Things to do in Montréal - August 17 to 23

Robyn Fadden

Montréal summer delights this week with electronic music and arts festival MUTEK, the Montréal Fashion & Design Festival, action sports event JACKALOPE, the Montréal Pride Parade, fabulous food, all-ages activities, live music and more.

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Music and fashion festivals

Downtown's Quartier des spectacles teems with two major August festivals in Montréal this week. New trends and classic styles populate the open-air catwalks of the Fashion & Design Festival from August 20 to 25, where you’ll find live music, workshops and presentations, film screenings and, naturally, plenty of shopping opportunities (also step inside Complexe Desjardins for a fashion show on August 24 and interactive fashion demos throughout the week). See cutting-edge audiovisual shows, sip a cocktail to the tune of electronic music outdoors, sit in on fascinating artist presentations and definitely dance all night during the 19th edition of MUTEK, August 22 to 26, featuring a packed program of international innovators in electronic music and arts, including free outdoor events every day on the Place des Arts Esplanade and free shows indoors every night at Monument-National – on Wednesday catch Clap! Clap!, DJ Lag and more producers, while Thursday features Caterina Barbieri, Lawrence English, Christian Carrière and more artists.

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Montréal Pride celebrations

The city's Pride festival, Montréal Pride, continues its high-energy entertainment all weekend, closing out the festivities with Community Day on Sainte-Catherine Street East in the Village on August 18 and the fabulous Pride Parade along René-Lévesque Boulevard downtown on August 19. Enjoy free outdoor events at Parc des Faubourgs too: dance to electro glam rock at Clash on Friday night, star-studded JET SET concert on August 18 with R&B diva Deborah Cox, Todrick Hall, Mia Martini and Calum Scott, and the iconic Mega T-Dance party on August 19, featuring Samantha Fox. Listen to music, dance, eat and drink at downtown's Jardins Gamelin too! It's Pride Day at La Ronde amusement park on Friday. Also check out Acts to Grind Theatre's Sauna: the Musical! at Café Cléopatra, the Montreal HER Pride Party with Nina Sky at Club Soda and the Queer Slow Dance party at MAI Montréal, arts interculturels on Saturday night and so much more. Whether you're coming to Montréal for Pride, a festival or simply to see the sights, arrive in the heart of the action by train on VIA Rail.

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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 weekend. 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 or take a tour of Habitat 67 to see the eye-catching avant-garde architecture up close. 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 Memoire projections on building facades in Old Montréal, watch the waves and water bubbles of Aesthetic Machinery's WET projected on the facade of UQAM's Pavillon President-Kennedy in Place des Festivals. Artist Étienne Paquette's 28-foot-high Wind Instrument installation creates symphonic sounds outside Saint-Laurent metro station. Surfaces - L'expo d'art urbain opens on August 23 on the Promenade des Artistes outside Place des Arts, featuring the brilliant urban art work of 16 artists. Learn more about the city's history and culture on a two-hour walking tour of Quartier des spectacles, from its Red Light era to recent transformations. And follow our guide to Montréal's most famous icons to see more of the city's major sights and architecture.

Activities for all ages

Canada's biggest action sports festival, JACKALOPE features international calibre competitions in skateboarding, BASE jumping, rock climbing and fixed gear cycling, plus demos and more activities at the Esplanade Financière Sun Life of the Olympic Park, August 17 to 19. Nearby, Major League Soccer team the Montréal Impact plays the Chicago Fire on August 18 at Saputo Stadium. 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 18 Shades of Gay 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). Discover Parc Jean-Drapeau's islands during the free Voyage des Îles activities this weekend, featuring music, food, activities for kids, a shuttle boat trip and more. Play on the Old Port of Montréal's pirate ship ropes course Voiles en Voiles, the MTL Zipline, SOS Labyrinthe and high-tower experience Dcalade.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, Saute-Moutons 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 spas). 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.

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 FoodfestMTL's Asian Night Market, from August 17 to 19 in the Old Port of Montréal, with over 60 restaurants serving up street food, plus live music and games all weekend. 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 spectacular combination of theatre, circus, audiovisuals and 70 thoroughbred horses make Cavalia Odysseo an experience like no other, under the big top near the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, only until August 19. See animated films like Sgt. Stubby: Le Hero Improbable and 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. NDG Arts Week presents live music and more free events from August 20 to 26, including Théâtre Lyrique's production of Carmen in Parc Girouard on August 22. See Scapegoat Carnivale's object-theatre production of 10th-century play Sapientia, a proto-feminist story about a Christian noblewoman persecuted by the Roman emperor, running from August 16 to 26 at MainLine Theatre. Watch films under the stars as SAT's Downtown screenings under the stars at Parc de la Paix shows Éric Gravel's Crash Test Aglaé and two Canadian short films on August 21, while Le Cinéma sous les étoiles continues its daily park screenings, including documentary La Juge by Erika Cohn on August 21 at Parc du Pélican, CINEMANIA presents Monsieur Chocolat (CHOCOLAT) by Roschdy Zem on August 22 at Parc Saint-Laurent, and Film Noir au Canal shows Mulholland Drive on August 19. See incredible 360-degree films in the SAT's Satosphere, August 21 to 26, in partnership with MUTEK, while in the foyer (next to the Foodlab restaurant), watch ghost instruments / la ville mécanique, a new audiovisual work by artist TiND. Roam the cosmos in science-meets-multimedia creations EXO, The Blind Man with Starry Eyes, Continuum and Aurōrae at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. 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 a 3.8-billion-year-old moon rock.

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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 – join the Family Open House and workshop on the afternoon of August 18. See Berlin-based multidisciplinary artist Antonia Baehr's piece Abecedarium Bestiarium on August 22 and 23, as part of the 2018 Queer Performance Camp at La Chapelle. In Mile Ex, stop by gallery Never Apart to see thought-provoking and diverse summer exhibitions. And there's more art to discover while gallery hopping and antiquing.

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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, and features Petits trains, grandes passions on August 18 and 19, 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

Go out dancing to electro at New City Gas with techno-house producer GTA on Friday night and Helena Legend on Saturday, or check out Newspeak with Huxley, Max Hébert and Dave Allison, followed on Saturday by Kahn & Neek, Santi and Lowsteez. Also on Saturday, dance to the sounds of DJs Atroxx and Mike Laz at the Society for Arts and Technology's Dômesicle partys in the spectacular 360-degree Satosphere dome. On Friday and Saturday, it's also Fish Fest MTL at L'Escogriffe Bar Spectacle with garage, surf and indie rock from Waveyard, Bulb Alley and more bands. Spend Sunday afternoon in the open air at electronic dance party Piknic Électronik at Parc Jean-Drapeau, featuring Desert Hearts Records artists Mikey Lion, Lee Reynolds, Marbs and Porky, plus a roster of excellent Québec artists on the Moog Audio stage. On Sunday night, see heavy rockers 311 and Punchline 13 at MTELUS or Texan rockers Nothing More and opener Bad Wolves at Corona Theatre. On Monday, August 20, legendary genre-bending rock band The Flaming Lips and openers Le Butcherettes play MTELUS, while English industrial metal group Godflesh blows the roof off L’Astral, followed by a live set at Newspeak by JK Flesh of Godflesh. For all kinds of 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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