Things to do in Montréal - September 7 to 13

Robyn Fadden

September stays warm in Montréal this week with outdoor festivals of music, dance and art, culinary festival YUL EAT, the First Fridays food truck event, Gardens of Light illuminated nights, plus the World Press Photo exhibition, live music from Interpol and other great bands and much more.

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End of summer festivities

Large-scale immersive music event Rythmopolis fuses percussion, dance and new technology in outdoor performances, happening every night from September 6 to 8 at Place des Festivals – also make music at interactive exhibition Sound as Interface: Man/Machine and in daytime workshops and jam sessions. Also at Place des Festivals this week, help build a replica of the Jacques-Cartier Bridge out of cardboard! Engineering artist Olivier Grossetête's Construisons Monumental! project, part of the Escales Improbables Montréal festival programming, unfolds from September 10 to 14 – register online for the free workshops. And see the urban art of Surfaces, l'expo d'art urbain on the Promenade des Artistes outside Place des Arts. Back-to-school outdoor festival OUMF throws block parties in the Quartier Latin from September 6 to 8 featuring all kinds of live music, street art and more free entertainment on multiple stages. And if you love creative food, don't miss out on the joys of culinary festival YUL EAT from September 10 to 16, including masterclasses at restaurants throughout the city, the Phi Centre's exploratory Food Core series on September 11 and 12, and special programming at the Society for Arts and Technology, such as ITHQ’s 50th x 5th YUL EAT Dinner: From Forage to Feast on September 13.

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Activities for all ages

Colourful lanterns and lighting displays meet natural surroundings in annual exhibition Gardens of Light, September 7 to October 31 in the Chinese, Japanese and First Nations gardens of the Montréal Botanical Garden. In the Old Port of Montréal, Fête des Amériques celebrates Latin American culture with music, dance, food and more from September 7 to 9, while all weekend boat enthusiasts can step aboard boats of all kinds during the Montréal In-Water Boat Show. Also in the Old Port, 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 and Oasis Surf. 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. On September 9, listen to the Plateau Choir sing outdoors in the tranquil atmosphere of Jarry Park as part of Les Siestes Musicales series at 1 p.m. Explore Parc Jean-Drapeau, where you can also cheer on the thousands of athletes competing in the 34th Montréal Esprit Triathlon from September 8 to 9. And Olympics 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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See the city

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! Explore Montréal's ephemeral summertime spaces, including open-air markets Jardins Gamelin near the Village and the Aires Libres rainbow, Village au Pied-du-Courant near the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, the Old Port's Marché des Éclusiers, Station F-MR along the Lachine Canal, 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 check out these three bike rides perfect for visitors (featuring a helpful list of bike rental options). At night, discover why Montréal is a city of lights too: see high-tech wonder AURA at Notre-Dame Basilica and spot Montréal en Histoires - Cité Memoire 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 for a festival or to see the sights, solo or with family, arrive in the heart of the action by train with VIA Rail Canada.

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Food and drink

Along with the aforementioned YUL EAT, satisfy more cravings at family-friendly First Fridays on September 7, featuring dozens of the city's gourmet food trucks plus music and activities on the Esplanade Financière Sun Life, while on September 9, see what's growing at Québec farms during Portes Ouvertes sur les fermes du Québec, where you can also try shearing sheep, milking cows, shucking corn and more. Sink your teeth into a great burger during Montréal's Le Burger Week, September 1 to 7, featuring original and exclusive burgers crafted by participating restaurants just for the occasion! And several restaurants along 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 or dine in style on a hidden terrasse. Stay cool with the best ice cream and frozen treats in Montréal, along with iced coffee at Montréal's indie coffee shops or that perfect cocktail – if you're with a group, why not make it 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. Discover 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.

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Stage and screen

Festival Quartiers Danses highlights contemporary dance in its many forms: see performances every night at Place des Arts' Cinquième Salle, starting with Roderick George's DUST and Fleshless Beast on September 7 – the festival continues up to September 15 with indoor and 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 extends its run 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, September 12 to 15. From September 6 to 9, Tangente presents six new works by emerging choreographers. On September 13, experience Phantom Kino Ballett at the Phi Centre, a drama combining dance, music, film, spoken word and ghostly sounds by German artists Lena Willikens and Sarah Szczesny. Laugh it up at the Le Festival des Clowns de Montréal, featuring shows, events and workshops at MainLine Theatre, September 12 to 16. And catch the official RuPaul’s Drag Race: Werq The World show, with Bob The Drag Queen, Aquaria, Asia O’Hara and more drag stars on September 7 at L'Olympia. And the Casino de Montréal’s It’s Country nights begin on September 13 with music and dance stage shows, country-inspired cocktails and food, a mechanical bull and more. A must for immersive film lovers: the incredible 360-degree films A Metabolist Utopia by Jérémie Bellot & Nan[O] and Versus by Nanotak 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, 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 up to September 16, as well as solo exhibition Motion – Emotion by French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel and new exhibition Resplendent Illuminations: Books of Hours from the 13th to the 16th Century in Quebec Collections, featuring over 50 works from illuminated religious manuscripts of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in Europe. Immerse yourself in the large-scale, participatory installations of Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's Unstable Presence at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, an art experience like no other ongoing up to September 9, along with interactive tours and Sunday family workshops. At DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art in Old Montréal, Bharti Kher: Points de départ, points qui lient explores hybridity, the female body and the nonphysical in the material world in works woven through with the artist's signature use of the bindi. Galerie de l'UQAM and Cinémathèque québécoise launch cross-disciplinary exhibition and film program Uprisings on September 7, exploring themes of rebellion, revolt and revolution, while the Centre de design de l'UQAM presents poster exhibition Non conforme - L’univers underground d’Elzo Durt et de Sébastien Lépine. On September 7, visit Mile End galleries Atelier Circulaire, Centre CLARK, Dazibao, Diagonale, Occurrence, OPTICA, PERTE DE SIGNAL and TOPO during their PARTY Rentrée de Gaspé!, featuring new art, a bar, food and music – or drop by the galleries throughout the month to see their latest 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 Sainte-Anne's Market dig site exhibition) let you step into local history – meanwhile on September 13, Fondation Pointe-à-Callière's fundraising event ADN MTL Désert urbain includes drinks, food and historians on Ubisoft's Mile End rooftop. See the fabulous haute couture retrospective of the legendary Spanish fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga at the McCord Museum's Balenciaga – Master of Couture exhibition, 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. Discover 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. Utopie Radicali: Florence 1966–1976 explores the Italian radical movement's utopian architectural visions, 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, also featuring temporary exhibition Expo Vieux Jeux, a collection of more than 700 vintage board games. And, speaking of vintage, pick up one-of-a-kind goods with our Ultimate Guide to Vintage Shopping in Montréal.

Live music

On Friday night, downtown music venue MTELUS (formerly Metropolis) celebrates its first anniversary with a free party, featuring live music by RYMZ and Busty and the Bass and a DJ set by Milk and Bone, while punks Leftover Crack and M U D I E play Corona Theatre, heavy blues-rockers The Naked High jam at Casa Del Popolo, and electronic music duo Beat Market launches a new EP at Théâtre Fairmount. On another note, Maestro Kent Nagano conducts the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal in 85th-season opener The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky and Boléro by Ravel, at Place des Arts' Maison Symphonique on September 6 and 8. Electro-folk trio Dear Criminals performs Lullaby, their new immersive show of lullabies for adults, at La Chapelle from September 7 to 11. On Saturday, September 8, legendary NYC party Turntables on the Hudson celebrates its 20th anniversary at La Sala Rossa with music from Nickodemus, Aaron DRM, Le Poirier, Tupi Collective and Andy Williams, the Balcon Cabaret Music-Hall presents Tango Show with renowned porteño dancers and choreographers Hernán Lazart and Solange Acosta, and New City Gas welcomes Norwegian producer Matoma. On Sunday afternoon, dance outdoors at weekly outdoor electronic music party Piknic Électronik at Parc Jean-Drapeau, with producers Danny Daze, Gold, DJ Sportswear and more. Sunday night brings English alt-rock band Nothing But Thieves and Grandson to Corona Theatre and Australian metalcore band Parkway Drive to MTELUS. And influential British indie-pop band Saint Etienne returns in fine form at Théâtre Fairmount on Monday, September 10.

Compelling singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane performs on Tuesday, September 11 at O Patro Vys, and Musique Rayonnante and Suoni per il Popolo presents impressive jazz improvisers saxophonist Yves Charuest and pianist Agustí Fernández at the Resonance Café. Celebrated Québécois folk rock group Les Cowboys Fringants plays Place des Arts' Maison Symphonique from September 11 to 14. On Wednesday, September 12, post-punk indie rockers Interpol and opener Sunflower Bean make some noise at L'Olympia, while ever-rising indie stars Car Seat Headrest and Naked Giants play Corona Theatre and Australian indie-rock band Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever rolls into Le Ministère. On Thursday night, classic rock comes to town in the form of Chicago at the Bell Centre, Danish singer-songwriter Agnes Obel captivates at Corona Theatre, folk singer-songwriter Ziggy Alberts plays Café Campus, Brian Fennell, front man of indie group Barcelona, goes solo as SYML with openers Mappe Of at La Tulipe, and experimental rockers Gang Gang Dance keep going strong at Théâtre Fairmount. For all kinds of 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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