lunch at this brand new outdoor creative hub recently opened in the artsy Mile End/Plateau neighborhood featuring food trucks, beer gardens and relaxation zones. Our host for lunch will be none other than one of the city’s most celebrated performers, Josh “Socalled” Dolgin. Prepare yourself for 90 minutes of unadulterated FUN!

2pm – 5pm

Afternoon free time

5:30pm – 7pm

Speaker Session at PHI Center: Montreal’s Entertainment Scene

The PHI Center is a diverse arts center whose mission is to make art accessible to as many people possible and to foster encounters and exchanges of all kinds between artists, the work and the audience. Montreal legend Andy Nulman, founder of the renowned Just for Laughs comedy festival, leads us in a thoroughly compelling conversation about how Montreal has established itself on the worldwide map of entertainment, festivals and fun.


Afternoon free time

Take a few hours on your own to shop, explore, check out the live jazz, or just relax.

7pm – 10:30pm

A most sensual food experience

“Because food is more than taste when you eat with your heart”. An evening certainly not to be forgotten, this unique dining experience will blend fiction with reality and ignite all the senses as together we embark on a magical culinary adventure.


10:30am – 1:30pm

A Culinary Tour of Little Italy

Head to Little Italy for a glimpse into life within this vibrant and historic Italian-Canadian community. We start with a walk through the stalls of Jean Talon market, the oldest public market in Montreal and home to scores of regional Quebec delights, from meats and cheeses to fresh produce and spices. From there we’ll head to a local park for a homemade lunch, accompanied by live music, a game of bocce, and the chance to meet some of the legendary locals from the ‘hood!

2pm – 4pm

Afternoon Breakout Sessions, various locations

4pm – 6:30pm

Free Time

7pm – 10pm

Home Dinners, various locations

What better way to get to know a city that to spend an evening at the dinner table with the people who live there? In a small group of fellow travelers, we’ll be welcomed into the homes and kitchens of some of Montreal’s most generous residents.


9am – 10:30am

Speaker Session and Private Tour with Nathalie Bondil

Before the Museum of Fine Arts opens to the public, we’ll gain early access for a talk about the current collection from the museum’s director and Chief Curator, Nathalie Bondil. A private tour of the much anticipated Rodin exhibit (the largest of its kind ever presented in Canada) will follow, led by Nathalie herself who was integral in bringing the exhibit to the museum.

11am – 1pm

Speaker Session: Industry and Entrepreneurship

We’ll explore the burgeoning gaming and technology scene in Montreal on a rooftop in the heart of Mile End. Lunch to follow.

1pm – 5pm

Free Time

5:30pm – 7pm

Pop Up Souk!

The lovely and talented designer Azamit welcomes us in to her fabulous Old Montreal apartment for a cocktail hour and retail experience. Meet some of Montreal’s coolest makers and artists.

7:15pm – 10pm

Farewell party at Cirque Eloize

With Montreal being home to a national circus school and a plethora of circus troupes (including one very famous one), it seems fitting that we celebrate our time together with a glittering final party that tickles the imagination and transports you to places you never thought possible.

Featured Locals

  • Original fady atallah.png?1503012717?ixlib=rails 0.3

    Fady Atallah

    Fady Atallah began his career in economics and strategic planning with several important research works published by the United Nations Development Programme before he embarked in a different direction. As an entrepreneur he has established some of Montréal’s most interesting companies working in the areas of content production and digital media. His latest project is Infinite City, which he cofounded with Daily tous les jours last year. Infinite City has created a range of medium to large-scale urban interventions, designed to reclaim public spaces, encourage interactions among residents, and make cities better places to live. With all of his ventures, Fady has brought a unique vision. In his words, his goals include, “Working on new paradigms in education, fostering deeper awareness of the food we eat and building real participative democracies for better-governed and more responsive cities.”

  • Original azamit.jpg?1503012706?ixlib=rails 0.3


    Azamit ( may go by only one name but she wears many hats. A former fashion model born in Eritrea and who moved to Montréal when she was 15 years old, Azamit is a creative director, curator, stylist, and beloved fashion icon. A champion of local designers and artists, Azamit is the creative mind behind the popular events Souk @ SAT and Stylist’s Own—a twice yearly showcase of some of her favorite finds, not just designers but a variety of artists as well. She can often be found exploring the city, visiting various ateliers and checking out the newest restaurants, frequently with her beloved Italian greyhound, Tsuki, by her side. Effortlessly elegant and yet with a style that is also fun and eccentric, Azamit is a kind and passionate person, driven by her personal mission of helping everyone she meets find ways to express themselves creatively, through different mediums and platforms.

  • Original andre bathalon.jpg?1503012770?ixlib=rails 0.3

    André Bathalon

    “Art is everywhere, and that’s what I like,” André says about Montréal’s street art scene. “Once you get that, Montréal becomes a huge playground, a treasure hunt.” André is the founder of MURAL, an international public art festival held in Montreal every June. MURAL invites leading Canadian and international muralists to create new works along St. Laurent Boulevard, while simultaneous “Block Parties” feature some of the city’s leading musicians. André started his career in the cartoon industry until he fell in love with the business opportunities made possible by the Internet during the mid ‘90s. As a specialist in e-commerce and art enthusiast, André worked for Cirque du Soleil where he was the cofounder of the Safewalls project, which commissioned urban artists from around the world to create posters inspired by Cirque du Soleil performances. In 2012, he co-founded LNDMRK, an agency that helps clients incorporate artistic and creative programs into their marketing and branding initiatives. Read more here about why Montreal is Andre’s favorite city.

  • Original nathalie bondil.jpg?1503014120?ixlib=rails 0.3

    Nathalie Bondil

    After taking the helm as Director and Chief Curator of the Montreal Musée des Beaux Arts (Museum of Fine Arts) in 2007, Nathalie Bondil embarked on an ambitious agenda. Her numerous programs have included the redesign of the contemporary art galleries and the opening of a fourth pavilion, dedicated to Canadian art. Among the results has been a doubling of the number of visitors as the museum has become a key player in the art world. Born in France, Nathalie has lived in Montreal for almost a decade and she is as passionate about the city she calls home as she is about “her” museum.

  • Original guillaume cantin.jpg?1503014128?ixlib=rails 0.3

    Guillaume Cantin

    A native of Lévis near Québec City, Guillaume Cantin can already boast of an impressive resume at only 29 years old. Having worked as a chef, pastry chef, sommelier, and restaurant manager, Guillaume first learned the joys of cooking from his mother while his first job in a restaurant was at age 15—as a dishwasher. Later he became a line cook at Québec City’s acclaimed Clocher Penché and then the pastry chef of the award winning Panache, also in Québec City. When he was 25, he achieved fame as the winner of the first season of Radio-Canada’s Les Chefs! After moving to Montréal, Guillaume worked at Maison Boulud (at the Ritz-Carlton Montréal) and Les 400 Coups, where he is now the executive chef. He is looking forward to sharing his passion for Québec’s cuisine and its local products with AFAR Experiences.

  • Original denis coderre.jpg?1503014136?ixlib=rails 0.3

    Denis Coderre

    The city’s mayor himself will be welcoming AFAR Experiences to Montréal. Denis Coderre is a popular and colorful populist leader of his city. The magazine MacLean’s wrote about him that, “He quotes City Slickers and takes selfies. Twitter was invented for people like him.” (His handle is @DenisCoderre.)

    Elected mayor in 2013, Mayor Coderre previously represented Bourassa (an area to the northwest of central Montréal) in Canada’s House of Commons from 1997 to 2013. Among other posts that Mr. Coderre has held were the Secretary of State for Amateur Sport, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and President of the Queen’s Privy Council. He has also been active in Métis and Indian affairs, as well as issues important to the Haitian community of Quebec. Mr. Coderre holds a Bachelors of Political Science from the Université de Montréal and an Executive MBA from the University of Ottawa. He was promoted to the rank of Commander of the Ordre de la Pléiade of the Canadian section of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie, which honors individuals who have made remarkable contributions to serving the ideals of the French-language community.

  • Original yvan cournoyer.jpg?1503014148?ixlib=rails 0.3

    Yvan Cournoyer

    A true legend in the world of hockey, Yvan Cournoyer was nicknamed the “Roadrunner” for a reason. During his time playing for the Montréal Canadiens, he was “the fastest thing on skates.” Yvan decided he would be a hockey player when he was given his first pair of skates, at age 7. After playing with the Montréal Junior Canadiens, he made his debut with the Canadiens in the 1963-64 season and would become a regular in 1968. In 1975, he became the captain of the team. During Yvan’s time playing for the Canadiens, the team won a total of ten Stanley Cups and when he retired after the 1976-77 season, he was among the all-time leaders in the history of the franchise. Yvan was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1982 and, in 2005, the Canadiens retired his number 12. “The image of hockey was so positive when looking at Yvan Cournoyer,” the broadcaster Dick Irvin once said. “He seemed to do everything the right way.”

  • Original socalled.jpg?1503014220?ixlib=rails 0.3

    Josh “Socalled” Dolgin

    Josh “Socalled” Dolgin’s resume includes a long list of occupations: pianist, producer, composer, arranger, rapper, singer, journalist, photographer, filmmaker, magician, cartoonist, and puppet maker. He has lectured and led master classes in music festivals around the world, from Moscow to Paris, London to LA, and Krakow to San Francisco. He has five solo albums to his name and has also worked with a long list of collaborators—Gonzales, Fred Wesley, Boban Markovic, and the Mighty Sparrow are just a few examples. Socalled was the subject of The Socalled Movie, a 2010 feature documentary produced by the National Film Board of Canada. His latest project, to be released this year, is another collection of songs: Peoplewatching—infectiously fun, passionate, and timeless mini-odes for, in his words, “the booty pleasure of all Twenty-Teens.”

  • Original nicolas fonsenca.jpg?1503014230?ixlib=rails 0.3

    Nicolas Fonseca

    A fictional chef who has lost his sense of taste inspired Nicolas Fonseca’s In the Mouth experiences. What does a meal consist of beyond the flavors of the dishes? By creating an interactive experience, In the Mouth meals elevate the other senses—of touch, sight, smell, and sound—while also emphasizing the social nature of food. The culture around eating becomes a vector for stories and shared moments.

    Before creating In the Mouth, Nicolas graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications studies from Concordia University and worked in public relations. In 2001, he began producing and directing short films and documentaries. He has also created several other food installations and collaborated on Kit Opérette, an interactive operetta commissioned by the Musée de la Gaïté Lyrique in Paris.

    In the Mouth has been described as “a beautiful, communal chaos.” It promises to be an unforgettable evening of both recalling old memories and creating new ones centered around a unique meal at the PHI Centre.

  • Original eric fournier.jpg?1503014241?ixlib=rails 0.3

    Eric Fournier

    Some of Montreal’s most famous cultural exports—Arcade Fire, Celine Dion, and Cirque de Soleil—share a secret. They have all turned to Eric Fournier and his company Moment Factory for the stunning visuals that accompany their performances. Their work has drawn attention south of the border too, with the company currently designing all the multimedia installations at the new Tom Bradley Terminal at LAX. Eric and Moment Factory stand at the cutting edge of art today, creating content that straddles the worlds of animation, architecture, film, and motion design. He will not only change how you see Montreal but also the world around you. Read here about Eric’s view of the creative scene in Montreal.

  • Original mariouche gagne.jpg?1503014253?ixlib=rails 0.3

    Mariouche Gagné

    Mariouche GAGNÉ, a 43-year-old Quebecois designer, has become ethical fashion’s favorite. She was 20 years old when she decided to take part in a design contest in order to earn some money for her studies. « Due to lack of materials, I took the liberty of cutting through my mother’s old fur coat to make ski clothing », recounts the designer. A new concept was born. Ten or so awards later, Mariouche Gagné remains as rebellious as her knife is sharp. Her creative magic, her innovative vision and her incomparable talent can transform a lifeless fur coat into a unique and elegant piece ready to live again.

  • Original rejean houle.jpg?1503014273?ixlib=rails 0.3

    Réjean Houle

    A visit to Montréal wouldn't be complete without meeting some of its legendary hockey stars. Réjean Houle was born in western Québec and achieved fame as both a player for and later general manager of the Montréal Canadiens—commonly known at the Habs, short for les habitants. The top junior hockey player in Canada in 1969, Réjean was the first pick in the NHL Amateur Draft after a 108-point season, including 53 goals, with the Montréal Junior Canadiens. Over eleven seasons with the Montréal Canadiens, he scored 161 goals and 247 assists in a total of 635 games—he also won five Stanley Cups. After retiring as a player in 1983, Réjean returned to hockey from 1995 to 2000 as the general manager of the Canadiens. There are few people who can speak to AFAR Experiences with more authority on Canada’s national sport than Réjean.

  • Original martin juneau.jpg?1503014318?ixlib=rails 0.3

    Martin Juneau

    Normand Laprise and David McMillan are among the figures of Montréal’s restaurant scene known far beyond the city. There are, however, other accomplished chefs who fly under the radar of everyone except serious foodies. With almost 20 years cooking in Montréal (as well as Vancouver and France), Martin can boast of some impressive achievements—he owns four restaurants and won Canada’s prestigious Gold Medal Plates competition in 2011. It is with his newest venture, however, that Martin is coming to the attention of a broader audience. Soon after Pastaga opened in Little Italy in 2012, it appeared on enRoute’s list of the ten best new restaurants in Canada for the year. The focus is small plates inspired by Montréal’s culinary legacy, especially its Jewish heritage. Martin is also committed to connecting Québec to the broader Canadian culinary scene. His popular Royal Canadian Mondays series of dinners brings the best chefs from around the country to Montréal, fostering a dialogue among all of Canada’s chefs.

  • Original felix.jpg?1503015005?ixlib=rails 0.3

    Félix Lajeunesse

    A technology that could change our world as radically as television and the internet did is being developed and perfected in Montréal’s Old Town. The city has long been a center of technological innovation because of people like Félix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphaël, the founders of Félix & Paul Studios. Directors and visual artists, Félix and Paul have developed a groundbreaking platform for 3D 360° virtual reality filming, audio recording, and production. They are leaders, however, not just in terms of technology but also rethinking story telling broadly. Their recent projects include Cirque du Soleil’s Zarkana, Strangers with Patrick Watson (which allowed users to join the musician in his home studio), Herders (a 7-minute journey with Mongolian nomadic herders), and the opening virtual reality experience for the Samsung Gear VR. Regarding their virtual reality experience for the movie Wild, actress Reese Witherspoon told the New York Times, “It was beautiful.”

  • Original normand laprise.png?1503014343?ixlib=rails 0.3

    Normand Laprise

    David McMillan, the co-owner of Joe Beef, once said about Chef Normand Laprise, “Without him, there would be no us.” He was referring specifically to Normand’s role as one of the first chef-owners in Montréal. It’s a sentiment shared, however, not only by other chefs and restaurateurs, but also by farmers and dairy owners who thrived thanks to Normand’s appreciation for their products. As the godfather of contemporary Québec cuisine, Normand has led the city from days when frozen sole was common and duck a l’orange was made with sweetened concentrate to its current culinary scene with innovative chefs using the best local products. Normand often cites two major influences on his cooking style: His years as a child on a farm near the St. Lawrence Waterway and his time in France, when he learned a new appreciation of fresh, local products. He is the chef and co-owner of two of Montréal’s most acclaimed restaurants, Toque! and Brasserie T! as well as the author of the James Beard Award winning book, Toque! Creators of a New Québec Gastronomy.

  • Original shea mayer 0.jpg?1503014367?ixlib=rails 0.3

    Shea Mayer

    Shea Mayer loves bikes and he loves Montréal, his adopted city where he arrived to study in college and returned to after extended travels including stints in Paris and Melbourne. Shea combined his two passions in 2009 when he founded Fitz & Follwell, a premium cycle shop and urban touring company that has introduced thousands of visitors to the best of the city on the St. Lawrence. He began his company with the simple question, “What would be a perfect day in Montréal?” You'll get to experience his answer when you head out with him to explore the city on two wheels. Fitz & Follwell is recognized as one of the city’s foremost city cycling shops with a staff of professional guides. Shea, however, will be leading us himself on our tour of Montréal, taking us beyond the standard tourist circuit to provide a fascinating introduction to the culture and spirit of the city.

  • Original andy nulman.png?1503017212?ixlib=rails 0.3

    Andy Nulman

    If you imagine that the people entrusted with planning Montréal’s 375th anniversary celebrations in 2017 must be buttoned-up business leaders and political figures, you don’t know Montréal and you also don’t know Andy Nulman. As the “Chief Attention Getter” of 375 MTL, Andy is creating audacious, head-turning projects for the upcoming event. From 1985 to 1999, Andy was responsible for turning Montréal’s Just for Laughs Comedy Festival from a modest two-day event to a month-long cultural happening, including the biggest names in the world of comedy (Jim Carrey, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, and others) and attracting over 2 million visitors each year. In 2010, Andy returned to the comedy festival to become the president of the event. In the decade between his stints with Just for Laughs, Andy founded Airborne, a pioneer in mobile media and marketing. He’s also the author of three books and is regularly invited as a public speaker, known for his thought-provoking and entertaining presentations.

  • Original laurent saulnier.jpg?1503017222?ixlib=rails 0.3

    Laurent Saulnier

    Montreal has long been a city where the music never stops, from Prohibition-era cabarets to the discotheques of the 60s and the music actuelle of today. As the director of programming for the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal (as well as the FrancoFollies de Montréal and Montréal en Lumiere), Laurent Saulnier continues this tradition. A key figure in the city’s music scene, Laurent introduces audiences to both established and emerging performers. Before his current roles, Laurent covered the music scene that he now fosters, working as a journalist for a number of outlets including as the editor of the music section of Voir. Read here about Laurent’s view of the amazing music scene in Montreal.


    Photo Credit: Frédérique Ménard-Aubin

  • Original william saulnier.jpg?1503017242?ixlib=rails 0.3

    William Saulnier

    Like its executive chef, Les 400 Coups’ sommelier began his restaurant career at a young age. William Saulnier’s first job, when he was 14, was at La Gascogne, a restaurant in the village of St-Sauveur in the Laurentian Mountains, north of Montréal. In 2005, he moved to the city and while studying for his hotel management degree he worked at the restaurant at the St-Suplice hotel and later at the acclaimed bistro, Restaurant Laloux. William’s travels to the breweries and distilleries of England, Ireland, and Scotland as well as the breweries and vineyards of Belgium, France, and Spain solidified his interest in beers, spirits, and wines. After training as a sommelier and working for three years at Les 400 Coups as a waiter and assistant sommelier, William was named the restaurant’s sommelier and maître d’.

  • Original monique simard.jpg?1503017249?ixlib=rails 0.3

    Monique Simard

    A former documentary film producer who also served in Quebec’s National Assembly, Monique Simard is a powerhouse of the province’s cultural scene. She has been active and outspoken in her support of new filmmakers and promoting Canadian works at home and overseas. After serving as the Director General of the French Program of Canada’s National Film Board, Monique became the President and CEO of the Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC) in 2014. (SODEC provides public financing to promote culture in Quebec with grants supporting publishing, music, film, television, and other visual arts.) Monique is an energetic and visionary thinker committed to the development of documentary filmmaking and animated works as well as the development of new forms of programming like interactive works. She is also an engaging and dynamic speaker with a nuanced and fascinating vision for French-language film in Canada and the future of the art generally.


    Photo Credit: Gilbert Duclos

  • Original paul.jpg?1503014947?ixlib=rails 0.3

    Paul Raphaël

    A technology that could change our world as radically as television and the internet did is being developed and perfected in Montréal’s Old Town. The city has long been a center of technological innovation because of people like Félix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphaël, the founders of Félix & Paul Studios. Directors and visual artists, Félix and Paul have developed a groundbreaking platform for 3D 360° virtual reality filming, audio recording, and production. They are leaders, however, not just in terms of technology but also rethinking story telling broadly. Their recent projects include Cirque du Soleil’s Zarkana, Strangers with Patrick Watson (which allowed users to join the musician in his home studio), Herders (a 7-minute journey with Mongolian nomadic herders), and the opening virtual reality experience for the Samsung Gear VR. Regarding their virtual reality experience for the movie Wild, actress Reese Witherspoon told the New York Times, “It was beautiful.”


  • Original explore canada 2.jpg?1503009781?ixlib=rails 0.3

    Canadian Tourism Commission

    From coast to coast, Canada is filled with unexpected wonders that are sure to awaken your inner explorer. The Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) is Canada's national tourism marketing organization. A federal Crown corporation of the Government of Canada, we lead the Canadian tourism industry in marketing Canada as a premier four-season tourism destination. With our partners in the tourism industry and the governments of Canada, the provinces and the territories, we promote Canada's successful tourism brand, “Canada. Keep Exploring.”

    For more information, visit

  • Original montreal logo new.png?1503009769?ixlib=rails 0.3

    Tourisme Montréal

    Montréal is as romantically traditional as it is cutting-edge innovative, as cosmopolitan dynamic as it is small-town friendly. Yet despite this diversity, an underlying homogeneity exists in this vibrant population who collectively and confidently “live and let live”—and do it well. Tourisme Montréal is responsible for providing leadership in the concerted efforts of hospitality and promotion in order to position the “Montréal“ destination on leisure and business travel markets.

    For more information, visit

  • Original quebec original.jpg?1503009757?ixlib=rails 0.3

    Tourisme Québec

    Québec is a truly unique land in North America. Unique for its geography, history and culture, which together have forged a bold and exuberant identity. Each of its 22 regions represents a different facet of Québec. Simply put, Québec is warmth, absolute authenticity and intensity, all within easy reach. Working closely with various public and private industry partners, Tourisme Québec is the governmental entity charged with tourism development in Québec as well as promoting the destination, encouraging job creation, economic prosperity and sustainable development.

    For more information, visit