Things to do in Montréal January 26 to February 1

In the midst of winter this week, Montréal brings on the good times and party vibes with winter activities for families at Fêtes des Neiges, electronic dance music at Igloofest, new opera, circus, dance and theatre, gallery hopping, extravagant meals, classical and rock music and more.

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Wintery activities

If you're looking for outdoor activities in the snow, head over to family-friendly Fêtes des Neiges this weekend in Parc Jean-Drapeau, with ice slides, snow tubing, a zip line, dog sledding, entertainment and more. 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 the V Winter Village at Olympic Park or 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 to Jan. 28 – look up to see dreamlike architectural video projection Les Lointaines and show up Jan. 27-28 to roast (free) marshmallows over an open fire! And dance like you've never danced before: outdoors to the electronic beats of Igloofest in the Old Port – on Friday hear the sounds of Dutch producer Oliver Heldens along with great locals, on Saturday afternoon it's the Off Igloo free family afternoon with Tupi Collective, Poirier and Tizi, followed by a night of music and mayhem with Misstress Barbara, Rafa Barrios and more electro producers – then on Feb. 1, DJ Esco kicks off Igloofest's Weekend #3.

Snowy city sights

Follow our guide to Montréal's most famous icons to see the city's famed architecture and other unique sights. Visit the Buckminster Fuller-designed Biosphère to see the city anew in exhibition Planète MTL and see Montréal 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, one of Montréal's best spas. Old Montréal 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. Indoors, see the animals at play in the tropics and beyond at the Biodome and discover Montréal hockey history in exhibition Passion: Hockey at Pointe-à-Callière museum. On the ice, watch CWHL champions Les Canadiennes play Vanke Rays on Jan. 27, 28 and 30 at Aréna Michel Normandin, and while the Montréal Canadiens aren't playing any home games this week, you can still get tickets from secure Canadiens-authorized site Ticket Vault.


Decadent food and drink

While exploring Old Montréal, enjoy a delicious multi-course meal or gourmet brunch at the 11th edition of Happening Gourmand, until Feb. 4 at BEVO Bar + Pizzeria, Taverne Gaspar, Kyo Bar Japonais, Méchant Boeuf, Modavie, Brasserie 701, Verses Bistro, Vieux-Port Steakhouse and Maggie Oakes. January weather calls for just the right hot food for cold days, from spicy Indian food to big bowls of ramen. Warm up in classic Montréal style with traditional terroir, high tea and more gourmet meals. Or get cozy next to a fireplace at several great bars and restaurants. 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. 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 brand new Montréal restaurants 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. And if your New Year is all about eating well, there's plenty of genuinely delicious health-conscious food in Montréal too.


Leonard Cohen's Montréal

In honour of his artistic impact on the city and the world, Montréal celebrates Leonard Cohen this winter with 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. Also at the Musée this week, catch dancer-choreographer Clara Furey's dance cycle When Even The, inspired by the poems of Leonard Cohen. 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

Poetic world-changing drama unfolds in JFK by composer David T. Little and librettist and lyricist Royce Vavrek, presented by Opéra de Montréal at Place des Arts Jan. 27 to Feb. 3. Bask in the beautiful multimedia circus spectacle Temporel by Lemieux Pilon and Les 7 Doigts circus company, Jan. 10-27 at Place des Arts' Cinquième Salle. TAO: Drum Heart blends high-energy performances and choreography with the ancient art of Japanese drumming, at Place des Arts Jan. 31 to Feb. 1. Montréal's winter-spring dance season heats up as Danse Danse presents a meditative exploration of nature and life in The Eternal Tides by Lin Lee-Chen’s Taipei-based troupe Legend Lin Dance Theatre at Place des Arts Jan. 24-27, and Agora de la danse presents Icône Pop by Mélanie Demers, George Stamos's live installation Recurrent Measures, and Peter Quanz's Instant Community interactive experience, Jan. 24-28. In this season's English-language theatre calendar, a 1960s Québec tale of two young Lebanese women, their families 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, while Hanna Abd El Nour’s Voyage(s) speaks of identity, memory, utopia and freedom through the figures of Ulysses, Don Quixote and Peer Gynt, at LaChapelle to Feb. 3, and the Dawson Professional Theatre Program brings the beloved characters of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice to life. See cutting-edge immersive short films in the Society for Arts and Technology's 360-degree dome during SAT Fest, to Feb. 2. Cinema Politica Concordia presents First Voices - An Evening of Indigenous Cinema on Jan. 29. 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 Jan. 23 to Feb. 12 as well as screenings from Paris’s prestigious Cinéma Paradiso Jan. 29 to Feb. 3, including a talk with director and screenwriter Kim Nguyen on Jan. 29.


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. 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 and Nadia Myre's Tout ce qui reste – Scattered Remains. 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. 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. 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 at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery is an “exhibition in development” that explores perception and what is outside our field of vision. In Mile-Ex, Never Apart's Winter 2018 Exhibitions features artwork by 10 international and local multimedia artists. SBC 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 to bring home with you, check out our guide to where to buy art in Montréal.

Live music

If you're not dancing outdoors in your brightest ski jacket at Igloofest or hitting up the Igloofest afterparties, spend Friday evening with musicians of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal in their Vienna and Paris 1800 concert at the Museum of Fine Arts' Bourgie Hall, or spend the evening with Sass Jordan at L'Astral. Also on Friday night: dance to soulful fun sounds of Busty and the Bass and Pierre Kwenders at Théâtre Corona, groove to the reggae sounds of Collie Buddz and Jo Mersa Marley at MTelus, or rock out with Detroit's Flint Eastwood at L'Esco and Moon King and Tess Roby at Brasserie Beaubien. Saturday brings noise-pop duo Sleigh Bells to L'Astral, Chicago producer Lee Foss and Moon Boots to New City Gas and the Dômesicle party winter edition at the Société des arts technologiques. Meanwhile, the new LUX MAGNA festival adds its cool vibes to the weekend with indie rock, hip hop electronic, a battle of the brass bands, workshops and more.

On Sunday, I Musici De Montréal plays the complete cantatas of J.S. Bach - Year 4 at Bourgie Hall. Wednesday night brings Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox to MTelus and French pianist Philippe Cassard performs a selection of piano works by Debussy at Bourgie Hall. On Thursday, Feb. 1, Orchestre Métropolitain and cellist Stéphane Tétreault play Maison symphonique, high-energy indie-pop group Madaila comes to MTelus, Igloofest's third weekend kicks off while British drum and bass godfather Roni Size keeps things real at Théâtre Fairmount, and doom metal band The Skull, featuring three members of classic 80s metal band Trouble, shake up Bar to Le Ritz PDB. 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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