Things to do in Montréal - August 24 to 30

Robyn Fadden

August is ending, but Montréal summer keeps going strong this week with all kinds of outdoor activities, including electronic music and arts festival MUTEK, the Montréal Fashion & Design Festival, the World Press Photo exhibition, open-air markets and summertime food, all-ages activities and more.

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Music and fashion festivals

Two major August festivals get downtown's Quartier des spectacles hopping this week. Get the scoop on new style trends at the Fashion & Design Festival from August 20 to 25, where you’ll find live music, workshops, presentations, film screenings and, naturally, plenty of shopping opportunities (also step inside Complexe Desjardins for interactive fashion demos throughout the week). Catch innovative 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, from August 22 to 26, featuring free outdoor events on the Place des Arts Esplanade and free shows indoors at Monument-National. Among the paid programs, catch audiovisual shows by Tundra, Line Katcho and Martin Messier & YRO on Friday evening and dance to Machine Woman, Errorsmith, Tolouse Low Trax, LADA and more on Friday night, while Saturday brings audiovisuals by Herman Kolgen, Robin Fox and Cliffs and electronic music until 6 a.m. in four venues with Honey Dijon, Kenny Larkin, Chloé, DJ Python and more producers, and Sunday features free afternoon performances, a MUTEK-curated Piknic Électronik at Parc Jean-Drapeau with Floorplan, Anthony Naples and others, plus a legendary festival closing night with Acid Pauli, Moomin and many more artists. The OSM Classical Spree opens on August 29 at Olympic Park with a massive free outdoor concert: Maestro Kent Nagano conducts the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal in Scheherazade, accompanied by Cirque Éloize circus artists, at 8 p.m. – get there early for a good view! And electronic and urban music festival MEG kicks off on August 30 with electro-pop group Syzzors, new-wave-inspired Ghost Love and electroacoustic-pop band Raveen.

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City sights and lights

Walk from the St. Lawrence River to Mount Royal Park along 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! (Olympics sports fans can experience an Olympian's journey in the Canadian Olympic Experience at Canadian Olympic Committee headquarters.) 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. Stroll through Montréal's Chinatown to see historic sights and have a great meal. Bike like a Montrealer with bike-sharing system BIXI or check out these three bike rides perfect for visitors (featuring a helpful list of bike rental options). 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, and watch the waves and water bubbles of Aesthetic Machinery's WET on the facade of UQAM's Pavillon President-Kennedy in Place des Festivals. 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. Follow our guide to Montréal's most famous icons to see more of the city's major sights and architecture. Meanwhile in sports, watch the CFL's Montréal Alouettes take on the Toronto Argonauts on August 24 at Percival-Molson Stadium. 110 élite international athletes and over 1,000 amateur athletes compete in the ITU World Triathlon Series from August 25 to 26, starting in the river at the Old Port. Rock climbers compete on a 55-foot wall over open water in Psicobloc at Parc Jean-Drapeau’s Aquatic Complex from August 23 to 25. Whether you're coming to Montréal for a festival or to see the sights, arrive in the heart of the action by train with VIA Rail Canada.

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Activities for all ages

Discover Parc Jean-Drapeau's islands during the free Voyage des Îles activities, August 24 to 26, 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 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, 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. Among the many free things to do in Montréal this summer, explore Montréal's ephemeral summertime spaces, including open-air markets 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. Also outdoors and free: on August 25 check out the Marché de Nuit - Platz Market featuring artisanal creations, food, drink and DJs in Mile-Ex, while on August 30, Ubisoft Montréal and Aire Commune present 5 à 7 Crème de la Crème du Mile End with food trucks, signature cocktails and live music from Lunice, Lexis (Music Is My Sanctuary) and Shaydakiss. On August 26, listen to vocal ensemble Les Voix Ferrées in the tranquil atmosphere of Jarry Park as part of the Les Siestes Musicales series. 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.

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Food and drink

The weather's still perfect for picnicking and outdoor dining in August: enjoy a meal surrounded by nature at Montréal's restaurants in parks, pick up your own picnic-ready food for the park, or dine in style on a hidden terrasse. Summer days also call for great sushi! Or 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? Explore Montréal and its culinary delights on foot or by bike with Montréal's best food tours. Fine-dining luxuries and local delicacies make these Montréal meals worth writing home about – we've also selected some top Montréal restaurants for the gourmet traveller. 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?

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Stage and screen

A theatrical and audiovisual wonder featuring 70 thoroughbred horses, Cavalia Odysseo extends its run until September 30 under the big top near the Jacques-Cartier Bridge. NDG Arts Week presents live music and more free performances and activities from August 20 to 26, including music from Kalmunity and Moe Clark on August 25 in Parc Girourd and Théâtre Lyrique's production of Carmen. 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 in partnership with RIDM screens Ziad Kalthoum's Taste of Cement and short film Rawane Nassif's Turtles Are Always Home on August 28 at Parc de la Paix, while Le Cinéma sous les étoiles continues its daily park screenings, including François Ruffin's Merci Patron! (with English subtitles) on August 27 at Parc La Fontaine. See incredible 360-degree films in the SAT's Satosphere, up to August 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. See new and award-winning features, shorts and documentaries from dozens of countries at the Montréal World Film Festival, August 23 to September 3. 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. And the Phi Centre welcomes Sheffield Doc/Fest's Alternate Realities touring Virtual Reality exhibition, August 24 to September 2.

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Art for all

The always astounding World Press Photo photojournalism and photography exhibition opens on August 29 at Marché Bonsecours in Old Montréal. Surfaces - l'expo d'art urbain features the brilliant urban art work of 16 artists on the Promenade des Artistes outside Place des Arts. Artist Étienne Paquette's 28-foot-high Wind Instrument installation lets us create symphonic sounds outside Saint-Laurent metro station. On Friday, August 24, check out the Mont-Royal Avenue street painting event, featuring 22 artists, and participate in creating a massive fresco. 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. 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, along with thought-provoking collections exhibitions This Is How the Light Gets In, The Prophets and Only Together. 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 – on the evening of August 29, join a free interactive visit with artists and curators, and on August 30 at 8 p.m., Discwoman Amplify Each Other presents a free performance by DJ Haram. 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

See the fabulous haute couture retrospective of the legendary Spanish fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga at the McCord Museum's Balenciaga – Master of Couture exhibition, alongside Shalom Montreal – Stories and Contributions of the Jewish Community, outdoor photography of Montréal's retail past along McGill College Avenue and the outdoor Urban Forest, featuring Klezmer music on Wednesdays at 12:30 p.m. Glimpse the City of Light circa the 18th century in the Stewart Museum's Paris on Display: 18th-Century Boutiques exhibition. 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. 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. And don't miss blockbuster exhibition Queens of Egypt, transporting us way back in time to discover royal lifestyles through ancient objects at Pointe-à-Callière.

Live music

Along with this week's music festivals comes even more great music at venues citywide.  On Friday night, catch Scottish singer-songwriter Tom Walker and indie-pop opener Caveboy at Corona Theatre, Orkestar Kriminal's high-energy album launch show blending Yiddish, Greek, Pashto, Russian and Spanish underworld sounds at La Sala Rossa, indie rockers Amen Dunes and Okay Kaya at Bar Le Ritz PDB, and a DJ set by electronic music producer Chaim with openers Adam Husa and Mustafa Ismaeel at Newspeak. On Saturday night, Montréal indie-rockers We Are Wolves play Pub West Shefford et Vinyle Chope on Mont-Royal Avenue and check out the indie and electro of Boogieman, Kara Keith and Secret Secret Girl at Bar Le Ritz PDB and the electronic sounds of Standerwick and opener Tomac at Newspeak. Live Cuban music, Motown and disco heat up Balcon Cabaret Music-Hall on Friday and Saturday nights. On Tuesday, August 28, see lo-fi indie outfit LVL UP and opener Fog Lake at Bar Le Ritz PDB, while Wednesday brings Deep Purple and Judas Priest to the Bell Centre in a heavy rock double-header. 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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