Things to do in Montréal – May 10 to 16, 2019
The bright colours of spring brighten Montréal this week, from the top of Mount Royal to downtown's Place des Festivals (where you can swing, play chess and more) to Cirque du Soleil's Alegria big top in the Old Port. Experience the opera, the ballet or a festival, see Thierry Mugler: Couturissime and art by Yoko Ono, explore local history at museums, and go out and live the Montréal night life!
Spring in the city
It's time to play on Sainte-Catherine Street this week, all the way from De Bleury Street downtown and eastward through the Village: you'll find plenty of free things to do, including Dans ma cour… ç’a du chien, a series of backyard scenes with lawn chairs made for public lounging in Place des Festivals; 21 Balançoires (21 Swings), musical swings along the Promenade des Artistes, part of the city's annual Montréal Digital Spring events; the iconic spiral staircase of art installation Our DNA; and giant chessboards too! After dark every Thursday to Sunday, look up to the facade of the President-Kennedy Pavilion to see projection art UQAM: 50 ans d'audace, evoking the university's many facets since its creation in 1969, while animated projection Synergie lights up the space outside Saint-Laurent metro station. Meanwhile in the Village, walk under a rainbow canopy of 180,000 resin balls designed by landscape architect Claude Cormier, kicking off summer-long cultural event Aires Libres. Community-focused art group ATSA's annual event Cuisine ta ville facilitates a public reflection on how immigrants and refugees are welcomed into our society – step into one of the white tents in the Quartier des spectacles from May 9 to 12. If you're here for Mother's Day on Sunday, have a beautiful brunch in honour of your mom, take a stroll through the Montréal Botanical Garden and other parks and green spaces as the trees turn green and spring flowers bloom, or simply relax at Montréal's best spas (Bota Bota, spa-sur-l’eau has a Mother's Day special!). And choose a unique, locally designed gift at artist market Puces POP, from May 10 to 12 at Église Saint-Denis.
Watch Montréal burst into spring from the top of Mount Royal Park, one of the most Instagrammable views in Montréal – walk up through the park and climb the stairs or get there by bus or car and stroll over to the lookout. For a 360º view of the city, take the funicular at the Montréal Tower at Olympic Park, look out from the Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown and ride La Grande Roue de Montréal observation wheel in the Old Port. Walk the landscaped Promenade Fleuve-Montagne down from Mount Royal Park to the St. Lawrence River, stopping to see historic and artistic sights along the way. In Old Montréal, visit Notre-Dame Basilica (one of Montréal's most famous icons) and see Moment Factory's immersive multimedia show AURA, while on Friday and Saturday nights you can search out the projections of Cité Mémoire on building facades. If spring showers send you indoors, keep your mind active with escape game adventures, go ice skating at Atrium Le 1000 or catch the NHL and NBA playoffs at Montréal's best sports bars. Get a thrill and a view too at La Ronde, the second largest amusement park in Canada, opening for the season on May 11 with the launch of new rollercoaster Chaos. Whether you're in Montréal 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
Have a meal or a cocktail in the open air on Montréal's best terrasses – among the many patios opening this week, check out the new Marcus Restaurant + Terrace at the Four Seasons Hotel and downtown's Foodlab for great food and DJs. If you're looking for Québécois classics, follow our guides to the best poutine, bagels and smoked meat, plus Montréal's top chocolatières, excellent Montréal meals worth writing home about and more musts for foodies – including some only-in-Montréal dining experiences and food festivals. 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! Grab a few spring home décor ideas from these design-trending restaurants and bars. Do lunch like a Montrealer at these 10 great lunch spots. Any time of day grab a pick-me-up at Montréal's indie coffee shops and most “Instagrammable” cafés. A bonus caffeine jolt this week: Le Café Fest celebrates all things coffee from May 5 to 11, with low-priced specials at dozens of cafés and special events. Later on, 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. 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.
An inspiring and stunning show, Cirque du Soleil's Alegria wows Montréal with world-class circus arts performers, incredible costumes and beautiful design, from April 18 to June 30 under the blue-and-white big top in the Old Port of Montréal. Spend a grand night out as Opéra de Montréal presents George Bizet's love-struck opera Carmen, from May 4 to 13 at Place des Arts. Meanwhile, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal present Parlami d’Amore, a program of contemporary ballet that captures the brightness of spring, at Place des Arts from May 16 to 25. It's only May, but this week marks the unofficial start of summer festival season: from May 10 to 17, the Chromatic Festival celebrates art that breaks with tradition, featuring exhibitions, performances and talks all week, plus evenings of music and dancing, as well as kids activities on May 12. Meanwhile, Festival Accès Asie showcases pan-Asian arts and culture from May 1 to 30 – this week see KLEX à MTL films, interactive art Handshack by Marites Carino at OBORO and concert Brise japonaise. Montréal's winter-spring theatre season features riveting new play Indecent, dramatizing the events surrounding Sholem Asch's controversial 1906 play God of Vengeance, an explosive moment in theatrical and world history, at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts from April 28 to May 19. A divine diva is upstaged by her set, costumes and the specters of late capitalism, white privilege and perimenopause in artist Alexis O'Hara's brilliant and challenging interdisciplinary new work OUFF, at Théâtre La Chapelle from May 6 to 10. Taking Place : A Celebration of Performance Art features international artists performing at MAI Montréal, arts interculturels from May 15 to 18. In contemporary dance, Sovann Rochon-Prom Tep's Un Temps Pour Tout merges dance experimentation and hip hop with live music at Théâtre La Chapelle on May 13 and 14, while choreographers Deborah Dunn, Lucie Grégoire and Benoît Lachambre's QUADRIPTYQUE I-II-III explores the possibilities of integrated dance with handicapped dancers at Agora de la danse from May 8 to 11. Laugh it up with the sketch comedy troupes of Montreal Sketch Comedy Festival at Theatre Ste. Catherine. And Festival Vue sur la Relève showcases a variety of performing arts in shows by emerging Québec and international artists, from May 6 to 18.
Famous European paintings come to life in VR Museum at the Phi Centre's VR Cinema, in a collaboration with the Geneva International Film Festival. See immersive audiovisual triple-bill Origines in the Satosphere dome at the Society for Arts and Technology until May 25 – and on Saturday afternoon, join a family screening of multimedia show Lamparium. Roam the cosmos in science-meets-multimedia shows Planet Nine, Secrets of Gravity, Continuum and Aurōrae as well as new films POLARIS and Passport to the Universe at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. The Montréal Science Centre features IMAX films Oceans 3D, Pandas 3D, Volcanoes 3D and 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 (this week the cinema hosts retrospective Ryūsuke Hamaguchi Retrospective – The Theatre of Emotions), Cinémathèque québécoise shows films by more auteurs, while Cinéma du Musée and Cinéma du Parc also screen Canadian and international features and documentaries throughout the week.
Art for all
Explore how the art (and life!) of icon Yoko Ono has affected years of contemporary art practices, art reception and activism in new exhibition Yoko Ono: LIBERTÉ CONQUÉRANTE/GROWING FREEDOM, at the Fondation Phi pour l’art contemporain in Old Montréal. Enter the high-fashion art world of Thierry Mugler: Couturissime, featuring innovative ready-to-wear, haute couture and more wild creations by the French designer at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts – while there, also see Montreal Couture, showcasing inventive Québec designers, and more. At the McCord Museum see exhibition SDING K’AWXANGS – Haida: Supernatural Stories, featuring contemporary artists alongside more than 100 rare objects from the museum’s rich Indigenous Cultures collection, as well as work by Kanien’kehá:ka artist Hannah Claus. Parisian Laundry presents Rose Marcus and Charles Harlan's Leavee, new works inspired by coastal urban living. See recent sculptural works by David Armstrong Six at Darling Foundry. As part of UQAM university's 50th anniversary, Galerie de l’UQAM launches two exhibitions on May 16: group show Over My Black Body, a social reflection and celebration of black life, and installation works by Maude Arès. In Speculations, Black, Indigenous and other artists reflect and speculate on their position in the universe, the world and society, at Artexte. See works by seven Indigenous women artists in exhibition Oubliées ou disparues : Akonessen, Zitya, Tina, Marie et les autres at Ashukan Cultural Space. SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art presents Loosely Assembled Cycle 2: Score for a Dialogue Between People. Head to Mile-Ex for the edgy Never Apart spring exhibitions, with art by Age Union artists, Damian Siqueiros and Terra Sapiens Collective, and more – plus a record sale on May 11. Le Montréaler presents An homage to the New Yorker 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
See the city through the eyes of locals and visitors in photography exhibition Montreal, History and Heritage at the Centre d'histoire de Montréal until May 12. History museum Château Ramezay features touching and beautiful World War I exhibition WAR Flowers alongside rooms full of local history. The Musée de Lachine presents history and archeology from the times of fur trade and New France alongside contemporary art. Among the city's several family-friendly museums, archaeology and history complex Pointe-à-Callière brings Montréal's past to life in high-tech multimedia exhibitions such as the brand new Generations MTL and illuminates an international cabinet of curiosities in new exhibition Into the Wonder Room. 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. Nature and climate come into full view at the geodesic Biosphère, Environment Museum in Parc Jean-Drapeau. Climb aboard Canadian Pacific’s steam locomotive No. 2850 this month at the Canadian Railway museum Exporail. 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 Second Life takes us away from it all in real, imagined and virtual spaces outside of ordinary time and space. Learn more about Jewish culture in Montréal at the Museum of Jewish Montreal exhibitions. The city's Irish roots also run deep – discover Irish Montréal through landmarks and more. See Barbie's high-fashion transformations through the decades 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.
Friday night's musical offerings range from the Orchestre Métropolitain in concert Resounding Beethoven at Maison symphonique to a solo show by Barenaked Ladies frontman Steven Page with openers Port Cities at L’Astral, as well as electro-pop artist Sophia Bel at the Phi Centre and lo-fi psych-rock with Old Man Canyon at Ritz P.D.B. On Saturday, Bernard Labadie conducts orchestra Violons du Roy in concert Bach’s B-Minor Mass at Maison symphonique, Moon vs Sun (Canadian rock-pop power duo Chantal Kreviazuk and Our Lady Peace singer Raine Maida Aphrose) perform at Corona Theatre, German singer and filmmaker Mogli and opener Josin play Le Ministère, British EBM-synth-pop masters Nitzer Ebb shake up the Society for Arts and Technology, and dance into the night with Dutch house duo Bassjackers plus producers Breathe Carolina, Lucas and Steve at New City Gas. Get loud, heavy and melodic with all kinds of great bands at Distorsion Psych Fest from May 8 to 11, including SUUNS, Black Legary, Jessica93 and more on Saturday night.
On Sunday, May 12, British singer-songwriter Allman Brown comes to Le Ministère while May 13 features Parisian synth-wave artist Perturbator at the Society for Arts and Technology. French multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter FKJ plays MTELUS on May 14, while rapper Smino is at L’Astral, and neo-soul artist Sara Marie Barron is at Club Balattou. On Wednesday, May 15 it's rockers Halestorm at MTELUS, singer-pianist Andy Black at L’Astral and the soulful psych-rock of Danny Lee Blackwell's Night Beats at Ritz P.D.B. The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal presents Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov playing Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto at Maison symphonique from May 15 to 17. On Thursday, May 16, Grammy Award-winning Canadian pop singer-songwriter Alessia Cara thrills fans at Place des Arts, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal presents Ethiopian jazz musician Mulatu Astatke at Corona Theatre, rapper J.I.D. comes to L’Astral, and New Zealand metal band Alien Weaponry plays l'Escogriffe Bar Spectacle. 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, 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.