Things to do in Montréal March 9-15

As we enter the final weeks of winter in Montréal, the city gets even brighter with outdoor multimedia art, butterflies in the Botanical Garden, an international film festival on art, Spring Break fun for families and friends alike, plus more activities, food and drink, art, film, theatre, dance and live music.

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Bright city sights

Montréal keeps late-winter nights bright across the city. See 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 on the Façade of UQAM's Président-Kennedy Pavillon across from Place des Arts. Discover another side of downtown in Art Souterrain, turning Montréal’s Underground City into a 3-kilometre art gallery. Warm up all over with a view of sparkling Old Montréal and the Saint Lawrence River at Bota Bota floating spa, one of Montréal's best spas. Take in the city lights from the comfort of the La Grande Roue de Montréal observation wheel, the Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown or the Montréal Tower at Olympic Stadium. Bright lights hit the NHL ice as the Montréal Canadiens take on the Stars on March 13 and the Penguins on March 15 – get your tickets from secure Canadiens-authorized site Ticket Vault. Meanwhile, Montréal's pro CWHL team Les Canadiennes play the Calgary Inferno in a Pink in the Rink fundraiser game for breast cancer on March 10 at Complexe Sportif Bell. Discover Montréal hockey history in the last few days of exhibition Passion: Hockey at Pointe-à-Callière museum. And follow our guide to Montréal's most famous icons to see more of the city's unique architecture.


Spring Break playtime

Montréal's Spring Break for kids is almost over, but there's still plenty of fun things to do. Enter the tropics and see hundreds of butterflies and moths at the Botanical Garden’s Butterflies Go Free event. Check out the Disney on Ice Dare to Dream show March 7-11 at the Bell Centre, the Festival International du Film pour Enfants de Montréal screening films made for kids to March 11, Jamie Adkins - A Fool’s Errand theatre show at Place des Arts March 6-10, plus free activities for kids in Espace Culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme and a marionette exhibition at Place des Arts too. Play video games, board games and more in a fun atmosphere during festival Montréal Joue, in the Quartier des Spectacles and in the city's libraries to March 11. Children's theatre show The Woods Witch comes to Centaur Theatre on the morning of March 10. If the weather's snowy, go for these free things to do this winter and classic Montréal winter activities, from sledding on the Mountain to bird watching at the Botanical Garden. Follow our ultimate guide to ice skating in Montréal, including refrigerated rinks at Olympic Park's V Winter Village and Old Montréal's Natrel Skating Rink, open no matter what the weather. For something different, try old-fashioned curling and snowshoeing in the Stewart Museum's courtyard, a visit to see the animals in their winter habitats at the Ecomuseum Zoo. Or climb aboard the Circus Train and see miniature train layouts, live circus acts and more at the Exporail Railway Museum.


Food and drink

It's the end of winter in Montréal but you can get a taste of the tropics in Montréal's sunniest restaurants, cafés and bars. Or warm up with hot food for cold days, from spicy Indian food to big bowls of ramen, or classic Montréal-style traditional terroir, high tea and more gourmet meals. From creatively casual to classically French, these restaurants let you bring your own wine. 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 follow our guide to sugar shack season to feast at a traditional cabane à sucre. 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. Or discover a wide world of health-conscious food in Montréal along with vegan options in our ultimate guide to vegan eating in Montréal. Whether your tipple is fine wine, creative cocktails or micro-brewed beer, spend some time sampling it 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. 


Leonard Cohen's Montréal

Montréal celebrates Leonard Cohen and his legacy in many ways this season. 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 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 (visibility, reflection, representation, perception), and The Gaze Listens, an auditory contemplation of art. 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, plus a related storytelling event on March 13. Also at the museum, take an archival tour of the hidden shmata trade history of the Vineberg Building.

On stage

Montréal's winter-spring dance season continues in fine form this week with Les Grands Ballets double-bill presentation of The Firebird by American choreographer Bridget Breiner and The Rite of Spring by France's Étienne Béchard, March 15-24 at Place des Arts, as well as choreographer Catherine Gaudet's Tout ce qui va revient, a trilogy of powerful solos performed by Clara Furey, Louise Bédard and Jolyane Langlois, March 7–15 at LaChapelle, and Jérémie Niel's invitation to peer in on 15 characters in an enclosed space in Elle respire encore March 14–17 at Agora de la danse. In this season's English-language theatre calendar, see Marjorie Prime, a Pulitzer Prize Finalist play about an aging woman who shares her memories with a companion robot in the image of her late husband, at the Segal Centre until March 18; Canadian puppet mastermind Ronnie Burkett is a must-see at Centaur Theatre until March 24 as he brings The Daisy Theatre to life, a wild one-man show populated by 40 lively, and sometimes bawdy, puppet characters; Black Theatre Workshop presents Djennie Laguerre's one-woman show Rendez-vous with Home, a tale of two sisters sent to Haiti for the first time ever, to bury their estranged father – March 10-11 at the MAI.


On screen

The International Festival of Films on Art runs March 8-18, featuring mind-expanding features, shorts, documentaries and events dedicated to the wide world of art – we've picked 7 must-see art films in this year's dynamic program. Old Montréal's Phi Centre hosts the Virtual Reality Garden to March 10 and photojournalist Karim Ben Khelifa's virtual reality installation The Enemy / Ennemi, revealing the human side of global conflicts. In the 360-degree multimedia dome of the Society for Arts and Technology, immerse yourself in the impossible audiovisual world of Liquid Architecture. 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.


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 see major exhibition Napoleon: Art and Court Life in the Imperial Palace, along with installation Kushapetshekan / Kosapitcikan and Nadia Myre's Tout ce qui reste – Scattered Remains. Catch the last few days of DHC/ART's celebrated 10th anniversary exhibition The Gift/L'Offre alongside the pioneering video art and installation work of Bill Viola: Naissance à rebours – on until March 11. Peer into the city'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 open March 10 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. And the UQAM Centre de Design presents an exhibition on design firm Foster + Partners. The Montréal Science Centre presents Indigenous Ingenuity: Timeless Inventions. Artist Hanna Abd El Nour's Utopie(s) tackles questions of identity, memory and collective imaginary, featuring a chorus of 15 performers in life tableau performances, to March 10 at Arsenal. Get introspective about societal shifts and success with new installation Trapped by Atelier New Regime at the Phi Centre March 3-15. Multi-artist exhibition The Material Turn focuses on contemporary textile practices in the digital age, at Galerie FOFA and Concordia University's long-running Art Matters festival continues with exhibitions at the VAV gallery, Espace POP, Mainline Gallery, articule and more happening spaces. Experience fashion as art by following Montréal's high-end designers guide to find 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's a hot one: local avant-rock favourites SUUNS launch their new album Felt with opener Security at Le National, the great and wonderful Jonathan Richman plays a second show at La Sala Rossa, emo rockers Dashboard Confessional return with openers The Elwins to Théâtre Corona, Greek death metal band Septicflesh gets loud at L’Astral, Australian indie pop singer-songwriter Amy Shark plays Cabaret Lion D'or, and EDM duo DVBBS gets everyone dancing at New City Gas. On Saturday, eclectic French singer-songwriter Fishbach comes to L’Astral, it's a night of grooves with electronic musician Nightmares On Wax and DJ Lexis and Soundshaper at Théâtre Fairmount, and electro dance music thrills with Israeli producer Guy Gerber at New City Gas. On Sunday, Nashville's Judah & The Lion folk-rock out at Théâtre Corona, popular Egyptian indie band Massar Egbari fuses eastern and western music, with openers The Rising Few at Place des Arts, drift in the dreamy soundscapes of Ella Vos and Freya Ridings at Petit Campus, and indie-punks Titus Andronicus play Bar Le Ritz PDB.

The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal presens organist Nathan J. Laube at Maison symphonique March 11, featuring Brahms's Academic Festival overture and more. Brooklyn art-post-punk band PILL and opener Barry Paquin Roberge shake up L'Escogriffe on Wednesday, March 14. Kent Nagano conducts Orchestre symphonique de Montréal concert The Prague of Mozart and Dvořák, featuring three solo violinists from the OSM, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the National Arts Centre Orchestra, March 14-15 at Maison symphonique. Also on March 15, the Atelier Lyrique de l'Opéra de Montréal and the Canadian Opera Company perform a wide-ranging and fabulously free concert on March 15 at noon at Bon-Pasteur Historic Chapel. That night, let Flamenca Night with Mirada Flamenco enchant you at Le Balcon Cabaret Music-Hall, while instrumental psych-rock outfit Earthless and Kikagaku Moyo get loose at L’Astral and English singer-songwriter and rapper Craig David headlines Théâtre Fairmount. 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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