Although it’s only been a couple of weeks, the sounds of rubber screeching along the Giles Villeneuve raceway are already a distant memory in a city where festivals come at us at break-neck speeds all summer long. Canada’s Formula 1 is far more than just a weekend of car racing; it’s an economic shot in the arm for many businesses around the city and it’s also the biggest party weekend of the year in Montreal. People come to our city from around the world to make the most of the craziest 72 hours that you need to experience firsthand to believe. Here’s a rundown of all the glamorous parties we attended during an exhausting Grand Prix weekend.
On Wednesday (yes, in Montreal the weekend starts on Wednesday – work is a cursory activity that we must deal with as delicately as possible) we started things off with the annual launch of the Moet et Chandon summer beach at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Sherbrooke. Though understated as far as Grand-Prix-centric events go, the launch is an easy way to begin wading into a weekend that will soon have us up to our necks in champagne and parties. Wednesday also featured parties at Rolls Royce, Ubisoft and more.
We reached new heights on Thursday at the Chandon party on the rooftop terrasse of Hotel Place d’Armes. Featuring champagne cocktails concocted by McLaren driver and Belgium native, Stoffel Vandoorne, a gorgeous 360 degree view of the city and plenty of picture perfect photo ops with some of Montreal’s most fashionable VIP guests.
Leaving the cool breeze of the rooftop behind we travelled to the official opening BBQ (manned by none other than Montreal’s very own, Martin Juneau) of the ABGE (Auberge Saint-Gabriel) Belvedere terrasse. L’Auberge never does anything halfway and for this year’s Grand Prix they transformed a parking lot into a beach paradise complete with a mini swimming pool (which I was the first to try), saunas and plenty of vodka to keep the party’s guests fuelled. The opening was a celebrity and VIP hotspot gathering notable people from across the city (and the world) to see the terrasse for the first time.
We took a bit of a break on Friday this year (we learned our lesson last year) but there was still plenty to do. They only thing we regret missing out on is the wonderful party thrown every year at the Meridian hotel in the west end of downtown. It’s become a staple in Grand Prix party scene and we promise that we will be back next year. Of course there were also not to be missed parties as Beatrice and the Ritz as well.
Saturday was the big one. The day got underway with a Tiki brunch served at Terrasses Bonsecours which was followed up by the 2nd annual gifting lounge at the W Montreal. The W is tailor-made for pampering and with their cooler than cool vibe, there’s no place better for Grand Prix prep festivities. Maison Privée was joined by Johanne l’Heureux chocolates (some of the best chocolate you’ll find in Montreal), squish candy, Rudsak and more to spoil and pamper us before we hit the town to party.
Following the W we returned to a bonkers crowd at the ABGE Belvedere terrasse where we sipped on vodka cocktails and Aperol Spritz while keeping cool with frozen cocktail pops. I’ve never seen so many people crammed into a space this large and I can’t help but wonder how they are going to top this next year. With just enough vodka and sunshine to keep us going, we headed to the William Gray hotel for a quick change before moving onto to the next event.
Every year the Richmond in Griffintown shows everyone else how it’s done with their Hollywood inspired, red carpet gala. Guests showed up in unbelievably gorgeous gowns (while some people phoned it – seriously, a party like this and you show up in jeans. Thank god I wasn’t working the door. I don’t care how much you paid, I’d turn you away) and we guzzled down crisp champagne, listened to amazing live music and partied the early evening away.
The last stop on our Grand Prix tour de la ville was a return to the William Gray hotel for a VIP rooftop party thrown by Martini. The cocktails at Terrazza Martini flowed all night long while our day long hunger was satiated with delicious bites coming out of the kitchen at an impressive rate. There was no way we were going to go hungry. Martini’s party was one of the highlights of the weekend and a great way to cap off a busy weekend. I wouldn’t dare move on Sunday morning for fear of falling on my face after not stopping for days. Grand Prix is not only a couple of days of racing around a track. It’s a social circuit marathon that ends as it begins, with a bang!