Things to do in Montréal - November 16 to 22

We're celebrating the seasonal shift this week in Montréal with Saturday's Santa Claus Parade, the lush drama of Wagner's opera Das Rheingold, the beautiful sounds of the Montréal Bach Festival, three international film festivals, innovative art by Alexander Calder and Julian Rosefeldt, and more great theatre, dance, circus, film and live music citywide.

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November city sights

Kick off the holiday season this Saturday at Montréal's 68th Santa Claus Parade – see Santa and his elves, hear holiday classics and watch all the parade antics along Sainte-Catherine Street downtown, starting at Fort Street at 11 a.m. and ending at Saint-Urbain Street at 1 p.m. No matter what the November weather, take advantage of the many free things to do this fall in Montréal, including seeing the city from several vantage points: take in the view from the lookout on Mount Royal (one of the most Instagrammable spots in Montréal); stroll through city streets to the St. Lawrence River on the beautiful Promenade Fleuve-Montagne path; or check out colourful Jean-Talon Market and Atwater Market – and eat local while you're there. At night learn why Montréal is a city of lights: see the colourful projection art animation of 100% Chance of Snow in Place des Festivals, revel in the high-tech wonders of Moment Factory multimedia creation AURA at Notre-Dame Basilica (one of Montréal's most famous icons) and spot history-focused Cité Mémoire projections on building facades throughout Old Montréal. Bird's-eye views of the city await in the comfort of the Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown, La Grande Roue de Montréal observation wheel in the Old Port and the Montréal Tower at Olympic Park – or experience an Olympian's journey in the Canadian Olympic Experience at Canadian Olympic Committee headquarters downtown. Meanwhile NHL stars hit the ice as the Montréal Canadiens take on the Washington Capitals on November 19 at the Bell Centre. Discover Montréal through its literature at the Salon du livre de Montréal, a massive book fair that includes discussions with authors and publishers, a youth zone and English-language programming with Get Lit! Brilliant Books from Quebec, from November 14 to 19 at Place Bonaventure. Whether you're in Montréal for a long weekend or a week, 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.

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Food and drink

Warm up and eat well at these top Montréal restaurants for the gourmet traveller, cheerful bring-your-own-wine eateries (including some in Little Italy) and lovely new casual restaurants. Any time of day grab a pick-me-up at Montréal's indie coffee shops. And later on, relax with a perfect cocktail or have a drink away from it all in a hidden bar. If you're looking for local food and Québécois classics follow our guides to the best poutine, the best Montréal bagels and the best smoked meat, Montréal's top chocolatières, excellent Montréal meals worth writing home about and more musts for foodies visiting Montréal. If you've got a craving for dumplings, follow our guide to where to eat some of the best Chinese food in Montréal. 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. And if you're traveling with kids, check out our ideas for great places to eat with kids in Montréal

On stage

Gods, humans and mythical creatures cross paths in Wagner’s parable of the history of the world Das Rheingold, presented by Opéra de Montréal at Place des Arts until November 17. Go see the circus in three shows this week: Cirque Éloize's Hotel, an energetic show combining acrobatics, theatre, dance and live music at Place des Arts until November 17, and Les 7 doigts's Passagers, an emotional tale of train travel and relocation, at La TOHU. Montréal's English theatre season continues to shine with British playwright Lucy Kirkwood's The Children, a story of two nuclear engineers confronting industrial and personal responsibility, from November 6 to 25 at Centaur Theatre. Teesri Duniya Theatre presents Stephen Orlov's Birthmark, a drama that crosses the divide between Canada’s Jewish and Palestinian diaspora communities, from November 3 to 18 at MAI Montréal, arts interculturels. The Tashme Project: The Living Project traces the history and common experience of the Nisei, second-generation Japanese Canadians, from November 15 to 24 at Centaur Theatre. At the Segal Centre for Performing Arts, you can see A Doll’s House, Part 2, a witty sequel to Ibsen's classic, opening November 18. Acts to Grind Theatre stages Glengarry Glen Ross, David Mamet's examination of ethics and indignities through the world of real estate salesmen, at MainLine Theatre from November 7 to 18. An innocent young crush turns into a passionate sexual awakening that's not without its foibles, in Hyper-Allergenic Productions' Gratitude at MainLine Theatre from November 21 to December 2. And In the Wings presents genderqueer rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch at fabulous drag club Cabaret Mado on November 21 and 22. In Montréal contemporary dance, Danse Danse presents Tentacle Tribe's Ghost, danced by street dance/hip-hop duo Emmanuelle Lê Phan and Elon Höglund, from November 13 to 18 at Place des Arts, while dance, ambient sound and vocals collide in Pep Ramis's The Mountain, The Truth & The Paradise at Agora de la danse from November 21 to 24. See Manuel Roque's award-winning dance performance Bang Bang from November 15 to 17 and Normal Desires, a new circus performance by Emile Pineault from November 22 to December 1, both at Théâtre La Chapelle. And multimedia artist Daniele Finzi Pasca (the creator of Avudo, shown in Montréal's Old Port for the city's 375th anniversary) presents his newest creation, Icaro, at Théâtre St-Denis on November 16 and 17.

On screen

The Montréal International Documentary Festival (RIDM) screens 157 films from 47 countries from November 8 to 18, as well as presentations, themed parties with live music, family programming on November 18 at the Cinémathèque québécoise (also where you'll find the UXdoc Space's free VR experiences) and more. Virtual reality storytelling also wows us in VR exhibition Echo: The Sound of Space, a creative exploration of the universe's timeless vibrations, at tech and culture hub the Phi Centre. In the SAT's Satosphere dome downtown, see 360-degree immersive live concert Richard Reed Parry’s Quiet River of Dust, featuring natural-world visuals filmed by the Arcade Fire musician and Jean-François Lalonde, with narration by Laurie Brown, from November 13 to 24. Montréal's international LGBTQ film festival image+nation opens on November 22 with Christophe Honoré’s French feature film Plaire aimer et courir vite (Sorry Angel). New, creative and cutting-edge animation can be seen at this year's Sommets du cinéma d’animation festival at the Cinémathèque québécoise from November 21 to 25. Roam the cosmos in science-meets-multimedia double bills Planet Nine and Secrets of Gravity, Continuum and Aurōrae and more at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. The Montréal Science Centre features IMAX films Oceans 3D and Pandas 3D along with hands-on science activities and a 3.8-billion-year-old moon rock! And among Montréal's great indie cinemas, Mile End's Cinéma Moderne screens art-house and cult films every day plus daytime family programming on weekends.

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Art for all

Among this season's must-see museum exhibitions, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts presents Alexander Calder: Radical Inventor, the first Canadian retrospective of the American modern art giant, with over 150 works on display. The MMFA also features Resplendent Illuminations: Books of Hours from the 13th to the 16th Century in Quebec Collections, video installation Liminals: A Para-fiction of Transcendence by Jeremy Shaw, a powerful Inuit art collection and more. At the Musée d'art contemporain, don't miss the 13-screen immersive video work Manifesto by German artist Julian Rosefeldt, with actor Cate Blanchett taking on various roles, as well as a retrospective of influential multidisciplinary Québec artist Françoise Sullivan, historical artist manifesto exhibition Scores and Dana Michel's Jams Do Jams dance performances. In the Place des Arts exhibition hall, see Karine Giboulo's Arnait, an artistic tribute to Inuit women. At DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art in Old Montréal, Jasmina Cibic's Everything That You Desire and Nothing That You Fear immerses us in issues of cultural production and political aims, anchored in the planning stages of Expo 67. Galerie de l'UQAM and Cinémathèque québécoise explore themes of revolution in cross-disciplinary exhibition and film program Uprisings. In Ke'tapekiaq Ma’qimikew: The Land Sings / La terre chante, multidisciplinary Mi’kmaq artist Ursula Johnson reflects on human-made trauma on the land and waterways, at SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art. La Guilde presents Sonny Assu: A Selective History, 10 subversive works by the First Nations artist. See Frances Adair Mckenzie's spellbinding sculptural works and bright paintings by Veronika Pausova at Parisian Laundry and Lorna Bauer's captivating landscape photography exhibition Tools for Idlers at Galerie Nicolas Robert. Galerie D'Este shows Marcel Barbeau's paintings in exhibition Jours d'envol. Head to Mile Ex to see Never Apart's new fall exhibitions. There's more art to discover while gallery hopping and antiquing in the city. And go shopping for one-of-a-kind arts and crafts items at the Etsy Montréal Pop-Up Market at Windsor Station from November 22 to 24.

History near and far

Montréal's past comes to life in multimedia exhibitions at Pointe-à-Callière, one of the city's excellent kid-friendly museums. At the McCord Museum, see different sides of local history in Shalom Montréal – Stories and Contributions of the Jewish Community and Wearing our Identity – The First Peoples Collection, and on Sunday bring your kids for story hour and hands-on workshops. Learn more about Jewish culture in Montréal in Zei Gezunt // Porte-Toi Bien // Keep Well (2018 - 2019), a grandson’s exploration of his grandfather’s inventions, transformed into works of art and history-rich storytelling, at the Museum of Jewish Montreal. Beautiful multi-sensorial exhibition WAR Flowers explores human nature in the landscape of war through floriography, sculpture and scent, at Château Ramezay - Historice Site and Museum of Montréal. The Stewart Museum's Paris on Display: 18th-Century Boutiques exhibition 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 new language for architecture while Architecture Itself and Other Postmodernist Myths proposes a counter-reading of postmodern procedures. Based in research spanning three Québec universities, the Écomusée du fier monde's InterReconnaissance – Une mémoire citoyenne se raconte gathers voices and traces from 50 years of mobilizing for the rights of minority groups in Québec. The Musée de Lachine presents history and archeology from the times of fur trade and New France alongside contemporary art. Take more recent history home with you with our ultimate guide to vintage shopping in Montréal. And read all about jazz in Montréal, from the Roaring Twenties to today, featuring not only local history but jazz clubs still hopping to this day.

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Classical and world music

The international Montréal Bach Festival previews its official events with a prologue this weekend: a Bach Undercover children's concert followed by the Night of Choirs all evening at the Church of St. Andrew & St. Paul on November 17, as well as the Lagacé and Boucher families organ concert at Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal in Côte-des-Neiges on Sunday afternoon. The festival truly kicks off on November 22 with world-renowned tenor Julian Prégardien singing the part of the Evangelist in Bach’s St. John Passion and conducting the Bach Festival’s Choir and Orchestra at the Church of St. Andrew & St. Paul. Among the fall season's classical concerts, Kensho Watanabe conducts the Orchestre Métropolitain and violinist Kerson Leong in Korngold’s Violin Concerto, Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune and more at Maison symphonique on November 22. And world music festival Mundial Montréal wraps up at Club Soda on November 16, with party music by Nomad’Stones, Ayrad's Andalusian, Berber, Moroccan and reggae rhythms, and masterful singer-songwriter and guitarist Daby Touré.

More live music

Music festival M for Montréal wraps up this weekend with dreamy electro-pop duo Milk & Bone at MTELUS, synth-pop from Helena Deland and Tess Roby at Théâtre Fairmount, psych-rock with yoo doo right and Teke Teke at La Sala Rossa and much more on Friday night, while Saturday night features How to Dress Well at Le Ministère, Loud and Rymz at MTELUS, Elliot Maginot and Hein Cooper at Théâtre Fairmount, Norté Tropical with Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra at Le National, and many more bands, plus a post-midnight afterparty. Make Friday memorable with a night of electronic dance beats with Claptone at New City Gas and Layton Giordani at Newspeak, or hear the greatest hits of rock n' roll in Undercover : Legends of Rock on Friday at L’Astral. Mid-day on Saturday, enjoy the unique entertainment experience of Gospel Brunch at Balcon Cabaret Music-Hall with the uplifting Imani Gospel Singers choir. On Saturday night, hip hop artists Classified and Choclair perform at at Corona Theatre, while Reuben and the Dark, John Jacob Magistery and Paper Beat Scissors get us into a chill Canadian indie-folk state of mind at L’Astral and local soul-R&B group Satellites launches new album Love and Disaster at Ritz P.D.B.

Ultra-popular Australian alt-electro dance group RÜFÜS DU SOL and openers Cubicolor bring the party to MTELUS on November 18 and 19. Rockers Pop Evil swoop into Café Campus on Sunday night. On Tuesday night, hear the pop-soul sounds of H.E.R. with opener Bri Steves at MTELUS or head over to Mile End's Théâtre Fairmount for Welsh musician Novo Amor and JoJo Worthington. Wednesday brings the soulful psychedelia of The Marías, Triathalon and Girl Ultra to Le Ministère. And on Thursday, beloved Beach Boy Brian Wilson performs at Théâtre St-Denis, Jamaican reggae artist Jesse Royal and Bread Doe perform at L’Astral, comedian-performer Tranna Wintour takes a musical turn and throws an album release party at The Diving Bell Social Club and none other than Claudio Simonetti's Goblin perform alongside a screening of Dario Argento's Suspiria at Théâtre Fairmount. 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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