Things to do in Montréal - October 5 to 11

Fall is in full effect in Montréal this week as the leaves in Mount Royal Park change colour, Gardens of Light and The Great Pumpkin Ball brighten the Botanical Garden, outdoor festival Carnaval des couleurs livens up Sainte-Catherine Street, Festival du nouveau cinéma shines onscreen and we all feast this Thanksgiving weekend.

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Long weekend festivities

It's Canadian Thanksgiving on Monday, so if you're spending the long weekend in Montréal, check out the inaugural edition of Montréal’s multi-cultural Carnaval des couleurs arts, dance and music festival that will be held from October 5 to 8, with family-friendly entertainment on four outdoor stages located along Sainte-Catherine Street in the Gay Village – music, dance performances, circus acts, arts and crafts, food and more. Among other free things to do this fall in Montréal, wander through to see the colourful urban art of sixteen artists in Surfaces, l'expo d'art urbain on the Promenade des Artistes, while outside Saint-Laurent metro station you can make symphonic sounds on artist Étienne Paquette's 28-foot-high Wind Instrument installation. The Old Port's Marché des Éclusiers continues up to the end of October and Les Jardineries on the Esplanade Financière Sun Life at Olympic Park celebrates with live music and karaoke on Friday night and a big closing party on October 6.

The Canadian International Organ Competition (CIOC) Festival presents “There’s an Ogre in My Organ!”, an activity for kids, on October 6 at Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal in Côte-des-Neiges, followed on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. by a Celebrating Women Organists concert with Jennifer McPherson. And the 19th edition of L'OFF Festival de jazz de Montréal presents eclectic jazz from October 4 to 13 – among the many acts to see this week, check out John Hollenbeck, Solon McDade, Marianne Trudel, Cole Birney-Stewart, the Allison Au Quartet and more.

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Autumn activities for all ages

Get into an autumnal state of mind and body with these fall harvest activities in and around Montréal, including The Great Pumpkin Ball from October 5 to 31 at the Montréal Botanical Garden, featuring hundreds of decorated squashes and pumpkins, story time with witches and other characters and crafty activities for kids. Also at the Botanical Garden, don't miss the colourful lanterns and lighting displays of annual exhibition Gardens of Light, up to October 31 in the Chinese, Japanese and First Nations gardens of the Montréal Botanical Garden. Discover the wild world of insects at the Montréal Insectarium next door or visit the Ecomuseum Zoo sanctuary and conservation area to see hundreds of animals in their natural habitats outdoors. In the Old Port of Montréal, play on pirate ship ropes course Voiles en Voiles, the MTL Zipline, SOS Labyrinthe and high-tower experience Decalade.com. Olympic sports fans can experience an Olympian's journey in the Canadian Olympic Experience at Canadian Olympic Committee headquarters downtown. In pro sports: catch a CFL football game with the Montréal Alouettes and Calgary Stampeders on October 8 – it's Family Day, so children's tickets are only $5 and the tailgate party features characters from your kids' favourite TV shows! Pro basketball comes to Montréal on October 10 with a Toronto Raptors vs. Brooklyn Nets game at the Bell Centre. And the NHL season ramps up on October 11 as the Montréal Canadiens take on the L.A. Kings at the Bell Centre. Find all this and more on My Official Montréal City Guide, a travel app that lets you experience the city like a Montrealer. 

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City sights

With city views, leafy forest paths and fresh air, a visit to Mount Royal is a must – stop by Café suspendu du mont Royal every weekend throughout October for refreshing beverages, live music and free activities throughout the Thanksgiving long weekend. Go from Mount Royal Park's greenery through city streets to the St. Lawrence River on the beautiful Promenade Fleuve-Montagne path, featuring monuments, art installations and more along the way. Bird's-eye views of the city also await in the comfort of the Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown, 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! Stroll through Montréal's Chinatown to see historic sights and have a great meal. See the city by bike with bike-sharing system BIXI. Or sit back and relax at some of Montréal's best spas – Bota Bota boasts a fab view of the St. Lawrence River. At night, see why Montréal is a city of lights too: see high-tech wonder AURA at Notre-Dame Basilica and spot Montréal en Histoires - Cité Mémoire projections. Learn more about the city's history and culture on a walking tour of the 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. Whether you're coming to Montréal solo or with family, arrive in the heart of the action by train on VIA Rail Canada.

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Food and drink

It's the final First Fridays of the season on October 5, an outdoor dining experience featuring dozens of the city's gourmet food trucks, along with music and family-friendly activities on the Esplanade Financière Sun Life at Olympic Park. See autumn's changing colours while surrounded by nature as you eat at Montréal's restaurants in parks. Indulge in these Montréal meals worth writing home about and top Montréal restaurants for the gourmet traveller. Feast your eyes on the décor of these designer restaurants – their food is great too. Keep travelling off the beaten culinary path with these new restaurants in Montréal. There's no need to change into fancy duds at these new casual restaurants and cheerful bring-your-own-wine eateries. 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 a pitcher of cocktails?) 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. For something lighter, seek out these health-conscious restaurants and great sushi restaurants and peruse our ultimate guide to vegan eating in Montréal. On the other hand, indulge your sweet tooth with our guide to Montréal's best bakeries and pastry shops. And explore more of Montréal and its culinary delights on Montréal's best food tours.

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On stage

Discover Montréal's contemporary dance scene this season with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal's adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence, from October 4 to 13 at Place des Arts, while world-renowned dancer and choreographer Louise Lecavalier treats us to Mille batailles on October 9 and 10 at Usine C. Montréal's English theatre fall season begins with a bang this week: see Théâtre Passe Muraille's Sound of the Beast, starring Donna-Michelle St. Bernard and co-presented by Canada’s oldest professional Black theatre company Black Theatre Workshop at the MAI Montréal, arts interculturels from October 3 to 14, and don't miss the launch of Centaur Theatre Company's historic 50th season with the Montréal premiere of Choir Boy (October 9 to 28) by Tarell Alvin McCraney, the Oscar-winning writer of Moonlight. If you're a musical fan, go see the Tony-winning Once, a love story about an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant who bond through song, at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts from October 7 to 28. See the circus as never before in innovative acrobatic show Machine de cirque at La TOHU from October 10 to 14. And the Casino de Montréal’s It’s Country nights entertain and delight with stage shows, country-inspired cocktails and food, a mechanical bull and more.

On screen

Over 300 feature films and shorts from Canada and around the world make the 47th Festival du nouveau cinéma a must for film fans – from October 3 to 14, the festival presents films, panel discussions and presentations, industry events, P'tits loups Fun Fair kids programming this weekend, great parties and more, including FNC Explore, a showcase of interactive Virtual Reality works and immersive films, every afternoon at Complexe Desjardins. Experience the universe's timeless vibrations in new virtual reality exhibition Echo: The Sound of Space at the tech and culture hub Phi Centre, featuring VR films that let us travel the world and beyond. In the SAT's Satosphere dome downtown, see incredible 360-degree multimedia creation Human Instrument, melding the human voice with high-tech images, until October 6, and immersive film Noesis starting on October 9, as well as family-friendly 360-degree film Creature on October 6. 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 Tiny Giants 3D, Oceans 3D, Pandas 3D and America's Musical Journey 3D (plus hands-on science activities and a 3.8-billion-year-old moon rock at the museum). 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.

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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 paintings, sculptures, jewelry and other graphic works on display. The MMFA also features solo exhibition Motion – Emotion by French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel, video installation Liminals: A Para-fiction of Transcendence by Jeremy Shaw and Resplendent Illuminations: Books of Hours from the 13th to the 16th Century in Quebec Collections. New multimedia art brings the walls of Place des Arts to life this fall – on the mosaic of screens in the walkway between theatres, see Wunderkammer by Allison Moore and Migration by Dominique T Skoltz. Meanwhile, Galerie de l'UQAM and Cinémathèque québécoise explore themes of rebellion, revolt and revolution in cross-disciplinary exhibition and film program Uprisings. Daily after sunset, see Bettina Hoffmann's Choreography of Movement dance-related art exhibition in the Goethe-Institut Montréal’s windows at the corner of Saint-Laurent Boulevard and Ontario Street. Visit Mile End galleries Atelier Circulaire, Centre CLARK, Dazibao, Diagonale, Occurrence, Optica, Perte De Signal and Topo in the 5400 block of de Gaspé Avenue in Mile End. Travel further north into Mile Ex to see Never Apart's fall exhibitions, opening on the evening of October 11. Stop by Parisian Laundry in Saint-Henri to see intriguing new exhibitions Instances by Marie-Michelle Deschamps and Going Together by Alexandre David, while Galerie D'Este in the Plateau presents Marigold Santos's painting exhibition in this drought, flood my hollow heart, and OBORO presents collective exhibition Où sommes-nous with Judith Albert, Dana Claxton, Nik Forrest and Katrin Freisager. See painter David Farsi's monumental artwork La comédie du monde, ombres et lumières at La TOHU and explore nature's wonders in Frédéric-Back Park next door. And there's even more art to discover while gallery hopping and antiquing in the city.

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History near and far

Major exhibition Queens of Egypt transports us back in time to discover royal lifestyles through ancient objects at Pointe-à-Callière, one of the city's many kid-friendly museums. Haute couture fashion wows at the McCord Museum's Balenciaga – Master of Couture exhibition, while Shalom Montreal – Stories and Contributions of the Jewish Community and photography exhibition Montréal Storefronts on McGill-College Avenue provide insight into Montréal's past. See the City of Light circa the 18th century in the Stewart Museum's Paris on Display: 18th-Century Boutiques exhibition. 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. At the Canadian Centre for Architecture, learn more about the Italian radical movement's utopian architectural visions in Utopie Radicali: Florence 1966–1976 and explore Scripts for a new world: Film storyboards by Alessandro Poli. And take more recent history home with you with our ultimate guide to vintage shopping in Montréal.

Jazz and classical music

Among the fall season's classical concerts, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal presents pianist Nicholas Angelich in concert The Faces of Rachmaninoff at Maison symphonique on October 6, while that same night the Constantinople ensemble, En Chordais ensemble and soprano Suzie Leblanc perform ancient Mediterranean music at Bourgie Concert Hall. Journey through 50 years of Québec television history with the Orchestre Métropolitain under conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin in concert La Symphonie de Télé-Québec at Maison symphonique on October 7. The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal presents Max Richter with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble performing Infra and The Blue Notebooks at Place des Arts on October 9. Also that night, hear music by Canadian composer Kelly-Marie Murphy at Bourgie Concert Hall, while Wednesday night the hall features Beijing Guitar Duo. Kent Nagano conducts the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin in the two Chopin concertos from October 11 to 14 at Maison symphonique.

More live music

Friday night's hot with Dreamville rapper J. Cole with opener Young Thug at the Bell Centre, Gruff Rhys (of Super Furry Animals) at Ritz P.D.B., a night of immersive atmospheric east-meets-west sounds with Jerusalem In My Heart and Jessica Moss at the Phi Centre, the big-room indie rock of Brooklyn band Active Bird Community in the intimate Casa Del Popolo, French pop-tinged electronic producer CloZee at Le Belmont, Berlin-based Swedish electronic producer La Fleur at Newspeak and a packed dancefloor at New City Gas for Guy Gerber and Pete Tong. For something a little different, try An evening of tango and passion with the dance and live music of Buenos Aires' group Tango Show at Balcon Cabaret Music-Hall. Saturday night brings beloved English singer-songwriter Ben Howard and Wye Oak to the Bell Centre, Irish hip hop artist Rejjie Snow to L’Astral and Winnipeg indie-pop band Royal Canoe to Ritz P.D.B., while fans of Queen can sing along to Queen Extravaganza at MTELUS and it's all about the electro beat with EDM producer Valentino Khan at New City Gas.

It's a long weekend, so why not go out on Sunday night too? Groove to electronic duo Bob Moses with Mansionair at Corona Theatre, UK indie band The Boxer Rebellion at Le Belmont, rapper Denzel Curry at L’Astral and Dutch electro producer Armin Van Buuren at New City Gas rounding out the club's long weekend. Or party at the Black & Blue Festival's main event on the night of October 7 and well into the morning of October 8 at MTELUS and Club Soda, with Roger Sanchez, Eric Vilar, Abel Aguilera, Angel Moraes and more DJs. On Monday, legendary Japanese musician Keiji Haino performs at La Sala Rossa and Hollow Coves plays Ritz P.D.B. Some big names pop up on Tuesday night: Gorillaz step off the virtual plane and into the Bell Centre, Social Distortion shakes up MTELUS and the powerful Liz Phair and Speedy Ortiz rock out '90s style at Corona Theatre. Things get a little '90s again on Wednesday night with Lisa Stansfield at Corona Theatre and Linkin Park co-founder Mike Shinoda and opener Don Broco getting loud at MTELUS, while Hawaiian reggae artist Mike Love plays Le Belmont and leftfield world-folk duo A Hawk and a Hacksaw come to Casa Del Popolo. On Thursday night, it's long-lasting electro-rock duo Thievery Corporation at MTELUS, Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears at Ritz P.D.B., the meditative guitar melodies of Charalambides at La Vitrola and Kompakt Records electronic artist and vocalist Matias Aguayo at Datcha. 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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