Things to do in Montréal – April 19 to 25, 2019

Celebrate spring in Montréal this Easter weekend by seeing Cirque du Soleil's Alegria under the big top, swinging on the music-making 21 Balançoires (21 Swings) downtown, walking among butterflies at the Montréal Botanical Garden, exploring the fashion of Thierry Mugler: Couturissime and experiencing all kinds of illuminating art, theatre, dance, film and live music.

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Easter in Montréal

This Easter long weekend, take time to explore Montréal's rich religious heritage: in Old Montréal, visit Notre-Dame Basilica (one of Montréal's most famous icons) either for mass or to see Moment Factory's immersive multimedia show AURA. Then, make a visit to beautiful Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal for mass and music concerts. Add world-class entertainment to your weekend with Cirque du Soleil's Alegria – the iconic show returns to Montréal with reinvigorated design, incredible costumes and world-class performers, from April 18 to June 30 under the big top in the Old Port of Montréal. Easter brunch is a must, but so are the hearty Québécois meals and maple syrup taffy on snow at cabanes à sucre (sugar shacks), including at the Labonté de la Pomme Maple Apple Shack in Oka until April 28. See the entire city from La Grande Roue de Montréal observation wheel, the Montréal Tower at Olympic Park and the Observatoire Place Ville Marie, featuring an Easter egg hunt for kids and a special brunch menu at Les Enfants Terribles on April 21. And spring is literally in the air as butterflies flit by at the fascinating and beautiful Butterflies Go Free event at the Montréal Botanical Garden greenhouse.


Spring sights and sounds

A major part of the city's annual Montréal Digital Spring events and a highlight of this spring's free things to do, 21 Balançoires (21 Swings) brightens the Promenade des Artistes in the Quartier des spectacles: the art-meets-technology installation lets everyone make music together just by swinging. Nearby, the spiral staircase of art installation Our DNA embodies the architectural and cultural heritage of Montréal's unique neighbourhoods. After dark every Thursday to Sunday, look up to the facade of the President-Kennedy Pavilion to see projection art UQAM: 50 ans d'audace, evoking the university's many facets since its creation in 1969. And animated projection art Synergie lights up the space outside Saint-Laurent metro station every Thursday to Sunday evening. Take in the view of Montréal's changing seasons from the Mount Royal Park lookout, one of the most “Instagrammable” views in Montréal, or walk the landscaped Promenade Fleuve-Montagne from Mount Royal Park to the St. Lawrence River. On Friday and Saturday nights, use your smartphone to search for the projections of Cité Mémoire on building facades throughout Old Montréal. If spring showers send you indoors, keep your mind active with escape game adventures, get moving at indoor ice skating rink Atrium Le 1000 or simply relax at Montréal's best spas. Whether you're in Montréal for a spring break, by plane or train, solo or with family, plot your days and nights with My Official Montréal City Guide, a travel app that lets you experience the city like a Montrealer. And save on your next visit with the MTL Sweet Deal.

Food and drink

As the weather warms up, Montréal's best terrasses welcome guests for brunch, lunch, dinner and drinks in the open air. If you're looking for Québécois classics, follow our guides to the best poutine, bagels and smoked meat, plus Montréal's top chocolatières, excellent Montréal meals worth writing home about and more musts for foodies – including some only-in-Montréal dining experiences. Grab a few spring home décor ideas from these design-trending restaurants and bars. Dine well at these top Montréal restaurants for the gourmet traveller, cheerful bring-your-own-wine eateries (including some in Little Italy), charming romantic dining options, lovely laid-back casual restaurants and our new restaurant picks. And make the most of solo dining in Montréal – these restaurants know how to treat you right! Do lunch like a Montrealer at these 10 great lunch spots and any time of day grab a pick-me-up at Montréal's indie coffee shops and most “Instagrammable” cafés. Later on, cheer on your favourite team at these Montréal sports bars, see what's hot at the city's new bars, relax with a perfect cocktail, or have a drink away from it all in a hidden bar, speakeasy or perfect date spot. For something light, seek out these health-conscious restaurants and great sushi restaurants and peruse our ultimate guide to vegan eating in Montréal. Or indulge your sweet tooth at Montréal's best bakeries and pastry shops. Explore more of Montréal and its culinary delights on Montréal's best food tours. Let the good times roll along with great food at the Casino de Montréal's restaurants. If you're traveling with kids, check out our ideas for great places to eat with kids in Montréal. And for the adventurous, there's a street food party: Salada Market hosts local gourmet food trucks and gets a dance floor going on the evenings of April 19 and 20.

On stage

As well as seeing Cirque du Soleil's astounding Alegria, step into the wonder-filled fictional worlds of books as they come to life in family-focused circus show Le Bibliothécaire, starring multidisciplinary artist Hippolyte as the librarian, at La TOHU on April 20 and 22. Seasoned urban/street dancers combine forces in Les Soirées 100Lux, featuring contemporary choreography, video projections, live music, emcees, deejays and more, from April 25 to 28 at Édifice Wilder. Montréal's winter-spring theatre season features Centaur Theatre season closer Blind Date, an improvised, absolutely hilarious and often quite poignant play by Rebecca Northan, in which a cast member goes on a “date” with a different audience member each night, from April 9 to 28. The MAI Montréal, arts interculturels' Black Art Empowerment series this week features artist Kapwani Kiwanga's performance and video projection Afrogalactica: A brief history of the future on April 19. On April 24, Jacob Wren of PME Art turns the typical artist talk inside out in performance A User’s Guide to Authenticity Is a Feeling at Théâtre La Chapelle. And don't miss seeing British ex-pat comedian and storyteller James Mullinger live in his high-energy show Almost Canadian at Théâtre Sainte-Catherine on April 24.


On screen

Space, symphony and Star Wars: A New Hope align as Montréal’s Orchestre FILMharmonique performs John Williams Oscar-winning score with the original film at Place des Arts on April 19 and 20. Experience artist Dana Gingras's immersive film Free Fall, a visceral reminder of the pull of gravity on our bodies, in the Satosphere dome at the Society for Arts and Technology from April 2 to 27 – and on Saturday afternoons, see a family screening of multimedia show Lamparium. Sure to be unlike anything you've experienced before in a VR setting, the Phi Centre presents visceral virtual reality theatre The Horrifically Real Virtuality, a comedic homage to filmmaker Ed Wood, starring Bela Lugosi. Also watch collaborative video work Speculating Futures, based on present environmental and geopolitical climates and visions of the future. Meanwhile, at the Phi Centre's VR Cinema, famous paintings come to life in a collaboration with the Geneva International Film Festival. Roam the cosmos in science-meets-multimedia shows Planet Nine, Secrets of Gravity, Continuum and Aurōrae as well as new films POLARIS and Passport to the Universe at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. The Montréal Science Centre features IMAX films Oceans 3D, Pandas 3D, Volcanoes 3D and new feature Superpower Dogs 3D – along with hands-on science activities such as the Clic! zone (made specifically for kids ages 4 through 7) and a 3.8-billion-year-old moon rock! Among Montréal's great indie cinemas, Mile End's Cinéma Moderne screens art-house, Québécois and cult films every day, Cinémathèque québécoise shows films by more auteurs, while Cinéma du Musée and Cinéma du Parc also screen Canadian and international features and documentaries throughout the week.


Art for all

Explore how the art of pop icon Yoko Ono has affected years of contemporary art practices, art reception and activism through art in new exhibition Yoko Ono: LIBERTÉ CONQUÉRANTE/GROWING FREEDOM, opening April 25 at the Fondation Phi pour l’art contemporain in Old Montréal. Enter the high-fashion art world of Thierry Mugler: Couturissime, an exhibition that features innovative ready-to-wear, haute couture and more wild creations by the French designer, at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts – while there, also see Montreal Couture, showcasing inventive Québec designers, and more. Toronto-based Cree artist Kent Monkman critically illuminates the history of Indigenous people in Canada in must-see exhibition Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience at the McCord Museum. Swedish photographer Johan Bävman's Papas / Swedish Dads portrays men on parental leave with their children, at the Place des Arts Salle d'exposition. Parisian Laundry presents Rose Marcus and Charles Harlan's Leavee, new works inspired by coastal urban living. See recent sculptural works by David Armstrong Six at Darling Foundry. Explore five decades of work by Austrian conceptual artist, performer and filmmaker Valie Export at VOX. See Canada's natural landscape through a researcher's critical lens in Inside/Outside: Images of the Land in Artexte's Collection at Artexte and works by seven Indigenous women artists in exhibition Oubliées ou disparues : Akonessen, Zitya, Tina, Marie et les autres at Ashukan Cultural Space. Marigold Santos' exhibition Malaginto centres on her interpretation of the supernatural being Asuangs as self-awareness, transformation and empowerment, at MAI Montréal, arts interculturels. Don't miss the edgy Never Apart spring exhibitions, with art by Age Union artists, Damian Siqueiros and Terra Sapiens Collective, and more. Le Montréaler presents An homage to the New Yorker at the Maison de la culture Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. Montréal's annual Papier Contemporary Art Fair, dedicated to contemporary works on paper, opens on the evening of April 25 with a VIP event, followed by an extended weekend of art exhibitions, talks and more at the Grand Quay of the Old Port of Montréal. And there's more art to discover while gallery hopping and antiquing in the city.


History near and far

See the city through the eyes of locals and visitors in photography exhibition Montreal, History and Heritage at the Centre d'histoire de Montréal until May 12. History museum Château Ramezay features touching and beautiful World War I exhibition WAR Flowers alongside rooms full of local history. The Musée de Lachine presents history and archeology from the times of fur trade and New France alongside contemporary art. Among the city's several family-friendly museums, archaeology and history complex Pointe-à-Callière brings Montréal's past to life in multimedia exhibitions and illuminates an international cabinet of curiosities in new exhibition Into the Wonder Room. Watch kids' eyes light up when they see the dinosaur skeletons, fossils and more at the Redpath Museum. Wax museum Grévin MONTRÉAL features Québécois and international celebrities past and present. Nature and climate come into full view at the geodesic Biosphère, Environment Museum in Parc Jean-Drapeau. The Canadian Railway Museum Exporail hosts the Circus Train exhibition along with circus acts until April 28. At the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Scripts for a new world: Film storyboards by Alessandro Poli explores elements of film that helped Poli form his language for architecture, while Second Life takes us away from it all in real, imagined and virtual spaces outside of ordinary time and space. Learn more about Jewish culture in Montréal at the Museum of Jewish Montreal, featuring Russian-Jewish artist Yuula Benivolski’s photography installation L'océan entre nous // The Ocean Between Us until May 5. The city's Irish roots also run deep – discover Irish Montréal through landmarks and more. See Barbie's high-fashion transformations through the decades at the free Barbie Expo downtown. Read all about jazz in Montréal, from the Roaring Twenties to today, featuring local history and jazz clubs still hopping to this day. And pick up some historic and present-day facts about Montréal that even some locals might not know.

Live music

On Friday night, don't miss hearing the wonderful voice and moving music of Neko Case, with talented opening artist Shannon Shaw at Corona Theatre, while Hervé Niquet conducts the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and soprano Heather Newhouse in The Mozart Requiem at Maison symphonique, and Priests forges ahead with their own style of post-punk at Casa del Popolo. On Saturday, see Swedish punk band Satanic Surfers, Belvedere, La Armada at Foufounes Électriques, intriguing indie-pop singer-songwriter MorMor and duendita at Le Ministère, introspective Montréal singer-songwriters Maxime Auguste and Liliane Pellerin at Place des Arts, and EDM producer and rapper Borgore brings the party to New City Gas with Tisoki, Wavedash and SSOS. Sunday welcomes L.A. indie-rock band Girlpool and openers Hatchie and Claud to Ritz P.D.B. On Monday, April 22, see rapper-songwriter Kodak Black and Calboy at MTELUS and indie-pop composer Bayonne with Palm Daze at Le Ministère. On Tuesday, April 23, don't miss Irish rock band Picture This at L’Astral. On Wednesday, rock out with Black Lips, Fcked Up and Wooing at Foufounes Électriques, while country music singer-songwriter Thomas Rhett brings his Life Changes Tour with opener Dustin Lynch to the Bell Centre.

Popular French musician and singer-songwriter JAIN comes to MTELUS on April 24 and 25 with Zach Zoya. The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal presents Long live La Môme: The Symphonic Piaf at Maison symphonique from April 24 to 26, with Québec singers Florence K, Betty Bonifassi, Marie-Thérèse Fortin, Sylvie Moreau, Pierre Flynn and Martha Wainwright. Also on April 24, hear concert A Century of Women's Music, featuring the artists of Pentaèdre performing works by Hedwige Chrétien, Louise Farrenc and other composers, at Bourgie Concert Hall. On Thursday, April 25, hear five accomplished musicians perform Wayne Shorter and his all-star quintet's album Speak No Evil at Bourgie Concert Hall, go see Swedish singer-songwriter and record producer ionnalee and Allie X at L’Astral, and hear the soulful R&B of Australian band The Murlocs with Moonwalks at Ritz P.D.B. For even more music throughout the week, check out our picks on how to get your nightlife on in Montréal, where to hear live music in Montréal, 10 great places to see indie bands, Montréal's best jazz and blues clubs and our guide to electronic music in Montréal. And if you want to bring the music home with you, go record shopping at Montréal's excellent vinyl stores.

Robyn Fadden

Robyn Fadden, blogger

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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