C2 Montréal adds festive atmosphere with free events for the first time


This is a year of big changes for C2 Montreal, the premier creative business conference, and C2 President and CEO Jacques-André Dupont said he and his colleagues are excited to return in full force.

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“I’m ready to fight,” Dupont said in a telephone interview.


C2 Montreal operates Monday through Wednesday, primarily at Place Ville Marie and the nearby Queen Elizabeth Hotel, and high-profile guests include model, actress, and philanthropist Naomi Campbell; the great tennis player Billie Jean King; Montreal star director Yannick Nézet-Séguin; Archie Bell, Global Creative Director, Spotify Advertising; Avery Akkineni, president of Vayner3; Sandie Hawkins, General Manager of Global Solutions for North America at TikTok; and former Destiny’s Child member Michelle Williams, who is also an actress, author, and mental health advocate.

You have to buy a pass to participate in the event, but for the first time this year, free activities will allow Montrealers to get a flavor of the conference. The outdoor activities will take place on the esplanade of Place Ville Marie, near The Ring installation, from Monday to Wednesday from 12:00 to 1:15 p.m. and from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

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This year’s C2 is also the first full in-person edition since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What’s exciting is that for the first time, part of the experience will be offered free of charge to Montrealers and visitors,” Dupont said. “We are organizing several activities that will be accessible to everyone, not just those with tickets. We have cultural shows. We have what we call The Aquarium, which is a space where we do interviews with star speakers. We see it as this most creative conference that also begins to embody the festival DNA of the city”.

Montreal star conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, seen conducting the Metropolitan Orchestra's annual concert at the foot of Mount Royal in August, is among the big names at C2 Montreal.
Montreal star conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, seen conducting the Metropolitan Orchestra’s annual concert at the foot of Mount Royal in August, is among the big names at C2 Montreal. Photo by Dave Sidaway /Montreal Gazette

Some of the artists performing for free outdoors include DJ and musician Pierre Kwenders, who just won the Polaris Award; the Montreal dance collective Tentacle Tribe; the one-man band Blaise Margail; the circus dance and visual arts collective Projet Sanctuaire; Oji-Cree multidisciplinary artist Anachnid; songwriter and TikTok influencer Liya Bombardier; the Urban Science music band; and DJ Jojoflores.

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Last year, the event was held at the northernmost Tohu venue in a hybrid form, mixing in-person and online events, with organizers having to work around public health regulations.

“Now the vision is downtown with C2 trying to help create a new environment to create opportunities for people to go back to work and visit downtown,” Dupont said. “We want to help bring his great self back to Montreal.”

In many ways, the event is designed to sell Montreal to the global business community.

“We want to show Montreal to the world, in its best attire,” Dupont said. “The creative Montreal, the energy of Montreal”.

This is the eleventh edition of C2, but Dupont knows that not everyone fully understands the concept of the event.

The Urban Science Brass Band, seen playing at the jazz festival in July, is among the free outdoor acts at C2 Montréal.
The Urban Science Brass Band, seen playing at the jazz festival in July, is among the free outdoor acts at C2 Montréal. Photo by Allen McInnis /Montreal Gazette

“If TEDx (conference) had a baby with Cirque du Soleil, that’s C2,” Dupont said. “It was created by Jean-François Bouchard with his then partners at (the creative agency) Sid Lee and involved Cirque du Soleil. It was 2008, right after the economic crisis, and I wanted to show why Montreal is a great place for business. He wanted to create the next generation of business conferences.

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“That’s why it was an immediate success at the time, because no one had seen that before, a conference where you see so much art, a conference where we bring leadership that is different. It was important to connect to the business communities of Montreal, Quebec and Canada, but also to connect with the international market.

“This creates a big melting pot and business happens.”

One in four attendees generate some kind of business from the event, according to Dupont, and the conference generates between $500 million and $700 million in business each year. C2 helps spark new business creation, helps people find jobs, and helps people find new markets for their products.

There are about 3,000 participants per day. There will be fewer people from outside Quebec this year due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic, and Dupont estimates that non-Quebecs will account for about 20 percent of the attendance.

For more information visit c2montreal.com

[email protected]


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