Creative sparks fly all spring in Montréal

Robyn Fadden

Robyn Fadden is a Montréal-based writer and editor who searches out city secrets, new bands, life-changing art and things to do with her perpetually active kid. Robyn has covered major events for HOUR, MUTEK, ARTINFO, CKUT 90.3FM and more.

This article was updated on April 11, 2023.

A one-of-a-kind city throughout the year, Montréal proves itself a true original in spring. The season arrives in Montréal as much more than a breath of fresh air: creative forces transform the streets, theatres, galleries and museums, restaurants and bars into spaces full of bright ideas and enthusiastic energy. Festivals, high-tech exhibitions, incredible meals and more infuse Montréal with the creative spirit throughout the season.

Springtime stimulates the senses

Acrobats swing from the rafters, clowns delight and music soars at Cirque du Soleil’s new show ECHO, a tale of evolution as seen through the eyes of a female protagonist named Future – Cirque du Soleil’s 20th big top show makes its world premiere in Montréal in April and runs throughout spring and summer under the big top in the Old Port of Montréal! Meanwhile, watch for pop-up performances, sidewalk games, projection art and more in Place des Festivals downtown, while just inside in Place des Arts, immerse yourself in world-class symphony concerts, contemporary dance and ballet, opera, theatre and more all season.

Downtown green space Jardins Gamelin opens in May, serving food and drink in an urban oasis animated by live music, dance, comedy and drag performances, yoga and dance classes and other entertaining events. The city’s pedestrian-only streets begin to open in spring too: walk down Sainte-Catherine Street in the LGBTQ Village, Mount-Royal Avenue in the Plateau and more streets where spring and summer is all about patio dining and sidewalk shopping.

A stroll up Saint-Laurent Boulevard any time is colourful, but the creativity soars during MURAL FESTIVAL from June 8 to 18, when you can watch artists paint new works on buildings’ walls and catch live music on outdoor stages. Walk the landscaped Promenade Fleuve-Montagne, stretching from the St. Lawrence River to Mount Royal Park, and see all kinds of public art along the way – take a detour to see Montréal's murals of Leonard Cohen on Crescent Street and on Saint-Laurent Boulevard at Napoleon Street.  

 

Festivals and events energize

Montréal's packed spring cultural calendar features something for everyone. Boundary-pushing dance and theatre by artists from around the world impress at the Festival TransAmériques in May. Also in May, Festival Accès Asie features performances exploring the cultural richness of Canadians of Asian origin. The Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival features readings, workshops, discussions, children’s programming and more by local, Canadian and international authors in late-April.

Massive festival-like event Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada revs its engines on the racetrack and downtown at free outdoor stages, driver appearances, parties and more in June. The Eureka! Festival lets families and kids of all ages get creative with science in late-May in Parc Jean-Drapeau. In early June, the St-Ambroise Montréal Fringe Festival shows us just how incredibly creative Montrealers can be in theatre, dance, comedy and circus performances. And one of the world's biggest Francophone music festivals, Francos de Montréal, celebrates French song with over 250 shows on several stages in Place des Festivals in mid-June.

 

Food and drink delights, night or day

In early spring, Montréal and the nearby countryside celebrate a Québecois tradition, the sugar shack, also known as a cabane à sucre, where multi-dish meals and tire d’érable (maple syrup twirled into candy on fresh snow) herald maple syrup season – visit some of the best sugar shacks and restaurants with cabane à sucre menus in and around Montreal in April and early May.

A city of creative food, Montréal expands its gourmet flare from its many musts for foodies to new restaurants, bustling downtown food halls and local food festivals. Don’t miss street food fest YATAI MTL in mid-May, with restaurant and boutique specialities as well as free performances. If you love beer, check out the microbrews at Festival Mondial de la bière (Montreal Beer Fest) in May. 

As the weather warms, restaurant and bar terrasses spring into action, with friends gathering at bustling street-side patios, gorgeous green hideaways, open-air nightclub dance floors and even at outdoor dance party Piknic Électronik. And see what’s cooking at First Fridays on June 2, when Montréal food trucks take over the Olympic Park Esplanade.

 

High-tech experiences transform

Inside Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal beautiful multimedia show AURA alters the famed architecture. By night in Old Montréal, the projections of Cité Mémoire illuminate history on building facades. An immersive experience in surround sound and laser light at the Palais des congrès, Oasis Immersion surprises us with new exhibitions every season.

Experience award-winning virtual reality and other digital immersive art at the Phi Centre in Old Montréal, like Chaos & Memories, featuring works from Taiwan presented at the Venice Biennale. Sit back and take a deep dive into new digital art under the dome of the Society for Art and Technology downtown. The Montréal Science Centre’s IMAX cinema puts nature on the giant screen in all its glory. And explore the mysteries of the universe in immersive 360° films at the Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan.

 

International art inspires

Montreal’s museums and art galleries reflect the spring season too! At the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, see a new exhibition of works by Indian artist Nalini Malani in Crossing Boundaries, exhibition Parall(elles): A History of Women in Design, award-winning master carver creations in Wolves: The Art of Dempsey Bob, and more. At the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal see immersive works by Montréal artist Nelson Henricks and, starting in May, Lili Reynaud-Dewar’s I Want All of the Above to Be the Sun.

In late-April, dozens of art galleries from Montreal, Toronto, New York and beyond show work at Plural Contemporary Art Fair at the Grand Quai du Port de Montréal. At the Phi Foundation, don’t miss group exhibition Terms of Use, new works exploring the impact of technologies on the definition, construction, and (re)framing of individual and collective selves online and AFK. Discover more places to experience art in our Montréal guide to gallery hopping and these affordable places to buy contemporary art.

Check the city's cultural calendar at La Vitrine, pick up the Passeport MTL to visit your choice of 5 unforgettable Montréal attractions for one price, plan your visit with Tourisme Montréal’s official city guides, and save on your stay with the sweet deals!

 

Robyn Fadden

Robyn Fadden is a Montréal-based writer and editor who searches out city secrets, new bands, life-changing art and things to do with her perpetually active kid. Robyn has covered major events for HOUR, MUTEK, ARTINFO, CKUT 90.3FM and more.

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