Things to do in Montréal - July 27 to August 2

Laugh it up with the world's brightest stars of comedy at not one but three comedy festivals this week: Just For Laughs, OFF-JFL and Zoofest. Rock out at Heavy Montréal and '77 Montréal, catch a Fantasia film, eat delicious food, watch world-class fireworks and more.

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Laughs and music

July festival season in Montréal continues to unfold with all kinds of entertainment. This week, the ever-hilarious Just For Laughs comedy fest showcases top names, including galas with William H. Macy, Tiffany Haddish, Trevor Noah, Jeff Dunham, plus the pairing of Dave Chappelle and John Mayer, the British show, the Stand Up Show with Katherine Ryan, podcast tapings, Netflix specials, and solo shows by Iliza Shlesinger, Chris D'Elia, Joy Koy, Maria Bamford, Hannah Gadsby, Kevin Hart, Russell Peters, Dylan Moran, Jimmy Carr and more. Meanwhile, free comedy, circus performances, live music, a family activity zone and the Twins Parade (on July 28) keeps everyone on their toes outside Place des Arts in downtown's Quartier des Spectacles. Add to that: The Ethnic Show at Club Soda and The Nasty Show at MTELUS almost every night, along with festivals Zoofest and OFF-JFL, with shows by Fortune Feimster, Judah Friedlander, Neal Brennan, Ari Shaffir, Janelle James and Tim Dillon, Colin Quinn, Sabrina Jalees, Mike Ward, Michael Ian Black and Nick Thune, Godfrey, Todd Glass, Tom Papa and more. On July 27, punk music fest '77 Montréal returns to Parc Jean-Drapeau, this year featuring Suicidal Tendencies, Rise Against, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Steve Ignorant, L7 and more punk-minded acts. Followed up on July 28 and 29 by hard rock festival Heavy Montréal with Rob Zombie, Limp Bizkit, Gojira, Marilyn Manson, Underoath, Hollywood Undead, Trivium, Lee Aaron, Helix and dozens more bands to Parc Jean-Drapeau. And in the city, Haiti on Fire! glows with Haitian music, dance and more, July 25 to 29 outdoors in Parc La Fontaine.


Activities for all ages

Summer's packed with all kinds of free things to do in Montréal. Downtown in the Quartier des spectacles from July 18 to 29, play board games, video games and more at family-friendly Mondial des Jeux Loto-Québec. Fun-seekers head to the Old Port of Montréal's pirate ship ropes course Voiles en Voiles, the MTL Zipline, SOS Labyrinthe and high-tower experience – or take a ride on the St. Lawrence River with Bateau-Mouche, Croisières AML, Le Petit Navire, Navark and jet boats. Whether you're here for a weekend or a week, explore Montréal's ephemeral summertime spaces, including open-air markets 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. In Mile End, the Marché des Possibles closes its 5th summer with a weekend of live music, yoga and other mid-day activities for kids, a market, great food and more. Visit the Ecomuseum Zoo conservation area to see 115 animal species from the St. Lawrence Valley, including otters, wolves and hawks. 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). And light up your life at night with fireworks competition L'International des Feux Loto-Québec, pyrotechnic performances set to music: on Saturday it's Pyrotecnico's Rock Loves...Redux show and on Wednesday Giuliani Fireworks delivers the Italian dream. Get close to the action at La Ronde, on the Jacques-Cartier Bridge or from several other stellar spots to watch the fireworks. Whether you're coming to Montréal for the fireworks, Just For Laughs, Osheaga or simply to take in the summer sights, arrive in the heart of the action by train with VIA Rail.


City sights and lights

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, while on July 27 at 8 p.m., Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts the Orchestre Métropolitain in concert L'OM sur la montagne, featuring the music of Tchaïkovski, at Mount Royal's Belvédère Kondiaronk. 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 and, on July 29 at 2 p.m., music by group Les Hay Babies. At night in Old Montréal, discover why Montréal is a city of lights too: see high-tech wonder AURA at Notre-Dame Basilica and spot Cité Memoire projections on building facades. Follow our guide to Montréal's most famous icons to see more of the city's major sights and architecture. Major League Soccer team the Montréal Impact plays Atlanta United on July 28 at Saputo Stadium. And coming up August 3 to 12, the world's greatest tennis players face off in the Rogers Cup, with Montréal hosting the women's tournament – get your court-side seats now! 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 Montréaler.


Food and drink

Eat local and very well at gourmet open-air village BOUFFONS!MTL, featuring food and drink from over 35 great restaurants, cafés and other vendors, from July 18 to 29 at the corner of de Bleury and Sainte-Catherine West downtown. Get your comfort food fix at this week's Le Grand MacFest in the Old Port from July 24 to 29, featuring some of the city's best mac and cheese. 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? Enjoy the summer weather while picnicking like a Montréaler 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. 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. 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. Or 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. See new horror, thriller, action, anime 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, this week featuring Shinsuke Sato's Bleach, Demián Rugna's Terrified, Michael Matthews's Five Fingers for Marseilles, Isao Yukisada's River's Edge, Panos Cosmatos's Mandy, Nicolas Pesce's Piercing, Clayton Jacobson's Brothers' Nest, Crystal Moselle's Skate Kitchen, an animated kids series at the McCord Museum on Sunday, and more. Repercussion Theatre stages gender-bending Romeo & Juliet: Love is Love for its annual Shakespeare-in-the-Park performances – see it in Westmount Park on July 28 and 29, and on the McGill campus downtown on July 31, at 7 p.m. Watch films under the stars with CINEMANIA (presenting C'est la vie on July 27 at Parc Jean-Brilliant), Le Cinéma sous les étoiles, Film Noir au Canal (Le Corbeau on July 29) and the SAT's Downtown screenings under the stars at Parc de la Paix downtown (presenting La part du diable on July 31). 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 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 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 and solo exhibition Motion – Emotion of works by French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel, and take a family-friendly museum tour 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 hosts a tour for kids this Saturday morning. 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, 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 keeping with festival season, Osheaga presents their Music on Paper poster exhibition at Station 16, while up the street at Mainline Gallery the Greenland Productions: Since 1993 exhibition gives us 25 years of Montréal concerts in posters and photographs. In Mile Ex, stop by gallery Never Apart to see thought-provoking and diverse summer exhibitions. The Tillitarniit Festival focuses on Inuit storytelling, art and culture from August 2 to 4 at Concordia's FOFA courtyard. Fashion is art at Montréal designer boutiques and there's more artistry to discover while antiquing along the Canal or gallery hopping for unique works of art.

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

After spending the day at '77 Montréal on Friday, head to the Heavy Montréal pre-party Heavy en Ville with Miss May I, Archspire, First Fragment, The Kennedy Veil and Sarah Longfield at Foufounes Électriques and artist Bellows at La Vitrola with opener Greg Halpin. On Saturday night, there's more heavy metal with Perturbator at Corona Theatre. Montréal pulses with electronic music on Saturday too: it's the Bar à Vinyle showcase Dômesicle partys - Édition estivale in the Society for Arts and Technology's 360-degree dome, plus Swedish dance music duo Cazzette at Produkt's Good Vibes Only party at New City Gas. The '80s make a comeback in weekend nights of live music and arcade games at the Casino de Montréal. Spend the afternoon of Sunday, July 29 in the open air at electronic dance party Piknic Électronik at Parc Jean-Drapeau, featuring the sounds of Irish duo Bicep, Australian producer Mall Grab, French producer RAÄR and locals Or Room and Daura & Moaad, along with Petit Piknic family activities. Sunday night brings Boston indie/jazz outfit Really From to Casa del Popolo and local punk-shoegazers Lonely Parade to La Vitrola. On August 1, The Piano Guys wow with their blend of classical, contemporary and rock music at Place des Arts and Merge Records Brooklyn-based indie band The Essex Green comes to Casa del Popolo. And on Thursday, August 2, Osheaga hosts a pre-party with electro producer Fisher at Newspeak. 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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