Things to do in Montréal - August 10 to 16

Robyn Fadden

Summer stays hot in Montréal this week with August festivals îleSoniq, the First Peoples Festival and more, plus a rainbow of Montréal Pride events, seasonal food, outdoor activities, live music and more.

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Music, art and culture festivities

Among the late-summer August festivals in Montréal, electronic dance and urban music festival îleSoniq fills Parc Jean-Drapeau with colourful concert-goers on August 10 and 11 as producers such as The Chainsmokers, DJ Snake, Diplo and Steve Angello crank the bass. Downtown in the Quartier des Spectacles, the Montréal First Peoples Festival brings together Aboriginal cultures from Canada and around the world from August 7 to 15, with music, film screenings, theatre, dance and more – don't miss concerts in Place des Festivals every night from August 8 to 12, Indigenous street food in Place des Festivals, the Friendship Parade on August 11 at 5 p.m. and more. Also downtown, the Under Pressure urban art festival features live graffiti art and music from August 8 to 12. Free outdoor event Falla brings world music, dance, circus acts, activities for kids and a collective art work (to be burned in a Saturday night grand bonfire!) to La TOHU circus arts centre, every evening from August 9 to 11. In nearby Frédéric-Back Park, on the morning of August 11, see circus arts show Aweye Manon! by Le Gros Orteil. Celebrate Montréal's Italian community and ties to Italy through food, culture, art and music during Montréal’s Italian Week, August 3 to 12. The 17th edition of Matsuri Japon festival of Japanese culture features Japanese food, music, dance, a market, kids' activities and more on August 11. And see the world's greatest tennis players face off as Montréal hosts the women's tournament of the Rogers Cup from August 3 to 12.

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Montréal Pride celebrations

The city's Pride celebration, Montréal Pride, unfurls in a rainbow of fun and entertainment from August 9 to 19. Enjoy free outdoor events at Parc des Faubourgs all week: Friday's grand opening is followed by Montréal nightlife icon and drag legend Michel Dorion’s annual Illusion drag kings and queens concert; the Leading Ladies showcase on August 11 features Laurence Nerbonne and electro-pop duo Milk & Bone; the runway show POP Kiki Ball on August 12; New Orleans rapper and the “Queen Diva” of Bounce music Big Freedia headlines alongside Princess Nokia on August 15; and drag superstar Bianca Del Rio, winner of the sixth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, hosts the Fierté Montréal Pride’s Drag Superstars concert on August 16. Listen to music, dance, eat and drink at downtown's Jardins Gamelin too! And there's plenty of Pride outside the Village, including SistersInMotion on August 11 near Laurier Metro station and theatre creations The History of Sexuality at Place des Arts' Cinquième Salle, Acts to Grind Theatre's Sauna: the Musical! at Café Cléopatra, Martin Sherman's love story Gently Down the Stream at MainLine Theatre and dance/theatre work MSM [men seeking men] at MAI Montréal, arts interculturels.

 

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City sights and lights

Take a walk from the St. Lawrence River to Mount Royal Park on the 3.8 kilometre Promenade Fleuve-Montagne to see Montréal monuments, art installations and more. Take in the view from the top of Mount Royal, along with refreshing beverages, free activities and music at Café suspendu du mont Royal every Friday to Sunday – stay late to see the Perseids meteor shower on August 10 with a telescope courtesy of Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. More bird's-eye views of the city await in the high-altitude comfort of the Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown, La Grande Roue de Montréal observation wheel in the Old Port or the Montréal Tower at Olympic Park – learn more about the city's Olympic history on a tour of the tower and Olympic Park while you're there! And Olympics sports fans can create their own athletic profile and experience an Olympian's heart-pumping journey in the Canadian Olympic Experience at Canadian Olympic Committee headquarters downtown. Come down to earth at the Montréal Botanical Garden, where you'll spot plants from around the world in bloom. Take a tour of Habitat 67 to see the eye-catching avant-garde architecture up close and learn why Moshe Safdie’s concrete modules gained worldwide acclaim. At night, discover why Montréal is a city of lights too: see high-tech wonder AURA at Notre-Dame Basilica, spot Montréal en Histoires - Cité Mémoire projections on building facades in Old Montréal and watch the waves and water bubbles of Aesthetic Machinery's WET projected on the facade of UQAM's Pavillon Président-Kennedy in Place des Festivals. Follow our guide to Montréal's most famous icons to see more of the city's major sights and architecture.

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Activities for all ages

Among the many free things to do in Montréal this summer, explore Montréal's ephemeral summertime spaces, including open-air spaces Jardins Gamelin near the Village and the Aires Libres rainbow, Village au Pied-du-Courant near the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, the Old Port's Marché des Éclusiers, Station F-MR along the Lachine Canal, and Les Jardineries on the Esplanade Financière Sun Life at Olympic Park. Bike like a Montrealer with BIXI, our bike-sharing system, perfect for getting from A to B in the city and seeing some sights along the way. Or check out these three bike rides perfect for visitors (featuring a helpful list of bike rental options). Play on the Old Port of Montréal's pirate ship ropes course Voiles en Voiles, the MTL Zipline, SOS Labyrinthe and high-tower experience Decalade.com. Meanwhile, on the water, take a leisurely boat ride on the St. Lawrence River with Bateau-Mouche, Croisières AML, Le Petit Navire or Navark; speed it up with WET SET MTL, jet boating and Rafting Montréal or surf the rapids with KSF, Oasis Surf and Maeva Surf. Cool down with our ultimate guide to Montréal's beaches and pools (or relax indoors at some of Montréal's best spasBota Bota, spa sur l'eau features elite divers from the rooftop and a DJ set on the evening of August 10). Visit the Ecomuseum Zoo conservation area to see 115 animal species from the St. Lawrence Valley, including otters, wolves and hawks. Find all this and more at your fingertips with My Official Montréal City Guide, a travel app that lets you experience the city like a Montrealer. And whether you're coming to Montréal for a festival or simply to see the sights, arrive in the heart of the action by train on VIA Rail.

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Food and drink

From Mount Royal Park to the Lachine Canal, enjoy a meal surrounded by nature at Montréal's restaurants in parks. Or pick up your own picnic-ready food for the park. Stay cool with the best ice cream and frozen treats in Montréal, along with iced coffee at Montréal's indie coffee shops or that perfect summer cocktail – if you're with a group, why not make it a pitcher of cocktails or take your party to the beach? Check out Fabriqué à Montréal to sample brews made by local microbreweries on August 11 and 12 at Aire Commune in Mile End. Explore Montréal and its culinary delights on foot or by bike with Montréal's best food tours or relaxing with a drink on a fabulous hidden terrasse. Fine-dining luxuries and local delicacies make these Montréal meals worth writing home about. Discover Montréal's many brunch options and the many restaurants open from brunch to well past dinner. Try these lunch counters in Montréal, new casual restaurants and cheerful bring your own wine eateries. If you're looking for local food and Québécois classics, follow our guides to the best poutine, the best Montréal bagels and the best smoked meat, Montréal's top chocolatières and more musts for foodies visiting Montréal. For something light, check out these health-conscious restaurants and our ultimate guide to vegan eating in Montréal. Or why not sample some of the city's best baked goods at Montréal's new bakeries and pastry shops?

Stage and screen

A theatre experience like no other, Cavalia Odysseo brings together 70 thoroughbred horses and their riders, circus acrobats, spectacular theatrics and audiovisuals, all under the big top near the Jacques-Cartier Bridge from July 25 to August 19. Watch films under the stars as CINEMANIA pairs up with the SAT's Downtown screenings under the stars at Parc de la Paix to screen Luc Besson's The Great Blue on August 14, while Cinéma sous les étoiles continues its daily park screenings, including documentary Speak Up / Make Your Way by Amandine Gay on August 14 at Parc du Pélican, and Film Noir au Canal shows Le Deuxième Souffle on August 12. Join outdoor film screenings, a singalong to the Yellow Submarine movie and more at the Animaze: Montreal International Animation Film Festival, August 16 to 19, kicking off this Thursday night with a virtual reality presentation (plus food and drinks) in St. Patrick's park in Griffintown. Roam the cosmos in science-meets-multimedia creations EXO, The Blind Man with Starry Eyes, Continuum and Aurōrae at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. At the Phi Centre, in Old Montréal, until August 12, immersive VR experience Particles of Existence lets you travel through the universe at non-human scale while exploring crucial global concerns. Go on a wild ride in IMAX at the Montréal Science Centre with Tiny Giants 3D, Oceans 3D and America's Musical Journey 3D – also see 400 original art objects and drawings in DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition and reach out and touch a 3.8-billion-year-old moon rock brought back from the Apollo 17 mission.

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Art for all

Among the major Montréal museum exhibitions this summer, visit the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to see From Africa to the Americas: Face-to-Face Picasso, Past and Present, as well as works by Canadian artists of African origin in Here We Are Here: Black Canadian Contemporary Art, solo exhibition Motion – Emotion of works by French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel and much more. Outside the museum, watch the light bounce off gorgeous glass sculpture Chihuly's Sun. Immerse yourself in architectural “anti-monuments” and other large-scale, participatory installations of artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer in major exhibition Unstable Presence at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. At DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art in Old Montréal, Bharti Kher: Points de départ, points qui lient explores hybridity, the female body and the nonphysical in the material world in works woven through with the artist's signature use of the bindi. In Mile Ex, stop by gallery Never Apart to see thought-provoking and diverse summer exhibitions. Shop the Saint-Denis Street sidewalk sale and watch live art making by local sculptors and painters along the way every afternoon from August 10 to 12. Artist Étienne Paquette's 28-foot-high Wind Instrument installation creates soothing, symphonic musical sounds outside Saint-Laurent metro station starting August 16. And there's more art to discover while gallery hopping and antiquing.

Local history and beyond

The McCord Museum features Balenciaga – Master of Couture, a haute couture retrospective of the legendary Spanish fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga, as well as Shalom Montreal – Stories and Contributions of the Jewish Community, outdoor photography of Montréal's retail past along McGill College Avenue and the Urban Forest outside the museum, featuring Klezmer music on Wednesdays at 12:30 p.m. The Stewart Museum exhibition Paris on Display: 18th-Century Boutiques gives us a glimpse of the City of Light in the 18th century. The Musée de Lachine presents history and archeology from the times of fur trade and New France alongside contemporary art. Exporail / The Canadian Railway Museum harkens back to a time of vintage railroads and streetcars, while the Montréal Aviation Museum recaps our local history flying the friendly skies. Or travel way, way back in time to discover just how royally the Queens of Egypt lived in a blockbuster exhibition at Pointe-à-Callière. Lab Cult at the Canadian Centre for Architecture addresses interchanges between science and architecture while Utopie Radicali: Florence 1966–1976 explores the Italian radical movement's utopian architectural visions. If you're a baseball fan, peek into the world's biggest collection of Montréal Expos memorabilia. Or if you're a Barbie fan, see her many incarnations over the years at the Barbie Expo downtown.

Live music

On Friday night, German electronic artist Christian Löffler plays a euphoric live set with opener Van Did at Théâtre Fairmount and indie-rock bands Mourn, Chastity and Silver Dapple play Bar Le Ritz PDB. Saturday night's packed with legendary Jamaican ska-rocksteady group Toots & The Maytals with opener Aiza at Corona Theatre, Maine folk trio The Ghost of Paul Revere and Li'l Andy at Petit Campus, Texas-based atmospheric musician Many Rooms with openers Angelo De Augustine and Cedric Noel at Bar Le Ritz PDB, the heavy psych-rock and drones of locals Big Brave, Ben Shemie and Anamai as part of the Festival SOIR weekend at Église Saint Édouard (425 Beaubien E.), and a night of electro dance music from DJs Lis Dalton, Frankie Teardrop and Bamboo Hermann at the Society for Arts and Technology's Dômesicle partys in the 360-degree dome. Spend Sunday afternoon in the open air at electronic dance party Piknic Électronik at Parc Jean-Drapeau, featuring the sounds of Kim Ann Foxman (of Hercules and Love Affair), Bambii, Hunter Lombard, Softcoresoft and more producers. On Sunday night, see Arizona rock band Lydia and Cherry Pools at Petit Campus and Chicago's Joan of Arc (featuring members of Cap'n Jazz and Owls), B Boys and Girl Arm at Bar Le Ritz PDB. New Zealand multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Lake South comes to La Sala Rossa on Wednesday. On Thursday, it's L.A. grunge-alt-rockers Rad Horror at L’Astral, La Grosse Soirée #6 at Club Soda with psychobilly band The Brains, Bloodshot Bill and Nobro, Winnipeg alt-rock band The Treble at Quai des Brumes and day one of Fish Fest MTL at L'Escogriffe Bar Spectacle with garage-rocker Paul Jacobs, Shae and more bands. For more live 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.

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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