When it comes to happenings, Laure Gazalé knows what she’s talking about. As director of strategy, innovation and partnerships for a Montréal business events firm called — appropriately — Happening, she knows the importance of turning a gathering into a moment that activates engagement and leaves a lasting impact. So we asked her: what are some Montréal venues that make that an easy task?
With a heritage as a bustling train station, Windsor Station is a wonderful venue for events. It’s located smack-bang in the centre of downtown, providing easy access to all major hotels. “It’s a historic place that nevertheless stays very much in the present, with all essential amenities within reach,” says Gazalé. It’s a large, open space that transforms and subdivides easily for networking events, galas, product launches, fairs and more. “It’s the perfect contrast between Montréal’s modernity and history,” in Gazalé’s words.
Perched on the edge of the St. Lawrence River, in the Old Port, the Grand Quai is a giant white canvas with endless windows that make it meld with its surroundings. “It provides a view on the river on one side, a view on the city on the other,” says Gazalé. The location invites event participants to stroll along the promenade, even into beautiful, historical Old Montréal. Last time Happening did an event there, Gazalé says there was a cruise ship moored at the quai, and a conversation picked up between travellers on their boat balcony and people at the event! Talk about international networking. “The port is such a positive context,” she says.
This space in Old Montréal makes a glamorous venue for events both medium and large-scale. The building has a few spaces to offer: “The downstairs space is very modern, while upstairs you get the historical impact,” describes Gazalé. “There’s also wonderful natural light.” Having served as City Hall from 1852 to 1878, Marché Bonsecours is one of those sites that symbolizes Montréal. “It’s very inspiring for people like us who do event design. It’s one of those spaces that make Montréal shine as a destination.”
“What I love about this venue is its striking industrial architecture,” says Gazalé. “It’s more raw than other spaces, while also speaking to the commercial history of Montréal.” Entrepôts Dominion is a large building in the St-Henri neighbourhood that is now surrounded by hot restaurants and a new burgeoning commercial centre. It’s an industrial space that can be transformed with subdivisions into something with smaller, cozier spaces for conversation, or left “au naturel” for that wide-open loft feel.
Montréal Science Centre
Flexibility is key at this impressive venue in the Old Port. With the same wonderful two-sided view onto the water and city as the Grand Quai, the Montréal Science Centre has incredible adaptability. “What’s marvellous is that not only is it a giant empty space with tons of windows, but because it’s made up of many connected rooms, you can really turn it into anything you want, for both small and large events. One to four spaces, inside as well as outside – you can use them all or not to fit exactly your needs,” says Gazalé.
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