Things to do in Montréal January 5-11

Robyn Fadden

It's a new year in Montréal and we're starting it right this week with fireworks on Saturday night, ice skating and other wintery activities, warming food and drink, inspiring art, live rock and classical music and more.

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Wintery city sights

See the spectacular Natrel Fire on Ice fireworks light up Montréal's historic Old Port on Saturday night – from there you can also see the Jacques-Cartier Bridge illuminated by lighting artwork Living Connections, one of the flagship legacy projects for Montréal’s 375th anniversary last year. Old Montréal also sparkles with 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.

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Snow days

Experience the city like a Montrealer by spending time out in the snow with these classic-Montreal winter activities, from sledding on the Mountain to bird watching at the Botanical Garden. 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. Go ice skating, listen to live music and more at V Winter Village at Olympic Park, open every day from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., or skate to music next to the Saint-Lawrence River day or night at the Natrel Skating Rink – skate rentals are available at both sites. And watch the Montréal Canadiens play the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 7 at the Bell Centre – get your tickets at the only Canadiens authorized and secure site Ticket Vault.

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Indoor family activities

If you've had your fill of ice skating, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts offers free entry to the collections to Jan. 7 (also free to everyone under 30 at any time), along with several creative workshops, musical performances and films for kids – pick up your free passes at the front desk. Go on a Tropical Adventure to see the animals at play at the Biodôme and see animals in their natural winter wonderland habitat at the Ecomuseum Zoo – they'll be getting gifts from the zoo's elves to Jan. 7. History unfolds in Santa figurines and cartoons at the Stewart Museum to Jan. 7, while toys and fairytales take over in The Topsy-Turvy Storyland at the McCord Museum, with story hour and more activities over the holidays – free for kids 12 and under. Discover Montréal hockey history in exhibition Passion: Hockey at Pointe-à-Callière museum. 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.

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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

Experience a different kind of circus in Patinoire, a stunning and funny solo show by tightrope walker and high-energy performer Patrick Léonard at La Tohu circus centre to Jan. 6, and in 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. Laugh it up with the stand-up comedy of L.A.-based comedian Sebastian Maniscalco on his Stay Hungry Tour, Jan. 5-6 at Place des Arts, while Dave Merheje induces chuckles Jan. 4-6 at the Comedy Nest. Catch brilliant theatre that's off the beaten track at the Wildside Festival at Centaur Theatre Jan. 4-13. And see cutting-edge immersive short films in the Society for Arts and Technology's 360-degree dome during SAT Fest, Jan. 9 to Feb. 2.

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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Art for all

In over 400 works of art and artifact, Once Upon A Time… The Western gives the Western film genre new artistic life with a critical First Nations art twist at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts – 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. Inspiring art foundation DHC/ART in Old Montréal celebrates its 10th anniversary with dynamic group exhibition The Gift/L'Offre (attend a lecture and conversation with Lewis Hyde on the topic at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts on Jan. 11), as well as the pioneering video art and installation work of Bill Viola: Naissance à rebours. Engaging, transformative exhibition Maria Hupfield. The One Who Keeps On Giving opens the evening of Jan. 10 at Galerie de l'UQAM. The Montréal Science Centre presents Indigenous Ingenuity: Timeless Inventions alongside photo exhibition Regalia: Native Pride. Explore the golden age of magicians in the McCord Museum's Illusions: The Art of Magic to Jan. 7 and see photography exhibition Gabor Szilasi: Le monde de l’art à Montréal, 1960-1980. And if you're driving to or from the airport along Highway 20, keep an eye out for Alain Paiement's art work Bleu de Bleu.

Live music

On Saturday night, The Killers play fan favourites and new songs from their newest album Wonderful Wonderful at Place Bell, with opener Alex Cameron. Meanwhile, electronic music producers Laidback Luke, Cedric Gervais and Felix Cartalat welcome 2018 to the dancefloor at New City Gas. Heavy Montreal presents metal bands Black Label Society and Corrosion Of Conformity on Monday, Jan. 8 at MTelus. Swedish heavy metal band Avatar descends on L'Astral on Tuesday, Jan. 9, with openers The Brains. 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 a recital of works by Tchaikovsky and Scriabin on Jan. 11. On Jan. 10, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal performs The Passion of Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 at Place des Arts' Maison symphonique, while the legendary China National Symphony Orchestra performs iconic film scores at Place des Arts' Théâtre Maisonneuve. 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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