Things to do in Montréal March 30 to April 5

Robyn Fadden

The first week of April in Montréal brings with it traditional Québécois sugar shack meals, an Easter Weekend to remember, high-tech Digital Spring events, art from Napoleon's Imperial Palace and more excellent art, food, film, theatre, dance and live music.

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Easter weekend

Whether you're with family or friends, make the most of a four-day Easter Weekend in Montréal – after all, it's officially spring! Dig in to the abundant seasonal meals at Québec sugar shacks in and around Montréal, including La Cabane chez Jean in Parc Jean-Drapeau, chef Laurent Godbout’s Un Chef à l’Érable and Panache et Bois Rond. Step into a bright natural world as hundreds of butterflies and moths flit through the air at the Botanical Garden’s Butterflies Go Free event, visit the Biodôme to see plants and animals from five different ecosystems (only open until April 2 before major renovations!), and kids can meet the real Easter Bunny and get their faces painted while eating chocolate among the animals at the Ecomuseum Zoo or hunt for eggs among celebrity likenesses at the Musée Grévin wax museum. At Notre-Dame Basilica special ceremonies are open to all and Saint Joseph’s Oratory presents special masses. There's an Easter Concert at Cinquième Salle at Place des Arts on April 1, while on April 2 Maestro Michel Brousseau conducts the Société philharmonique du Nouveau Monde in Carl Orff's Carmina Burana at Maison symphonique.

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Springtime sights

See the whole city from the comfort of the La Grande Roue de Montréal observation wheel in the Old Port, the Observatoire Place Ville Marie in the heart of downtown or the Montréal Tower at Olympic Stadium at Olympic Park. At night, spot some of Montréal's high-tech wonders and flagship legacy 375th anniversary projects in Old Montréal, such as the historic tableaux projections of Cité Memoire and multimedia wonder AURA at Notre-Dame Basilica. Downtown, look up to see the magical animated projections of 100 Millions d'idées outside in Place des Arts until March 31 – then, starting April 5, watch for the intergalactic antics and disco stylings of Space Monkey, part of this year's Digital Spring events at galleries, museums and cultural centres across the city. Follow our guide to Montréal's most famous icons for more of the city's unique sights and architecture. And as Montréal begins its thaw, the NHL ice stays frozen as the Montréal Canadiens take on the NJ Devils on April 1 and the Winnipeg Jets on April 3 at the Bell Centre – get your tickets from Ticket Vault.

 

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Food and drink

After indulging at a sugar shack, spring clean your eating habits at these great health-conscious restaurants and the many vegan options in our ultimate guide to vegan eating in Montréal. On the other hand... for tried-and-true Québécois classic dishes, follow our guides to the best poutine, the best Montréal bagels and the best smoked meat, along with more musts for foodies visiting Montréal and where to go shopping for foodies too. And discover amazingly delicious chocolate creations made by Montréal's top chocolatières. Warm up with hot food for cold days, from spicy Indian food to big bowls of ramen and pho. From creatively casual to classically French, these restaurants let you bring your own wine. Take it easy at these new casual restaurants in Montréal or grab a quick bite at Montréal lunch counters. If you're on the hunt for a favourite haunt, try these restaurants open from brunch to well past dinner. Sip some of the best hot chocolate in the city, incredible coffee at Montréal's indie coffee shops, Montréal's best bubble tea and great drinks at creative cocktail bars. Spend some time sampling your favourite tipple in the mood lighting of Montréal's new bars and brasseries. And if you're here with friends for Spring Break, indulge in all Montréal can offer when it comes to amazing food, sweet socializing and late-night fun.

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Leonard Cohen's Montréal

Montréal celebrates Leonard Cohen and his legacy in immersive international exhibition Leonard Cohen – A Crack in Everything at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, inspired by Leonard Cohen's life, music and writing – an absolute must-see before it closes on April 9. 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, and sit in a 1963 Impala outside the museum to experience sound installation AUTOPHONIE until April 2. Dancer-choreographer Clara Furey's dance cycle When Even Then, inspired by the poems of Cohen, also graces the Musée this week. 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.

Dance and opera

Montréal's winter-spring dance season continues this week as Danse Danse and special event Printemps nordique present Norway's zero visibility corp.'s Again, choreographed by company founder Ina Christel Johannessen, April 5-7 at Place des Arts, Pluton - Acte 3 sees lauded choreographer-dancers collaborate with each other in fascinating intergeneration performances – Benoît Lachambre and Dana Michel, Peter James and Katie Ward – at LaChapelle to March 31, and Dana Gingras's installation-performance-concert Another intrigues at Agora de la danse April 4-14. And see Serbian composer Ana Sokolović's emotional chamber opera Svadba, designed for six voices of women a cappella and produced by the Opéra de Montréal, at Espace Go March 24-31.

On screen

An immersive virtual reality experience inspired by space travel, climate change, and mass migration, Particles of Existence explores the universe at a non-human scale, giving us new perspectives on life's big questions, at the Phi Centre. In the multimedia dome of the Society for Arts and Technology, immerse yourself in Liminality, an international collaborative work of live contemporary dance, music and film production in a 360-degree environment to March 31, followed by the audio-visual magic of “piano-light” concert Les planètes April 3-7, an interpretation of composer Walter Boudreau's The Planets. Explore the cosmos in immersive films EXO and Space Next at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. Go on a wild ride in IMAX with Tiny Giants, Amazon 3D and Incredible Predators 3D at the Montréal Science Centre. And Martin Frigon's documentary Cities Held Hostage addresses pressing issues of urban planning, the environment, corruption and democracy at Cinéma du Parc.

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Museums and galleries

At the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts see major exhibition Napoleon: Art and Court Life in the Imperial Palace featuring over 400 paintings and other art objects, along with Nadia Myre's Scattered Remains, activities for kids and more. Peer into Montréal's past through photography exhibitions Gabor Szilasi: Le monde de l’art à Montréal, 1960-1980 and Michel Campeau: Life Before Digital at the McCord Museum. New exhibitions delight at Galerie de l'UQAM: Earthlings featuring ceramics and works on paper by contemporary Canadian artists, including Shary Boyle, Shuvinai Ashoona and Pierre Aupilardjuk; and Masters student Leyla Majeri's Don't Blame Us If We Get Playful. The UQAM Centre de Design presents an exhibition on design firm Foster + Partners. Lab Cult at the Canadian Centre for Architecture explores the unorthodox history of interchanges between science and architecture. Gilles Carle – Sharing and Heritage opens on Saturday, March 31 at Arsenal art contemporain Montréal, gathering for the first time the entire body of painting by the Québec filmmaker. Multi-artist exhibition The Material Turn focuses on contemporary textile practices in the digital age, at Galerie FOFA. Interdisciplinary artist and writer Rob Dayton launches darkly funny book The Empty Bed with a reading and a performance as The Canadian Romantic on March 31 at 4 p.m. at Monastiraki. Fashion is an art in the hands of these Montréal's high-end designers making classic and edgy ready-to-wear and unique accessories for all tastes. Or go antiquing along the Canal for unique treasures. 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

Friday night goes electro as Parisian electronic musician Darius immerses us in his creative ambient chillness at the SAT, drum-and-bass producer D-Bridge comes to Théâtre Fairmount, and platinum-selling artist and label boss Kevin Saunderson plays Newspeak with opener Max Hébert, while Irish band The Strypes rocks Petit Campus and Dead Meadow gets us in a psychedelic indie state at L'Escogriffe. On Saturday, March 31, none other than rockabilly and psychobilly king Reverend Horton Heat comes to Café Campus, UK collective Superorganism and opener Helena Deland go for high-energy deep-internet psych-pop at Le Belmont, American folk band Field Report and guests Campdogzz strum up a sweet time at L'Escogriffe, join British trio Shopping and openers Tyvek and Hélène Barbier for a night of post-punk joys at Bar Le Ritz PDB, and dance the night away to the electro beats of Will Sparks at New City Gas. On April 1, the 20th AOJQ Festival Gala Concert brings together eight youth orchestras from around Québec to play under four international conductors at Maison symphonique, and alt-folk musician S. Carey, also known as the drummer and supporting vocalist for Bon Iver, plays Bar Le Ritz PDB with openers Gordi and Cedric Noel.

On Monday, April 2, hear Palestinian-Filipino American singer-songwriter and label head Hanni El Khatib at Le Belmont, the shoegazey indie-pop of Lo Moon and Kraus at L'Escogriffe, and guitarist-singer-songwriter and former member of The Strokes Albert Hammond Jr. at L’Astral with openers The Marías. On April 3, French trip-hop-influenced rap collective Chinese Man play Shikantaza Live with openers Poirier and DJ Noyl at L'Olympia. Bon Jovi rocks fans with all the hits for two nights at the Bell Centre, April 4-5. Also on April 4, dance to electro-pop duo Sylvan Esso and opener Suzi Analogue at Théâtre Corona and Austin indie-pop-folk band Wild Child comes to Théâtre Fairmount with guests The Wild Reeds. And on Thursday, April 5 pianist Beatrice Rana plays Brahms with the NAC Orchestra at Maison symphonique, don't miss the dreamy sounds of local faves Milk & Bone at Théâtre Corona, indie-rockers Public Access T.V. and Honduras play Petit Campus, soulful singer-songwriter Charlotte Day Wilson entrances at Théâtre Plaza, and Brooklyn-based electronic producer Yaeji lets loose at the Phi Centre. For more live music throughout the week, check out our picks on how to get your nightlife on in Montréal, 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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