Things to do in Montréal - April 2023

Robyn Fadden

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.

This article was published on April 6, 2023.

Spring comes to Montréal in April, bringing with it exciting and new city sights, Easter events, festivals and more! Whether you’re exploring Montréal’s parks or cultural venues this April, you’ll see everything suddenly in bloom with new things to do. For the Easter long weekend, enjoy brunches, seasonal food and more at restaurants and bars. Visit museums and art galleries for bright new exhibitions from painting to virtual reality, see theatre and dance from personal stories to Broadway shows, and stay out at night for live music and more on stage and screen this month in Montréal.

April springtime festivities!

Take a break in Montréal for the Easter long weekend, from April 7 to 10. Whether you’re visiting the city as a couple, with family or solo, definitely go for Easter brunch (Montrealers love brunch!) and visit Montréal’s best chocolate shops for Easter bunnies, chocolate eggs and other delicious creations. During the long weekend or any time in April, experience the springtime Québécois tradition of sugar shack season at restaurants and cabane à sucres in and around Montréal, including on weekends at Parc Jean-Drapeau until April 16!

Walk the cobblestone streets of Old Montréal to the Saint-Lawrence River and visit the peacefully illuminated square outside Notre-Dame Basilica (one of Montréal’s most famous icons) – inside, see gorgeous multimedia show AURA. A springtime must in Montréal, see Cirque du Soleil under the big top in the Old Port of Montréal: Cirque’s new show ECHO, a tale of evolution as seen through the eyes of a female protagonist named Future, makes its world premiere on April 20 and runs throughout spring and summer!

See contemporary art throughout Montréal’s underground city during the Art Souterrain Festival until April 9. The Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival returns with a full schedule of readings, workshops, discussions, children’s programming and more from April 27 to 30, including several free events in person and online. And dozens of art galleries from Montreal, Toronto, New York and beyond show work at Plural Contemporary Art Fair at the Grand Quai du Port de Montréal, from April 21 to 23.

April city sights

In the Old Port of Montréal, see incredible city and river views from the Observation Wheel and boost your adrenaline while seeing an incredible view on the MTL Zipline, reopening for the season this month. Nearby, explore the Montréal Science Centre: explore interactive exhibitions and hands-on activities and see IMAX nature films. At night, the projections of Cité Mémoire illuminate history on Old Montréal building facades, while downtown The Ring installation glows above Esplanade Place Ville Marie.

In Place des Festivals downtown, discover your musical talents with art installation Ville Orchestre along the Promenade des Artistes, and see projection artwork Gravel @ Wilder, documenting a three-year dialogue between choreographer Frédérick Gravel and photographer Yako in 2000 moving images on the facade of the Wilder building in Place des Festivals every evening until April 18.

Discover the city with expert guides on Montréal tours, set your own agenda with private walking tours, see the city like a local with MTL Detours, bicycle around the city on a bike tour or a BIXI shared bike, and take a free walking tour of the Quartier des spectacles too! MURAL Festival isn’t until June (see new murals as they’re being painted!), but spring colours blossom on murals from this year and years past on Saint-Laurent Boulevard and throughout the Plateau, downtown and Old Montréal – hear more about the artists on a street art tour with Spade & Palacio. And for ultimate relaxation any time of the day, visit Bota Bota, spa sur l’eau on the Saint-Lawrence River in the Old Port and other world-class spas like Scandinave Spa Vieux-Montréal, Avie Spa & Coiffure, Rainspa and Strøm Nordic Spa.

Meanwhile, in pro sports spectating: cheer on the Montréal Canadiens at home at the Bell Centre throughout the month, playing the Carolina Hurricanes on April 1, the Detroit Redwings on April 4, Washington Capitals on April 6, and the Boston Bruins on April 13. In pro soccer action, MLS team CF Montréal kick off a new season at Saputo Stadium on April 15 against D.C. and on April 22 against New York. If you can’t be at the games, watch hockey and other sports at Montréal’s sports bars.


Nature in the city

Among the many free things to do this spring, visit Montréal's parks and cultivated gardens to experience an abundance of nature in the city, including spring flowers this month. See incredible city views of the city from Mount Royal Park: take a walk through the park and up the stairs to the lookout or bus or drive up to Beaver Lake. Another picturesque sight, Parc La Fontaine in the Plateau neighbourhood is perfect for taking a stroll after shopping, a bike ride, or after a great meal on Mont-Royal Avenue, St. Denis Street or Rachel Street.

Cross the river to Parc Jean-Drapeau for a riverside walk and an eastern view of Old Montréal – while there visit the Space for Life Biosphère too for environment-focused exhibitions, the interactive Ecolab and more. The ice skating season may be over, but you can always try ice skating indoors at Atrium Le 1000 downtown!

At the Space for Life museums: stroll the Montréal Botanical Garden grounds and sprawling tropical greenhouse; experience several wild ecosystems at the Biodôme, where you’ll see penguins, otters and more; explore the mysteries of the universe in immersive 360° films and exhibitions (like films Worlds of Ice and Quest for New Skies) at the Planetarium Rio Tinto Alcan; and learn about the thousands of butterflies, moths and other insects at the Insectarium. Go to the West Island’s Ecomuseum Zoo to glimpse local wildlife in their natural outdoor habitats. Visit dozens of Montréal attractions, museums and more at a discount with the MTL Passeport MTL!


Springtime food and drink

Montreal’s many food festivals happen throughout the year. This month, don’t miss Old Montreal's Happening Gourmand, featuring the nine restaurants of Experience Old Montréal, from Japanese and Italian to Québec terroir and steakhouse, with special table d’hôte menus, until April 2. If you’re going to see Cirque du Soleil, book a table at these Old Montréal restaurants near the big top.

The Québec tradition of sugar shack season extends through April and even the beginning of May. For a real Québécois experience, visit some of the best sugar shacks in and around Montréal, including Un Chef à l’érable, an upscale spin on a cabane à sucre or sugar shack, taking place in the Old Port of Montréal at La Scena, where Chef Laurent Godbout offers up his interpretation of sugar shack classics, and a cabane à sucre three-course menu at the SAT’s Foodlab downtown.

Discover Montréal’s newest restaurants and “buvettes” and don’t miss a classic Montréal brunch, whether for Easter weekend or any weekend! Also try some of Montréalers’ favourite lunch restaurants, from Old Montréal and downtown to Villeray or the South-West, and favourite French restaurants. Dig into long-time Quebec classics like smoked meat, poutine and Montréal bagels – and discover more classics with these retro places to stay, eat and drink. And check all the boxes on your “must-eat list” with these musts for foodies in Montréal. Warm yourself with the best hot food for cold days, from Indian dishes to Japanese ramen and Vietnamese pho. Any time of day, warm up with the best hot chocolate in Montréal and add more sweetness to your life with treats from Montréal’s best chocolate shops.

Whether for Easter brunch on April 9, a romantic dining option or something fun to do with friends, experience a boreal meal in a translucent dome on Restaurant Bivouac’s terrace: each dome has speakers for music, is heated, and offers a magnificent view of Montréal's urban effervescence. It’s also an excellent time to have dinner and see a show at the Casino de Montréal: live music and cabaret shows entertain while incredible seafood and more is on the grill at Le Montréal, there’s a gourmet buffet at Pavillon 67, and quick delicious eats at L’Instant. Explore superb restaurants and cafés along Beaubien Street in the Rosemont-La-Petit-Patrie neighbourhood (also where you’ll find Little Italy and some of Montréal’s best Italian restaurants). And enjoy dinner and a show at restaurant-cabaret Le Balcon right downtown.

Downtown, explore the wide variety of excellent meals at gourmet food halls, including Time Out Market, Marché Artisans, Le Cathcart Restaurants et Biergarten and Le Central - Manger Montréal. Get your caffeine fix at Montréal's indie coffee shops – and fresh-baked doughnuts to go with it! Add more sweetness to your life with creations from Montréal's best bakeries and pastry shops, best chocolate shops and candy shops.

Eat plant-based with our ultimate guide to vegan eating in Montréal or join the debate over who makes the best pizza in Montréal or the best tacos. By night, discover the city’s 30 top cocktail bars, inventive Montréal microbreweries and late-night eats. Or mix Montréalesque cocktails at home with gin, vodka, rum and more specialty spirits from these Montréal specialty alcohol and spirit makers.


Shopping in Montréal

Go shopping for springtime staples and dinner-party glam in Old Montréal’s boutiques, downtown along Sainte-Catherine Street and in the underground city malls, or head to the Plateau and Mile End for unique finds. Keep your eye out for items made by Montréal designers, relaxing self-care staples and plenty of home decor. Add sparkle to your life at the coolest Montréal jewelry stores. Shop local and eco-friendly at the most fabulous vintage boutiques in the city. Pick out the perfect new books for friends and family from Montréal’s bookstores. And dive into a wide world of music at Montréal's excellent vinyl stores.

The National Women’s Show at Palais des Congres is a one-stop shop for new clothes, accessories, home goods and food items, plus you can sample delicious food and wine, get a mini makeover, watch cooking demos, and more, from April 14 to 16. And see what’s new in electric cars and more at the Montreal Electric Vehicle Show 2023, from April 21 to 23 at Olympic Stadium.

April exhibitions and experiences

Montréal’s museums and art galleries inspire all year – and there’s always something new to see. See contemporary art in unexpected places during the Art Souterrain Festival: until April 9, the festival exhibits art throughout Montreal’s underground city, from the corridors between office buildings to the malls downtown. Take a Portrait Sonore sound walk downtown and on the Mountain to discover Montréal art and culture. And hunt for more public art everywhere in the city.

At the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, see a new exhibition of works by Indian artist Nalini Malani in Crossing Boundaries, exhibition Parall(elles): A History of Women in Design, award-winning master carver creations in Wolves: The Art of Dempsey Bob, and more. The Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal presents new previously unseen immersive works by Montréal artist Nelson Henricks, including a program of 15 Screen Tests produced by Andy Warhol between 1964 and 1966. Also see a new mural on the museum’s wall at Place Ville Marie: Walter Scott: Open Ended / Painted Shut. At home, explore immersive online exhibition Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything, a recreation of the MAC’s monumental show.

At the Phi Foundation, don’t miss group exhibition Terms of Use, new works exploring the impact of technologies on the definition, construction, and (re)framing of individual and collective selves online and AFK. Experience award-winning digital art and VR at the Phi Centre: see new immersive and virtual reality exhibition Chaos & Memories, featuring works from Taiwan presented at the Venice Biennale, as well as listening room Habitat Sonore, free collections exhibition Figure–Ground – and if you’re in Montreal after May 3, you could experience what it’s like to be on board the international space station in VR in Space Explorers, created by Montreal company Felix & Paul – tickets are now on sale at the PHI Centre!

A massive immersive art experience in surround sound and laser light, Oasis Immersion takes over the ground floor of Palais des congrès with new virtual reality experience transformé! And experience 3D creation Lasting Impressions, inviting us to move into and through the canvases crafted by the impressionist masters, at Espace St-Denis until April 24. Festival Montréal Joue! invites kids to join interactive activities and play games at libraries around the city. And make your own candle art at a Boogies and co workshop on April 1, where you can make two scented candles while socializing.

Also see new exhibitions at Bradley Ertaskiran (this month featuring Nicolas Grenier’s Esquisses d’un inventaire and Azza El Siddique’s that which trembles wavers) in the neighbourhood of St. Henri, Darling Foundry in Old Montréal, Hugues Charbonneau, Galerie B-312, SBC Gallery (see group exhibition Here Comes the Sun) and Ellephant downtown, as well as Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain (in April showing personal photography collection Phyllis Lambert, Observation Is a Constant That Underlies All Approaches), Oboro, MAI in the Plateau, Centre Clark and Dazibao in Mile End, Galerie d'Outremont in Outremont, artwork by Umberto Riva at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura near McGill University, and many, many other amazing art galleries in every neighbourhood – find out more in our Montréal guide to gallery hopping and these affordable places to buy contemporary art.

History past and present

Among the Montréal museum exhibitions this season, go to Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex in Old Montréal to learn about not only the city’s history but cultures from around the world: follow the story of Montréal through historic objects in Favourites! Our Collections on Display; explore 3000 years of history in Egypt. Three Millennia on the Nilesee, opening April 20; see environmentally themed exhibition Frédéric Back: A Passion for the Planet; and kids of all ages can step into history in interactive display Come Aboard! Pirates or Privateers?

Go to the McCord Stewart Museum to witness Indigenous Voices of Today: Knowledge, Trauma, Resilience, see the Canadian wilderness photographs of Alexander Henderson: Art and Nature, as well as Artist-in-Residence Karen Tam’s Swallowing Mountains, a tribute to the women of Montreal’s Chinatown, both until mid-April, and the Evolving Montréal series continues with photographer and film director Joannie Lafrenière’s journey of a unique Montréal neighbourhood in the exhibition Hochelaga-Maisonneuve – Evolving Montréal. At the Canadian Centre for Architecture, see film and photography exhibition كیف لا نغرق في السراب / To Remain in the No Longer about a failed international fairground in the city of Tripoli, Lebanon, as well as Visibly Iroquoian, an installation by interdisciplinary performing artist Ange Loft.

Travel back in time as you tour the rooms of Château Ramezay (also hosting temporary exhibitions Inuit Worlds – The Collection of Saladin d’Anglure  and Roald Amundsen – Lessons from the Arctic until April 9) and historical site Chateau Dufresne near the Olympic Stadium. Not far from the city, climb aboard railway cars, learn about the history of the railroad and explore miniature railways at the Exporail the Canadian Railway Museum. Take a historic walking tour of Jewish Montréal, with the Museum of Jewish Montréal, and learn more about Montréal’s Jewish culture, food and more. Explore the Afromuseum, representing the contributions of Afro-Canadians to the cultural landscape of Canada. Discover the vivid history and present of Québec ceramics at the Musée des métiers d'arts du Québec. And for another slice of Québec history, visit Montréal’s stunning churches and sacred sites.

Make the most of your visit and save big on museums and other attractions with the Passeport MTL: discover five Montréal attractions for one low price, and get discounts at many more! And don’t miss these top 10 attractions to see with the Passport MTL. Or discover even more in the city and just outside it in the Montérégie region with the MTL + Montérégie Passport.


On stage in April

Montréal’s cultural calendar is packed this season, with entertainment for everyone on the city’s many stages. Circus is never in short supply in Montréal: along with Cirque du Soleil’s brand new show ECHO premiering this month in Old Montréal, TOHU circus centre presents a blend of circus acrobatics, dance, theatre and projection art in Passagers by Les 7 Doigts, from March 23 to April 8, and French New Wave-inspired mystery-comedy La nuit du cerf by Cirque Le Roux, from April 25 to 30. See Disney’s hit Broadway musical Aladdin at Place des Arts from March 28 to April 2. And Comedian David Cross performs at Corona Theatre on April 23.

In theatre, Centaur presents the English language premiere of Alexandre Goyette’s King Dave, a charged story of an impressionable young Haitian man living in Montreal North and confronting clichés, gun violence and revenge, from March 28 to April 16. Also at Centaur, see The Rishta, a Silk Road Theatre Production, an intercultural love story written by Uzma Jalaluddin, until April 8. The Segal Centre for Performing Arts presents award-winning playwright Sanaz Toossi’s English, following a group of adults in Iran preparing for the Test of English as a Foreign Language, from March 19 to April 2. Also at the Segal, see dark comedy Prayer for the French Republic, from April 23 to May 14. And Imago Theatre and Tarragon Theatre present Redbone Coonhound, a satire on race, systemic power and privilege, at Théâtre Denise-Pelletier (in English with French surtitles) from March 21 to April 1.

In dance, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens presents Ultraviolet, an evening of contemporary dance featuring works by four choreographers: Beguile by Lesley Telford, Crater by Roddy Doble, Delightful Disruption by Kristen Cere and Substrate by Cass Mortimer Eipper, from April 27 to May 6. Danse Danse presents RUBBERBAND’s Reckless Underdog, combining elements of ballet, hip-hop culture and contemporary dance at Place des Arts from April 12 to 15. And dance and live music meet as Argentinian dance troupe Social Tango Project performs at Place des Arts on April 19. There’s more tango on April 4 as the Rewild collective presents Quien toca, baila, a tango party at the Gesù.

See James Gnam and Plastic Orchid Factory production Entre chien et loup, a playful performance that taps into early pandemic experiences and insecurities, from March 29 to April 1, and Helen Simard and Roger White’s Because You Never Asked, complex wartime family history told in theatre and dance, from April 19 to 22 at MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels). And at La Chapelle, see: Michael Martini’s interdisciplinary performance Landscape Grindr, An Laurence’s 安媛 Do you have a minute? merges music creation, theatre and art to offer an interpretation of time, and more. Discover new contemporary dance and interdisciplinary performances presented by Agora de la danse (including works by Margie Gillis, Dana Gingras and Catherine Gaudet), Tangente, and Danse Cité.

On screen in April

Art in all its forms comes to the big screen at the International Festival of Films on Arts, presenting over 200 shorts, documentaries, animated films and features, from March 14 to 26 in person and from March 24 to April 2 online. The 39th Festival international de cinéma Vues d’Afrique film festival screens films from Africa, the Caribbean and the African diaspora, and hosts discussions, workshops and more from April 21 to 30.

In the Society for Art and Technology’s 360° Satosphere dome, immerse yourself in Parallèles, a program of immersive short films, from microscopic views to cosmic landscapes that invite you to discover the limitless possibilities of the mind and the universe. See Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ Part 1 in Concert on April 14 and 15 at Place des Arts. See independent features, family films, documentaries and more at Cinéma Moderne in person and online. See the art world in a whole new light thanks to the International Festival of Films on Art year-round ART FILM program.

Discover new art house films and more from Montréal indie cinemas' programming at Cinéma du Parc, Cinéma du Musée at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, and Cinémathèque québécoise in the Quartier des spectacles. The Montréal Science Centre’s IMAX cinema puts nature on the giant screen in all its glory – including Dinosaurs of Antarctica 3D. And explore the city through cinema in these Hollywood movies made in Montréal.


Classical music

The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM) presents concert Bernard Labadie and Haydn’s Creation on April 7 and 8 at Maison symphonique with conductor Bernard Labadie, Wizards and Jedi: An Evening with John Williams conducted by Ben Palmer on April 11 and 12 at Maison symphonique, A Journey to the Middle East: Scheherazade to Simurgh with New Zealander conductor Tianyi Lu on April 16, Bruce Liu Performs Chopin’s Second Concerto on April 19 and 20, and more at Maison symphonique.

The Orchestre Métropolitain presents a symphonic adaptation of the story Le pelleteur de nuages (The Cloud Shoveller) conducted by Geneviève Leclair at Maison symphonique on April 2, as well as Chœur Métropolitain: Voices and Colours at Maison symphonique on April 22, and Elegance with Kerson Leong on April 28 at Maison symphonique.

Festival de la Voix brings communities and all ages together to enjoy music and the power of the human voice in classical, opera, operetta and musical comedy concerts and workshops from April 1 to 28 in Montreal’s West Island and Westmount neighbourhood. Pianist and composter Alexandra Streliski performs minimalist and cinematic music at Place des Arts on April 11 and 12. Relaxed and acoustically refined, Bourgie Hall at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts is also a source of beautiful chamber music concerts, choirs, quartets, jazz performances and more.

Move live music

During winter and any time of year, there’s plenty of live music in Montréal. Among the can’t-miss concerts this season, Depeche Mode makes a comeback and thrills fans at the Bell Centre on April 12, Chicago metallists Disturbed kick off their Take Back Your Life tour at the Bell Centre on April 27, and electro-pop star Angèle plays the Bell Centre on April 29 and 30. Chris de Burgh & Band perform at Place des Arts on April 16 and 17. At MTELUS downtown, catch R&B duo DVSN on April 3, July Talk on April 11, Bikini Kill on April 12, Skinny Puppy on April 25, M83 on April 28 and more. Pianist-composer Nils Frahm performs at Place des Arts on April 19.

U.S. Girls performs songs from her upcoming album Bless This Mess! on April 13 at the PHI Centre. Murray A. Lightburn (of The Dears) plays from his new album on April 15 at La Sala Rossa. See these shows and more co-presented by Greenland, Blue Skies Turn Black, I Love Neon, and other show promoters at venues citywide, including Fairmount Theatre, Corona Theatre, Bar Le Ritz PDB, Casa del Popolo and Sala Rossa, L’Escogriffe and elsewhere throughout the month.

In electronic music, catch Habstrakt at Club Soda on April 7, dubstep producer Marauda at MTELUS on April 24, Overmono on April 7 and Adriatique on April 15 and 16 at the SAT, Swedish singer-songwriter-producer ionnalee | iamamiwhoami at Theatre Fairmount on April 18, Xeno & Oaklander at Bar Le Ritz PDB on April 29, and more. Dance the nights away at Newspeak, featuring electronic music by Paraleven, Nox Vahn and more producers throughout the month, and at New City Gas with Gareth Emery and more in April.

Groove to live Motown, soul, disco, jazz, salsa, Cuban music and more at Le Balcon, where you can have dinner with a show, go dancing, and enjoy a gospel brunch on weekends ‒ or have meal and drinks on Le Balcon’s new terrasse right on Sainte-Catherine Street downtown. Hear live jazz nightly at Montréal’s amazing jazz and blues clubs, like Diese Onze and Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill. And go out dancing late into the night at Montréal's dance clubs.

Robyn Fadden

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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