Things to do in Montréal - April 5 to 11

Swing into Montréal’s spring this week on interactive, music-making 21 Balançoires (21 Swings) and walk among the butterflies at the Montréal Botanical Garden, catch a Montréal Canadiens home game, have a marvellous meal at a cabane à sucre and see the artistry of Thierry Mugler: Couturissime along with more inspiring art, theatre, dance, film and live music.

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Spring sights and sounds

Among this week's free things to do – and a major part of the city's annual Montréal Digital Spring events – 21 Balançoires (21 Swings) opens on April 8 along 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. And  new animated projection art Synergie lights up the space outside Saint-Laurent metro station every Thursday to Sunday evening. Explore the nature world at the tropical Montréal Botanical Garden greenhouse, where you can also watch butterflies flit by you at the fascinating and beautiful Butterflies Go Free event. 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. Spectacular bird's-eye views of Montréal also await in the climate-controlled comfort of La Grande Roue de Montréal observation wheel, the Montréal Tower at Olympic Park and the Observatoire Place Ville Marie. 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 take it easy and relax at Montréal's best spas. In pro sports, watch the Montréal Canadiens' last home game of the regular season as they go up against the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 6 at the Bell Centre – pick up last-minute tickets at the official Montréal Canadiens Ticket Vault. Or cheer for monster trucks and freestyle motocross as they master the mud at the Monster Spectacular XXV on April 6 at Olympic Stadium. Whether you're in Montréal for 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

Indulge in hearty Québécois meals, maple syrup taffy on snow and more at cabanes à sucre (sugar shacks) in the city and countryside, including at Un Chef à l'érable in the Old Port of Montréal and La Cabane Chez Jean in Parc Jean-Drapeau. If you're looking for other 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. Grab a few spring home décor ideas from these design-trending restaurants and bars. And if the weather turns, warm up at Montréal restaurants with fireplaces or with hot food for cold days in Montréal, whether you've got a fondness for pho or vindaloo (try these 14 great Indian restaurants). 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. 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 dancefloor going on the evenings of April 5 and 6.

On stage

In contemporary dance, Danse Danse presents Kidd Pivot's Revisor, a hybrid of contemporary theatre and dance made in collaboration with Kidd Pivot director Crystal Pite and theatre artist Jonathon Young, featuring the recorded dialogue of some of Canada’s finest actors and exploring conflict, comedy and corruption at Place des Arts from April 3 to 6. Beauty, love, madness and deception drive classic, romantic ballet Giselle, performed in traditional costume and en pointe by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal from April 11 to 14 at Place des Arts. In dance, live music and original texts, choreographer Helen Simard's Requiem Pop explores the recent works and life of rock icon Iggy Pop at Agora de la danse from April 10 to 13. Montréal's winter-spring theatre season features Morris Panych's play The Shoplifters, a witty glimpse into petty crime and corporate greed at Centaur Theatre until April 7, followed by 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. Intersections brings together five artists in five different cities to tell their lived stories of citizen-driven social movements at Théâtre La Chapelle from April 3 to 13. Canadian comedian Gerry Dee, of popular CBC sitcom Mr. D. Dee, takes the stage at Corona Theatre on Thursday, April 11. And none other than singer, songwriter, producer, author and children's advocate Raffi performs at Place des Arts on April 7.


On screen

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 – plus family screenings of multimedia show Lamparium on Saturday afternoons. 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 in Old Montréal, visit Notre-Dame Basilica (one of Montréal's most famous icons) to see Moment Factory's immersive multimedia show AURA. Roam the cosmos in science-meets-multimedia shows Planet Nine, Secrets of Gravity, Continuum and Aurōrae as well as new film POLARIS 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

Enter the high fashion art world of Thierry Mugler: Couturissime, an exhibition that features innovative ready-to-wear, haute couture and more creations by the French designer, at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts – while there, also see Montreal Couture, showcasing inventive Québec designers, close to 100 iconic photographs in Of Individuals and Places – Photographs from the Lazare Collection, 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. At Galerie de l’UQAM, Salle des maquettes brings together works from its collections in a timely tracing of the creative process. See recent sculptural works by David Armstrong Six in former factory space the Darling Foundry. Until April 6, Parisian Laundry presents French Entrance, the first solo exhibition in Canada of New York-based artist James English Leary. At SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art, Loosely Assembled examines the role of publishing in pedagogical, collective and radical spaces. Explore 5 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 7 Indigenous women artists in exhibition Oubliées ou disparues : Akonessen, Zitya, Tina, Marie et les autres at Ashukan Cultural Space. Visit Never Apart in Mile-Ex to see new works by several artists. At the Phi Centre, watch collaborative video work Speculating Futures, based on present environmental and geopolitical climates and visions of the future. See Marigold Santos' exhibition Malaginto, which centres on her interpretation of the supernatural being Asuangs as self-awareness, transformation and empowerment, at MAI Montréal, arts interculturels. Le Montréaler presents An homage to the New Yorker, illustrations in tribute to the magazine's visual style and content, from March 29 to June 9 at the Maison de la culture Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. And there's more art to discover while gallery hopping and antiquing in the city.


History near and far

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. Nature and climate comes into full view at the geodesic Biosphère, Environment Museum in Parc Jean-Drapeau. 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. The Canadian Railway Museum Exporail hosts the Circus Train exhibition along with circus acts from March 1 to April 28. History museum Château Ramezay features World War I exhibition WAR Flowers alongside rooms full of local history. The McCord Museum brings together people of all backgrounds for Tartan Day on April 6, exploring the obscure social history and symbolism of Maple Leaf tartan. 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, until April 7, Architecture Itself and Other Postmodernist Myths proposes a counter-reading of postmodern procedures. 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 Musée de Lachine presents history and archeology from the times of fur trade and New France alongside contemporary art. In more recent history, Barbie's style transformations through the decades can be seen 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

The sound of Friday night gets epic with prog metal band Dream Theater at Place des Arts and trap producer Kayzo at MTELUS, while melodic post-hardcore band Tiny Moving Parts plays Ritz P.D.B., electronic musician-producer Com Truise sets a dozen moods at Théâtre Fairmount, and Dutch electro dance duo Showtek shakes things up at New City Gas. Start Saturday with The Gospel Brunch and the Imani Gospel Singers choir at Balcon Cabaret Music-Hall, while Saturday afternoon features the Orchestre Métropolitain performing cinematic concert Music at the Movies: Génial! with conductor Nicolas Ellis at Maison symphonique. On Saturday night, the Brit Floyd Pink Floyd tribute show celebrates 40 years of The Wall at Place des Arts, French singer-songwriter and actor Eddy De Pretto and opener Heartstreets thrill fans at MTELUS, electro-indie-pop duo Foreign Air play Le Ministère, guitar-driven Ex Hex shred l'Escogriffe Bar Spectacle, musician and electronic producer Anomalie wows in a live performance at L’Astral, and DJ, producer and rapper Getter rolls into New City Gas with Badxchannels and Midoca. On Sunday, check out musician and rapper Rilès at MTELUS. Legendary artist Engelbert Humperdinck performs hits from his long career at Place des Arts from April 10 to 12. On Wednesday, new-classical cellist and composer Justin Wright launches a new album at La Sala Rossa. On Thursday, see fab singer-songwriter Lady Lamb and opener Renata Zeiguer at Le Ministère and friendly Canadian rockers Wintersleep performing songs from their new album alongside old favourites at La Sala Rossa. 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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