Saleema Nawaz: How to strut Montreal’s BLVD street fest

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Now that the glorious pedestrian mall of Mont-Royal Ave. When it’s over, there’s one last chance to stroll down the tarmac before we say goodbye to sweat season and inevitably move towards frozen lash season: the BLVD Main Street Sale, September 15-18.

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The St Laurent Street Vendor showcases Montreal at its warm-weather best, and the festival is the perfect chance to get outside before fall kicks in in earnest.

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How to strut the street festival

Start with an iced coffee to keep cool and give yourself an energy boost to traverse the entire length of the pedestrian mall from Sherbrooke Street to Mont-Royal Ave.

Add an audio track

Recommended: Plug in some earbuds, tunes will pump. Strolling to a good beat is always more fun – or choose the appropriate music as you strut, saunter, saunter or (insert action verb of choice here). Be prepared to stop the music when you encounter street musicians.

Apply sunscreen

Put on some SPF before leaving the house and/or wear a hat if the weather forecast is particularly unforgiving. Shade doesn’t usually extend to the middle of the street where you’ll be strutting.

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Go more than once

If time permits, strut twice. Catch different street performers or enjoy the different vibes from day to night. This is the last hurrah of summer, after all. A solo street lets you explore things, shop at your own pace, and return to the highlights later with friends or family. Vendors will also be gradually adding stock over the weekend, so it’s worth checking back more than once if you’re looking for deals in places you like.

Arrive hungry

Plan your menu in advance or see where the road takes you. Maybe a mango blossom on a stick for a starter, a street meat main and ice cream for dessert. Or sit on a terrace to enjoy a patio meal without car fumes.

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bring cash

Although many providers have card payment options, cash is more convenient – and you’ll usually save on the taxes. A few years ago, I snagged two vintage cashmere sweaters for $10 and several cute, retro-style dresses at a deep discount. I recently bought my current favorite hoodie off a thrift store down the street. Cash and coins also come in handy to show your appreciation to the street performers.

Bring your family with you

Although all street festivals have kid-friendly elements, BLVD is most geared towards families. This year’s edition promises face painting for kids, skateboard and scooter clinics, huge street games like Volley Pong and Billiard Foot and a puzzle hunt featuring the many ice cream parlors along the Main. All activities are free. A stroller or handcart is a good idea for little legs who may not be able to walk the full 10 blocks.

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stay long

The celebrations for this year’s Dime Glory Challenge skateboard competition are taking place on the Main. Between 6pm and 11pm on Friday and Sunday evenings, the car park between Milton and Prince-Arthur Sts. will feature a block party with DJs hosted by Dime Skateboarding Shop, Vans and Monster Energy.

Always with Tranquillity

We all know that Montreal has some of the best people-watching in Canada, and the Main is a great spot for that. Find a bench and watch the city go by, or head to the chill zone at Portugal Park. Count cute dogs, check people’s outfits or take bets on how long it will be before you see a unicyclist. You could meet friends or – in my case – get in touch with someone you will later marry. (After meeting at some writing events, my future husband and I met at the street fair where we were both eating Portuguese chicken.)

I can’t promise you’ll find true love at the street vendors, but a good time is practically guaranteed.

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