Things to do in Montréal – May 3 to 9, 2019

Montréal gets ready for outdoor living this week, transforming downtown's Place des Festivals into a relaxed terrace, complete with the music-making 21 Balançoires (21 Swings). You can also see Cirque du Soleil's fabulous Alegria, Opéra de Montréal's Carmen, the wild fashion of Thierry Mugler: Couturissime, art by Yoko Ono, and all kinds of inspiring theatre, dance, film, art and live music.

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Spring in the city

Spring moves into high gear this week when Sainte-Catherine Street becomes a pedestrian-only avenue, all the way from De Bleury Street downtown and eastward through the Village. Festivals and other activities abound until late September in Place des Festivals, including this month's Dans ma cour… ç’a du chien, a series of backyard scenes, lawn chairs and all, made for public lounging. Hop on a musical swing at 21 Balançoires (21 Swings) along the Promenade des Artistes, part of the city's annual Montréal Digital Spring events and a highlight of this spring's free things to do. Nearby, the spiral staircase of art installation Our DNA embodies the architectural and cultural heritage of Montréal's unique neighbourhoods. 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. And animated projection art Synergie lights up the space outside Saint-Laurent metro station every Thursday to Sunday evening. 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. ATSA's annual event Cuisine ta ville creatively facilitates a public reflection on how immigrants and refugees are welcomed into our society – step into one of their white tents in the Quartier des spectacles from May 9 to 12. 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.

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City sights

Take in the view of Montréal's changing seasons from the Mount Royal Park lookout, one of the most Instagrammable views in Montréal, and see the entire city from La Grande Roue de Montréal observation wheel, the Montréal Tower at Olympic Park and the Observatoire Place Ville Marie. From Mount Royal Park, walk the landscaped Promenade Fleuve-Montagne down to the St. Lawrence River, stopping to see historic and artistic sights along the way. If spring showers send you indoors, keep your mind active with escape game adventures, go ice skating at Atrium Le 1000, check out the cars of the future this weekend at the Montréal Electric Vehicle Show at Place Bonaventure, or simply relax at Montréal's best spas. In sports, catch Major League Soccer team the Montréal Impact against New York City FC on May 4 at Stade Saputo. Whether you're in Montréal for a 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.

Food and drink

Montréal welcomes the first weekend of May with all kinds of outdoor activities. There's more open-air dining on Montréal's best terrasses, whether for a meal or cocktails. Experience the beautiful and delicious Dinner With A View experience in the Old Port. 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. Grab a few spring home décor ideas from these design-trending restaurants and bars. 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. 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 2019 celebrates all things coffee from May 5 to 11, with low-priced specials at dozens of cafés and special events. 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. 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.

On stage

Cirque du Soleil's iconic production Alegria returns to Montréal with reinvigorated design, incredible costumes and world-class performers, from April 18 to June 30 under the big top in the Old Port of Montréal. Opéra de Montréal presents George Bizet's love-struck opera Carmen, from May 4 to 13 at Place des Arts. The one and only Michelle Obama takes the Bell Centre stage in conversation on Friday, May 3. Two major festivals continue this week: Festival Accès Asie, a showcase of pan-Asian arts and culture from May 1 to 30 (this week see Kalyug: A Queer Cabaret in the Age of Darkness and more), and Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival, featuring readings and discussions with authors, including Annie Proulx and Dionne Brand, from May 2 to 5, as well as the Blue Metropolis Children's Festival. In contemporary dance, Danse Danse presents Alonzo King LINES Ballet's The Propelled Heart, an inventive dance production that highlights the power of song with award-winning vocalist Lisa Fischer, at Place des Arts from April 30 to May 4. 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. For kids and their families, Geordie Theatre's major mainstage music-infused production Reaching for Starlight entertains and inspires, taking us on a young girl’s journey of breaking barriers, at D.B. Clarke Theatre on May 4 and 5. 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 interdisciplinary new work OUFF, at Théâtre La Chapelle from May 6 to 10. On May 8, Jacob Wren of PME Art turns the typical artist talk inside out in performance A User’s Guide to Authenticity Is a Feeling at Théâtre La Chapelle. Laugh it up with the sketch comedy troupes of Montreal Sketch Comedy Festival at Theatre Ste. Catherine. Festival Vue sur la Relève showcases a variety of performing arts in shows by emerging Québec and international artists, from May 6 to 18.

On screen

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 “transcoding” performance Enigma, exploring the relationship between humans and artificial intelligence, until May 3 in the Satosphere dome at the Society for Arts and Technology, along with immersive triple-bill Origines until May 25 – and on Saturday afternoon, join a family screening of multimedia show Lamparium. Environmental issues are the focus of film festival Ciné Vert, screening documentaries such as Damon Gameau's 2040 and hosting discussions from May 2 to 5 at Ausgang Plaza. 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 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 (starting May 9, 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.

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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. Toronto-based Cree artist Kent Monkman critically illuminates the history of Indigenous people in Canada in must-see exhibition Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience at the McCord Museum only until May 5 – while there, also see exhibition SDING K’AWXANGS – Haida: Supernatural Stories and work by Kanien’kehá:ka artist Hannah Claus. At Place des Arts Salle d'exposition, Au rythme des mots features works by photographer Jose Enrique Montes Hernandez and installations and graffiti by emerging artists. 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. 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 female Indigenous 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 with performance and installation by Danielle Aubert, Bianca Ibarlucea, and Kikko Paradela. 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. 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.

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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 – also see children's theatre shows Arbes and Tableaux Musique this week, part of the Petits Bonheurs festival. 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, featuring Russian-Jewish artist Yuula Benivolski’s photography installation L'océan entre nous // The Ocean Between Us until May 5. 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.

Live music

On Friday night, The Mountain Goats play songs from their new album (and fan favourites) with opener Shana Cleveland at L’Astral, young Canadian singer-songwriter Johnny Orlando and opener Hayden Summerall come to Corona Theatre, avant-folk act Mappe Of plays Ritz P.D.B., the Sound of Soul night at Balcon Cabaret Music-Hall features high-energy live music with a neo-soul twist by singer Jennifer Meade, and Swedish electronic dance duo Galantis warms up the dance floor at New City Gas. Australian singer-songwriter Kirin J Callinan lets loose at Ritz P.D.B. on Saturday night. Sunday, May 5 offers an assortment of shows: Kent Nagano conducts the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal in Gustav Holst’s The Planets, on May 5 at Maison symphonique; Metric, July Talk and Murray A. Lightburn all impress with their rock music chops at MTELUS; singer-songwriter Caroline Rose treads the line between pop-rock and folk-country at l'Escogriffe Bar Spectacle; and French singer-songwriter Tim Dup mixes happiness with melancholy in his music at Le Ministère. On Tuesday, see Tim Baker (of Hey Rosetta!) and Charlotte Cornfield at Le Ministère, psych-rock band The Bright Light Social Hour and Walker Lukens at l'Escogriffe Bar Spectacle; R&B-soul singer-songwriter Kevin Garrett at Le Belmont; and country-edged rocker Mattiel at Quai des Brumes. The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal performs Tchaikovsky’s Winter Daydreams and more, featuring French cellist Edgar Moreau, at Maison symphonique on May 8 and 9. Get loud, heavy and melodic with all kinds of great bands at DISTORSION PSYCH FEST from May 8 to 11. Thursday brings legendary English musician Joe Jackson to Place des Arts, Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band to L’Astral, Canadian rock band Anvil to Petit Campus, and Efrim Manuel Menuck (of Godspeed You! Black Emperor) and Kevin Doria to Ritz P.D.B. 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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