Things to do in Montréal - October 26 to November 1

It's Halloween week in Montréal! Join the fun of festival Halloween MTL, the Great Pumpkin Ball and more parties, as well as the final weekend of Gardens of Light and the beginning of MTLàTABLE restaurant week, the art of Alexander Calder and other international artists, plus great theatre, dance, film and live music from here and around the world.

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Halloween and autumnal activities

It's the final week for taking a stroll through the Montréal Botanical Garden's Gardens of Light, elaborate lanterns and lighting displays in the Chinese, Japanese and First Nations gardens. If you're there with family, The Great Pumpkin Ball and Little Monsters Courtyard are a must with hundreds of decorated pumpkins, story time with witches and crafty activities for kids. And next door at the Montréal Insectarium, peer into a hidden arachnid world with Spiders Unmasked. Speaking of scary stuff, it's all about Halloween in Montréal this week as the new and free Festival Halloween MTL adds frightening fun to downtown from October 25 to 28. The Halloween spirit possesses thousands of people (and maybe you too!) at the annual Montréal Zombie Walk on October 27 at Place du Canada. Samain - Halloween sur la Main features a witch’s market and a screening of The Shining at Parc des Amériques and trick-or-treating at stores along Saint-Laurent Boulevard on October 31. See The Rocky Horror Show theatrical production at MainLine Theatre on October 26, 27, 30 and 31 or interactive horror-filled 18+ performance Malefycia. Face your fears in Montréal this week around the city and at amusement park La Ronde's Fright Fest and at the Casino de Montréal's multi-room event Halloween at the Casino. Traditional Montréal Ghosts Walks by Guidatour tell scary tales from October 25 to 31. Among the many other free things to do this fall in Montréal, see the colourful urban art of Surfaces, l'expo d'art urbain on the Promenade des Artistes up to October 28, and at night see why Montréal is a city of lights: discover the high-tech wonders of Moment Factory multimedia creation AURA inside Notre-Dame Basilica, while on building facades throughout Old Montréal, spot Montréal en Histoires - Cité Mémoire history-focused projections. Whether you're in Montréal for a long weekend or a week, discover the beauty of the city and nearby countryside with these fall harvest activities in and around Montréal and great day trips.


City sights

As the leaves change colour and fall, a visit to Mount Royal is a must – not only is the lookout one of the most Instagrammable spots in Montréal, but Café suspendu du mont Royal offers warm beverages, live music and free activities in its final weekend of the season. Go from Mount Royal Park's greenery through city streets to the St. Lawrence River on the beautiful Promenade Fleuve-Montagne, featuring monuments, art installations and more along the way. Bird's-eye views of the city await in the comfort of the Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown (join their classy Halloween-themed masked ball on October 27!), La Grande Roue de Montréal observation wheel in the Old Port or the Montréal Tower at Olympic Park – learn more about the city's Olympic history on a tour of the tower and Olympic Park while you're there or experience an Olympian's journey in the Canadian Olympic Experience at Canadian Olympic Committee headquarters downtown. Stroll through Montréal's Chinatown to see historic sights and have a great meal. Or sit back and relax at some of Montréal's best spas – Bota Bota boasts a fab view of the St. Lawrence River. Learn more about the city's history and culture on a walking tour of Quartier des spectacles, from its Red Light era to recent transformations. Follow our guide to Montréal's most famous icons to see more of the city's major sights and architecture. In pro sports sights: the Montréal Canadiens take on the Dallas Stars on October 30 and the Washington Capitals on November 1 at the Bell Centre and the CFL's Montréal Alouettes play the Toronto Argonauts on October 28 at Percival-Molson Stadium. Find all this and more on My Official Montréal City Guide, a travel app that lets you experience the city like a Montrealer. Whether you're coming to Montréal solo or with family, arrive in the heart of the action by train with VIA Rail Canada.


Food and drink

Make your reservations now for MTLàTABLE, Montréal's restaurant week, featuring prix-fixe meals at 150 restaurants for as little as $23, $33 or $43, from November 1 to 11. Read all about the 30 new participating restaurants, listed by neighbourhood, as well as the perfect resto for any occasion, whether you're on a date, feasting as a family or out with friends, plus bring-your-own-wine restaurants and much more. Among the festival's restaurants, you'll find top Montréal restaurants for the gourmet traveller and many Montréal meals worth writing home about. Travel off the beaten culinary path with these new restaurants in Montréal and watch autumn's changing colours as you eat at Montréal's restaurants in parks. There's no need to change into fancy duds at these new casual restaurants and cheerful bring-your-own-wine eateries, including some in Little Italy. Go out for a great brunch, try restaurants open from brunch to well past dinner or grab something quick at Montréal lunch counters. 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 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 with our guide to 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

Montréal's English theatre fall season features Choir Boy by Tarell Alvin McCraney, the Oscar-winning writer of Moonlight, launching the Centaur Theatre Company's 50th season from October 9 to 28, while the Segal Centre for Performing Arts presents Tony-winning musical Once, the story of an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant who bond through song, running up to October 28. Persephone Productions presents Abigail/1702: A Twice-Told Tale, an imagined sequel to Arthur Miller’s The Crucible ten years after the Salem Witch Trials, at Studio Jean-Valcourt du Conservatoire up to October 28. Imago Theatre presents Hannah Moscovitch's Other People's Children, an exploration of parenthood, privilege and the ethics of migrant care work, from October 25 to November 4 at the Centaur Theatre Company. And Infinithéâtre and McGill's Department of English present Shakespeare’s Sonnets: Transforming the Voices of Montréal, a contemporary performance from October 22 to 27 at Moyse Hall. In Montréal contemporary dance this season, Danse Danse presents Gauthier Dance // Dance Company Theaterhaus Stuttgart's four-piece performance featuring Beating by Virginie Brunelle, We Love Horses by Helena Waldmann, Infant Spirit by Marco Goecke and Electric Life by Eric Gauthier and Andonis Foniadakis from October 31 to November 3 at Place des Arts. See Montréal Danse presentations exploring individual and collective urges within a cinematic aesthetic at Agora de la danse from October 24 to 27. Contemporary dance is centre stage at Théâtre La Chapelle in Hidden Paradise by Alix Dufresne and Marc Béland, inspired by an interview with economist and philosopher Alain Deneault on tax evasion, from October 29 to November 6. Also at Théâtre La Chapelle, see writer and musician Ian Kamau's Loss, confronting a family history of mental illness, from November 1 to 2.

On screen

The CINEMANIA Francophone Film Festival (with English subtitles!) runs from November 1 to 11, bringing feature films and shorts to Montréal, along with directors, actors and industry experts in talks, workshops and more – the festival opens with Olivier Assayas's Doubles Vies (Non-Fiction). The 8th edition of The South Asian Film Festival of Montréal features an eclectic mix of award-winning films from the Indian subcontinent and its diaspora, from October 26 to 28 and November 2 to 4. Experience the universe's timeless vibrations in new virtual reality exhibition Echo: The Sound of Space at tech and culture hub the Phi Centre, featuring VR films that let us travel the world and beyond. See strange and usual short films at the 16th edition of the Festival Spasm, specializing in French-language genre and unclassifiable films, from October 18 to 27 at Club Soda and Théâtre Plaza. In the SAT's Satosphere dome downtown, see 360-degree immersive film Noesis. Roam the cosmos in science-meets-multimedia creations EXO, The Blind Man with Starry Eyes, Continuum and Aurōrae at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. Go on a wild ride in IMAX at the Montréal Science Centre with Oceans 3D and Pandas 3D (plus hands-on science activities and a 3.8-billion-year-old moon rock at the museum!). If you didn't snap up now sold-out tickets to see Chilly Gonzales this weekend at Place des Arts, see music documentary Chilly Gonzales: Shut Up and Play the Piano at Cinéma du Parc – also where you can get into the Halloween spirit with The Addams Family for kids and late-night screenings of Suspiria. Watch The Texas Chainsaw Massacre at Ritz P.D.B. on October 30. And Mile End's new cinema, Cinéma Moderne, features art-house and cult films from around the world every day, plus daytime family programming on weekends.


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 – admission is half-price on Halloween night. And on the afternoon of October 28, the museum hosts a mystery art workshop for little monsters and their parents. 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 and a powerful Inuit art collection. Over at the Musée d'art contemporain, see 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. Jasmina Cibic's new exhibition, 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 and created specifically for DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art's two spaces in Old Montréal. On the mosaic of screens in the walkway between theatres in Place des Arts, see Wunderkammer by Allison Moore and Migration by Dominique T Skoltz. Galerie de l'UQAM and Cinémathèque québécoise explore themes of revolution in cross-disciplinary exhibition and film program Uprisings. Among All These Tundras features contemporary art by Indigenous artists from around the circumpolar world at Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery downtown. Head to Mile Ex to see Never Apart's new fall exhibitions. Galerie D'Este in the Plateau presents Marigold Santos's in this drought, flood my hollow heart. See the iconic underwater photographs of Canadian artist Barbara Cole at Galerie LeRoyer in Old Montréal. Artist-run digital art centre Eastern Bloc celebrates its 10th anniversary with the multi-artist AMPLIFICATION exhibition, up to October 26. And there's more art to discover while gallery hopping and antiquing in the city.


History near and far

On until November 4, major exhibition Queens of Egypt transports us back in time 3,500 years to discover women's royal lifestyles through rare ancient objects 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. See the City of Light circa the 18th century in the Stewart Museum's Paris on Display: 18th-Century Boutiques exhibition, while Halloween-themed museum tour Who stole the scarecrow's pants? has kids exploring the museum by flashlight on October 27 and 28. 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. 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 archaeology from the times of fur trade and New France alongside contemporary art. 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. And 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 history but several jazz clubs still hopping today.

Classical music and more

Among the fall season's classical concerts, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal performs Halloween Atmospheres with guest conductor François-Xavier Roth, at Maison symphonique on October 31 and November 1, and the Orchestre Métropolitain and maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin performs Viva Verdi with Russian bass-baritone Ildar Abdrazakov on October 28 at Maison symphonique. The Canadian International Organ Competition (CIOC) Festival celebrates the beauty and history of organ music – this week the Choir Musica Orbium performs in concert Conversation Français-English on October 29 at Très-Saint-Nom-de-Jésus church, while in A symphony of horror on October 30, organist Thierry Escaich provides musical accompaniment to 1922 silent movie masterpiece Nosferatu at the Maison symphonique. On Sunday afternoon, hear The Festival des couleurs de l’orgue français at the Grand Séminaire and the Celebrating Women Organists series at Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal in Côte-des-Neiges. And the multidisciplinary Arab World Festival of Montréal brings together Arabic and Western cultures in theatre, dance, music and film from October 26 to November 11, including Trio Nomad’s Land & Karen Young on October 31, an Opéra de Montréal presentation of soprano Joyce El-Khoury on November 1 as well as Beirut Flashback: the feverish decades performed by Ranine Chaar.

More live music

It's Halloween week, so expect some wildness on the streets of Montréal and in its many music venues. On Friday night, check out late-‘90s pop-punk stalwarts Good Charlotte and Sleeping With Sirens at MTELUS, British rock band The Wombats and Barns Courtney at Corona Theatre, Timber Timbre at Théâtre Plaza, synth-pop group Porches and Girlpool at Théâtre Fairmount, or dance 'til you can't dance anymore to the sounds of a Kruder & Dorfmeister DJ set with visuals by Lichterloh at the Society for Arts and Technology or English electronic producer Kidnap Kid at Newspeak. Saturday night's all about Halloween parties at venues citywide (like dancing to the deep dark electro at NGHTMRE B4 XMAS Festival Karnavale at New City Gas), but don't hesitate to dress up in costume for English pop singer Lily Allen and S-X at Corona Theatre or the electro-dance-punk of Detroit's Adult at Ritz P.D.B.. And on Sunday night, it's Scottish post-punk/indie rockers The Twilight Sad and Venus Furs at Ritz P.D.B.

Monday brings NYC noise-rockers (and fittingly named for this Halloween week) A Place to Bury Strangers to Théâtre Fairmount and the dreamy, worldly sounds of Turkish-Canadian band Minor Empire to Le Gesù. On October 30, see none other than Supertramp's Roger Hodgson at Place des Arts, while They Might Be Giants storm into Théâtre Fairmount, country music artist Dean Brody and Jessica Mitchell play Corona Theatre, captivating Canadian singer-songwriter Kandle performs at MTELUS's M2 room, and instrumental rock band Polyphia plays Le Belmont. On Halloween night itself, go wild with Violent Femmes and Your Smith at MTELUS or dance the night away at Festival Karnavale with Sultan + Shepard at New City Gas. Thursday night shines with Dutch composer and pianist Joep Beving at Théâtre Fairmount and singer-songwriter Sabrina Claudio at Corona Theatre, as well as An evening of tango and passion with the dance and live music of Buenos Aires' group Tango Show 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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