Things to do in Montréal January 12-18

Robyn Fadden

No matter what the weather in January, Montréal keeps on going strong. This week, we're taking that to extremes at the Barbegazi Winter Action Sports Festival and outdoor dance party Igloofest, along with plenty of ways to take it easy too, from gallery hopping and restaurant-dining to going to the circus or catching some live music.

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Snow days

Experience Montréal winter at its wildest at the family-friendly Barbegazi Winter Action Sports Festival January 13-14 and 20-21, featuring snow-skating, fat-biking, Christmas tree throwing and more on the Olympic Park Esplanade, right next to the V Winter Village where you can go ice skating, listen to live music and more every day from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Spend time out in the snow like a local with these classic Montréal winter activities, from sledding on the Mountain to bird watching at the Botanical Garden and ice skating next to the Saint-Lawrence River day or night at the Natrel Skating Rink. Among the many free things to do this winter in Montréal (not to mention the picks in our budget-friendly guide to Montréal), ride illuminated see-saws while having a warm drink at outdoor art event Luminothérapie in downtown's Place des Festivals – look up to see dreamlike architectural video projection Les Lointaines and show up on Jan. 13, 14 and 20 to roast (free) marshmallows over an open fire! And outdoor electronic music festival Igloofest opens its first weekend on Jan. 18 in the Old Port, with music by Kaytranada, Kiddy Smile and Voyage Funktastique.

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Wintery city sights

Old Montréal also sparkles with 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. At the Buckminster Fuller-designed Biosphère see the city anew in Planète MTL and from great heights on La Grande Roue de Montréal observation wheel, at the Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown and at the Montréal Tower at Olympic Stadium. Or relax with a river-level view of the Saint Lawrence at Bota Bota floating spa. Indoors, see the animals at play in the tropics and beyond at the Biodome and watch the Montréal Canadiens play the Bruins on Jan. 13 and the Islanders on Jan. 15, plus an open Canadiens practice for fans on Jan. 12, at the Bell Centre – get your tickets at the only Canadiens authorized and secure site Ticket Vault. And discover Montréal hockey history in exhibition Passion: Hockey at Pointe-à-Callière museum.

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Decadent food and drink

January weather calls for just the right hot food for cold days, from spicy Indian food to big bowls of ramen. Warm up with a meal or a creative cocktail next to a cozy fireplace or by sipping the best hot chocolate in the city. If you're still feeling decadent after the holidays, indulge with Montréal's traditional terroir, high tea and more gourmet meals. For tried-and-true Québécois classic dishes, follow our guides to the best poutine and the best Montréal bagels along with more musts for foodies visiting Montréal – plus where to go shopping for foodies too. Or discover creative new cuisine from Québec at our Montréal restaurant picks and a wide world of vegan options in our ultimate guide to vegan eating in Montréal. Explore the city's public markets and some of Montréal's liveliest neighbourhoods through their restaurants. Caffeinate in style at Montréal's indie coffee shops or relax at weekend brunch. And if your New Year is all about eating well, there's plenty of genuinely delicious health-conscious food in Montréal too.

Stage and screen

Enjoy the fantastic spectacle of non-traditional circus-meets-multimedia show Temporel by Lemieux Pilon and Les 7 Doigts, Jan. 10-27 at Place des Arts' Cinquième Salle. Classical Chinese dance and music company Shen Yun brings a spectacular new show to Place des Arts, Jan. 11-14. Catch brilliant theatre that's off the beaten track at the Wildside Festival at Centaur Theatre Jan. 4-13. See cutting-edge immersive short films in the Society for Arts and Technology's 360-degree dome during SAT Fest, to Feb. 2. Explore the cosmos in two new immersive films at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium: EXO and Space Next, and go on a wild ride in IMAX with Amazon 3D and Incredible Predators 3D at the Montréal Science Centre. And the Phi Centre hosts the 17th Canada's Top Ten Film Festival Jan. 12-20, featuring shorts and feature films from the Toronto International Film Festival.

Leonard Cohen's Montréal

As part of Montréal's 375th anniversary and in honour of his artistic impact on the city and the world, Montréal celebrates Leonard Cohen. International exhibition Leonard Cohen – A Crack in Everything at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal features 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. And 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.

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Gallery hopping

From major museums to commercial galleries, original art abounds in Montréal. At the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Once Upon A Time… The Western gives the Western film genre new artistic life with a critical First Nations art twist – while there also see installation Kushapetshekan / Kosapitcikan by Eruoma Awashish, Meky Ottawa and Jani Bellefleur-Kaltush, Nadia Myre's Tout ce qui reste – Scattered Remains and WOOL WAR ONE, composed of 780 small knitted soldiers. Always a must-visit, DHC/ART in Old Montréal 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. Transformative exhibition Maria Hupfield. The One Who Keeps On Giving engages at Galerie de l'UQAM. The Montréal Science Centre presents Indigenous Ingenuity: Timeless Inventions alongside photo exhibition Regalia: Native Pride. See photography exhibition Gabor Szilasi: Le monde de l’art à Montréal, 1960-1980 at the McCord Museum. Lynda Gaudreau's project Out of Sight opens Jan. 13 at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, an “exhibition in development” that explores perception and what is outside our field of vision. In Mile-Ex, go to the Jan. 18 opening of Never Apart's Winter 2018 Exhibitions featuring artwork by 10 international and local multimedia artists. Mohawk artist Skawennati created kid-focused exhibition Teiakwanahstahsontéhrha' | We Extend the Rafters at VOXSBC Gallery presents All good things must begin, a conversation between Audre Lorde and Octavia E. Butler. And if you're looking for that perfect piece of art, check out our guide to where to buy art in Montréal.

Live music

On Friday night, get on the dance floor with electronic producer Öona Dahl at Newspeak and keep dancing on Saturday with G Jones & Eprom at Newspeak, producers Hook N Sling, Angelz and Rickyxsan at New City Gas and the winter season's Dômesicle Party, curated by artist collective 8day, at the Société des arts technologiques. Also on Jan. 13, Ebi – The 50 World Tour celebrates the King of Persian Pop as he embarks on his final world tour, at Place des Arts. On Sunday, French rapper Niska brings his smooth grooves to L'Olympia and Canadian country group James Barker Band gets toes tapping at Café Campus. On Tuesday, Jan. 16 catch Canadian R&B duo Majid Jordan with opener Stwo at MTelus. Wednesday night brings folk-soul singer-songwriter Bahamas and Mappe Of to Lion D’Or and Natural Wonder: The Ultimate Stevie Wonder Experience to the Corona Theatre. In classical music, Russian pianist Yevgeny Sudbin plays Rachmaninoff's Second Concerto with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal at Place des Arts' Maison symphonique, Jan. 9-13, and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal performs a concert of Beethoven and Tchaïkovski at Place des Arts' Maison symphonique Jan. 17-18. For more live music throughout the week, check out our picks for Where to hear live music in MontréalMontréal'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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