Things to do in Montréal - May 2022

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.

May in Montréal heralds patio season in the sun at the city’s restaurants, cafes and bars, an array of cultural festivals like Festival TransAmériques, a new Cirque du Soleil show under the big top, and outdoor activities for everyone – whether you’re here to explore the historic Old Port of Montréal, bike through Mount Royal Park or go shopping along Sainte-Catherine Street downtown. Indoors, museums and galleries feature inspiring new exhibitions. And Montréal never ceases to entertain with theatre, dance, film, live music and more.

May festivals and major events

In the Old Port of Montréal, a massive blue-and-yellow circus tent means Cirque du Soleil is here with a wonderful new creation: Kooza opens May 12 – tickets sell out fast, so get them early!

Also in the Old Port of Montréal, the Tulipe Festival, from May 7 to 20, lets you roam through a field of 600,000 tulips and pick your own bouquet – also a perfect spot for colourful springtime pictures! 

Festival Art Souterrain fills Montréal's underground pedestrian network with new artwork by over 50 artists from around the world – explore the walkways and tunnels on your own or take a guided tour from April 2 to June 30. Attend author readings, workshops, events and more at Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival, online from April 28 to May 4 and in person from May 5 to 8. Author Fran Lebowitz takes the stage at St-Jean-Baptiste Church on May 6. Festival Accès Asie presents Asian arts, cultures and histories in every art form, from music and dance to comedy and food, from May 5 to 29. And the Le Festival dhistoire de Montréal offers thematic activities for all ages at Montréal history museums from May 13 to 15.

See world-class dance and theatre at the Festival TransAmériques, in theatres and outdoor performances from May 25 to June 9, (like Holoscenes, a giant aquarium on the new Esplanade Tranquille), while even more boundary-pushing emerging artists perform at OFFTA. The Montréal Comic Arts Festival brings Québec artists and their art to Saint-Denis Street between Gilford and Roy, with free activities for all ages, from May 27 to 29. Take in all kinds of DIY theatre, dance and circus shows at the St-Ambroise Montréal Fringe Festival including several free performances with live music and drag queens at the Fringe Tent on Saint-Laurent Blvd from May 30 to June 19.

Montréal’s famed outdoor electronic dance party Piknic Électronik kicks off on May 19 and 20 20 with KAYTRANADA and continues every Sunday at Parc Jean-Drapeau from May 22 to October 2 – among the many producers, catch Breakbot & Irfane on May 22 and Maceo Plex on May 27. At the Olympic Stadium, check out the 19th Montréal Bicycle Show from April 29 to May 1 and Festival Vélocité at Parc Jean-Drapeau May 4 to 8. And at Arsenal Contemporary Art, immerse yourself in The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience, a social event and performance combining theatre, dance, live music, acrobatic performances, cocktails and more, from May 19 to July 23.


Springtime activities

If you’re downtown, watch for outdoor performances, music, karaoke, yoga and more entertainment, plus great food and drink, at the Jardins Gamelin outside Berri-UQAM metro station, opening in mid-May. In the Quartier des spectacles outside Place des Arts, stop to see – and make music with! – interactive installation Ville orchestre by Robocut Studio, Vallée Duhamel and Dpt, and play chess on giant chessboards along Sainte-Catherine Street. Explore Montréal's parks as they spring into bloom. See incredible city views 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. Stroll around Parc La Fontaine or cross the river to Parc Jean-Drapeau for long riverside walks and a different view of the city – while there why not visit the Biosphère Environment Museum too! May is also a wonderful time to see the city from two wheels, whether on your own bike, a rental bike, with a bike tour, or on a BIXI shared bike.

In Old Montréal, walk the cobblestone streets to the Saint-Lawrence River to visit the peacefully illuminated square outside Notre-Dame Basilica – inside, see gorgeous multimedia show AURA. In the historic Old Port of Montréal, see incredible city and river views from the Observation Wheel, climb high at Voiles en Voiles adventure park, explore the world of science with kids at the Montréal Science Centre, and even ride the MTL Zipline! By night, starting May 17, look for the history-illuminating tableaux projections of Cité Mémoire

Spring is also in bloom at the Space for Life's Montréal Botanical Garden, both in the expansive outdoor gardens and in the tropical greenhouses. Experience the amazing ecosystems of the Biodôme and the mysteries of the universe at the Planetarium Rio Tinto Alcan (hosting AstroFest free activities on May 7!). See butterflies, moths and thousands of other insects at the newly renovated Insectarium. Or head to the West Island’s Ecomuseum Zoo to see local wildlife in their natural outdoor habitats.

Indoors, catch CF Montréal on the Stade Saputo pitch on May 7, 22, 24 and 28. Or you could simply relax in the warmth of world-class spas, including Bota Bota, spa sur leau (their outdoor pools are open year-round), Strøm Nordic Spa (also with amazing outdoor pools), Scandinave Spa Vieux-Montréal and Spa William Gray.


Spring food and drink

Springtime weather means that it’s patio season again! Montréal’s terrasses reopen for social lunch gatherings, dinner and drinks, quiet coffee breaks and late-night parties: choose from our list of Montréal’s plentiful outdoor terrasses, surround yourself with greenery at Montréal’s lushest garden patios and celebrate spring while seeing the city from above on rooftop patios. Springtime also calls for refreshing beverages – if that means beer to you, then head to Mondial de la bière to try local brews and more at Windsor Station and Rio Tinto Yard from May 19 to 22.

If you’re looking for a new lunch place, try some of Montrealers’ favourite lunch restaurants, from Old Montreal and downtown to Villeray or the South-West. Take a seat at the city’s newest restaurants and “buvettes." Plan a Mother’s Day brunch with family and friends – add a present too with one of these Mother’s Day gift ideas. And dig into long-time classics like smoked meat, poutine and Montréal bagels. If you’re craving pizza, join the debate over who makes the best pizza in Montréal – and eat new pizza creations from dozens of restaurants during La Pizza Week, May 1 to 14. And it’s a great time to have dinner and see a show at the Casino de Montréal, where live music is back along with incredible seafood and more on the grill at Le Montréal restaurant.

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 sweetness to your life with creations from Montréal's best bakeries and pastry shopsbest chocolate shops and local candy shops. And check all the boxes on your “must-eat list” with these musts for foodies in Montréal. By night, discover the city’s best 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.


Spring shopping

Find a fresh spring look in Montréal, whether for your wardrobe, your home or even your bookshelf! Go shopping 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 and spring art fairs like Puces POP, featuring beautiful creations by local designers from May 6 to 8 at Église Saint-Denis, and GRANDE Printed Art Fair on May 21 at WIP. Pick out the perfect new books for friends and family from Montréal’s bookstores and a wide world of music from Montréal's excellent vinyl stores.


May exhibitions and experiences

Montréal’s museums and art galleries inspire all year – and there’s always something new to see in spring. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts features a diversity of programming for 2022: this month, see L’heure mauve, an exhibition of work by Swiss-born artist Nicolas Party (plus the monthly evening Monochrome Party: May 18’s theme is blue), Adam Pendleton, These Things We’ve Done Together and much more throughout the museum.

At the Phi Foundation for Contemporary Art until May 22, Stan Douglas: Revealing Narratives focuses on the revered Canadian artist’s most recent photo series Penn Station's Half Century (2021) and Disco Angola (2012) – while there, also see Marlon Kroll’s installation Nesting. Meanwhile, the Phi Centre showcases immersive poetic journey Lashing Skies, sound installation The Disintegration Loops by William Basinski, techno’s musical sub-culture history in Techno Worlds (also at the Goethe-Institut and SAT) and more. The Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal presents Sara Cwynar’s Red Film, a work that questions how desire is manifested through objects (admission is free at the museum’s temporary location at Place Ville Marie to May 15), and video installation and sculptural work by Mika Rottenberg starting May 21. At home, explore immersive online exhibition Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything, a recreation of the MAC’s monumental show.

Explore Montréal's underground pedestrian network to discover new artwork by over 50 artists at Festival Art Souterrain – roam on your own or take a guided tour to June 30. A massive immersive experience in surround sound and laser light, Oasis Immersion takes over the ground floor of Palais des congrès – don’t miss its newest creation, VAN GOGH-Distorsion, a 360° experience with surround sound, featuring 225 paintings, drawings and sketches by the Dutch-born painter. Stranger Than Kindness: The Nick Cave Exhibition explores the Australian singer-songwriter’s creative world at Galerie de la Maison du Festival.

Galerie de l'UQAM presents group exhibition Zerynthia. Metamorphosis, focused on listening and shifting, and Memorias de Azúcar by Maria Hoyos, focused on sugar from a decolonial perspective, starting May 20, as well as work by graduating students until May 7. See new exhibitions at Bradley Ertaskiran in St. Henri, Darling Foundry in Old Montréal, Hugues Charbonneau, Galerie B-312 and Ellephant downtown, at Oboro and MAI in the Plateau, Centre Clark in Mile End 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. 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.


History past and present

History buffs of all ages will love Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex in Old Montréal: see Vikings– Dragons of the Northern Seas with 650 objects and artefacts from the collections of the National Museum of Denmark, environmentally themed exhibition Frédéric Back: A Passion for the Planet, and kid-friendly interactive display Come Aboard! Pirates or Privateers? and more. Go to the McCord Museum to discover the portrait work of JJ Levine: Queer Photographs, permanent exhibition Indigenous Voices of Today: Knowledge, Trauma, Resilience and new exhibition Piqutiapiit by multidisciplinary Inuit artist Niap.

At the Canadian Centre for Architecture, see Retail Apocalypse, examining the entangled worlds of architecture, fashion, business, and art. Or go back in time in Old Montréal as you tour the rooms of Château Ramezay and historical site Chateau Dufresne. Climb aboard railway cars and learn about the history of the railroad at the Exporail the Canadian Railway Museum. Take a historic walking tour, like Beyond the Bagel Food Tour and Making their Mark, a tour of Jewish Montréal, with the Museum of Jewish Montreal. And discover the vivid history and present of Québec ceramics at the Musée des métiers d'arts du Québec.

Make the most of spring and save big on museums and other attractions with the Passeport MTL city pass: discover 5 Montréal attractions for one low price, and get discounts at many more!


On stage

Montréal’s cultural calendar is packed this spring, with performance festivals like Festival TransAmériques, and new theatre, dance, music and all kinds of entertainment for everyone. If you’ve got tickets to Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza, why not also see Cirque Éloize’s Celeste, a cabaret circus show at Fairmont all spring, and Cabaret du Cirque at Centre St-Jax from May 5 to 7. Get ready to be charmed as Opéra de Montréal presents a gorgeous production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, with magical art projections and a stellar international cast, in mid-May at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Place des Arts.

In theatre, Centaur Theatre presents actor Warona Setshwaelo in one-woman show A Play for the Living in a Time of Extinction from April 26 to May 15. The Segal Centre presents April Fool’s – An Adult Rock Cabaret from May 1 to 22. Based on the novel by Stephen King, CARRIE: the Musical runs at Mainline Theatre from May 5 to 14, while Montréal Sketchfest brings all kinds of hilarious sketch comedy to Théâtre Sainte-Catherine from May 5 to 14. Contact Theatre remounts Pulitzer-prize winning musical Next to Normal at the Monument-National from May 6 to 14.

In dance, four choreographers from Les Grands Ballets draw inspiration from the moon to illustrate humanity, coexistence and hope in Luna, from April 28 to May 1. Danse Danse presents Crypto, a modern fable for four dancers choreographed by the National Ballet of Canada’s Guillaume Côté, from May 11 to 14 at Place des Arts. At LaChapelle, see Simon Portigal’s fragile & useless - lcr.i/group/2019–2022 experiments with choreography and social algorithms, and High Bed Lower Castle by Ellen Furey and Malik Nashad Sharpe. ānandaṁ dancetheatre’s Ephemeral Artifacts: Travis Knights explores tap dance, rhythm and about the body, at the MAI from May 12 to 14. And catch a new season of contemporary dance at Agora de la danse and Tangente.


On screen

Experience immersive, experimental cinema in the seven winning films of SAT Fest 2022, including Sergey Prokofyev’s Labyrinth, Frances Adair McKenzie’s The Orchid and the Bee and more, in the Satosphere dome at the Society for Art and Technology from May 3 to 27. Animation festival Sommets du cinéma d’animation celebrates its 20th anniversary at the Cinémathèque québécoise from May 10 to 15. The Montréal International History Film Festival fosters dialogue between history and cinema to illuminate social issues, from May 18 to 22 at the Cinémathèque Québécoise in a hybrid format. And the Korean Film Festival Canada highlights the Canada-Korea connection through film, from May 26 to 28.

See independent features, family films, documentaries and more at Cinéma Moderne in person and online. And 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 (stay up late for their Parc at Midnight series), 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. And explore the city through cinema in these Hollywood movies made in Montréal.


Classical concerts

The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal performs concerts at Maison Symphonique throughout April, including Rafael Payare and the Lyricism of Bruckner on May 10 and 11, Youth and Creativity: From Mozart to the OSM Competition on May 12, From Mozart to Shostakovich: Humanity in Movement on May 18 and 19, Brahms and Nielsen: Vigour, Virtuosity, Vitality with guest conductor Juraj Valčuha, and Beethoven’s Triumphant Ninth Symphony from May 31 to June 3. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts the Orchestre Métropolitain in concert Brahms: A German Requiem on May 20 at Maison symphonique with soprano Suzanne Taffot, soprano and bass-baritone Eric Owens.

Also at Maison symphonique this month, Orchestre Classique de Montréal closes its 82nd season with concert Eroica - À nos héros de la santé, honouring healthcare workers on May 27, and Orchestre Philharmonique et Choeur des Mélomanes performs Carmina Burana and Stravinsky’s Firebird on May 28. See award-winning Icelandic composer, producer and musician Ólafur Arnalds on May 28 at Place des Arts. Ensemble Obiora, the “first classical music ensemble composed mostly of musicians from diverse cultural backgrounds” performs concert Le Romantisme selon lEnsemble Obiora on May 7 at Centre Pierre-Péladeau.

Relaxed and acoustically refined, the Salle Bourgie concert hall at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts is a wonderful place to be for intimate classical concerts, with concerts almost every day of the month, including chamber music performed by members of the OSM, the Orchestre Métropolitain, and many other talented musicians. And La Chapelle’s Beethoven Mystique concert series focuses on Beethoven’s last five string quartets, performed by the Warhol Dervish String Quartet and pop artists: on May 1 hear Quartet No 14, Op. 131 with Brad Barr, and on May 11 hear Quartet No 16, Op. 135 with Sarah Pagé.

More live music

Live music rocks Montréal venues this month too! At Place des Arts this month, see Rufus Wainwright on May 21 and legendary crooner Engelbert Humperdinck on May 22, Youssou N'Dour at Le Grand Bal de Montréal on May 25, plus Queen tribute Queen: It’s Kinda Magic on May 19. At the Bell Centre, see Imagine Dragons on May 3 and 4, Sting on May 5, Slipknot on May 26 and Ricardo Arjona on May 28. At Place Bell, catch Avril Lavigne on May 7, ZZ Top on May 8 and Deftones on May 21. Montréal soul artist Chiiild performs at Le Studio TD (formerly L’Astral) on May 23, followed by Ghostly Kisses on May 27. Oh Wonder is at Corona Theatre on May 10 and Dinosaur Jr. performs at Le National on May 12.

At MTELUS this month, see Charlotte Cardin in her 13-concert series from April 29 to June 26, Koffee on May 7, James Arthur on May 14, Jann Arden on May 20, Peaches anniversary tour on May 25, Future Islands on May 26, and Aurora on May 31. The Montreal Gospel Choir closes out their season at the downtown Red Roof Church with concerts on May 7. Blue Skies Turn Black presents Destroyer on May 9 at Théâtre Fairmount, Dry Cleaning on May 13 at Théâtre Fairmount, Amyl & the Sniffers on May 17 at La Tulipe, and more. Montréal artist Pierre Kwenders launches his new album José Louis and The Paradox of Love at the Phi Centre on May 6. And Dômesicle parties return to the Satosphere starting May 7 with DJs and VJs picked by Homegrown Harvest.

Groove to live soul, disco, jazz, funk, salsa and more at Le Balcon, where you can have dinner with a show, go dancing, and even enjoy a gospel brunch on weekends. 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. And go out dancing late into the night at Montréal's dance clubs – including NON-STOP 24/24, a night-life experiment at the SAT, featuring over 30 artists playing around the clock from May 21 to 23.


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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