Things to do in Montréal February 9-15

Robyn Fadden

Romance is in the air for Valentine's Day this week (though in truth it's a year-round passion in Montréal), alongside all kinds of outdoor activities and cultural offerings spanning from creative food and drink to dance and theatre, classical and cutting edge art to heavy metal shows.

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Valentine’s Day in Montréal

Whether you're spending Valentine's Day in Montréal or staying for a romantic weekend, we've got the inside scoop for lovebirds in the city. Celebrate with a romantic meal and drinks next to a fireplace, at one of the city's great new bars and brasseries or with dinner and dancing at Le Balcon, Buonanotte, Moomba or Time Supper Club. Share your love on social media (#unecafémonamour #quartiersducanal) for free coffee in the Quartiers de Canal, home to excellent cafés and restaurants like Ludger, Hvor, Perles et Paddock, Bistro License IV and more favourites. Take a sparkly walk through Old Montréal at night to see some of Montréal's high-tech wonders and flagship legacy projects for Montréal’s 375th anniversary, such as the historic tableaux projections of Cité Memoire on building facades throughout the area and in multimedia wonder AURA at Notre-Dame Basilica, one of the Montréal's stunning historic churches. Get a little closer while snowshowing on Mount Royal, riding La Grande Roue de Montréal observation wheel, and scoping out the city from the Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown or the Montréal Tower at Olympic Stadium. Relax together at Bota Bota floating spa, one of Montréal's best spas. And don't miss out on indulging in something almost as sweet as love.

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Winter playtime

Among the many free things to do this winter in Montréal, don't miss family-friendly Fêtes des Neiges this Saturday and Sunday in Parc Jean-Drapeau, with ice slides, snow tubing, a zip line, dog sledding, boot hockey, singer-songwriter Jean-François Bastien, live band karaoke on Saturday, the Cibelle et Rapidou children's show on Sunday along with boot hockey with Les Canadiennes, and more fun in the snow. Spend more time outdoors with these classic Montréal winter activities, from sledding on the Mountain to bird watching at the Botanical Garden and ice skating at Olympic Park's V Winter Village or next to the Saint-Lawrence River on the Natrel Skating Rink. Watch animals at play in the tropics and beyond at the Biodome, discover Montréal hockey history in exhibition Passion: Hockey at Pointe-à-Callière museum and follow our guide to Montréal's most famous icons to see the city's famed architecture and other unique sights, including the Buckminster Fuller-designed Biosphère. On the ice in NHL action, watch the Montréal Canadiens take on the Predators on Feb. 10 – get your tickets from secure Canadiens-authorized site Ticket Vault.

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Food and drink

Winter weather calls for just the right hot food for cold days, from spicy Indian food to big bowls of ramen. Yet even in the middle of winter, you can still taste the tropics in Montréal's sunniest restaurants, cafés and bars. For tried-and-true Québécois classic dishes, follow our guides to the best poutine plus the best Montréal bagels along with more musts for foodies visiting Montréal and where to go shopping for foodies too. Warm up in classic Montréal style with traditional terroir, high tea and more gourmet meals. Try some of the best hot chocolate in the city, excellence coffee at Montréal's indie coffee shops or indulge at the city's most creative cocktail bars. Or discover new Montréal restaurants and a wide world of health-conscious food in Montréal along with vegan options in our ultimate guide to vegan eating in Montréal.

Leonard Cohen's Montréal

Montréal celebrates Leonard Cohen and his legacy with international exhibition Leonard Cohen – A Crack in Everything at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, featuring work by 40 artists from 10 countries, inspired by Leonard Cohen's life, music and writing – an absolute must-see. While there, also explore That's How the Light Gets In, a collections exhibition that frames art in terms of the fundamental aspect of light (visibility, reflection, representation, perception), and The Gaze Listens, an auditory contemplation of art. Dancer-choreographer Clara Furey's dance cycle When Even Then, inspired by the poems of Cohen, also graces the Musée this week. See building-sized murals of Leonard Cohen on Crescent Street downtown near the Sir Winston Churchill Pub and on Saint-Laurent Boulevard at Napoleon Street not far from Schwartz's. Nearby, stop by The Museum of Jewish Montréal to see new immersive installation Scintillements | 1001 Lights by award-winning filmmakers Marlene Millar and Philip Szporer.

Stage and screen

Experience the dramatic passion and sacrifice of Broadway hit Les Misérables, Feb. 7-11 at Place des Arts. Combining live music and circus, Afrique en cirque with Kalabante wows at L'Olympia on Feb. 11. Montréal's winter-spring dance season continues in fine form as Danse Danse presents impressive Barcelona dance troupe La Veronal's Siena, contemplating art and representation through the ages, at Place des Arts Feb. 8-10, Margie Gillis's Veriditas explores modern humanity through three female performers Feb. 14–17 at Agora, and urban dance company 100Lux lets loose at Place des Arts Feb. 15-17. In this season's English-language theatre calendar, a 1960s Québec tale of two young Lebanese women and the emerging feminist movement is told in The Baklawa Recipe, to Feb. 18 at Centaur Theatre; Black Theatre Workshop and Montréal's Black History Month presents Athol Fugard’s play “Master Harold”...and the boys set in South Africa in 1950 during apartheid, at the Segal Centre to Feb. 11, as well as Black Boys, about the lives of three gay Black men, at Theatre Espace Libre Feb. 13-17, playwright Brad Fraser’s dark comedy True Love Lies tells a tangled love tale at the Centre culturel Calixa-Lavallée, Feb. 8-18, while Rachel Burman's Opéra Foe blends haunting song with 1970's Québecois family life Feb. 9-11 at LaChapelle, and family secrets explode in Infinithéâtre's dramatic comedy Conversion to Feb. 25 at Espace Knox. See immersive audiovisual creations Hidden Dimensions and NAscent in the 360-degree multimedia dome of the Society for Arts and Technology. Explore the cosmos in EXO and Space Next at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, and go on a wild ride in IMAX with Tiny Giants, Amazon 3D and Incredible Predators 3D at the Montréal Science Centre. Old Montréal's Phi Centre hosts Virtual Reality Garden: Canadian Screen Awards to Feb. 12 and photojournalist Karim Ben Khelifa's virtual reality installation The Enemy / Ennemi Feb. 10 to March 10, revealing the human side of global conflicts.

Gallery hopping

From major museums to commercial galleries, original art abounds in Montréal – don't miss these must-see winter and spring exhibitions while you're here. Delve into Prince's musical and cultural legacy in exhibition Prince: His Purple Majesty, curated by musicologist Duke Eatmon, Feb. 9 to March 3 at Place des Arts as part of Montréal's Black History Month. At the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts don't miss major exhibition Napoleon: Art and Court Life in the Imperial Palace, along with installation Kushapetshekan / Kosapitcikan and Nadia Myre's Tout ce qui reste – Scattered Remains, plus a night of art, music and cocktails for the under-30 crowd at Chiaroscuro on Feb. 9. Always a must-visit in Old Montréal, DHC/ART celebrates its 10th anniversary with dynamic group exhibition The Gift/L'Offre alongside the pioneering video art and installation work of Bill Viola: Naissance à rebours. Peer into the city's past through photography exhibition Gabor Szilasi: Le monde de l’art à Montréal, 1960-1980 at the McCord Museum. Artist Maria Hupfield explores memory and family through felt objects and performance-based works in exhibition The One Who Keeps On Giving at Galerie de l'UQAM while the UQAM Centre de Design presents an exhibition on design firm Foster + Partners.The Montréal Science Centre presents Indigenous Ingenuity: Timeless Inventions alongside photo exhibition Regalia: Native Pride. Lynda Gaudreau's project Out of Sight at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery explores perception and what is outside our field of vision. In Mile-Ex, Never Apart's Winter 2018 Exhibition features artwork by 10 international and local multimedia artists. Artist Hanna Abd El Nour's Utopie(s) tackles questions of identity, memory and collective imaginary, featuring a chorus of 15 performers in life tableau performances, Feb. 13 to March 10 at Arsenal. And if you're looking for that perfect piece of art to bring home with you, check out our guide to where to buy art in Montréal.

Live music

Spend Friday night with the R&B, soul and funk of Chanda & The Passengers at La Vitrola while the sonic abyss opens as Baird Hersey and The Year of The Ear perform at La Sala Rossa and LEFT/RIGHT keep the dancefloor alive at Newspeak. On Saturday, the Montréal Jazz Fest presents singer-songwriter-guitarist José González at Monument National, classic rock comes back as British band Uriah Heep plays Théâtre Corona, L.A.-based artist BØRNS plays electro-pop with a big glam-rock heart, with opener Mikky Ekko at Club Soda, get ready to stomp to the Canadian-Irish rock beat of The Mahones at Piranha Bar or dance to the high-energy electro beats of R3HAB and Skytech at New City Gas and the Dômesicle party soirée 64HZ at the Société des arts technologiques, Sunday brings Steve Hackett and his Genesis Revisited tour with a full band of incredible players to Place des Arts and metal masters Machine Head to Club Soda.

Hear some wild top-tier jazz with European supergroup Atomic at La Sala Rossa on Monday, Feb. 12. In classical music, English tenor Ian Bostridge and pianist Julius Drake perform moving song cycle Schubert’s Winterreise Feb. 12 at Bourgie Hall; the OSM's Kent Nagano guest-conducts the McGill Symphony Orchestra on Feb. 13 at the Maison symphonique de Montréal; and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal presents Mahler's Titan Feb. 14-15 at Maison symphonique. Marie Davidson’s Blueshit Threshold mixes the musician's poetic lyrics, electronic music and occasional theatrical delivery with live cinematic projections of John Londono and Gonzalo Soldi, Feb. 14-16 LaChapelle. Also on Tuesday Feb. 13, Stone Sour and In This Moment get heavy and loud at MTelus, while X Ambassadors roll out rock with a dose of soul and jazz as they play Théâtre Corona. On Wednesday night, see California metal band Of Mice and Men at Théâtre Corona, Philadelphia indie-rockers The Obsessives at L'Esco and dance hard to NJ club producer and rapper UNiiQU3 and Dai Burger at Newspeak. Rounding out the week on Thursday night: the soul-pop sounds of Romes and Common Deer at Petit Campus. For more live music throughout the week, check out our picks for where to hear live music in Montréal, Montréal's best jazz and blues clubs and our insider 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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