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 January 23, 2023.

Blockbuster museum exhibitions, classical music concerts conducted by famed maestros Rafael Payare, Yannick Nézet-Séguin and Kent Nagano, hit Broadway musicals and outdoor festivals are among the many live arts and entertainment events this Winter 2022-23.

MUSIC

Some highlights of upcoming national and international tours:

Toronto rock quartet Sloan at Café Campus (February 1), two of the UK’s most enduring and best-loved bands The Charlatans UK and Ride co-headline Corona Theatre (February 3), Aussie hitmaker Vance Joy at MTELUS (February 10 and 11), Canadian singer-songwriter Lights at Fairmount Theatre (February 17), and Australian rockers Dune Rats at the iconic Foufounes Électriques (February 22).

New York City punk rockers Bayside at the Corona Theatre (March 5), Montréal post-rock legends Godspeed You! Black Emperor at MTELUS (March 9), classic rock legends Journey (March 8) and British rock royalty MUSE at Bell Centre (March 14 and 15), Québec singer-songwriter Paul Piché at Théâtre Outremont (March 17), rising pop phenom keshi at MTELUS (March 18), and Grammy-winning Afrobeats sensation Wizkid at the Bell Centre (March 18).

Montréal favourite Chris de Burgh two-nighter at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier (April 16 and 17), while 80s icon Depeche Mode (April 12), Belgian pop superstar Angèle (April 29 and 30) and chart-topping rapper/singer Lizzo (May 4) all headline the Bell Centre.

Meanwhile, beloved Euro-disco group BONEY M featuring original lead singer Liz Mitchell headlines the Olympia de Montréal (December 14), and jazz legend Ranee Lee remounts her critically-hailed Dark Divas show – a musical journey about the lives and times of Black pop icons Josephine Baker, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Pearl Baily, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald – for two nights only (December 16 and 17) at the Centaur Theatre.

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. Headliners include such well-known entertainers as Freddie James, Kim Richardson and soul queen Michelle Sweeney who headlines a special Gospel Evening at Le Balcon on December 29.

Also, support Montréal’s premiere musicians and entertainers headlining such live-music nightclubs as Diese Onze and Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill, both ranked by Downbeat magazine as two of the top jazz nightclubs on the planet.

Diese Onze also hosts the city’s premiere live hip-hop night, Le Cypher X, on the last Wednesday of each month.

WINTER FESTIVALS

Billed as the coldest music festival in the world, the 15th edition of Igloofest in the Old Port will warm up their outdoor dancefloor with superstar DJs over four long weekends from January 19 to February 11.

More than a million Montrealers and tourists will attend the massive MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE Festival from February 16 to March 5 in the Quartier des Spectacles. Every winter since its inaugural edition in 2000, the festival celebrates the best of Québec gastronomy, complemented by free outdoor activities at Place des Festivals, as well as a wide variety of indoor cultural events.

This winter, the 13th edition of Luminothérapie (December 1 to March 5) features an all-new interactive experience on the Esplanade Tranquille skating rink, and the 20th annual Nuit Blanche will be held on February 25.

THEATRE

Evenko presents seven performances of the national tour of the Tony and Olivier Award-winning hit musical Come From Away at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier at Place des Arts, from January 10 to 15. Come From Away tells the incredible true story of 7,000 stranded passengers and the small town in Newfoundland that welcomed them on September 11, 2001.

Adapted from the animated Disney film and centuries-old folktales including One Thousand and One Nights, the hit Broadway musical Aladdin sweeps audiences into an exotic world of daring adventure, classic comedy and timeless romance. This new production features a full score, including the five songs from the Oscar-winning soundtrack and more written especially for the stage. Evenko presents eight performances of the national tour at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier at Place des Arts, from March 28 to April 2.

The Centaur Theatre season continues with Montréal playwright Steve Galluccio’s highly-anticipated At the Beginning of Time, an autobiographical story of a gay man in his late 50s who thought his life was settled only to be thrown into a new world where he has to reimagine everything. Features a stellar cast directed by theatre legend Peter Hinton-Davis, from February 21 to March 12.

In the west end, the Segal Centre for Performing Arts presents award-winning playwright Sanaz Toossi’s intricate play English about a group of adults in Iran preparing for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) in an “English Only” classroom. Runs from March 19 to April 2.

Geordie Theatre’s annual Geordie Theatre Festival returns to La Maison Théâtre (January 23 to 29) to present two plays for young audiences, What If and POOF.

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

 

CLASSICAL STAGE

Experience Harmonium’s music in its purest expression: the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal presents Dina Gilbert conducting five performances of Harmonium symphonique – Purely Symphony from January 11 to 14, with no amplification or staging, in the Maison symphonique de Montréal, a hall renowned for its superb sound quality.

Jordan de Souza conducts the OSM with works by Verdi and Tchaikovsky for three performances of Tchaikovsky and The Force of Destiny on February 8 and 9.

Adam Johnson conducts the OSM in the first segment of the Riopelle Symphonic Experience, a multimedia show presented as part of the Jean Paul Riopelle centenary celebrations, for three performances, February 16 to 18.

Beloved OSM Conductor Emeritus Kent Nagano returns to conduct the OSM and young French pianist Alexandre Kantorow, gold medalist of the 2019 Tchaikovsky Competition, in Nagano and Kantoro: From Sibelius to Tchaikovsky, from February 22 to 26. This series will sell out, get your tickets early.

As part of the Mahler cycle presented by the OSM, Maestro Rafael Payare will conduct the Austrian composer’s monumental Symphony no. 5 in Mahler’s Fifth Symphony on March 9, as well as conduct the music of Richard Strauss in Rafael Payare Gives Us A Hero’s Life, with the mighty Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva on March 28 and 30.

All OSM concerts are at the Maison symphonique de Montréal.

Victorien Vanoosten conducts the Orchestre Métropolitain in French Colours on January 27, and Daniela Candillari conducts the OM in Electric Revolution on February 10, both concerts at the Maison symphonique; while Grammy-winning Montréal homeboy, Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conducts the OM for the final concert of Bach’s complete cantatas at Bourgie Hall  for two performances, on March 26 at 2:30 and 7:30 pm.

A highlight of the Orchestre Classique de Montréal’s 83rd season is the world premiere of the chamber opera La Flambeau by Haitian-Quebec composer David Bontemps and Haitian librettist and playwright Faubert Bolivar, about corruption, misogyny and the abuse of power, sung by a cast of distinguished Black opera singers at Pierre-Mercure Hall on February 7, as part of Black History Month.

The Orchestre Philharmonique et Choeur des Mélomanes – 60 musicians and 120 choristers under the direction of Francis Choinière – present a concert version of Puccini’s masterpiece La Bohème at the Maison Symphonique on January 20.

Meanwhile, Bourgie Hall marks its 12th season with more than 100 concerts, including From Bach to Bowie (February 17) inspired by the eclectic tastes of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, and the much-anticipated return of pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin (April 5) performing Mozart’s Sonata No. 15 as well as two masterpieces of the Romantic repertoire for piano, one by Brahms and another by Chopin.

 

DANCE

The contemporary Danse Danse series kicks off 2023 with Compagnie Marie Chouinard’s “M” at Théatre Maisonneuve from January 31 to February 4, then presents the long-awaited return of the 23 performers of Tanztheater Wuppertal in Palermo Palermo, choreographed by the late dance icon Pina Bausch, for three performances at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier, February 23 to 25.

Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal presents the double bill Requiem by choreographers Andrew Skeels and Uwe Scholz, with choirs and Les Grands Ballets Orchestra, at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier for five performances, March 23 to 26.

After wowing more than a million spectators around the world, Irish Celtic brings their show Spirit of Ireland to Montréal for six performances at Théâtre St-Denis, January 26 to 29, featuring the best dancers from top Irish dance companies.

And in a city where burlesque has been celebrated for a century, burlesque queen Dita Von Teese brings the world’s biggest burlesque show Glamontrix to Théatre Maisonneuve on February 7.

Over at the innovative Montréal, arts interculturels cultural organization, “The MAI” (as it is more commonly called by locals) presents an eclectic slate of multi-disciplinary productions (visual arts, dance and theatre) each season. Highlights of the MAI’s 24th season include rock bottom by choreographer Emile Pineault and author Gabriel Cholette (January 25 to 28); 3 Queer Happenings (February 16 to 18) featuring live music, drag, performance art and burlesque; and the interdisciplinary Because You Never Asked (April 19 to 22) performed by dancer-choreographer David Albert-Toth, Marie Lévêque, Brianna Lombardo, and Maxine Segalowitz.

 

MUSEUMS AND EXHIBITIONS

A Montréal Museum of Fine Arts Arts world premiere, the blockbuster exhibition Seeing Loud: Basquiat and Music is an innovative exploration of pop icon Jean-Michel Basquiat’s life, work and meteoric career. This is the first large-scale multimedia exhibition devoted to the role of music in the work of one of the most innovative artists of the second half of the 20th century. Runs to February 19.

The MMFA exhibition Diane Arbus: Photographs, 1956-1971 displays 90 gelatin silver prints by the famed American photographer. Runs to January 29.

The PHI Centre presents the North American premiere of the 30-minute immersive installation Last Minute by the Adrien M & Claire B company, taking you through a symbolic journey around the concept of a minute stretched out in time. Runs to March 5.

The Nelson Henricks exhibition at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal – widely known as The MAC (or “Le MAC” in French) – presents the immersive artworks of the renowned Montréal artist, including two previously unseen works produced specially for the occasion and premièring at the MAC. Runs to April 10.

The Pointe-à-Callière archaeology museum exhibition Headdresses from Around the World from the Antoine de Galbert Collection features over 300 pieces of headwear from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. Runs to March 12.

Over at the McCord Stewart Museum, Art and Nature is the first major retrospective devoted to Alexander Henderson’s Canadian wilderness photographs, taken from the McCord archives which are home to the largest collection of work by the renowned photographer (1831-1913). Runs to April 16.

Canada’s largest indoor immersive attraction, OASIS immersion at the Palais des congrès de Montréal presents the world premiere of their new transformé exhibition where visitors will experience an immersive tribute to the virtual reality industry. The exhibition launches on January 19. Meanwhile, their VAN GOGH - Distorsion exhibition (runs to January 8) offers a bright and colourful immersive journey through some 225 paintings, drawings and sketches by the Dutch master.

After wowing spectators in Paris, Miami and Seoul, the critically-acclaimed 3D immersive experience Lasting Impressions / Le Café des Impressionnistes runs at Le Studio-Cabaret in Espace St-Denis from January 5 to March 12. More than 100 classic paintings by such Impressionist masters as Claude Monet, Edgar Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir come to life on a giant ultra-high-definition screen thanks to cutting-edge 3D Motion Sculpting technology, with a specially-curated soundtrack featuring Debussy, Ravel and other composers, as well as French standards by Piaf, Aznavour and Mouskouri.

The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains displays 350 artefacts from the band’s extraordinary career. This audio-visual, sensorial journey chronicles five decades of the iconic rock band, at the massive Arsenal Contemporary Art gallery until March 5.

 

Click here for more Montréal museum exhibitions this winter.

FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT

Disney On Ice: Frozen & Encanto runs for nine performances at Bell Centre from March 2 to 5.

In the Old Port, the crowd-pleasing exhibition Dinosaurs Around the World at the Montréal Science Centre features 20 life-sized dinosaurs that move and make sounds. Kids can climb on the back of a T-Rex, Apatosaurus and Mojoceratops, as well as touch a real 67-million-year-old fossil! Runs to March 12.

In addition, 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 Insectarium. Purchasing fixed-time tickets online is highly recommended.

 

CIRCUS ARTS

The only presenter specializing in contemporary circus in North America, TOHU (located at the centre of the Cité des arts du cirque) shows include Circa’s internationally-acclaimed Humans 2.0 (February 15 to 19) about the challenge of being human; and Passagers (March 23 to April 8) by Les 7 Doigts, the arts collective who expand the boundaries of the stage experience by combining dance, physical expression, acrobatics and projection.

Evenko presents the Cirque du Soleil production Corteo for 17 shows at the Bell Centre from December 21 to January 1.

Then Cirque du Soleil ECHO runs Under the Big Top in the Old Port of Montreal from April 20 to August 20.

CINÉMA

The 41st edition of the International Festival of Films on Art (Le FIFA) screens the latest documentaries on art at various venues from March 14 to 26. The festival is dedicated to the international promotion and distribution of films on art and media arts.

The 39th annual Festival International de Cinéma Vues d’Afrique screens films from across Africa and the African diaspora at various cinemas from April 21 to 30.

The Parc at Midnight series continues on weekends at Cinéma du Parc in the great tradition of the famed rep-house “midnight movies” of the 70s. Check listings here first for all updates.

LITERATURE

 

The 25th anniversary edition of the Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival will launch on March 22 with online events. The live, in-person festival will take place from April 27 to 30. The 25th anniversary theme is the future: the future of borders, the future of democracy, the future of literature, the future of identities, and the future of the planet.

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.

COMEDY

American stand-up comic David Cross headlines the Corona Theatre on April 23, and Just For Laughs presents comedian Anthony Rodia at the Olympia de Montréal on April 28.

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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