Things to do in Montréal - September 14 to 20

Robyn Fadden

Outdoors is still the place to be in September in Montréal, whether you're at culinary festival YUL EAT or strolling through Gardens of Light. Indoors, check out the World Press Photo exhibition, Festival Stop Motion Montréal, contemporary dance at Festival Quartiers Danses and all kinds of great live music throughout the city.

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September festivities

If you love creative food, don't miss out on the joys of culinary festival YUL EAT, including masterclasses at restaurants throughout the city, La Place YUL EAT free event at Place de la Paix downtown all weekend featuring 20 Québec producers and artisans, Destination Caraïbes at the Society for Arts and Technology on September 14, followed on September 15 and 16 by Le Parcours Gourmand tasting experience with Montréal’s finest chefs, restaurants and local producers. In Place des Festivals this week, get an eyeful of the urban art of Surfaces, L'expo d'art urbain on the Promenade des Artistes and engineering artist Olivier Grossetête's project Construisons Monumental!, a replica of the Jacques-Cartier Bridge made entirely out of cardboard!, part of the Escales Mmprobables de Montréal festival programming, up to September 14. At night, look up to the building facades in Place des Festivals to see two architectural projections inspired by contemporary dance and movement: EVE 2050 (September 14 to 15 and 19 to 22) and REBOU(N)D (October 19 to 20 and 24 to 27). Meanwhile over on Saint-Laurent Boulevard, weekend block parties, free activities and a street sale close the street to traffic for BLVD, from September 14 to 16. And opening this year's Red Bull Music Festival Montréal on Wednesday, September 19, the Tryptique show lets us drift deep into the sonic landscapes of Alex Zhang Hungtai, Kara-Lis Coverdale and Sarah Davachi at acoustically top-notch venue Le Gesù downtown.

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Activities for all ages

Colourful lanterns and lighting displays meet natural surroundings in annual exhibition Gardens of Light, from September 7 to October 31 in the Chinese, Japanese and First Nations gardens of the Montréal Botanical Garden. 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. On the water, take a boat ride on the St. Lawrence River with Bateau-Mouche, Croisières AML, Le Petit Navire or Navark; speed it up with WET SET MTL, Saute-Moutons and Rafting Montréal or surf the rapids with KSF. Soak up the last of summer with our ultimate guide to Montréal's beaches and pools (or relax indoors at some of Montréal's best spas). Visit the Ecomuseum Zoo conservation area to see 115 animal species from the St. Lawrence Valley, including otters, wolves and hawks. Olympic sports fans can experience an Olympian's journey in the Canadian Olympic Experience at Canadian Olympic Committee headquarters downtown. Find all this and more at your fingertips with 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 September for refreshing beverages and free activities, including yoga and live music. 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! Visit open-air markets Jardins Gamelin near the Village and the Aires Libres rainbow, the Old Port's Marché des Éclusiers, Village au Pied-du-Courant near the Jacques-Cartier Bridge and Station F-MR along the Lachine Canal (both closing this weekend), and Les Jardineries on the Esplanade Financière Sun Life at Olympic Park. Stroll through Montréal's Chinatown to see historic sights and have a great meal. Bike like a Montrealer with bike-sharing system BIXI or explore further afield on these three bike rides perfect for visitors (featuring a helpful list of bike rental options). 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

Several restaurants on Mont-Royal Avenue offer tastings, demos and special menus during L'Avenue Gourmande, September 13 to 16. Enjoy a meal surrounded by nature at Montréal's restaurants in parks, pick up your own picnic-ready food for the park, dine in style on a hidden terrasse or have a drink away from it all in a hidden bar. Wake up at Montréal's indie coffee shops or chill out with a perfect cocktail (or a pitcher of cocktails). Explore Montréal and its culinary delights on foot or by bike with Montréal's best food tours. Fine-dining luxuries and local delicacies make these Montréal meals worth writing home about – we've also selected some top Montréal restaurants for the gourmet traveller and some designer restaurants for those who love to eat in style. Enjoy Montréal's many brunch options and the many restaurants open from brunch to well past dinner. Try these lunch counters in Montréal, new casual restaurants and cheerful bring-your-own-wine eateries. 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, check out these health-conscious restaurants, great sushi restaurants and our ultimate guide to vegan eating in Montréal. Or indulge your sweet tooth with our guide to Montréal's best bakeries and pastry shops and the best ice cream and frozen treats in Montréal.

Stage and screen

Festival Quartiers Danses highlights contemporary dance in its many forms: see performances every night at Place des Arts' Cinquième Salle up to September 15, along with free outdoor performances (including outside Place des Arts and at Jardins Gamelin), workshops, talks and more. A theatrical and audiovisual wonder featuring 70 thoroughbred horses, Cavalia Odysseo thrills until September 30 under the big top near the Jacques-Cartier Bridge. Agora de la danse launches its season with interactive dance work Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) choreographed by Roger Bernat – put on headphones and join in, from September 12 to 15 – followed by interactive installation and performance Van Grimde Corps Secrets from September 19 to 22. Tangente presents Sarah Dell'ava's Or extended movement performance from September 14 to 21. Laugh it up at the Festival des Clowns de Montréal, featuring shows, events and workshops at MainLine Theatre, September 12 to 16. And the Casino de Montréal’s It’s Country nights entertain and delight with music and dance stage shows, country-inspired cocktails and food, a mechanical bull and more. Innovative filmmaking for all ages wows at the 10th edition of the Festival Stop Motion Montréal from September 14 to 16 at Concordia University’s J.A. de Sève Theatre, featuring films and special guests such as puppet animator Tim Allen (Isle of Dogs), filmmaker Amanda Strong, animator Jody Meredith and more. See the incredible 360-degree films by Jérémie Bellot & Nan[O], A Metabolist Utopia, and Nanotak, Versus, in the SAT's Satosphere. 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 and America's Musical Journey 3D – also see 400 original art objects and drawings in DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition and a 3.8-billion-year-old moon rock.

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Art for all

See the world and its people in eye-opening professional photography exhibition World Press Photo, from August 29 to September 30 at Marché Bonsecours in Old Montréal. Artist Étienne Paquette's 28-foot-high Wind Instrument installation lets us create symphonic sounds outside Saint-Laurent metro station. Among the major Montréal museum exhibitions this summer, visit the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to see From Africa to the Americas: Face-to-Face Picasso, Past and Present and works by Canadian artists of African origin in Here We Are Here: Black Canadian Contemporary Art, ongoing to September 16, as well as solo exhibition Motion – Emotion by French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel, video installation Liminals by Jeremy Shaw and Resplendent Illuminations: Books of Hours from the 13th to the 16th Century in Quebec Collections. Galerie de l'UQAM and Cinémathèque québécoise explore themes of rebellion, revolt and revolution in cross-disciplinary exhibition and film program Uprisings, while the Centre de design de l'UQAM presents poster exhibition Non conforme - L’univers underground d’Elzo Durt et de Sébastien Lépine. 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 to see their newest art exhibitions. And there's even more art to discover while gallery hopping and antiquing.

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History near and far

Ancient history comes to life in blockbuster exhibition Queens of Egypt, transporting us way back in time to discover royal lifestyles through preserved ancient objects, at Pointe-à-Callière, also where multimedia exhibitions (and free outdoor Ste-Ann's Market dig site exhibition) let you step into local history. See the fabulous haute couture retrospective of the legendary Spanish fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga at the McCord Museum, Balenciaga – Master of Couture, alongside Shalom Montreal – Stories and Contributions of the Jewish Community, outdoor photography of Montréal's retail past along McGill College Avenue and the outdoor Urban Forest. See the City of Light circa the 18th century in the Stewart Museum's Paris on Display: 18th-Century Boutiques exhibition. The Musée de Lachine presents history and archeology from the times of fur trade and New France alongside contemporary art. Exporail / The Canadian Railway Museum harkens back to a time of vintage railroads and streetcars, while the Montréal Aviation Museum recaps our local history flying the friendly skies. Check out Utopie Radicali: Florence 1966–1976, about the Italian radical movement's utopian architectural visions, and Scripts for a new world: Film storyboards by Alessandro Poliat at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. If you're a Barbie fan, see her many incarnations over the years at the impressive and free Barbie Expo downtown. See celebrities and historical figures rendered in lifelike wax figures at Grévin MONTREAL. And, speaking of pieces of history, pick up one-of-a-kind goods with our ultimate guide to vintage shopping in Montréal.

Live music

On Friday night, American outsider-folk artist Michael Hurley steps into La Vitrola, French electro label Ed Banger Records celebrates 15 years in the biz with live sets from Busy P, Myd and Vladimir Cauchemar at Théâtre Fairmount, while Detroit house producer Terrence Parker plays Newspeak and Russian-German electro house producer Zedd brings the beats to New City Gas. On Saturday evening, fight racism with music and community at outdoor concert United Against Racism and Discrimination at Parc NDG with a roster of great local acts. Avant rock your Saturday night with Yamantaka // Sonic Titan and experimental guitarist Eliza Kavtion at Cinema Politica's 15th anniversary party at Agora Hydro-Québec de l'UQAM. Also on Saturday, veteran ambient, trip hop and psych-dub producer OTT comes to Théâtre Fairmount with openers Plantrae and Nick Holden. Go wild on the dancefloor with Jon Hopkins in a live set supported by Daniel Avery at Corona Theatre or hit up Hunter Siegel's No Neon party at New City Gas with Noizu. On Sunday afternoon, dance outdoors at weekly outdoor electronic music party Piknic Électronik at Parc Jean-Drapeau, with producers Gui Boratto, Mike Laz, Planet Giza, Shaydakiss and more. And Sunday night brings hardcore punk band Beartooth to MTELUS.

Legendary singer, songwriter and activist Joan Baez performs at Place des Arts's Maison Symphonique on Monday, September 17, while NYC's Darius Jones Quintet performs at La Sala Rossa. It may be mid-week, but Tuesday night's a big one for live music, as MC50 founder Wayne Kramer and special guests Kim Thayll, Brendan Canty, Dug Pinnick and lead singer Marcus Durant (!) celebrate the 50th anniversary of Kick Out the Jams, with opener Les Breastfeeders at Corona Theatre. If your tastes run more country-rock, go see Steve Earle & The Dukes and The Mastersons at MTELUS, while Irish singer-songwriter Hozier plays L'Olympia, The Gipsy Kings bring their award-winning Spanish rhythms to Place des Arts's Maison Symphonique, British punks Idles get loud at Théâtre Fairmount with opener Bambara and indie guitar-pop band Sales plays Ritz P.D.B. Wednesday night brings Ziggy Marley to MTELUS and UK dream pop-synthpop band Still Corners to Ritz P.D.B. And none other than crowd-pleasure and songwriter extraordinaire Paul McCartney thrills fans at the Bell Centre on Thursday, September 20. For even more live 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.

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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