Things to do in Montréal - March 22 to 28

There's a hint of spring in the Montréal air this week, perfect for a city walk, a wander among the butterflies at the Botanical Garden or a Major League Baseball game. Don't miss a meal at a cabane à sucre, thrill at spectacular circus creation Serge Fiori, Seul Ensemble, and experience all kinds of family activities, theatre, dance, film and live music.

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Sights and sounds

Among this week's free things to do, take in the city view from the iconic Mount Royal Park lookout, one of the most Instagrammable views in Montréal, or walk the landscaped Promenade Fleuve-Montagne from Mount Royal Park to the St. Lawrence River. In downtown's Place des Festivals, look up to see the colourful projection-art animation of 100% Chance of Snow, while on Friday and Saturday nights, you can see the projections of Cité Mémoire on building facades throughout Old Montréal. On Saturday afternoon join the free XP_MTL party on Sainte-Catherine Street West downtown, where you can get a pro photo taken for Instagram, and catch fashion flash mobs on Friday and Saturday afternoon nearby in the Montreal Eaton Centre. Follow Art Souterrain's massive art circuit throughout the underground city, from downtown malls through to Old Montréal, Chinatown and Place des Arts – the exhibition continues until March 24. After all that walking, relax at one of Montréal's best spas.

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Spectacular bird's-eye views of Montréal await in the climate-controlled comfort of La Grande Roue de Montréal observation wheel, the Montréal Tower at Olympic Park and the Observatoire Place Ville Marie. Explore nature and the fascinating and beautiful Butterflies Go Free event in the tropical Montréal Botanical Garden greenhouse. Ice skating season may be over, but the ice at indoor rink Atrium Le 1000 stays open all year. Also on the ice, watch the Montréal Canadiens take on the Buffalo Sabres on March 23 and the Florida Panthers on March 26 at the Bell Centre. Montréal baseball fans come out in full force for two Toronto Blue Jays pre-season baseball games against the Milwaukee Brewers on March 25 and 26 at Olympic Stadium. On the other hand, swimmers and swim fans will be at the 2019 Canadian Artistic Swimming Qualifier from March 26 to 31. Whether you're in Montréal for spring break, a long weekend or a week, by plane or train, solo or with family, plot your days and nights with My Official Montréal City Guide, a travel app that lets you experience the city like a Montrealer. And save on your next visit with the MTL Sweet Deal.

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Food and drink

It's officially sugar shack season in the city and the surrounding countryside – indulge in hearty meals, maple syrup taffy on snow and more, including at Un Chef à l'érable in the Old Port of Montréal and La Cabane Chez Jean in Parc Jean-Drapeau. If the spring-like weather turns, warm up at Montréal restaurants with fireplaces or with hot food for cold days in Montréal, whether you've got a fondness for pho, fondue or vindaloo (try these 14 great Indian restaurants). Try these top Montréal restaurants for the gourmet traveller, cheerful bring-your-own-wine eateries (including some in Little Italy), charming romantic dining options and lovely laid-back casual restaurants. Or make the most of solo dining in Montréal – these restaurants know how to treat you right! Do lunch like a Montrealer at these 10 great lunch spots and any time of day grab a pick-me-up at Montréal's indie coffee shops. Later on, cheer on your favourite team at these Montréal sports bars, see what's hot at the city's new bars, relax with a perfect cocktail, or have a drink away from it all in a hidden bar, speakeasy or perfect date spot. If you're looking for Québécois classics, follow our guides to the best poutine, the best bagels, the best smoked meat, Montréal's top chocolatières, excellent Montréal meals worth writing home about and more musts for foodies. For something light, seek out these health-conscious restaurants and great sushi restaurants and peruse our ultimate guide to vegan eating in Montréal. Or indulge your sweet tooth at Montréal's best bakeries and pastry shops. Explore more of Montréal and its culinary delights on Montréal's best food tours. Let the good times roll along with great food at the Casino de Montréal's restaurants. If you're traveling with kids, check out our ideas for great places to eat with kids in Montréal. And for the adventurous, there's a street food party: Salada Market hosts local gourmet food trucks and gets a dancefloor going on the evenings of March 22 and 23.

On stage

Marvel at contemporary circus feats as 20 acrobats and dancers from Cirque Éloize delight in poetic musical circus creation Serge Fiori, Seul Ensemble, at Théâtre St-Denis from March 6 to 31. And watch 4 teams compete in masterful circus show Tournoi de l'impro cirque at La TOHU from March 28 to 30. Broadway musical Rock of Ages takes us on a 1980s rock music tour of Hollywood’s Sunset Strip when a small-town girl meets a big city rocker, on March 22 at Place des Arts. Opéra de Montréal presents Twenty-seven, an operatic performance based in the Parisian salon of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, at Centaur Theatre from March 23 to 31. BJM – Les Ballets Jazz De Montréal return to Place des Arts to perform Dance Me, contemporary dance set to the music of Leonard Cohen and evoking the cycles of existence, from March 14 to 23. Also in dance, steeped in the cultures and visions of Indigenous peoples, Red Sky Performance's Backbone conveys an electrical and physical connection to the land, from March 19 to 23 at Cinquième Salle, while Wen Wei Dance's Dialogue explores themes of contact, communication and language, from March 20 to 23 at Agora de la danse. Montréal's winter-spring theatre season features Morris Panych's play The Shoplifters, a witty glimpse into petty crime and corporate greed at Centaur Theatre until April 7; Scapegoat Carnivale’s perspective-shifting play YEV takes us into the world of a hermit living in a remote region of the Siberian Taiga, at MAI Montréal, arts interculturels from March 14 to 24; 6 childhood friends gather to face a collective tragedy in Clean State, an English translation of Catherine Chabot’s vitriolic play about the contemporary social lives of women, at Théâtre La Chapelle from March 22 to 30; and Revolution They Wrote Short Works and Performance Festival showcases new and imaginative works from March 21 to 24 at MainLine Theatre.

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On screen

The International Festival of Films on Art welcomes art lovers of all stripes to see art-focused feature films and shorts from around the world, from March 19 to 31, as well as artist talks, parties and more insights into both art and film. German composer Robot Koch joins forces with visual artist Mickael Le Goff to present audiovisual 360-degree creation Sphere, in the Satosphere dome at the Society for Arts and Technology from March 5 to 30. The Phi Centre presents visceral VR theatre experience The Horrifically Real Virtuality, a comedic homage to filmmaker Ed Wood, starring Bela Lugosi. The Phi Centre's VR Cinema immerses viewers in Accused no. 2: Walter Sisulu and Traveling While Black, 2 documentaries covering race, history, politics, social revolution and virtual reality. Also in Old Montréal, visit Notre-Dame Basilica (one of Montréal's most famous icons) to see Moment Factory's immersive multimedia show AURA. Roam the cosmos in science-meets-multimedia shows Planet Nine, Secrets of Gravity, Continuum and Aurōrae as well as new film POLARIS at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. The Montréal Science Centre features IMAX films Oceans 3D, Pandas 3D, Volcanoes 3D and new feature Superpower Dogs 3D – along with hands-on science activities such as the Clic! zone (made specifically for kids ages 4 through 7) and a 3.8-billion-year-old moon rock! Among Montréal's great indie cinemas, Mile End's Cinéma Moderne screens art-house, Québécois and cult films every day, Cinémathèque québécoise shows films by more auteurs, while Cinéma du Musée and Cinéma du Parc also screen Canadian and international features and documentaries.

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Art for all

Innovative high fashion reveals itself as an art form in the new Thierry Mugler: Couturissime retrospective exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, featuring ready-to-wear, haute couture and more creations by the French fashion designer. While there, also see Montreal Couture, showcasing ten inventive Québec fashion designers. Acclaimed Toronto-based Cree artist Kent Monkman critically illuminates the history of Indigenous people in Canada in Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience at the McCord Museum, presenting his paintings and installation works alongside historical art works and archival materials. Swedish photographer Johan Bävman's Papas / Swedish Dads portrays men on parental leave with their children, at the Place des Arts Salle d'exposition. Explore five decades of work by Austrian conceptual artist, performer and filmmaker Valie Export at Vox. At Galerie de l’UQAM, Salle des maquettes brings together works from the gallery's collection to trace the creative process. See recent sculptural works by David Armstrong Six in former factory space the Darling Foundry while in Saint-Henri, Parisian Laundry presents French Entrance, the first solo exhibition in Canada of New York-based artist James English Leary along with Adrian Norvid's The Eyesore Store. At SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art downtown, Loosely Assembled examines the role of publishing in pedagogical, collective and radical spaces. See Canada's natural landscape through a researcher's critical lens in Inside/Outside: Images of the Land in Artexte's Collection at Artexte and works by seven Indigenous women artists in exhibition Oubliées ou disparues : Akonessen, Zitya, Tina, Marie et les autres at Ashukan Cultural Space. Never Apart's winter 2019 exhibitions feature intriguing works by Jamaican-Canadian artist/photographer Michael Chambers and more artists. Écomusée du fier monde presents multidisciplinary exhibition D’un œil différent, from March 13 to 24, as part of Québec intellectual disability week. And there's more art to discover while gallery hopping and antiquing in the city.

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History near and far

Among the city's several family-friendly museums, archaeology and history complex Pointe-à-Callière brings Montréal's past to life in multimedia exhibitions and illuminates an international cabinet of curiosities in new exhibition Into the Wonder Room. Nature and climate comes into full view at the geodesic Biosphère, Environment Museum in Parc Jean-Drapeau. Watch kids' eyes light up when they see the dinosaur skeletons, fossils and more at the Redpath Museum. Wax museum Grévin MONTRÉAL features Québécois and international celebrities past and present. The Canadian Railway Museum Exporail hosts the Circus Train exhibition along with circus acts from March 1 to April 28. History museum Château Ramezay features World War I exhibitions WAR Flowers alongside rooms full of local history. The Stewart Museum's Paris on Display: 18th-Century Boutiques highlights the City of Light circa the 18th century. At the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Scripts for a new world: Film storyboards by Alessandro Poli explores elements of film that helped Poli form his language for architecture, while Architecture Itself and Other Postmodernist Myths proposes a counter-reading of postmodern procedures. Learn more about Jewish culture in Montréal at the Museum of Jewish Montreal, featuring Russian-Jewish artist Yuula Benivolski’s photography installation L'océan entre nous // The Ocean Between Us until May 5. The Musée de Lachine presents history and archeology from the times of fur trade and New France alongside contemporary art. In more recent history, Barbie's style transformations through the decades can be seen at the free Barbie Expo downtown. Read all about jazz in Montréal, from the Roaring Twenties to today, featuring local history and jazz clubs still hopping to this day. And pick up some historic and present-day facts about Montréal that even some locals might not know.

Live music

On Friday, March 22, don't miss the wonderfully talented Maggie Rogers and opener Melanie Faye at MTELUS, Magdala and EKLKTK performing soul, funk and Motown classics at Balcon Cabaret Music-Hall, or if electronic music is your game, go hear English electronic music producer (and one half of duo Way Out West) Joseph Wisternoff at Newspeak or Australian producer, DJ and “Melbourne bounce” maker Will Sparks at New City Gas with opener Ben Nicky. Taiko performing arts ensemble Kodo wows with its drumming and musical expression at Place des Arts on Saturday and the 200-strong Le Choeur classique de Montréal and orchestra performs Carmina Burana at Maison symphonique on Saturday and on March 26. On Saturday night, indie rock and reggae merges as Australian band Sticky Fingers and singer-songwriter Tommy Newport play the first of 2 nights at Corona Theatre, Supersuckers and Ashtray Heart rock out at Petit Campus, cinematic R&B singer-songwriter (and film playback singer) Sid Sriram performs at Le Ministère, Amanda Palmer plays her heartfelt music for fans at Monument-National, St. Louis rapper Comethazine comes to L’Astral, and Australian singer-songwriter Stella Donnelly enthralls at Casa del Popolo – or get your glow sticks on as the Neon Phantom Tour comes to New City Gas with Dutch electronic producer Dion Timmer and Dubloadz and Kompany.

On Sunday afternoon, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal presents the OSM Chorus with organist Jonathan Ryan performing Brahms’ German Requiem at Maison symphonique. Monday, March 25 brings Swedish indie-folk artist José González & The String Theory orchestra to Maison symphonique, hit-making Australian indie electronic trio Mansionair and Beacon to Le Ministère, while London-based Ten Fé emulates Bruce Springsteen and the Stone Roses at once at Ritz P.D.B., and new-wave electro Brooklynites Future Punx bring their high-energy to Casa del Popolo. On Tuesday, go with the serious flow of Brooklyn rapper Leikeli47 and opener Yung Baby Tate at Le Belmont. On Wednesday, March 27, check out the captivating sounds of singer-songwriter Alice Phoebe Lou at Théâtre Fairmount. And on Thursday, catch Cuban pianist and composer Aldo Lopez Gavilan playing classical, jazz, samba and more accompanied by 7 other musicians at Maison symphonique. For even more 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. And if you want to bring the music home with you, go record shopping at Montréal's excellent vinyl stores.

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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