Things to do in Montréal - July 13 to 19

Robyn Fadden

Montréal's a circus this week as the MONTRÉAL COMPLÈTEMENT CiRQUE festival takes to the streets, joining the live music of Festival International Nuits d'Afrique, Just For Laughs comedy, world-class fireworks displays on Saturday and Wednesday, the Fantasia film festival, delicious summer food and more.

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Non-stop festival entertainment

We're officially deep into July festival season in Montréal this week, with entertainment filling every block of downtown's Quartier des Spectacles. MONTRÉAL COMPLÈTEMENT CiRQUE brings spectacular circus shows such as Les 7 Doigts’s Sisters and Gravity & Other Myths' Backbone to indoor stages and fills the streets and parks with outdoor performances like Phénix at Jardins Gamelin, July 5 to 15 – also check out the outdoor circus activities at Old Montréal's Pointe-à-Callière museum on July 15, the Esplanade Financière Sun Life on July 13 and circus centre TOHU on July 14, the shows and mini-train at Complexe Desjardins from July 10 to 14, and more. Festival International Nuits d'Afrique brings major artists to Montréal from 35 countries, July 10 to 22, including six days of free shows outside Place des Arts starting on July 17 with The Skatalites, followed on July 18 by soulful Brazilian singer-songwriter Flavia Coelho, soul-funk group The Hurt and more – see our music section below for more. The ever-hilarious Just For Laughs comedy fest ramps up with The Ethnic Show almost every night this week at Club Soda and The Nasty Show, starting July 18 at MTELUS. Alongside JFL comes Zoofest and Off JFL festival programming, with English-language shows kicking off July 19. And at beautiful Parc Jean-Drapeau, Week-ends du Monde celebrates global cultures, featuring several free mini-festivals in one big event – including a Brazilian carnival, the long-running Peruvian festival and Festival Afro-Monde Ngondo – with live music, dance and more cultural activities for all ages, July 14 and 15.

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From markets to fireworks

Summer's packed with all kinds of free things to do in Montréal. Outdoor joys await at Montréal's ephemeral summertime spaces, including open-air markets and music venues 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, La Station F-MR along the Lachine Canal, and Les Jardineries on the Esplanade Financière Sun Life at Olympic Park. In Mile End the Marché des Possibles celebrates its 5th anniversary all weekend (and all summer!) with music, activities for all ages, a market and more. On the other side of the shopping spectrum, shop local at Montréal designer boutiques, go antiquing along the Canal for unique treasures or gallery hop for unique works of art. Discover places to cool down and relax by the water in our ultimate guide to Montréal's beaches and pools (or relax indoors at some of Montréal's best spas). And light up your life at night with fireworks competition L'International des Feux Loto-Québec, pyrotechnic performances set to music: on Saturday, July 14, China's The Butterfly Lovers glows bright and on Wednesday, July 18, Canada presents Immortals, a tribute to legendary musicians. Get close to the action at La Ronde or on the Jacques-Cartier Bridge or from other stellar spots to watch the fireworks.

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Summer city sights

The view from the top of Mount Royal is a must-see – the new Café suspendu du mont Royal adds refreshing beverages, free activities and music to the mix from Friday to Sunday. See the city sights from above in the high-altitude comfort of Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown, La Grande Roue de Montréal observation wheel in the Old Port or the Montréal Tower at Olympic Stadium – for more Olympic insights, take a tour of the tower and Olympic Stadium while you're there! Or come down to earth at the Montréal Botanical Garden, where you'll spot plants from around the world in bloom. Fun-seekers of all ages need to check out the Old Port of Montréal's pirate ship ropes course Voiles en Voiles, MTL Zipline, SOS Labyrinthe, high-tower experience Decalade.com and river cruise Bateau-Mouche. (Pick up a Passeport MTL to save on a bundle of those activities, museums and much more.) At night in Old Montréal, watch high-tech wonder AURA at Notre-Dame Basilica and spot Cité Mémoire projections on the sides of historic buildings – follow our guide to Montréal's most famous icons to see more of the city's major sights and architecture. Settle in at packed sports bars and old-school cafés to watch World Cup 2018 in Montréal, with final games wrapping up this weekend. And Major League Soccer team the Montréal Impact plays the San Jose Earthquakes on July 14 and the Vancouver Whitecaps on July 18 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.

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Food and drink

Sink your teeth into the Taste of the Caribbean Festival from July 12 to 15 outdoors in the Old Port, showcasing the food, beverages, music, dance and art of 25 Caribbean island nations. Enjoy the summer weather while picnicking like a Montrealer in the park or explore Montréal and its culinary delights on foot or by bike with Montréal's best food tours. What else goes with warm weather? The best ice cream and frozen treats in Montréal, of course, as well as iced coffee at Montréal's indie coffee shops, your favourite new beer at Montréal microbreweries or that perfect summer cocktail – and if you're with a group, why not make it a pitcher?  Discover Montréal's many brunch options and the many restaurants open from brunch to well past dinner. For lunch, try these lunch counters in Montréal or new casual restaurants. From creatively casual to classically French, these restaurants let you bring your own wine. 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. Or for something light to eat, check out these health-conscious restaurants and the many vegan options in our ultimate guide to vegan eating in Montréal.

Stage and screen

See new horror, thriller, action and other genre films – often with directors on hand – and catch some classics too at the Fantasia International Film Festival, July 12 to August 2, featuring Daniel Roby's Dans la brume, Akiko Ohku's Tremble All You Want, Shin Dong-seok's Last Child, Mick Garris's Nightmare Cinema, Tilman Singer's Luz, Shinsuke Sato's Bleach, Sonny Mallhi's Hurt and so much more. Repercussion Theatre stages gender-bending Romeo & Juliet: Love is Love for its annual Shakespeare-in-the-Park performances – see it in parc Jarry on July 19 at 7 p.m.  Watch films under the stars too with CINEMANIA, Cinéma sous les étoiles and the SAT's Downtown screenings under the stars at Parc de la Paix downtown (presenting David Lynch's Dune on July 17). 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 and America's Musical Journey. Visit the Montréal Science Centre to see 400 original art objects and drawings in DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition. At the Phi Centre, Particles of Existence is an immersive experience that lets you travel through the universe at a non-human scale while delving into global concerns. A quirky stage event for word lovers, the Montreal Strip Spelling Bee proves smart is sexy on Saturday, July 14 at MainLine Theatre.

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Art for all

Among the blockbuster Montréal museum exhibitions this summer, visit the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to see how From Africa to the Americas: Face-to-Face Picasso, Past and Present tackles the complex question of “primitivism” in art history, 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, the sun glints 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, 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 July 12, join the opening party for Mile Ex gallery Never Apart's summer exhibitions. And the high-tech International Digital Art Biennial (BIAN) continues to wow until August 5 at Arsenal gallery, featuring art under the theme AUTOMATA: Sing the Body Electric.

Local history and beyond

Dive into Montréal's past at the McCord Museum, featuring 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 Lights in the 18th century – and on July 14, the museum celebrates Bastille Day with a picnic in the courtyard, music and other activities. 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. And if you're a baseball fan, peek into the world's biggest collection of Montréal Expos memorabilia – and check out the pitch-and-catch rally and exhibition game this Saturday morning with Expos Nation, the Jeanne-Mance Park Softball League and Baseball Québec at the corner of Mont-Royal and Esplanade.

Live music

Montréal pulses with the diverse sounds of Festival International Nuits d'Afrique this week on indoor stages too: on Friday, see amazing Ethiopian singer-songwriter Meklit at Théâtre Fairmount, on Saturday it's the “Afrocoustik” Noubi Trio at Le Ministère and the modern reggae of Naâman with Fatbabs and Blackout Sound System at Théâtre Fairmount, on July 18 Djazia Satour brings her Maghreb-imbibed soulful jazz-pop sound to Théâtre Fairmount, followed on Thursday by Senegalese and Caribbean singer-songwriter Tété and see shows all week at Club Balattou, including Congo's Prince Yannick, local Afro-funk group Afrodizz and Banda Kakana. Also on Friday night Canadian rapper-singer Tory Lanez brings his Memories Don’t Die Tour to MTELUS and Dutch electro-house DJ and producer Jay Hardway makes the dancefloor go wild at New City Gas. Join the free Osheaga Block Party all day Saturday outdoors at Aire Commune in Mile End, with music by Soulection, Moonshine, Donzelle and more. Go dancing Saturday night with German house-electro duo Session Victim at pool-turned-venue Bain Mathieu, Dômesicle partys - Édition estivale in the Society for Arts and Technology's 360-degree dome, or with Grammy award-winning EDM producer CID at New City Gas. Spend Sunday afternoon in the open air at electronic dance party Piknic Électronik at Parc Jean-Drapeau, this week featuring music by MIJA, Codes, DJ Frozen and more producers, along with Petit Piknic family activities. There's more electronic music on Sunday afternoon at Aire Commune for Îlesoniq En Ville, while on Sunday night Los Angeles metal band Armored Saint gets loud at Petit Campus. None other than Radiohead come to Montréal for two nights, Monday and Tuesday, at the Bell Centre. Also, on Monday, famed German experimental krautrock band FAUST plays Bar Le Ritz PDB with opener No Negative. And on Thursday, July 19, check out art-noise music project Pharmakon at La Vitrola. 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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