Things to do in Montréal November 23 to 29

Montréal transforms into a winter wonderland a little earlier than usual this year – with the change in weather comes snowy sightseeing, urban holiday markets full of local creations, the beautiful sounds of the Montréal Bach Festival, screen gems at international film festivals along with innovative art and lively theatre, dance, circus and music citywide.

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November city sights

No matter what the November weather, take advantage of the many free things to do in Montréal this season, including a visit to snowy Mount Royal Park and its spectacular lookout, one of the most Instagrammable views in Montréal. Or stroll through city streets to the St. Lawrence River on the beautiful Promenade Fleuve-Montagne path. Browse Jean-Talon Market and Atwater Market for excellent locally-sourced food. At night see why Montréal is a city of lights: the colourful projection art animation of 100% Chance of Snow lights up Place des Festivals downtown, while the high-tech wonders of Moment Factory multimedia creation AURA transforms Notre-Dame Basilica (one of Montréal's most famous icons) and the projections of Cité Mémoire highlight local history on building facades throughout Old Montréal. Bird's-eye views of the city await in the climate-controlled comfort of La Grande Roue de Montréal in the Old Port, the Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown 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 Boston Bruins on November 24 and the Carolina Hurricanes on November 27 at the Bell Centre. 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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Holiday shopping and more

Shop for gifts, locally made creations and more at Montréal's holiday markets – among the markets opening this week, designer craft fair Souk@Sat fills the main floor of the Society for Arts and Technology with gorgeous goods from November 28 to December 2, while Les Grand Ballets Canadiens de Montréal's Nutcracker Market sparkles on the ground floor of Palais des Congrès from November 29 to December 10. Find one-of-a-kind arts and crafts items at the Etsy Montréal Pop-Up Market at Windsor Station from November 22 to 24. Expozine, the largest annual bilingual fair of small publishers in North America, features over 300 publishers, authors and artists on November 24 and 25 at Église Saint-Arsène (1025 Bélanger Street). Comic book and animation fans can buy comics, collectibles and more and talk to creators at Mini-Comiccon de Montréal from November 24 to 25 at the Montréal Convention Centre. Discover Québec English-language books and their authors at the Holiday Pop-Up Book Fair in the atrium of Concordia’s McConnell Building (1400 de Maisonneuve Boulevard West) on November 24 and 25 – plus a visit with special guest Ann-Marie MacDonald on Saturday at 4 p.m. And If you're a fan of board games, check out the Salon du Jeu de Société de Montréal to play new games and hear from game designers on November 24 and 25 at Bonsecours Market in Old Montréal.

Food and drink

Warm up, get cozy and eat well with hot food for cold days in Montréal and at Montréal restaurants with fireplaces – or try 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. Learn all about ginger as an ingredient with chefs Minh Phat, Anita Feng and Aaron Langille in workshop Food Core at the Phi Centre, in English on November 27. 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

Go to the circus this week in Les 7 doigts's Passagers, an emotional tale of train travel and relocation told through acrobatic and dramatic acts, 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. 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. While at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts, you can see A Doll’s House, Part 2, a witty sequel to Ibsen's classic, from November 18 to December 9. An innocent young crush turns into a passionate sexual awakening, that's not without its foibles, in Hyper-Allergenic Productions's Gratitude at MainLine Theatre from November 21 to December 2. In Montréal contemporary dance, movement, 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, followed from November 28 to December 1 by Karine Ledoyen's De la glorieuse fragilité, and see Normal Desires, a new circus performance by Emile Pineault from November 22 to December 1 at Théâtre La Chapelle.

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On screen

Virtual reality storytelling wows us at tech and culture hub the Phi Centre in Echo: The Sound of Space, an immersive creative exploration of the universe's timeless vibrations, and in the centre's new VR Cinema, offering two programs of visionary VR experiences every day. In the SAT's Satosphere dome downtown, see 360-degree live concert Quiet River of Dust, featuring natural-world visuals filmed by Richard Reed Parry, the Arcade Fire musician, and Jean-François Lalonde, with narration by Laurie Brown, running to November 24. Montréal's international LGBTQ film festival image+nation screens new features and shorts from November 22 to December 2, this week featuring Swiss-German football drama Mario, Kevin Kerslake's Joan Jett documentary Bad Reputation, Australian drama Riot, Nova Scotia documentary Love, Scott, Sook-Yin Lee's Octavio Is Dead! and more. 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, including family activities this Saturday and Sunday. 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, while Cinéma du Musée and Cinéma du Parc screen new Québec documentary Ensemble (with English subtitles), a look behind the scenes of the Orchestre Métropolitain.

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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, until November 24. 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, ten subversive works by the First Nations artist, on until November 24. 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 until November 24. Galerie D'Este shows Marcel Barbeau's paintings in exhibition Jours d'envol until November 25. Galerie Laroche/Joncas presents a double exhibition of works by Fabrizio Perozzi. Head to Mile Ex to see Never Apart's multi-artist fall exhibitions. 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 kid-friendly museums, the McCord Museum leads visitors on a flashlight-led journey through a local history of exile in Shadows Without Borders, shows us Indigenous art through clothing in Wearing our Identity – The First Peoples Collection and renews a Montréal holiday tradition with Enchanted Worlds, the handcrafted mechanical Ogilvy department store window display. The Canadian Railway Museum Exporail hosts a Railway Christmas, with themed activities for families and rides on the Exporail Christmas Train. Archaeology and history museum Pointe-à-Callière also brings the past to life in family-friendly multimedia exhibitions. Beautiful multi-sensorial exhibition WAR Flowers explores human nature in the landscape of war through floriography, sculpture and scent, at Château Ramezay. 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. 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 his 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 today.

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Classical and seasonal music

The international Montréal Bach Festival continues until December 2 – this week's concerts include harpsichordist Luc Beauséjour at Chapelle Notre-Dame de Bon-Secours on November 24, the McGill Chamber Orchestra and Québec coloratura mezzo-soprano Julie Boulianne in concert Vivaldi, Bach & Julie Boulianne on November 27 at Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Jeremy Denk performing the Goldberg Variations at Bourgie Concert Hall on November 28, the Mélodînes emerging artists concert series at Place des Arts, and more. The Grammy-winning Soweto Gospel Choir celebrates the inspirational power of African Gospel music in concert Songs of the Free: In Honour of Nelson Mandela’s 100th Birthday, on November 24 at Place des Arts. On November 25, Pro Musica presents cellist Jay Campbell in a program of works from the 20th and 21st centuries at Salle Pierre-Mercure, and Innovations en Concert presents Montréal ensemble Novarumori performing works for four cellos and four basses at La Sala Rossa. Among other fall season classical concerts, Kent Nagano conducts the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal in concert Dvořák, Schubert and Schumann at the Maison symphonique on November 29 and 30. And jingle bells ring out at the Noël avec les Crooners matinée concerts at the Cabaret du Casino de Montréal starting November 25 and running until December 20.

More live music

On Friday night, see Australian roots-rock band John Butler Trio and Jon Bryant at Théâtre Corona, British artist Steven Wilson (formerly of outsider rock band Porcupine Tree) solo at Place des Arts, and Québec artist Katee Julien singing Edith Piaf at Cinquième Salle, while good-time ska-punks The Planet Smashers and The Dreadnoughts party at Club Soda, alt-rockers The Beaches and Goodbye Honolulu play L’Astral, Canadian alternative hip hop artist SHAD comes to Le Ministère, Montréal electronic producer and DJ Robert Robert shakes things up at Newspeak and “vomit step” electronic producer Snails and opener Cookie Monsta go wild at MTELUS. On Saturday, it's bass-driven Dutch electronic producer San Holo with opener Chet Porter at Corona Theatre, Scottish electronic musician and producer Grum at Théâtre Fairmount, singer Mark Kingswood croons from the Great American Songbook and more at Cinquième Salle, hip-hop outfit So Loki at Le Ministère, and electronic dance music duo Loud Luxury with Two Friends and Black Caviar at New City Gas. Sunday night brings Canadian rock band Three Days Grace and Nothing More to MTELUS, and incredible Colombian-Canadian singer-songwriter Jessie Reyez and opener Savannah Ré to L’Astral.

On Monday, see Australian indie-rockers The Paper Kites with Wild Rivers at Corona Theatre. European electro and underground dance music project VNV Nation touches down at Corona Theatre on Tuesday night, while Canadian rockers The Dirty Nil and Dead Soft play l'Escogriffe Bar Spectacle and rappers BAS and Rexx Life Raj come to Le Belmont. Wednesday brings '90s power-pop rockers Sloan back to Café Campus, while mighty indie-rock bands Cloud Nothings and The Courtneys get loud at L’Astral and German pop singer bülow performs at Le Ministère. And on Thursday, German indie-pop record label Majestic Casual brings artists StarRo, Sunni Colòn and more to perform at L’Astral, Montréal R&B singer-songwriter Sara Diamond ends her Foreword tour at the Phi Centre, popular Montréal reggae artist Jah Cutta and opener DJ Mossman play Le Belmont, and rock meets traditional Indigenous storytelling as nêhiyawak plays Casa Del Popolo. 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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