Things to do in Montréal April 20-26

Robyn Fadden

This week in Montréal, make music on high-tech 21 Swings, indulge in the culinary fare of sugar shack season, explore the lives of the Queens of Egypt, scoop up gorgeous art works at Papier, and discover more excellent art, food, film, dance, theatre and music.

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Montréal spring sights

Among the many free things to do this spring in Montréal, swing into the season with 21 Swings, a colourful set of high-tech swings that let you make music in harmony with others in the Quartier des Spectacles. At night, watch for the intergalactic antics and disco stylings of Space Monkey, wild outdoor projections that are part of this year's Digital Spring events. Nearby, Montréal's collective identity and myriad differences can be seen in the suspended spiral staircase of Our DNA by artist Patrick Bérubé. Get a bird's eye perspective on Montréal from the Observatoire Place Ville Marie in the heart of downtown, the Montréal Tower at Olympic Park and on La Grande Roue de Montréal observation wheel in the Old Port. Follow our guide to Montréal's most famous icons to see more of the city's unique sights and architecture. At night, spot some of Montréal's high-tech wonders and flagship legacy 375th anniversary projects, including Cité Memoire and AURA. See 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. Indoors, 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. Get to know Montréal's pro sports scene this year, starting with our Major League Soccer team the Montréal Impact – with new players and a 25th anniversary to celebrate, they play the Los Angeles Football Club on April 21 at Saputo Stadium – and if you're a baseball fan, check out our exclusive peek into the world's biggest collection of Montréal Expos memorabilia. Find all these activities and more at your fingertips with My Official Montréal City Guide, a new travel app that lets you experience the city like a Montrealer.

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Seasonal food and drink

Sugar shack season celebrates maple syrup and all the traditional and inventive dishes that go with it – pile your plate high with seasonal dishes at Québec sugar shacks in and around Montréal, like La Cabane chez Jean in Parc Jean-Drapeau. Meanwhile, the Olympic Park's Esplanade Financière Sun Life transforms into a family-friendly village for sugaring-off time: Le temps des sucres offers signature meals from four Québec chefs from April 19 to 22. For more 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. 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 spring inspires a change to your eating habits, try these great health-conscious restaurants and the many vegan options in our ultimate guide to vegan eating in Montréal.

On stage

Montréal's winter-spring dance season continues this week as Danse Danse presents Threshold, an astonishing dance on ice by Le Patin Libre at Aréna St-Louis in the Mile End, April 11-22. Part of the Printemps nordique events, Helsinki-based Tero Saarinen Company's contemporary dance work Breath blends invigorating physicality and humour, featuring accordionist Kimmo Pohjonen, April 17-21 at Place des Arts' Cinquième salle. Running Piece by Jacques Poulin-Denis offers “a reflection on contemporary society and its contradictions” from April 18 to 21 at Agora de la danse, followed by the atypical dancing bodies in Les rois de la piste by Thomas Lebrun from April 25 to 28. Malik Nashad Sharpe and Ellen Furey embody notions of solidarities across borders in SOFTLAMP.autonomies and Andrew Tay, François Lalumière and Katarzyna Szugajew queer spirituality in Fame Prayer / EATING, both beginning May 23 at La Chapelle. In theatre: The Angel & the Sparrow is based on the true story of Marlene Dietrich and Edith Piaf, featuring 20 unforgettable songs at the Segal Centre; Michaela Di Cesare's new Italian-Canadian family dramedy Successions begins at Centaur Theatre; Théâtre à corps perdus's Unit B-1717 takes place among storage units in a warehouse, unravelling the mystery of one woman's memories; Infinithéâtre's epic play Fight On! re'rights' history about occupation and colonization of the Canadian West, at Espace Knox from April 10 to 22. And authors from Québec and throughout Canada and the world come to literature festival Blue Metropolis, from April 20 to 29, featuring readings, talks, awards ceremonies, a special series on LGBTQ literature, the Blue Metropolis Children's Festival and more!

On screen

See more of the world during Montréal’s Vues d’Afrique International Film Festival, the most important African and Creole film festival in North America, presenting 88 new films from 33 countries this year, until April 22 at the Cinémathèque Québécoise. 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. On April 22, the Phi Centre rallies for Earth Day with screenings of documentary La terre vue du cœur by Iolande Cadrin-Rossignol, a conference titled Pollution plastique: tout petit la planète, and Sink or Swim, a zero waste installation and capsule collection by local artist-designer Colin Meredith. In the multimedia Satosphere dome of the Society for Arts and Technology, immerse yourself in the audio-visual worlds of two features, Cage and Lost, as well as the short immersive experiences of international presentation Connexions (CHI 2018). Explore the cosmos in films EXO, The Blind Man with the Starry Eyes and more 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 the Cinémathèque québécoise hosts a retrospective of Ingmar Bergman and presents new activist documentary Tomorrow’s Power by Amy Miller.

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Museums and galleries

Dedicated entirely to works of art on paper, Montréal's Papier art fair welcomes 40 galleries showing works by 300 artists, from April 20 to 22 – see it all at Arsenal gallery, attend an artist talk or a tour, and even take some of the affordably priced art home. At the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, see Napoleon: Art and Court Life in the Imperial Palace, featuring over 400 paintings and other art objects, along with Nadia Myre's Scattered Remains, the drawings of From the Hands of the Masters II From Parmigianino to Matisse, design show Bon Appetit! Contemporary Foodware Designs in Quebec, activities for kids and more. Travel way back in time in the Queens of Egypt exhibition at Pointe-à-Callière. In acclaimed painting and sculpture woven through with the artist's signature use of the bindi, Bharti Kher Points de départ, points qui lient explores hybridity, the female body and the nonphysical in the material world, at DHC/ART. At the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, The Prophets features small sculptures by Richard Ibghy and Marilou Lemmens, while That's How the Light Gets In frames art in terms of light. As part of Printemps nordique, multimedia artist collective Dark Matters from Denmark present otherworldly animated video Leges Motus on 35 screens at Place des Arts, while photographer Fred Ivar Utsi Klemetsen's Frost - The life and culture of the Sámi depicts the life and culture of an indigenous Arctic people. 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. Explore Mile Ex and stop by gallery Never Apart to see the Spring / Printemps 2018 Exhibition. Lab Cult, at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, addresses the unorthodox history of interchanges between science and architecture. Fashion is an art in the hands of these Montréal high-end designers. Go antiquing along the Canal for unique treasures. And check out our guide to where to buy art in Montréal.

Live music

On Friday night, avant-garde music legends The Residents rally at Théâtre Fairmount, the Orchestre Métropolitain presents concert Molinari & Pictures at an Exhibition at Maison symphonique, and it's an Afrofuturist musical dream with Elle's Black Space Mission: An Afrodiasporic Odyssey from April 20 to 21 at MAI. On Saturday, English singer-songwriter George Ezra and opener Noah Kahan rock Théâtre Corona, Montréal indie-dream-pop band Young Galaxy releases gorgeous new album Downtime, with opener Graham Van Pelt (FKA Miracle Fortress) at the Phi Centre, psytrance electronic duo Infected Mushroom play live with opener Randy Seidman at MTelus, British pop-rock singer-songwriter Banners and Ellevator play Théâtre Fairmount, Toronto noise-punk trio Odonis Odonis comes to L'Escogriffe, British singer-songwriter Stephen Wilson shifts between pop and prog rock at L'Olympia, and dance all night with electro producers The Him and Helena Legend at New City Gas. Sunday night brings “Serbian scorcher” blues guitarist and singer Ana Popovic to L’Astral.

On Monday night, see rapper-singer Dumbfoundead and Year Of The Ox at Le Belmont and Norwegian pop singer DAGNY at Le Ministère. On Tuesday, April 24, feel the power of English singer-songwriter Kate Nash and opener Miya Folick at Théâtre Fairmount. Wednesday brings the sweet pop sounds of Anemone's Baby Only You and I record release show at Club Balattou, and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal presents The Vastness of Nordic Landscapes at Maison symphonique, featuring the music of Icelandic and Finnish composers and Tchaikovsky’s Concerto played by violinist Augustin Hadelich. On Thursday, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal welcomes conductor John Storgårds, singer Samian and Inuit throat singers Evie Mark and Akinisie Sivuarapik in concert Tales & Legends of the North at Maison symphonique. Also on Thursday, jam to Kid Koala’s Vinyl Vaudeville and DJ Jester at Théâtre Corona, hear former Sneaker Pimps solo act IAMX at Le Belmont, the harmonies of Montréal synth-pop group Chances at the Phi Centre and Halifax's The Stanfields rocking L'Escogriffe. 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 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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