Things to do in Montréal - August 3 to 9

The first week of August in Montréal means it's time for major outdoor music fest Osheaga, the sights and sounds of the First Peoples Festival, the annual launch of Fierté Montréal pride events, fabulous food at First Fridays, a fireworks grand finale and much more.

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Festivals of music, culture and pride

One of the biggest and most anticipated August festivals in Montréal, Osheaga welcomes major stars and emerging artists to five stages in Parc Jean-Drapeau from August 3 to 5 – this year, hear Arctic Monkeys, Khalid, Travis Scott, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Blondie, The National, De La Soul and dozens more artists. 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 each night from August 8 to 12, the Friendship Parade on August 11 at 5 p.m. and more events. The Orientalys Festival celebrates music, dance, visual arts and more cultural abundance from North Africa to India to Iran, August 2 to 5 in the Old Port. Under Pressure urban art festival features live graffiti art and music from August 8 to 12. And it's a rainbow of equality and fun at Montréal Pride, the city's Pride celebration, August 9 to 19 – opening night features the Queen of Montréal nights Mado Lamotte at Fairmont the Queen Elizabeth hotel, theatre creations The History of Sexuality at Place des Arts' Cinquième Salle, Acts to Grind Theatre's Sauna the Musical at Café Cléopâtra and Martin Sherman's love story Gently Down the Stream at MainLine Theatre.


Activities for all ages

Among the many free things to do in Montréal this summer, explore Montréal's ephemeral summertime spaces, such as open-air 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. Take a walk from the St. Lawrence River to Mount Royal Park on the 3.8-kilometre Promenade Fleuve-Montagne. Hop on two wheels to see the city on these three bike rides perfect for visitors. Play on the Old Port of Montréal's pirate ship ropes course Voiles en Voiles, the MTL Zipline, SOS Labyrinthe and high-tower experience 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 the Lachine Rapids and Rafting Montréal or surf the rapids with KSF, Oasis Surf and Maeva Surf. Cool down by the water in 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. In sports, 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. The CFL's Montréal Alouettes take on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Percival-Molson Stadium on August 3 and Major League Soccer team the Montreal Impact plays D.C. United on August 4 at Saputo Stadium. 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.


City sights and lights

Whether you're here for a weekend or a week, 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. 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 Stadium – learn more about the city's Olympic history on a tour of the tower and Olympic Park while you're there! Come down to earth at the Montréal Botanical Garden, where you'll spot plants from around the world in bloom. At night, discover why Montréal is a city of lights too: see high-tech wonder AURA at Notre-Dame Basilica, spot Cité Memoire 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 President-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. And light up your life with the grand finale of fireworks competition L'International des Feux Loto-Québec on August 8, featuring the pyrotechnics of Rozzi's Famous Fireworks, inspired by the adventures and music of James Bond. Get close to the action at La Ronde, on the Jacques-Cartier Bridge or from other stellar spots to watch the fireworks. Whether you're coming to Montréal for the fireworks or Osheaga, arrive in the heart of the action by train on VIA Rail.


Food and drink

Enjoy great food and family-friendly socializing in the open air at monthly event First Fridays on August 3, featuring dozens of the city's gourmet food trucks plus music and activities on the Esplanade Financière Sun Life at Olympic Park. Meanwhile, it's all about fries, cheese and gravy – and anything else that chefs decide to add – at The Great Montréal PoutineFest in the Old Port until August 5. Stay cool in the July heat with the best ice cream and frozen treats in Montréal, along with iced coffee at Montréal's indie coffee shops, your favourite new beer at Montréal microbreweries 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? Enjoy the summer weather while picnicking like a Montrealer in the park, exploring 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. Repercussion Theatre stages gender-bending Romeo & Juliet: Love is Love for its annual Shakespeare-in-the-Park performances – see it in Jeanne-Mance Park (next to Mount Royal Park) on August 7 and at Olympic Park on August 8 at 7 p.m. Watch films under the stars with CINEMANIA (presenting Irreplacable on August 7 at the Maison de la Culture Marie-Uguay), Le Cinéma sous les étoiles (Ovarian Psycos at Cabot Square on August 6), Film Noir au Canal (The Big Heat on August 5) and the SAT's Downtown screenings under the stars at Parc de la Paix (presenting Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing on August 7). 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, immersive VR experience Particles of Existence lets you travel through the universe at a 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.


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 – the museum also hosts a “technology fanatics” tour with Antimodular studio on August 9. The high-tech artistry of the International Digital Art Biennial (BIAN) continues until August 5 at Arsenal gallery, featuring art under the theme AUTOMATA: Sing the Body Electric. 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. The Tillitarniit Inuit Arts Festival focuses on Inuit storytelling, art and culture from August 2 to 4 at Concordia's FOFA courtyard. Fashion is truly art you can wear at Montréal designer boutiques. 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

Along with this week's music festivals, live music fills the city's venues from downtown to the Plateau. On Friday night, join official Osheaga afterparties with Jets (Jimmy Edgar and Machinedrum) at Théâtre Fairmount, rappers Smokepurpp, Killy and Toddy Flores at MTELUS, Brooklyn shoegaze-noise artist Kraus and Nolife at L'Escogriffe, British house-techno producer Billy Kenny and Mandiz at Newspeak, funk band The Brooks with a Franky Selector DJ set at Le Ministère, High Klassified & Voyage Funktastique at Le Belmont, Finnish deep house producer Yotto at L’Astral, and electro dance beats late into the night at New City Gas. On Saturday night, more Osheaga afterparties go down: catch a MSTRKRFT DJ set at Newspeak, Cri, Ryan Playground and Robert Robert at the Society for Arts and Technology's Dômesicle partys in the 360-degree dome, and French deep house DJ Feder with Fonkynson and Shaydakiss at L’Astral. The '80s make a comeback in weekend nights of live music and arcade games at the Casino de Montréal. And Osheaga's Sunday night afterparty at Newspeak features a Gorgon City DJ set and opener Ludo.

On Sunday, August 5, the Orchestre de la Francophonie closes its season at Maison symphonique de Montréal with conductor Jean-Philippe Tremblay, 78 musicians, 60 choir members and mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó performing Mahler's Symphony No. 3. Tuesday brings The Smashing Pumpkins and Metric to the Bell Centre. On Wednesday, August 8, rock out with Black Label Society and Corrosion of Conformity at MTELUS and sing along with fab pop star Shakira at the Bell Centre. And Thursday, August 9 features an îleSoniq electro pre-party with Fakear and Odile Myrtil at Corona Theatre, plus indie-folk artists Stu Larsen & Natsuki Kurai II and Tim Hart at L’Astral and indie rockers Drugdealer (featuring members of Weyes Blood, Ariel Pink and TOPS) at La Sala Rossa. 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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