The XP Fronts Guide to Montreal’s Culture, Cuisine and Creativity

Photo courtesy Alice Gao/Commission

The XP Fronts at C2MTL are just two weeks away, so secure your pass, book that flight and get excited to explore everything this très génial city has to offer. Known for its vibrant cultural scene and diverse culinary landscape, Montréal comes alive in May with warm weather, outdoor activities and an amazing food scene.

This year, C2MTL is taking over the Old Port’s Grand Quay where a stroll through the cobblestone streets unveils the neighborhood’s rich history as the economic heart of Canada. Beyond Old Montréal, the entire city blends centuries of history with modern bars, restaurants and, of course, experiential attractions, including some of our favorites from Moment Factory and Iregular.

Here’s how to get the most out of your time in Montréal:


Photo © Grand Quai et Tour du Port de Montréal

May brings curated cultural events and experiences across the city. There’s Montréal Museums Day, blooming flowers and greenery at the Montréal Botanical Gardens, cycling along the Lachine Canal, hiking on Mount Royal and kayaking on the Saint Lawrence River. Looking for a quick experience in between C2MTL sessions and need to stay close to Grand Quay? Scale the Old Port Clock Tower for panoramic views of the city, take a spin on the Grande Roue de Montréal, or explore the visual arts scene at galleries like the Phi Centre and DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art.

Those sticking around Montréal post-Fronts can spend the weekend afterward tasting beers from Quebec breweries at Mondial de la bière, listening to live music at Piknic Électronik and poring over comic books at the Montréal Comic Arts Festival. Then, find what’s fresh at the Marché des Éclusiers, a small marketplace and outdoor bar dedicated to the best seasonal Quebec products.


Photo courtesy @eater_montreal via Instagram

Montréal’s diverse and exciting food scene features a mix of culinary influences including Italian, Jewish, Vietnamese, Haitian and French — making it a standout destination for food enthusiasts. Whether you’re grabbing lunch and espresso at local favorite Olive & Gourmando or dining at foodie destinations such as Caffe Un Po’ Di Piu or Monarque, there are too many options for just one week in the city. (Those with a sweet tooth shouldn’t miss all of the patisserie shops with desserts that are simply to die for, too.)

Also, Montréal might be just as famous for its bagels — smaller and sweeter than the American variety — as its French language and poutine (sorry, New Yorkers, it’s true!). While we wouldn’t dare choose just one spot as the city’s best bagel, locals love Fairmount Bagel (which has been around since 1949), St-Viateur Bagel (a “newcomer,” since 1957) and Old Montréal’s own Le Trou which hand-dips every bagel in the topping of your choice.

  • Casse-Croûte Sissi & Paul, nestled near D’Iberville metro station, serves up top-tier Haitian delights like juicy griot, lamb stew, and kibi, alongside classic fixings such as pikliz and fried plantains.
  • Chez Tousignant embodies the essence of a classic Quebec-style diner with its delicious poutine, hot dogs, and cheeseburgers, making it a must-visit spot in Montreal for a nostalgic dining experience.
  • Vin Mon Lapin, a perennially popular spot, offers a dynamic menu highlighting farm-fresh veggies and seasonal seafood, including favorites like the Croque-Pétoncle and leek conservas with chips. Reservations are strongly recommended!
  • Damas enchants diners with its upscale Syrian fare, featuring dishes like walnut-stuffed sea bass and grilled octopus, served in an ornate dining room adorned with lanterns and intricate patterns.

And we can’t forget Montréal’s long history as North America’s sin city, dating to the Prohibition Era. When it’s time to grab a drink, explore some of the best cocktail bars or follow the locals as they disappear into hidden, underground speakeasies.


Photo courtesy

Meanwhile, starting May 10, art studio Iregular’s NEST will be exhibited at the Elektra Gallery as part of the seventh edition of BIAN, the International Digital Art Biennale. The revolutionary digital artwork is inspired by the reactive behaviors of insect colonies, employing sound location technology that creates unique audio experiences tailored to each participant. Throughout the experience, personalized soundscapes vary with the user’s movements within any space or size specifications.

No trip to Montréal is complete without captivating immersive experiences. Some of our favorites come from the geniuses at Moment Factory, including AURA at the Notre Dame Basilica — where the cathedral’s neo-Gothic architecture is showcased through illuminated exteriors, sculptures, and artworks, plus a multimedia performance with the 7,000-piped Casavant organ — and The Horizon of Khufu, an immersive virtual reality expedition exploring the Great Pyramid of Giza.

This May, we’re gathering the most innovative minds in experiential for the inaugural XP Fronts at C2 Montréal. We will be joined by speakers from experiential brands like Essence Ventures, Snap Inc., Felix & Paul Studios, AREA15, Atlas Obscura, Ascendance Sustainability Group, Culture House, Meow Wolf, the Boston Seaport and more. Join us for immersive and experiential content, a marquee program dedicated to the future of experiential and a highly targeted evening event that curates the right conversations among the right XP players. Don’t miss out on this unique convergence of creativity and innovation.


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Experiential Is Everything

XP Land is for experiential creatives and experience-makers, brand leaders, and IP-owners, space stewards and venue visionaries — all those in the business of epic gatherings and live, immersive storytelling.