Montréal spring-summer cultural calendar

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

This article was updated on May 5, 2022.

A blockbuster museum exhibition about the Vikings, classical music concerts and the return of Montréal’s famed music and comedy festivals are among the many live arts and entertainment events this Spring and Summer 2022.

MUSIC

Tours by national and international touring acts are back. Notable acts headlining Montréal venues include Lorde at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier (April 7); Montréal punk-rock legends Ripcordz and headliner Dayglo Abortions at Foufounes Éléctriques (April 9); the iconic godfathers of Heavy Metal, Judas Priest (April 11) at Place Bell; British pop icon MIKA (April 25), legendary singer-songwriters James Taylor with opening act Jackson Browne (April 28), what should be a rollicking show by outlaw-country superstar Chris Stapleton (April 30), and Montréal favourite Sting (May 5), all at the Bell Centre; Avril Lavigne (May 7), and touring without their late bassist Dusty Hill, ZZ Top (May 8), both at Place Bell; Canadian national treasure Jann Arden at MTELUS (May 20); Montrealer Rufus Wainwright (May 21) and legendary crooner Engelbert Humperdinck (May 22) at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier;, the synthetic soul of Montréal’s very own Chiiild – poised for stardom – at the newly renamed Le Studio TD (formerly L’Astral) on May 23; the Montreal Gospel Choir close out their season at the downtown Red Roof Church (three concerts on May 7); and the much-anticipated 13-concert run by Charlotte Cardin at MTELUS runs from April 29 to June 26.

Then during the summer months, all-star headliners include Phoebe Bridgers who headlines an outdoor show at Parc Jean-Drapeau (June 8), the same night electronic pioneers Kraftwerk bring their acclaimed KRAFTWERK 3-D concert to Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier; Alexisonfire headline a two-nighter (July 14 and 15) at MTELUS, and Alanis Morissette (July 12), British rock royalty Roger Waters (July 15) and Dua Lipa (July 25) all headline the Bell Centre.

To round out the summer, queer country sensation Orville Peck headlines the Corona Theatre (August 7); indie-rock legends Franz Ferdinand will raise the roof at MTELUS (August 16); Florence + The Machine headlines Place Bell (September 2); while Canadian teen idol Shawn Mendes (August 15 and 16), classic rockers Greta Van Fleet (August 18), My Chemical Romance (September 2), Backstreet Boys (September 3), 77-year-old rock icon Rod Stewart (September 9) in what could be his last-ever Montréal concert, and the good-bye tour of the “King of Reggaetón” Daddy Yankee (September 10), all headline the Bell Centre.

Also, support Montréal’s premiere musicians and entertainers headlining local nightclubs, such as Diese Onze and Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill, both ranked by Downbeat magazine as two of the top jazz nightclubs on the planet. The city’s top soul and RnB musicians headline Le Balcon dinner-theatre.

MUSIC FESTIVALS

Montréal’s punk-rock Pouzza Fest – whose name is a mashup of poutine and pizza – runs from May 20 to 22, the French-language Francos de Montréal presents indoor and outdoor concerts from June 10 to 18, legendary Montréal promoter Lamine Touré presents the 36th edition of his world-renowned Festival International Nuits d’Afrique (July 12 to 24) with Ivorian roots reggae superstar Tiken Jah Fakoly at MTELUS (July 13) and a free outdoor concert by Nigerian Afrobeat icon Femi Kuti on July 19, Dua Lipa and Montréal’s very own Arcade Fire return to headline the all-star Osheaga Music and Arts Festival (July 29 to 31) at Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montréal’s new LASSO country music festival debuts August 12 to 13, and MUTEK is a world-leading festival of electronic music and digital art (August 23 to 28).

Montreal’s famed Festival International de Jazz de Montréal returns from June 30 to July 9. Headliners include Wynton Marsalis, jazz goddess Dee Dee Bridgewater, Manhattan Transfer, The Psychedelic Furs, soul man Lee Fields, Gregory Porter, Meshell Ndegeocello, Corinne Bailey Rae, and The Roots will end the festival with a big free outdoor show on July 9. Another promising jazz fest highlight is Montréal jazz icon Ranee Lee’s much buzzed-about Swings Céline Dion concert at the Monument-National on July 9.

Montréal’s summer-long Piknic Électronik draws electronic music lovers, dancers and picnickers each Sunday at Parc Jean-Drapeau from May 22 to October 2. In addition, the festival presents special OfF Piknic evening events featuring such superstar DJs as Grammy-winning Montréaler KAYTRANADA (May 19 and 20), Maceo Plex (May 27), Diplo (June 3), Fatboy Slim (September 3) and Richie Hawtin (September 24).

THEATRE

Over at Montréal’s two large English-language theatres, the Sylvan Adams Theatre at The Segal Centre for Performing Arts presents the adult rock cabaret April Fools from May 1 to 22; and over at the Centaur Theatre Company, award-winning actor Warona Setshwaelo stars in the unique one-woman show A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction which runs from April 26 to May 15.

Canada’s longest-running Black theatre company, Montréal’s Black Theatre Workshop, co-presents with La Manufacture, playwright Dominique Morisseau’s hit off-Broadway play Pipeline at Théâtre La Licorne. Pipeline will be presented in English from April 12 to 23, and the French translation by Mishka Lavigne will be performed by the same bilingual cast from April 26 to May 8.

Based on the novel by Stephen King, CARRIE: the Musical runs at Mainline Theatre from May 5 to 14.

The 15th edition of the Montréal Sketchfest also runs from May 5 to 14, while award-winning independent Montreal theatre company Contact Theatre remounts the Pulitzer-prize winning musical Next to Normal at the Monument-National from May 6 to 14.

The 32nd edition of the St-Ambroise Montréal Fringe Festival presents live theatre from May 30 to June 19, with the main shows and the Fringe Park open from June 9 to 19. Montréal drag icon Mado Lamotte’s fabled Mado’s Drag Race returns for its 20th edition at the Fringe Park on June 18.

 

CLASSICAL STAGE

For their 88th season, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal presents Maestro Rafael Payare (current OSM music director designate who officially becomes new OSM music director beginning with 2022-2023 season) conducting Beethoven’s Triumphant Ninth Symphony (May 31 to June 2). Meanwhile, Grammy-nominated Montréal homeboy, Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conducts the Orchestre Métropolitain in Brahms: A German Requiem (May 20). And to close its 82nd season, the Orchestre Classique de Montréal presents Eroica (May 27), a grand concert dedicated to Montréal’s healthcare workers. All concerts are at the Maison symphonique de Montréal.

Over at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier, the Opéra de Montréal presents legendary Australian theatre opera director Barrie Kosky’s acclaimed silent film homage production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute (May 7 to 17).

Meanwhile, Bourgie Hall presents The Complete Cantatas of J.S. Bach concerts with L’Harmonie des saisons on April 24, Pallade Musica on May 15, and I Musici de Montréal on June 9 and 10.

The 9th edition of the OSM Classical Spree, under the theme of The Americas, will present 24 concerts from August 10 to 14. The orchestra kicks off the Classical Spree with its ever-popular free outdoor concert on the Olympic Park Esplanade on August 10 at 7:30 pm.

Montreal’s Orchestre FILMharmonique will bring film and classical music lovers on a journey to a galaxy far, far away when it performs John Williams’ Grammy-winning score for Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back as the original 1980 film plays on the big screen at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier on August 26 and 27.

DANCE

The contemporary Danse Danse series presents leading Brazilian dance company São Paulo Companhia de Dança whose triple bill (April 6 to 9) opens with Trick Cell Play by legendary Canadian choreographer Édouard Lock who was also artistic director of David Bowie’s Sound and Vision world tour. Danse Danse then presents modern fable Crypto by the Côté Danse company (May 11 to 14), performed by four dancers including Guillaume Côté, Principal Dancer and Choreographic Associate of The National Ballet of Canada, who also choreographed this production. Both Danse Danse shows are presented at Théatre Maisonneuve.

After Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal presents the contemporary ballet Luna (April 28 to May 1) at Théatre Maisonneuve, they close their season with Sleeping Beauty (June 1 to 5) at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier. For this staging of Sleeping Beauty, choreographer Marcia Haydée has gone back to the original version by Marius Petipa and retains the essence of the 19th-century classical ballet. 

Over at Montréal, arts interculturels – more commonly called “The MAI” by locals – Hotter Than A Pan by artist marikiscrycrycry (a.k.a. Malik Nashad Sharpe) explores Black and queer ontologies through dance and movement. The production runs from April 13 to 16.

The Agora de la danse presents Sacrer – in which street dance by renowned choreographer and dance dramaturg Katya Montaignac revamps the iconic Rite of Spring – from May 11 to 14 in the Wilder Building in the heart of Montréal’s entertainment district.

The Festival TransAmériques is back with its 16th edition from May 25 to June 9, reconnecting audiences with performing arts from around the world and showcasing new work by local and international artists. This year the FTA presents 23 dance and theatre shows by artists from 18 countries, including 12 co-productions, seven world premieres and nine North American premieres. Of note is Andrew Tay and Stephen Thompson’s Make Banana Cry (June 2 to 5).

Created on the edge of the FTA, the OFFTA is a festival dedicated to the emerging avant-garde in live arts. The OFFTA runs from May 27 to June 5.

 

MUSEUMS AND EXHIBITIONS

The Pointe-à-Callière archaeology museum in Old Montréal presents Vikings– Dragons of the Northern Seas from April 14 to October 10. The blockbuster exhibition features some 650 objects and artefacts from the collections of the National Museum of Denmark.

The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts Arts exhibition Nicolas Party: L’heure mauve (runs to October 16) is named after the iconic painting Mauve Twilight by Canadian Symbolist Ozias Leduc, found in the MMFA’s collection. Nicolas Party: L’heure mauve displays the full artistic range of rising star Nicolas Party in his first solo exhibition in Canada. Via some 100 works and a series of monumental frescos realized in situ, the Swiss-born artist unveils a dreamlike exhibition themed on nature.

Over at the McCord Museum, positive images and stories of the LGBTQ+ communities take centrestage in the work of renowned Montréal trans photographer JJ Levine in his solo Queer Photographs exhibition which runs to September 18.

The PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art presents (until May 22) renowned Canadian artist Stan Douglas’s Revealing Narratives exhibition combining his most recent photo series Penn Station's Half Century (2021) and Disco Angola (2012), a series of photos presented in Québec for the first time.

The PHI Centre, the SAT and the Goethe-Institut host the North American premiere of the Goethe-Institut’s touring multidisciplinary exhibition TECHNO WORLDS (May 13 to June 19) which explores the multifaceted techno scene, genres and political projects that emerged from the subcultures of the 1980s to the present day.

The popular Art Souterrain Festival takes over six kilometres of Montréal’s downtown underground pedestrian network for its 14th edition from April 2 to June 30, showcasing contemporary artworks created by 40 local and international artists around the theme Voies-Voix Résilientes (Resilient Voices-Pathways).

Masterpieces by Van Gogh get a dazzling digital treatment in the brand-new immersive exhibition VAN GOGH-Distorsion at Canada’s largest indoor immersive attraction, OASIS immersion at the Palais des congrès de Montréal beginning April 28.

The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal presents the exclusive North American premiere of Stranger Than Kindness: The Nick Cave Exhibition from April 8 to August 7 at the Galerie de la Maison du Festival, upstairs from Le Studio TD. Co-curated and co-designed by Cave, the exhibition features more than 300 objects collected or created through six decades of musician, storyteller and cultural icon Nick Cave’s creative and private life.

The World Press Photo Montréal exhibition returns to Bonsecours Market from August 31 to October 2.

Finally, the much-anticipated immersive exhibition Frida Kahlo: The Life of an Icon opens in Montréal on June 10, the only Canadian stop on the critically-hailed exhibition’s world tour.

 

FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT

Under the Big Top in the Old Port, Montréal’s famed Cirque du Soleil presents the 130-minute spectacle KOOZA from May 13 to August 14.

Also in the Old Port, the kid-friendly permanent exhibitions at the Montréal Science Centre are all open, while its IMAX cinema screens films for all ages. Click here for the screening schedules of the latest films.

Children of all ages can also discover new worlds at Montréal Space for Life, the largest natural-sciences museum complex in Canada which comprises the Botanical Garden, Planetarium, Biosphere, famed Biodôme and the Insectarium (which reopens on April 13). Purchasing fixed-time tickets online is highly recommended.

Also each summer, venues, parks, streets and the sidewalks of Montréal become stages for high-flying circus performers from around the world during the Montréal Complètement Cirque Festival, when circus acts take over the city from July 7 to 17.

One the largest gatherings of comic book, manga, anime, video game, cinema, collectibles and pop culture fans in North America, Montréal Comiccon returns to the Palais des Congrès for its star-studded 12th edition from July 8 to 10.

CINÉMA

The Parc at Midnight series returns to Cinéma du Parc for a sixth season: a 50th anniversary celebration of John Booman’s Deliverance starring Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds and Ned Beatty, screens on April 22, 23 and 24; Stanley Kubrick’s horror classic The Shining starring Jack Nicholson on April 29, 30 and May 1; the newly restored version of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, to mark its 50th anniversary, on May 13 to 15; and Toshiya Fujita's Lady Snowblood, which inspired Quentin Tarantino and his KILL BILL, screens June 10 to 12, in an original Japanese version with English subtitles.  

Montréal’s Fantasia International Film Festival is at the vanguard of international genre cinema, thanks to its distinct programming and record-breaking attendance by passionate film fans. This year’s 26th edition runs from July 14 to August 3.

LITERATURE

American writer and humourist Fran Lebowitz makes her Montréal debut at St-Jean-Baptiste Church on May 6.

The 2022 hybrid edition of the annual star-studded Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival runs from April 28 to May 8, with live in-person programming from May 5 to 8.

COMEDY

American comedian, actor, political commentator and TV host Bill Maher headlines Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier on June 19.

Some of the biggest names in entertainment will headline the 40th edition of Just For Laughs, the largest comedy festival in the world. Comics Kevin Hart, Bill Burr, Hannah Gadsby, Chelsea Handler, Patton Oswalt and Russell Peters are some of the headliners at the 2022 edition which runs from July 13 to 31. The newly renamed Le Studio TD (formerly L’Astral) is also home to the Midnight Surprise, one of the festival’s most popular club series (July 27 to 30 at 11:59 pm). All-star comedians regularly pop in for a surprise set. Past guests include Kevin Hart, Dave Chappelle, Tiffany Haddish, Amy Schumer and Judd Apatow.

You can also support local, national and international comics at The Comedy Nest located in the historic Montréal Forum.

 

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

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