Montréal Winter 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 February 9, 2024.

Blockbuster museum exhibitions, classical music concerts, theatre and comedy are among the many live entertainment choices in Montréal this Winter 2024.

 

POP MUSIC

Some highlights of upcoming national and international tours:

February: Montréal singer-songwriter Charlotte Cardin at Place Bell (February 8 to 11), legendary NYC rocker Jon Spencer headlines La Tulipe (February 9), Montréal crooner David Marino at Salle Claude-Léveillée (February 9 and 10), Canada’s legendary Juno Award-winning South African World-Music diva Lorraine Klaasen at the Fairmount Theatre (February 10), Québec rock icon Michel Pagliaro headlines an acoustic show at Le Club Dix30 (February 17), jazzy UK producer Barry Can't Swim at Fairmount Theatre (February 17), The Strumbellas at Beanfield Theatre (February 20), The Kills at MTELUS (February 21), City and Colour at Place Bell the same night as the massive Enrique Iglesias, Pitbull and Ricky Martin triple bill at Bell Centre (February 22), the Kronos Quartet at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier (February  25), Nigeria’s superstar “King of Afrofusion” Burna Boy at the Bell Centre (February 28 and 29), Montréal indie rockers Half Moon Run at MTELUS (February 29), and legendary Montréal turntablist and producer Kid Koala at Cinquième Salle (February 29 to March 3).  

 

March: Pink Floyd tribute band Brit Floyd at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier (March 2), Ghanaian Afropop and dancehall-reggae musician Stonebwoy at Le Belmont (March 7), Mexico’s Los Angeles Azules – one of the most successful Latin American bands of all time – at MTELUS (March 6), the Silversun Pickups at Beanfield Theatre and Mad Caddies at Club Soda (both on March 6), American heavy metal legends GWAR at Beanfield Theatre (March 9), Québec rock icon Michel Pagliaro headlines an acoustic show at L’Entrepôt (March 9), alternative rock band The Dandy Warhols at Le Studio TD (March 11), Canadian national treasure Alan Doyle (March 14) at the Olympia Theatre, New Orleans icon Jon Batiste March 13) and American industrial metal band Ministry (March 17) at MTELUS, Puerto Rican rapper Don Omar brings his Back to Reggaeton Tour to Place Bell (March 17), American ska punk band Less Than Jake at the Olympia Theatre (March 22), Grammy-winning brothers Damian and Stephen Marley co-headline their much-anticipated Traffic Jam Tour at MTELUS (March 26), pop superstar Olivia Rodrigo two-nighter at the Bell Centre (March 26 and 27), and Montréal dance-pop princess Rêve hometown show at the Fairmount Theatre (March 28).

 

 

For those looking for dinner and a show under one roof, the city’s top soul and RnB musicians headline Le Balcon music hall and restaurant year-round. Regular headliners include music legends Freddie James, Kim Richardson, Dawn Tyler Watson and Michelle Sweeney who headlines her popular Gospel Brunch with Michelle Sweeney & The Gospel Tribe on March 2.

Montréal’s premiere musicians and entertainers also headline live-music nightclubs Diese Onze and Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill, both ranked by DownBeat magazine as two of the top jazz nightclubs on the planet. Both venues also have dinner menus.

Le Cypher X organizes the city’s premiere hip hop jam nights and concerts while GrowveMTL presents jams featuring the city’s top musicians playing everything from disco to hip hop each Wednesday at Turbo Haüs.

 

WINTER FESTIVALS

Dance under the stars to the best local and international DJs at the 16th edition of Ilgoofest (runs to February 10) at the Jacques Cartier Pier in the Old Port. Dubbed “the coldest music festival in the world”, warm up on the dancefloor with such DJs as Daniel Goldstein aka Lane 8 (February 3), and Miss Monique (February 10). Click here for full list of DJs.

The 25th edition of the MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE Festival (February 29 to March 10) showcases gastronomy, live shows and plenty of outdoor activities in the Quartier des Spectacles. The icing on the snowball is the all-night Nuit Blanche on March 2. Click here for the full Nuit Blanche schedule.

The annual all-star Expos Fest Celebrity Gala (April 20) will reunite coaches and players from the 1994 Montréal Expos – including Felipe Alou, Moises Alou, Rondell White, Ken Hill, Jeff Fassero, Pedro Martinez, Cliff Floyd, Mike Lansing and Mel Rojas – to raise money to support the Kat Demes Pavillion at the Montréal Children’s Hospital.

There are a variety of DJs spinning at The Old Port Skating Rink each Thursday night until March 7. The rink has also programmed music-theme nights each Wednesday and Friday until March 8, such as 50s and 60s Rock Nights, Disco Nights, 80s and 90s Pop Nights, Movie Soundtrack Nights, and World Music Nights (click here for dates of each thematic night).

THEATRE

Montréal’s two big English-language theatres – the venerable Centaur Theatre Company in Old Montréal, and the Sylvan Adams Theatre at the Segal Centre for the Performing Arts in the west end – offer varied programming.

Regularly featuring some of the most exciting independent theatre-makers in Montréal, Centaur’s annual Wildside Festival (runs to February 8) showcases the city’s most innovative and groundbreaking theatre artists and their cutting-edge productions.

Then out Emmy-nominated playwright Diane Flacks makes her Centaur début with GUILT (a love story), sharing her personal experience through an erudite, witty and emotionally-charged one-woman show (March 12 to 30). Drawing from her Jewish heritage, western philosophy and pop culture, the show makes its Montréal premiere after a run at Tarragon Theatre in Toronto. This production is directed by award-winning artist Alisa Palmer, a long-time collaborator of Flacks.

 

 

The Segal Centre presents Fifteen Dogs (March 31 to April 21), based on the Giller Prize-winning novel Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis, and adapted and directed for the stage by Marie Farsi. A co-production with Crow’s Theatre in Toronto, it tells the story of a group of 15 dogs kennelled at a veterinary clinic who are suddenly gifted by the gods with human consciousness and language. In this modern-day fable of fate, faith, love and language, six actors embody the pack as they reckon with morality, mortality and the profound relationships they share with humans.  

The oldest professional Black theatre company in Canada, Black Theatre Workshop presents the world premiere their co-production (with Prairie Theatre Exchange) of Diggers in the Studio Theatre of the Segal Centre. The play tells the story of three essential workers – gravediggers – who make the best of a bad situation as townsfolk grow increasingly distant when illness hits the town (February 1 to 7). A play full of song, laughter, tears and humanity.

Over at the Montréal, arts interculturels cultural organization – better known as “The MAI”Infinithéâtre presents their much-anticipated adaptation of Kaie Kellough’s story collection Dominoes at the Crossroads, a poetic ode to the epic and universal search for home and identity, gently anchored in the eclectic city that is Montréal (March 7 to 16).

 

 

After wowing audiences on Broadway and in London’s West End, the smash hit Pretty Woman: The Musical – with direction and choreography by two-time Tony winner Jerry Mitchell, original music and lyrics by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, and a book by the movie’s legendary director Garry Marshall and screenwriter J.F. Lawton – headlines Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier from March 5 to 10.

The Hudson Village Theatre presents the musical comedy whodunit Curtains – from the creators of Cabaret and Chicago – from March 7 to 17.

The French-language adaptation of British mystery writer Agatha Christie’s classic And Then There Were None is called Ils étaient dix en français, and runs at the Cinqième Salle at Place des Arts from February 1 to 3.

Click here for more Montréal English-language theatre this winter.

 

DANCE

The Danse Danse series has programmed a pair of blockbuster shows this winter:

Dance legend Margie Gillis marks 50 years of creative achievement by imparting her universe to 16 dancers in Literature of the Body at Théâtre Maisonneuve (February 9 and 10).

 

 

Then Danse Danse presents Message In A Bottle featuring 15 dancers choreographed by Kate Prince and set to classic hit songs by rock and pop icon Sting, including Every Breath You Take, Roxanne, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, Walking On The Moon, Englishman In New York and Fields Of Gold, at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier for five performances (March 12 to 16). 

At the forefront of new contemporary dance in Montréal, Agora de la danse season highlights include the acclaimed Face-à-face, a “concerto for eight hands” (January 31 to February 3); and the free-admission, five-hour Powwow MAQAHATINE created by the Indigenous MAQAHATINE collective to gather and dance in the wintertime, and open to all (March 3).

 

 

Agora de la danse also presents the return of Amour, acide et noix which premiered here in 2001, and has since wowed audiences worldwide. With this piece, renowned Canadian choreographer Daniel Léveillé offers nudity as the only alternativeto a reading of the body, “for isn’t skin our true costume?” Three performances only, in the Wilder Building (March 13 to 15). 

Located in the Plateau-Mont-Royal, the innovative Montréal, arts interculturels cultural organization – better known as “The MAI” – presents an eclectic slate of multi-disciplinary productions (visual arts, dance and theatre) each season. 

Highlights of the MAI’s current 25th season include the interdisciplinary dance-performance-theatre production of Omaagomaan by multiple Dora-award-winning Anishnaabe artist Waawaate Fobister who uses sound, movement, dance and storytelling to embody Omaagomaan, a non-binary, two-spirit being who, in Anishinaabe cosmology and knowledge, represents the earth as well as the poisonous toxins humans have pushed into it (February 8 to 10). 

 

CLASSICAL STAGE

The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal continues its star-studded 90th season: 

San Francisco Opera music director Eun Sun Kim conducts Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, in Mozart and Fauré with Louis Lortie and Eun Sun Kim for three concerts (February 15 and 17).

A classical music icon and specialist of the contemporary repertoire, internationally renowned Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan returns to the OSM as soprano and conductor for Richard Strauss and Poulenc with Barbara Hannigan (February 21 and 22). Then Grammy-winning Maestro Rafael Payare conducts Hannigan and the OSM in Rafael Payare and Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony (February 28 and 29).

Payare then conducts Shostakovich’s Awe-Inspiring Symphony No. 8 (March 6-7-10), and the OSM welcomes the Orchestre de Paris led by their eminent conductor Klaus Mäkelä (March 19).

American conductor JoAnn Falletta and the Orchestre Métropolitain will perform Zemlinksy’s The Mermaid in A Pact Set in Sand concert (February 23), while guest conductor Ariane Matiakh leads the OM in Italian Dream (March 17).

All concerts at the Maison Symphonique.

The Orchestre Classique de Montréal welcomes back Mohawk violinist Tara-Louise Montour for the North American premiere of Phœnix by Montréal composer Louis Babin (February 27); and OCM Maestro Jacques Lacombe will conduct the orchestra in Musica da Cinema: Morricone & Rota, performing themes from some of the greatest international movies by the two world-renowned Italian film composers, Nino Rota and Ennio Morricone (March 14). Both concerts at Salle Pierre-Mercure.

Québec playwright Michel Marc Bouchard is back with his libretto for La Reine-Garçon, an adaptation of his play, Christine, la reine-garçon, presented by the Opéra de Montréal at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier from February 3 to 11. 

There are some 100 concerts presented by Bourgie Hall this season, with half its programming including Québec or Canadian artists, in addition to more than 60 additional concerts by guest presenters. Highlights include:

Les Violons du Roy performing Mozart and Haydn, Winds and Harp (February 2); the vocal recital With Ukraine! featuring baritone Ihor Mostovoi and pianist Serhiy Salov (February 17); the Taurey Butler Trio’s Tribute to Oscar Peterson (March 14); and a vocal recital with mezzo-soprano Ema Nikolovska and pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin performing lieder and art songs by Schubert, R. Strauss and Debussy (March 20).

 

MUSEUMS

The Becoming Montreal: The 1800s Painted by Duncan exhibition at the McCord Stewart Museum in the Golden Square Mile displays some 100 watercolours by James Duncan who documented the colonial city’s 19th century evolution during a remarkable 50-year career, producing panoramic views that predate the invention of photography. This first retrospective of Duncan’s work reintroduces the public to a painter who was quickly forgotten after his death. Visitors will recognize many of the landmarks captured in his paintings. The McCord has also published the exhibition’s superb accompanying book James Duncan (1806-1881) – Painter of Montreal, the first monograph dedicated to Duncan, giving the painter his just due at long last. Runs to April 21.

The PHI Foundation in Old Montréal presents the JOUEZ/PLAY solo exhibition by Argentinian-born artist Rirkrit Tiravanija – widely recognized as one of the most influential artists of his generation – until March 10.

 

 

The PHI also presents The Horizon of Khufu: A Journey in Ancient Egypt, a unique VR expedition that brings together ancient history and new technologies to relive the reign of Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu and explore the 146-metre-high Great Pyramid of Giza, Khufu’s final resting place built between 2,590 and 2,565 BC. Visitors wander through galleries and spaces inside the Great Pyramid before reaching its top for a breathtaking view of modern Cairo and the Giza Plateau, then board an Ancient Egyptian sun boat on the Nile to witness the funerary rite of Khufu 4,500 years ago. 

The Horizon of Khufu is located in the Old Port next door to the Montréal Science Centre. Children under 8 not admitted. The 45-minute immersive experience runs from February 16 to March 31.

 

 

The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts in the Golden Square Mile presents the Canadian premiere of O’Keeffe and Moore: Giants of Modern Art, a large-scale exhibition that for the first time sets the work of American painter Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) in dialogue with that of British sculptor Henry Moore (1898-1986). Via 120 works, together with recreations of each artist’s studio, the exhibition examines the lives and art of these two 20th century icons, retraces the evolution of their artistic practices and underscores the fundamental relationship between humanity and the natural world. Runs from February 10 to June 2.

 

 

Classic paintings by Impressionist masters come to life in the immersive experience Lasting Impressions, thanks to cutting-edge 3D Motion Sculpting technology, at Le Studio-Cabaret in Espace St-Denis runs to March 31.

Click here for more Montréal museum exhibitions.

 

FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT

Arsenal Contemporary Art Montreal in Griffintown presents the Immersive Disney Animation exhibition that takes children of all ages inside the greatest films of Walt Disney Animation Studios, from their very earliest, groundbreaking features to their hit movies of today. Shows are given in French or English, depending on the time slot selected at the box office. Runs to February 25.

Then DISNEY ON ICE: Magic in the Stars headlines Place Bell from February 28 to March 4.

 

 

The children-friendly permanent exhibitions at the Montréal Science Centre in the Old Port of Montréal are all open, while its IMAX cinema screens films for all ages, including Animal Kingdom 3D: A Tale of Six Families. 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 Insectarium. Purchasing fixed-time tickets online is highly recommended.  

 

CIRCUS ARTS

The only presenter specializing in contemporary circus in North America, La TOHU presents two shows this winter: The immersive show RIOPELLE Grandeur Nature created by Les 7 Doigts de la main crowns the festivities of Jean Paul Riopelle’s centenary celebrations (February 14 to March 9); and The Mirror by Australian circus company Gravity & Other Myths explores the concept of entertainment through the language of contemporary circus and questions what the modern human finds entertaining (February 21 to March 3). 

Montréal is the circus hub of North America. For the latest Montréal circus arts and concert news, click here.

 

CINÉMA

The International Festival of Films on Art  – known as “Le FIFA” and dedicated to the international promotion and distribution of films on art and media arts – returns for its 42nd edition from March 14 to 24.

Organist Thomas Ospital will accompany silent films including Charlie Chaplin’s The Immigrant projected at the Maison symphonique (March 23). 

 

 

From March 27 to April 21, the Cinémathèque Québécoise screens the best of Mel Brooks’ comedies, including his classic gothic horror film Young Frankenstein.

The IMAX cinema at the Montréal Science Centre in the Old Port screens films for all ages, including Animal Kingdom 3D: A Tale of Six Families. Click here for the screening schedules of the latest films. 

LITERATURE

Montréal author Raymond Beauchemin launches The Emptiest Quarter: Novellas – which find their inspiration in the sands and streets of Abu Dhabi where Beauchemin lived for four years – at the Librairie Paragraphe Bookstore on February 25.

Québec author-poet David Goudreault headlines Théâtre Maisonneuve on February 28 and 29.

Lectures LOGOS Readings is a series of monthly multicultural readings hosted by award-winning author H. Nigel Thomas and renowned human rights advocate Maguy Métellus at the UNIA Hall in Little Burgundy.

 

DRAG SHOWS

Canada’s Drag Race Season 2 finalist Kendall Gender headlines her KENAISSANCE show inspired by Beyoncé’s Renaissance world tour, also at Cabaret Mado, on February 22 at Cabaret Mado on February 22.

Dubbed the “Joan Rivers of the Drag World” by The New York Times after winning season six of RuPaul’s Drag Race, larger-than-life American drag queen Bianca Del Rio brings her new Dead Inside Tour to the Olympia Theatre on March 13.

Montréal is one of the drag capitals of the world. Located in The Village, drag icon Mado Lamotte’s Cabaret Mado and Michel Dorion’s classic Bar Le Cocktail both book the best drag performers in the city nightly. Both venues are also two of the most popular nightclubs in The Village.

 

COMEDY

Montréal comic legend Joey Elias headlines the Legion of Friends comedy benefit for Mohawk Legion 219 of the Royal Canadian Legion, on February 10 at Legion Branch 219 in Kahnawake.

The Comedy Nest nightclub hosts The Underground Comedy Railroad, the first-ever all-Black comedy tour in Canada, on February 18. The annual tour has traveled across Canada during BHM since 2012. This year’s show in Montréal features hilarious stand-up comics Rodney Ramsey, Daniel Woodrow, Tamara Shevon and Keesha Brownie. Click here for tickets.

Late night TV veteran Pete Correale brings his Authentic Tour to the Beanfield Theatre on February 24. 

The Australian comedy troupe Sooshi Mango headline the Olympia Theatre with their new show Off the Boat on February 25.

International comedian Masood Boomgaardheadlines the Fairmount Theatre with his alter ego Self-Help Sing on February 29.

 

Out NYC comic Matteo Lane brings his Al Dente Tour to the Olympia Theatre for four concerts on March 23 and 24.

Support local, national and international comics at The Comedy Nest nightclub 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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