Things to do in Montréal - March 29 to April 4

April arrives in Montréal this week with butterflies at the Botanical Garden, colourful new projection art downtown, marvelous meals at urban and rural cabanes à sucre, circus creation Serge Fiori, Seul Ensemble, the closing weekend of the International Festival of Films on Art, contemporary theatre and dance shows, inspiring art and all kinds of live music.

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Sights and sounds

As winter begins to fade, take in Montréal's seasonal 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. 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. Among this week's free things to do, in downtown's Place des Festivals, look up to see colourful projection-art animation 100% Chance of Snow, ongoing to March 31, while new animated projection Synergie lights up the space outside Saint-Laurent metro station every Thursday to Sunday evening starting April 1. And on Friday and Saturday nights, use your smartphone to search for the projections of Cité Mémoire on building facades throughout Old Montréal. Explore nature and the fascinating and beautiful Butterflies Go Free event in the tropical Montréal Botanical Garden greenhouse. Or relax in the warmth of Montréal's best spas. In sports, watch the Montréal Canadiens against the Tampa Bay Lightning on April 2 at the Bell Centre, acrobatic basketball team the Harlem Globetrotters perform on March 29 at the Bell Centre, or future champions race at the 2019 Canadian Artistic Swimming Qualifier from March 26 to 31. Whether you're in Montréal for spring break 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.


Food and drink

If you're in Montréal in late March and early April, then sugar shack season is a must – indulge in hearty meals, maple syrup taffy on snow and more at cabanes à sucre in the city and countryside, 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). Dine well at these top Montréal restaurants for the gourmet traveller, cheerful bring-your-own-wine eateries (including some in Little Italy), charming romantic dining options, lovely laid-back casual restaurants and our new restaurant picks. And 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 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 children, 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 29 and 30.


On stage

Marvel at the contemporary circus feats of 20 acrobats and dancers from Cirque Éloize 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. 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. In contemporary dance, Danse Danse presents Crystal Pite's company Kidd Pivot performing Revisor, a hybrid of contemporary theatre and dance made in collaboration with theatre artist Jonathon Young and featuring the recorded dialogue of some of Canada’s finest actors, at Place des Arts from April 3 to 6. 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. 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. New made-in-Montréal play Daughters of Mile End follows 4 friends, the children of 3 mothers who are survivors of the Holocaust, at Concordia's D.B. Clarke Theatre from April 3 to 6.

On screen

See the wide world of art – from painting to dance to music – on film at the 37th International Festival of Films on Art, screening new feature films and shorts from around the world and inviting the public to artist talks, parties and other events from March 19 to 31. Jurassic Park in Concert combines the dinosaur thriller with a full symphony orchestra performing John Williams’ iconic score live, at Place des Arts on March 29 and 30. 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, followed by artist Dana Gingras' immersive film Chute libre (Free Fall), a visceral reminder of the pull of gravity on our bodies, from April 2 to 27 – plus family screenings of multimedia show Lamparium on Saturday afternoons. The Phi Centre presents visceral VR theatre experience The Horrifically Real Virtuality, a comedic homage to filmmaker Ed Wood, starring Bela Lugosi. Until March 31, the Phi Centre's VR Cinema immerses viewers in Accused no. 2: Walter Sisulu and Traveling While Black, two 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.


Art for all

Innovative high fashion is art in Thierry Mugler: Couturissime, a retrospective exhibition featuring ready-to-wear, haute couture and more creations by the French designer, at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, where you can also see Montreal Couture, showcasing inventive Québec designers and more. 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. Swedish photographer Johan Bävman's Papas / Swedish Dads portrays men on parental leave with their children at the Place des Arts Salle d'exposition. At Galerie de l’UQAM, Salle des maquettes brings together works from its collections in a timely tracing of the creative process. See recent sculptural works by David Armstrong Six in former factory space the Darling Foundry. 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, Loosely Assembled examines the role of publishing in pedagogical, collective and radical spaces. Explore five decades of work by Austrian conceptual artist, performer and filmmaker Valie Export at Vox. 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. Visit Never Apart in Mile-Ex to see new works by several artists. At the Phi Centre, watch collaborative video work Speculating Futures, based on present environmental and geopolitical climates and visions of the future. See Marigold Santos' exhibition Malaginto, which centres on her interpretation of the supernatural being Asuangs as self-awareness, transformation and empowerment, at MAI Montréal, arts interculturels. Le Montréaler presents An homage to the New Yorker, illustrations in tribute to the magazine's visual style and content, from March 29 to June 9 at the Maison de la culture Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. And there's more art to discover while gallery hopping and antiquing in the city.


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 exhibition WAR Flowers alongside rooms full of local history. 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, until April 7, 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

This weekend, dance outdoors at the Super Fête parties, electronic music nights created by Piknic Électronik and Igloofest, in the Old Port of Montréal: on Friday dance to the sounds of N'to, Joachim Pastor and Kris Tin, and on Saturday night party with producers Charlotte De Witte and Mike Laz. Also on Friday night, get your dose of country-styled Americana with singer-songwriter The White Buffalo and guest Spencer Burton at L’Astral, or check out beloved Québécois rock band Les Trois Accords at MTELUS, Swedish hard rock band Graveyard and English rock band Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats at Corona Theatre, alt-country singer-songwriter Doug Paisley and Jenny Whiteley at Quai des Brumes, Pink Floyd tribute concert The Dark Side of the Moon - A rock symphony, the Institut du cancer de Montréal's 12th annual fundraiser concert, at Maison symphonique, L.A.-based electronic musician and activist Madame Gandhi, also known as a drummer for M.I.A. and Thievery Corporation at MAI Montréal, arts interculturels (she also performs on Saturday), or dance late into the night with German electronic dance music producer Robin Schulz and Hugel at New City Gas. On Saturday night, long-running hard rockers Muse and openers Walk The Moon get loud at the Bell Centre, metal bands Cradle of Filth and Raven Black thunder at Corona Theatre, dance music label Toolroom brings club producers Mark Knight, Danny Howard, Illyeus & Barrientos and Wheats to New City Gas, world-traveling Montréal singer-songwriter L.A. Foster brings her talent home at La Vitrola, and electronic trance music producer Oliver Smith comes to Newspeak.

On Sunday night, see a Pro Musica presentation of Grammy winning violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja in concert at Salle Pierre-Mercure, Nigerian Afrobeat/pop artist Wizkid at L'Olympia, industrial metal meets electronic artist Mortiis and Graveren at Petit Campus, and SUUNS frontman Ben Shemie performing solo, with opener Paying Emilia at La Sala Rossa. Monday, April 1 brings pop star Ariana Grande to the Bell Centre, trip-hop shoegaze band HÆLOS to Ritz P.D.B., and Swedish metal band Hypocrisy and openers to Corona Theatre. On Tuesday, April 2, experience the modern ambient explorations of German electronica producer and keyboardist Nils Frahm at Place des Arts, drift along with electronic inventiveness of Modeselektor and Nautiluss at Théâtre Fairmount, hear Malian singer-songwriter Fatoumata Diawara, who blends global folk, jazz, blues and pop with traditional Wassoulou music, at Le National, or see Indian singer-songwriter and musician Prateek Kuhad and Reno McCarthy at Le Ministère, experimental-pop band Ellevator and Basement Revolver at l'Escogriffe Bar Spectacle and bombastic Washington, D.C. punk band Gauche with Pearie Sol and Hélène Barbier at Ritz P.D.B. On Wednesday, it's Georgia-based heavy metal band Baroness with Deafheaven and Zeal & Ardor at Corona Theatre. And on Thursday, April 4, catch musician and YouTuber Conan Gray and girl in red at L’Astral, rapper and producer Earl Sweatshirt and Bbymutha at Corona Theatre, and a night of Portuguese fado music with Cathy Pimentel's O Som do Fado: Voyage to the Heart of Portugal at Balcon Cabaret Music-Hall. 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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