Things to do in Montréal - June 29 to July 5

Robyn Fadden

Music fills the streets of downtown Montréal as the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal treats us to incredible free outdoor shows and big names on indoor stages, while there's a Canada Day party in the Old Port, high-tech art at ELEKTRA, delicious summer food at outdoor eateries and so much more.

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Jazz Fest music and magic

The world’s largest jazz festival and one of Montréal's biggest festivals in July, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal opens June 28 and runs up to July 7, featuring hundreds of concerts on free outdoor stages in Place des Festivals as well as world-class artists performing in some of the city's best venues. Among the many indoor concerts this week, see Jann Arden and Martha Wainwright, Icelandic multi-instrumentalist Ólafur Arnalds with Québécois pianist Jean-Michel Blais, chart-toppers Metronomy and We Are Wolves, and the great Ry Cooder on Friday, Archie Shepp, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Kamasi Washington on Saturday, George Thorogood and The Destroyers and Béla Fleck and The Flecktones on Sunday, Herbie Hancock & Thundercat and Bozz Scaggs on July 2, Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite and Julie Doiron on July 3, Ani DiFranco, Holly Cole and St. Paul & the Broken Bones on July 4, Bonobo with opener St Germain plus BEYRIES and Alela Diane on July 5, and more amazing music all week. Meanwhile on the outdoor stages, catch Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Boulevards, Noubi Trio, Papagroove, the Heavyweights Brass Band, Urban Science Brass Band, Davina and the Vagabonds on the weekend, plus Deva Mahal, the Suffers, La Chiva Gantiva and more artists on Canada Day (July 1), and Random Recipe's Block Party, Steve Hill and more on July 4.

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Celebrate Canada Day and more

Join the Canada Day celebrations on July 1, featuring a mid-day parade along Sainte-Catherine Street West downtown, live music and family-friendly activities all day at the Old Port and a fireworks show at 10 pm. Summer's packed with even more free things to do in Montréal, such as the outdoor joys of Montréal's ephemeral summertime spaces, including markets and outdoor 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, the Station F-MR along the Lachine Canal, and Les Jardineries on the Esplanade Financière Sun Life at Olympic Park. And 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. One of Montréal’s most colourful parades, Carifiesta, leads up to its July 7 downtown parade with a Junior Carnival parade for kids on June 30 at Van Horne Park. Shop the sidewalk sale and hear live music every evening at Atmosph'air on the Plaza, July 4 to 8 on Plaza St-Hubert, not far from Jean-Talon Market. And starting on July 5, circus spectacles delight all ages as MONTRÉAL COMPLÈTEMENT CiRQUE takes to the streets downtown and parks city-wide for outdoor performances by world-renowned circus companies.

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June sights and sounds

We've got all kinds of ideas about how to spend a long weekend in Montréal, from festival entertainment to exploring the gorgeous greenery of the Montréal Botanical Garden. 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. 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 Décalade and river cruise Bateau-Mouche. (Pick up a Passeport MTL pass to save on a bundle of those activities, museums and much more.) In Old Montréal, watch high-tech wonder AURA at Notre-Dame Basilica and spot Cité Memoire 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. Relax indoors and in the sun at some of Montréal's best spas. Check out what's in style and scoop it up when shopping at Montréal designer boutiques. Go antiquing along the Canal for unique treasures or gallery hop for that one-of-a-kind work of art. We've got the intel on where to watch World Cup 2018, from packed sports bars to old-school cafés citywide, from June 14 to July 15 – and in Major League Soccer action, the Montréal Impact plays Sporting Kansas City at Saputo Stadium on June 30. 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

Summer weather means it's time to picnic 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? Iced coffee at Montréal's indie coffee shops, your favourite new beer at Montréal microbreweries or that perfect summer cocktail. From creatively casual to classically French, these restaurants let you bring your own wine. Take it easy in the heat at these new casual restaurants and lunch counters in Montréal. Discover Montréal's many brunch options and more local food and Québécois classics in 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. If you're on the hunt for a favourite haunt, try these restaurants open from brunch to well past dinner. And if you're looking 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

A uniquely spectacular production, Cavalia Odysseo fuses the equestrian arts with high-tech theatre, featuring 70 horses and 50 talented riders, acrobats, dancers and musicians under the big top near the Jacques-Cartier Bridge. Digital art meets high-tech performances at ELEKTRA, including Tattoo Hacking by NSDOS, Some Songs by Anne-James Chaton, a sound installation by Swiss artist duo COD.ACT, audiovisual performances end(O) by Alex Augier and Alba G. Corral and Trajectories by Chikashi Miyama and more, from June 26 to July 1 at the Society for Arts and Technology and at Arsenal gallery for opening night on June 29 with the International Digital Art Biennial (BIAN). The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal presents DreamWorks Animation in Concert with films on the big screen accompanied by the Orchestre Métropolitain at Place des Arts on June 30 – and visit the Montréal Science Centre to see 400 original art objects and drawings in DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition. 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. 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. And watch films under the stars too: CINEMANIA presents Dans les forêts de Sibérie by Safy Nebbou on July 3 at Parc La Fontaine, the SAT's Downtown screenings under the stars presents Federico Fellini's 8 1/2 on July 3 at Parc de la Paix downtown, and Cinéma sous les étoiles presents documentary La colère dans le vent at Parc Laurier on July 4 – all films start at 9 pm. And if you're in the mood for wonder, see magician David Blaine perform at L'Olympia on July 2.

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Art for all

Major arts event Mtl en Arts sets up along Sainte-Catherine Street in the heart of downtown from June 27 to July 1, featuring exhibitions, art sales, interactive performances, workshops and more. 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, new 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 new 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. Playful and critical, WORLD CUP! takes a different look at soccer, community and national identity, at articule.

Local history and beyond

Dive into Montréal's past at the McCord Museum, featuring new exhibition Balenciaga – Master of Couture, a haute couture retrospective of the legendary Spanish fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga, as well as remarkable exhibition Shalom Montreal – Stories and Contributions of the Jewish Community and outdoor photography of Montréal's retail past along McGill College Avenue. Stroll through the City of Light and explore Parisian boutiques of the 18th-century at the Stewart Museum. Explore what life was like during the fur trade in the late 1600s in the Scene of Dreams exhibition at the Musée de Lachine. Or travel way, way back in time to discover just how royally the Queens of Egypt lived in a blockbuster exhibition at Pointe-à-CallièreLab 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, check out our exclusive peek into the world's biggest collection of Montréal Expos memorabilia.

Live music

While downtown Montréal pulses with the diverse sounds of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, other venues in the city give the fest some healthy competition. A huge outdoor show by artists on UK label Anjunadeep brings the deep-house beat to Parc Jean-Drapeau on Saturday evening, while UK producer Funkineven (AKA Steven Julien) serves up tracks at the Phi Centre, Nigerian hip-hop singer-songwriter Mr Eazi gets down at L'Olympia, and producer-DJ duo The Martinez Brothers and locals Paolo Rocco get us dancing all night at New City Gas. Spend Sunday afternoon outdoors at electronic dance party Piknic Électronik at Parc Jean-Drapeau, this week featuring the techno-house of German producers Adam Port and &ME and Québec producers Project Pablo, Clickbait and Obsolete Collective, along with the Petit Piknic family activities. On Sunday night, Portland-based guitar virtuoso Marisa Anderson plays La Sala Rossa with openers Sarah Louise and Jeanne d'Arc. On Monday, July 2, hear the alt-pop artistry of Devon Welsh (formerly of Majical Cloudz) with opener Nick Schofield at La Vitrola. Internationally lauded Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi plays the Bell Centre on Wednesday, July 4, while heavy rockers the body and Big Brave rock La Vitrola. And on Thursday, July 5, Ohio indie rock band Remember Sports plays a good game 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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