Things to do - March 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.

The month of March in Montréal this year doesn’t only bring the end of winter, but the beginning of new urban adventures. The month brims with more indoor events and more outdoor activities, alongside the full reopening of restaurants, bars and live theatre and music venues. Embrace the best of winter arts, culture and food at festival MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE and Nuit Blanche. Sit down to a seasonal meal at a restaurant or a sugar shack. Get tickets to a show any day of the week. Catch new films at the International Festival of Films on Art. Or let art and history inspire you at a museum. And there’s still time to go ice skating at downtown’s new rink Esplanade Tranquille!

Winter festival fun!

Even as winter fades into spring this month, there’s still time discover uniquely Montréal winter activities and entertainment, restaurants and cafés, shopping and more, whether you’re travelling solo, as a couple or as a family. One of the many free things to do this winter, interactive art playground Luminothérapie illuminates Place des Festivals until March 6. Ride giant seesaws, walk through a metal iceberg or among a field of “wheat,” hear a giant “whale” sing, watch joyful new projection artwork Adventures of the Night on the façade of the Grande Bibliothèque and more.

Adding to the fun in the Quartiers des spectacles and beyond, Montréal’s signature winter festival MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE showcases the city’s amazing food and culture from Feb 17 to March 5. The festival spans restaurants, indoor stages and a sprawling outdoor site with food, drink, live music, a kids activity area and luminous artworks throughout the Quartier des spectacles.

Skate on a new skating path and at Esplanade Tranquille at the corner of Sainte-Catherine and Clark, where you can watch circus show Cadence by Les 7 Doigts every evening! Stay out late on February 26 for epic all-nighter arts and culture event Nuit Blanche at venues city-wide. And whether you’re Irish or not, keep your ear to the ground for news about the return of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 20.
 

Parks, nature and skating!

Explore Montréal's many parks this month for winter walks and hikes or go sledding, cross-country skiing and ice skating! See incredible city views from Mount Royal Park, take a walk, snowshoe or cross-country ski through the forest paths, and go ice skating, snow tubing and sledding near Beaver Lake. Day or night, skate on the picturesque pond in Parc La Fontaine while the weather’s still cold. Cross the river to Parc Jean-Drapeau for cross-country skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, sledding and even fat biking – as at Mount Royal Park, you can rent equipment on site! While there, you can also visit the Biosphère Environment Museum.

Stroll along the peaceful snow-covered paths of the Montréal Botanical Garden or head indoors to experience nature in a different way in the amazing ecosystems of the Biodôme and at the incredible Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. Nearby outside the Olympic Stadium, check out the new Parc des Rails Dillon Ojo snowboard park or go rock climbing inside at Nomad Bloc. Head to the Ecomuseum Zoo to see local wildlife in their natural wintry outdoor habitats.

In Old Montréal, walk the snow-covered cobblestone streets to the frozen Saint-Lawrence River to visit the peacefully illuminated square outside Notre-Dame Basilica – inside, see gorgeous multimedia show AURA. Explore Old Montréal in a whole new way this winter with a free scavenger hunt created by Guidatour and the SDC du Vieux-Montréal. Go ice skating at the Old Port of Montréal Skating Rink and see incredible city and river views from the Observation Wheel.

Indoors, see how the pros skate as the Montréal Canadiens return to the ice at the Bell Centre throughout the month. 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 Grey.

Please note that some ice skating rinks may be closed because of the milder temperatures.
 

Spring break for families

Take time to relax and have fun with activities that happen throughout Québec’s March Spring Break from February 26 to March 6. Along with outdoor winter activities in the parks and downtown at MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE, go to Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex for spring break activities that include exhibition It’s Circus time! With spontaneous performances, music, clowns, and juggling and balancing workshops outdoors, plus the interactive Come Aboard! Pirates or Privateers? and more all week. While in Old Montréal, explore the area’s history and architecture on a family-friendly free scavenger hunt.

Indoors, see Disney on Ice show Mickey’s Search Party from March 3 to 6, at the Bell Centre, featuring Mickey Mouse and all manner of Disney pals. Visit Place des Arts in the afternoon from March 2 to 5 for free Semaine de relâche activities at Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme like puppet-making, circus arts and more. And watch new films from around the world at the Montréal International Children's Film Festival from February 26 to March 7.
 

Seasonal food and drink

We’ve been waiting all winter for the return of sugar shack season and it’s finally here! Indulge in Québécois traditional – and not so traditional – sugar shack meals at restaurants in the city and cabane à sucre in the surrounding countryside throughout March and into April

Experience creative dishes and comfort foods alike at Montréal’s incredible variety of restaurants. Take a seat at the city’s newest restaurants and “buvettes," plan for brunch with friends and family, or dig into long-time classics like smoked meat, poutine and Montréal bagels. Warm up with hot food for cold days in Montréal, including big bowls of ramen and a variety of Indian food. If you’re craving pizza, join the debate over who makes the best pizza in Montréal. Explore the wide variety of excellent meals at the downtown’s gourmet food halls, including Time Out Market, Marché Artisans, Le Cathcart Restaurants et Biergarten and Le Central - Manger Montréal, Whether you’re dining in person or ordering take-out and delivery, seasonal food and classic dishes are all on the menu in 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 shops and best chocolate shops. Warm up with hot chocolate, grab a sweet treat at local candy shops or pick up musts for foodies in Montréal. By night, mix cocktails at home with gin, vodka, rum and more specialty spirits from these Montréal specialty alcohol and spirit makers. For the beer lovers, discover the downtown’s beer culture with a new initiative by Montréal centre-ville brassicole culturel gourmand – and pick up a six pack from inventive Montréal microbreweries
 

Winter shopping

Find a new 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. 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.
 

March exhibitions and experiences

Montréal’s museums and art galleries inspire all year and make a warm, inviting place to visit in winter. 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, Ecologies: A Song for Our Planet and, starting March 17, Adam Pendleton, These Things We’ve Done Together.

The Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal installs multimedia exhibition Terror Contagion: Forensic Architecture with Laura Poitras at Place Ville Marie, featuring narration by Edward Snowden and music by Brian Eno. At home, explore immersive online exhibition Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything, a recreation of the MAC’s monumental show.

At the Phi Foundation for Contemporary Art, 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). Meanwhile, the Phi Centre showcases visual and audio journey An exhibition by Marven Clerveau: Visions Hip-Hop QC, immersive poetic journey Lashing Skies, The Disintegration Loops by William Basinski and more.

Galerie de l'UQAM launches the new year with DataffectS, a group exhibition bringing together seven artists and a collective from around the world. A massive immersive experience in surround sound and laser light, Oasis Immersion’s RECHARGER/Unwind and other sensory installations take over the ground floor of Palais des congrès – buy individual tickets or add it to your Passeport MTL. Surround yourself in the wonderful world of Imagine Monet at Arsenal Contemporary until March 27, featuring over 200 immersive projections of Monet’s paintings.

Among many free things to do this season, see new exhibitions at Bradley Ertaskiran in St. Henri, Hugues Charbonneau, Galerie B-312 and Elephant 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. Go on a Portrait Sonore sound walk downtown and on the Mountain. 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 whether in person or online: see fantastical and fun exhibition It’s Circus time! (until March 6), environmentally themed exhibition Frédéric Back: A Passion for the Planet, and don’t miss kid-friendly interactive display Come Aboard! Pirates or Privateers?, spring break activities and more. Go to the McCord Museum for radical fashion exhibition Parachute: Subversive Fashion of the ‘80s, discover the portrait work of JJ Levine: Queer Photographs, new permanent exhibition Indigenous Voices of Today: Knowledge, Trauma, Resilience and, starting March 25, Piqutiapiit, an exhibition by multidisciplinary Inuit artist Niap.

See exhibitions Middleground: Siting Dispossession and The Design of Carpets That Design Us at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. 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.

Returning for its 27th year, Concordia Universitys History in the Making interdisciplinary graduate student conference is offering two full days of free keynote presentations and panel discussions running the gamut from early 1990s HIV/AIDS activism, reflections on the Black Death and the deterioration of vintage porn on VHS in public archives. This year’s edition—Pandemic at the Disco: Bodies, Disruptions, Transformations—welcomes Ann Cvetkovich from Carleton University on public emotions in a time of pandemic, Mark Bookman from the University of Tokyo on global histories of disability, Travis Williams from Virginia Commonwealth University on environmental racism and the Montréal-based founder of Queering the MapLucas LaRochelle presenting their latest AI-driven project QT.bot. Find the full schedule and presentation information at pandemicatthedisco.ca.

On stage

Montréal’s winter cultural calendar expands this months, with new theatre, dance, music and more entertainment for everyone. See Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony-winning Broadway production Cats, at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier from March 8 to 13. Cirque Éloize conjures a galaxy of circus artistry in Celeste, a cabaret show presented at Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth.

Experience excellent local performances Logic of the worst by Étienne Lepage and Frédérick Gravel, 1, 2, maybe 3 and Confabulation: Good Date, Bad Date as part of the Wildside Remix at Centaur Theatre from March 2 to 12. Iron Maiden’s lead singer headlines An Evening with Bruce Dickinson at MTELUS on March 23. Fab New York comic and RuPaul's Drag Race season six winner Bianca Del Rio comes to MTELUS on March 21. 

In dance, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal presents a new version of the neoclassical ballet Romeo & Juliet, choreographed by Les Grands Ballets artistic director Ivan Cavallari, from March 23 to 27 at Place des Arts. New and experimental performances come to LaChapelle: this month, see Sam & Angèle by Sovann Rochon—Prom Tep, from March 7 to 11, blending dance, music and visual art in an exploration of pleasure, sacrality, self-love and doubt. And catch a new season of contemporary dance at Agora de la danse and Tangente. Italian pianist Gabriele Carcano will be giving a free concert on March 30 at 7:30 p.m. at the École de musique Vincent-d'Indy in Outremont. Reservations are required.

On screen

The International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA) returns to theatres and online with hundreds of features and shorts covering the wide world of art, from March 15 to 27, opening with the world premiere of Hugo Latulippe ’s film Je me soulève. For families, the Montréal International Children's Film Festival sparks young minds with new kid-focused local and international films, from February 26 to March 7, while the Montréal Science Centre’s IMAX cinema puts nature on the giant screen in all its glory.

The Massimadi Montréal Afro-Caribbean LGBTQ+ Film and Arts Festival goes virtual during Black History Month, featuring new shorts and feature films from around the world, discussions and more from February 11 to March 11. And Vues d’Afrique International Film Festival screens films from Africa and the African diaspora from March 26 to April 10. And immerse yourself in the imagined worlds of SATFEST 2022 under the multimedia dome of the Society for Arts and Technology, from March 8 to 12.

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, including in-person and virtual screenings from Cinéma du ParcCinéma du Musée and Cinémathèque québécoise. Explore the city through cinema in these Hollywood movies made in Montréal. And travel through cinematic Virtual Reality with the Phi Centre’s VR to Go.
 

Classical concerts

The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal performs concerts at Maison Symphonique throughout March and features online concerts and playlists through the orchestra’s website. Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the OSM and Russian pianist Alexander Malofeev in a Monumental program from March 9 to 13 and in concert Dreamer on March 16 and 17 with soprano Measha Brueggergosman. Guest conductor Dina Gilbert leads The OSM to the Hip-Hop Beat on March 29 and 30 with Quebec hip-hop artists Dead Obies and Alaclair Ensemble, rap masters Koriass, Sarahmée, Calamine and FouKi accompanied by partner QuietMike.

The Orchestre Métropolitain performs concert Nielsen and Bartók: Two Concertos, with and Yukari Cousineau on violin on March 26. Pro Musica presents accomplished cellist Dominique Beauséjour-Ostiguy and pianist Jean-Michel Dubé in a Mélodînes concert on March 1 at Place des Arts. Maestro Boris Brott conducts the Orchestre classique de Montréal in a staged and abridged version of Bizet‘s iconic opera Carmen on March 8 and 9. The FILMharmonic Orchestra and Choir performs Holst’s epic Planets suite on March 27 at Maison symphonique. And the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Orchestra World Tour comes to Place des Arts on March 28.

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: this month’s include Women of the Baroque Era concerts from March 4 to 6, Les Violins du Roy on March 18, and much more. And Festival de la Voix returns to the West Island from March 19 to April 10 with seven concerts, a number of workshops, and more in a mix of styles and voices. 
 

More live music

Live music returns to most Montréal venues this month too! At the Bell Centre this month, see Sebastian Maniscalco on March 18, Bad Bunny on March 23 and Justin Bieber on March 29, while American rapper Tyler, The Creator comes to Place Bell on March 9, followed by Tame Impala on March 10. At MTELUS this month, see Tom Misch on March 15, Parcels on March 18, electronic artist Lane 8 on March 19, Bianca del Rio on March 23 and Geoffroy on March 26.

Indie Montreal presents music and multimedia event Insolitudes 2, featuring The Liquor Store, Rayannah, Millimetrik and more artists on March 1, 2 and 3 at Le Balcon. Also 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. Catch Wet Leg at Bar le Ritz on March 8. Soulful Montréal star Chiiild is at the Corona Theatre on March 14, followed by Sepultura on March 17 and Parquet Courts on March 18.

Dance to the sweet electronic beat of Elevation MTL on March 18 at Olympic Stadium, with music by Carl Cox, Dubfire, Joseph Capriati and Nicole Moudaber. On March 19, girl in red comes to Club Soda, while Mitski performs at St-Jean-Baptiste Church, and Ellen Allien moves the dancefloor at the SAT. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is at Bar le Ritz on March 22, and Black Midi rocks the SAT on March 28.

Sit in on an acoustic session with Cédric Dind-Lavoie and Plants and Animals at LaChappelle on March 25. The new Brit Floyd production Echoes 2020 comes to Place des Arts on March 29. See immersive concert-style theatre show The Simon and Garfunkel Story on March 30 at Place des Arts. Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett performs with a full band at Place des Arts on March 31.
 

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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