Things to do in Montréal this April 2021

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.

This article was udpdated on April 14, 2021.

With the arrival of spring, Montréal blooms in more ways than one this April. Take a walk through Mount Royal Park or the Botanical Gardens as they emerge from winter. Order Easter brunch and sugar shack meals to your home or book a long-weekend staycation at a hotel. Explore art and history at museums, galleries and at Art Souterrain in the underground city. Or attend a classic music concert, expand your worldview with film festivals and VR exhibitions, and go shopping for new spring staples and fresh home decor.

Easter fun and springtime breaks

There are all kinds of things to do on the long Easter weekend in Montréal, from Easter meals to go and chocolate treats to outdoor activities in the parks and quiet visit to museums. On any weekend in April, take a mini “spring break” with Montréal activities that get you out and about as a family, a couple; and solo in the city. Explore different parts of Montréal, learn about the city’s unique history, culture and more on a guided tour with knowledgeable local companies. Take yourself on a Portrait Sonore sound walk downtown and on the Mountain, or on a tour of the city’s murals. And hunt for more public art everywhere in the city.

Take your pick of outdoor activities in Montréal's many parks and green spaces. See incredible city views in Mount Royal Park and even take a stroll through Mount Royal Cemetery, especially picturesque at this time of year. Explore the peaceful grounds and greenhouse of the Montréal Botanical Garden – access to outdoor gardens is free until April 30, but greenhouse tickets must be booked ahead of time. Nearby, kids of all ages can see penguins, lynx and more in the Space for Life Biodôme's five ecosystems or explore the universe in the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium’s immersive films and exhibitions (purchase fixed-time tickets online ahead of time).

More food and drink

Sugar shack season has arrived! And though it looks different this year, the meals are just as delicious at home from the best sugar shacks around! Order an over-the-top Maple Brunch meal kit from the Fairmont the Queen Elizabeth and Marché Artisans until April 18, or take a break from cooking and book your maple brunch with a Fairmount staycation. The Old Port of Montréal’s La Scena launches home-delivery of its Un Chef à L’érable menu, featuring Cajun and Creole-inspired dishes by Chef Wadensky Fontaine. For Easter weekend or any time this month, order from some of Montréal’s favourite brunch restaurants.

Montréal’s many restaurants and cafés are set to satisfy all springtime cravings with special Montréal take-out and delivery offers – browse our updated list of Montréal restaurants open for take-out and delivery for the latest, including some of the best Chinese food in Montréal. Wander through the Jean-Talon Market and Atwater Market to find ready-to-eat dishes and all the ingredients to make your own spring feasts. 

Get your caffeine fix at Montréal's indie coffee shops. Warm up with perfectly brewed tea from Montréal tea houses or a cup of the best hot chocolate in the city. Get a pastry to go with it at Montréal's best bakeries and pastry shops or get fresh-baked doughnuts! Sample chocolate creations at the best chocolate shops, indulge your sweet tooth at local candy shops or pick up other musts for foodies visiting Montréal. By night, mix cocktails at home with gin, vodka, rum and more specialty spirits from these Montréal specialty alcohol and spirit makers. Or for the beer lovers, pick up a unique six pack for take out (or even delivery) from inventive Montréal microbreweries.

Local retail therapy

Springtime calls for sprucing up your wardrobe and your home with some quality Montréal shopping for all styles tastes. Relax and recentre with these self-care staples or redecorate with these home decor musts. Buy that perfect piece of jewelry for your loved one – or yourself! – at the coolest Montréal jewelry stores. Shop local and eco-friendly at the most fabulous vintage boutiques in the city. Go shopping for clothing, specialty food and more in the boutiques along Mont Royal Avenue or go shopping at the new Holt Renfrew downtown and in the underground city. And fill your home with books from Montréal’s bookstores and music from Montréal's excellent vinyl stores.

Spring city sights

No matter what the April weather has in store, Montréal celebrates the spring equinox season with all kinds of activities and events. The sights in Old Montréal and the Old Port of Montréal always shine, where you can see the city from above on the Observation Wheel, relax with a massage and a water circuit experience at Bota Bota, spa sur l’eau and other world-class spas. Climb high in the Voiles en Voiles adventure park, opening for the season on Easter weekend. And even zip over the the port on the Tyrolienne MTL Zipline on Saturdays and Sundays!

When the weather’s right, see the city from two wheels, whether on your own bike, a rental bike, with a bike tour, or on a BIXI shared bike – starting April 9 the BIXI network features 725 new electric BIXIs and 83 new electric stations, as well as a new variable pricing model. Bike over to Parc Jean-Drapeau to ride around the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve bike path. Or visit downtown’s Quartier des spectacles to see new interactive art and multimedia projections.

One of many free things to do this spring, discover the local and international artwork of this year’s Festival Art Souterrain 2021 throughout the month in downtown’s underground city starting April 10. And Cabane Panache 9.5's Le Parcours Desjardins outdoor installations celebrate sugaring off season with photo exhibitions, themed photo booths, projection art and more until April 2 on Promenade Wellington.

April art exhibitions

Museums and many art galleries have officially reopened this month with world-class winter exhibitions! Visit the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to see Riopelle: The Call of Northern Landscapes and Indigenous Cultures, multi-artist exhibitions Ecologies: A Song for Our Planet and GRAFIK! Five Centuries of German and Austrian Graphics, and works by contemporary artists Yann Pocreau (opening April 10) and Caroline Monnet (opening April 21), while online join art workshopsvirtual tours and webinars.

At the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal see the work of several Montréal artists in themed group exhibition La Machine qui enseignait des airs aux oiseaux, John Akomfrah’s beautiful three-channel video installation Vertigo Sea, recent acquisitions exhibition Des horizons d’attente and immerse yourself in virtual exhibition Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything, an incredible recreation of the MAC’s 2017 monumental show.

Visit the PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art in Old Montréal to see the Canadian premier of solo exhibition Lee Bae: UNION and walk over to the Phi Centre to experience the multidimensional and mysterious worlds of Three Movements in Virtual Reality and installation by artists such as Alexandra Stréliski, Daniel Bélanger, Dominique Fils-Aimé and Vincent Morisset, as well as multi-artist exhibition Parallel Lines. PHI also presents a unique immersive experience: Alejandro G. Iñárritu's Oscar® award-winning virtual reality installation CARNE y ARENA (Virtually present, Physically invisible) at Arsenal Contemporary Art gallery from March 17 to June 20, exploring the human condition of immigrants and refugees and the blurred lines between subject and bystander.

Discover the local and international art exhibitions and performances of this year’s Festival Art Souterrain 2021 in downtown’s underground city starting April 10 and online until April 30. Step inside the wild worlds of the OASIS immersion experience at Palais des congrès all month. At Art Mûr see inspiring group exhibition Terra Nova: A look at the present and the future. See Shaan Syed’s solo painting exhibition Common Eras and Bony Ramirez’s Noblesse Oblige at Bradley Ertaskiran. Online, dive into Galerie UQAM’s Anthropocene-themed virtual exhibition DEEP TIMES. And explore more of Montréal’s amazing art galleries in our Montréal guide to gallery hopping and these affordable places to buy contemporary art – many galleries have reopened and are welcoming visitors in limited numbers to see new exhibitions.

History past and present

Montréal's history museums reopen their doors and continue with online activities this month! History buffs of all ages will love Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex whether in person or online: see new exhibitions A Railroad to Dreams and Italian Montréal, tracing the journey of Italo-Montrealers from the early 20th century, interactive display Come Aboard! Pirates or Privateers? and more. At the McCord Museum don’t miss Christian Dior featuring over 50 classic designs as well as documentary Christian Dior: The man behind the myth, as well as Chapleau and online urban tours of Montréal.

See new exhibition The Things Around Us: 51N4E and Rural Urban Framework and more at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. Step into the neon glow and cabarets of virtual exhibition Scandal! Vice, crime and morality in Montréal, 1940-1960. Or go back in time with The Château Ramezay exhibition 1812: Objects to Discover. Known for historic walking tours, the Museum of Jewish Montreal launches live-on-Zoom virtual tour Making Their Mark: A Virtual Tour of Historic Jewish Montreal, guiding visitors through the city’s historic Jewish quarter – also check out the museum’s first-ever Instagram exhibition To build tiny monuments is to gather what’s there with artist Lauren Prousky.

Montréal music

On the Maison symphonique stage at Place des Arts, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal presents concerts Barber and Grant Still: American Sounds on April 7 and 8 (and online starting April 20), Carte blanche à Marc Hervieux on April 13 as part of the orchestra’s OSM Pop series, and webcast concerts celebrating Maestro Kent Nagano as Conductor Emeritus of the OSM, a free Easter concert webcast from April 1 to 6, A Nordic Adventure: Dalia Stasevska conducts Sibelius and Shostakovich and more. And for kids, the OSM performs its 8th Bal des enfants, Magical Symphony with magician Daniel Coutu, online on April 25. 

 

The Orchestre Métropolitain performs live at the Maison symphonique in concerts From Piano to Podium: Mozart and Brahms with Yannick Nézet-Séguin on April 11 and Symphonic Brahms: A Triumphant Finale on April 17. The concert Clara Schumann according to Tony Siqi Yun will online from April 9 to 18.

The Orchestre national de Jazz de Montréal performs webcast concert Octaèdre from March 27 to April 4. Pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi performs live at Place des Arts on April 27. Hear more music all month in person at Bourgie Hall and online in their virtual classical concerts, as well as in Pro Musica’s Cartes Blanches Series webcast. Tune in to Festival de la Voix live concerts and workshops from March 14 to April 10, including The Best of Broadway along with Roots, Blues and Spirituals and vocal quartet QUARTOM. Catch Les Dimanches Couvre-Fun live online concert with Urban Science Brass Band on April 4. And more live music with Suoni per il Popolo’s online concerts all month. And read all about Montréal’s own queens of jazz, soul and blues.

On stage

While many performance venues reopen their doors for live performances in April, with physical distancing, masks and other safety measures in place, many are also offering live webcast performances to view at home. Centaur Theatre puts audiences in suspense with Catherine-Anne Toupin’s psychological thriller MOB in the theatre from March 26 to April 3. The Opéra de Montréal webcasts its large-scale recent production of Carmen by Bizet, featuring mezzo-soprano Krista de Silva, the Orchestre Métropolitain and other talented performers. Théâtre Aux Écuries presents a filmic live webcast of bilingual play Happy Hour, from April 1 to 11. See intriguing new performances on stage at La Chapelle from Danse-Cité and Pétrus, Louise Michel Jackson and Magali Babin, and live and webcast performances of theatre, dance, drag and more at MAI.

Danse Danse presents online performances of contemporary Indigenous arts movement Red Sky Performance’s Trace and Miigis by Sandra Laronde and Jera Wolfe, from April 14 to 20. At Agora de la Danse see Jacques Poulin-Denis performs storytelling solo work Punch Line from April 14 to 30, choreographer Estelle Clareton’s solo show Bouleversement with dancer Esther Rousseau-Morin from April 28 to 30.

Tangente presents Hugo Dalphond’s Étude sur la pénombre and Hélène Messier’s SOIE from April 15 to 18, and webcast performance of Polymorphic Microbe Bodies by Hanna Sybille and Erin Müller Robinsong from April 24 to May 2. And join in the online dance of Sylvain Emard’s Le Grand Continental 3.0, a virtual face-to-face (in English and in French) with the choreographer for several rehearsals and an April 17 live performance.

The Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival opens its virtual doors from April 24 to May 2 with over 100 national and international invitees, such as David Grossman and Souleymane Bachir Diagne, addressing the theme “challenges of our times” in inspiring online events, as well as a children’s program. From April 15 to 22, Le Monastère celebrates spring with online shows. They are free of charge, but any donation to support their seasonal programming is welcome . Registration is mandatory.

The Vues d’Afrique Festival International de Cinéma screens over 150 new feature films, shorts and documentaries, opening with Christian Faure’s Franco-Algerian film Sandales blanches, and including a youth-focused matinée program, from April 9 to 18. The Society for Art and Technology reopens to present two immersive experiences in the surround-sound SAT dome, Latent Space and Ocular Oscillation, ongoing until April 24.

Discover new art house films and more from Montréal indie cinemas' programming, including in-person and virtual screenings from Cinéma ModerneCinéma du ParcCinéma du Musée and Cinémathèque québécoise. Watch cinematic nature documentaries for the whole family thanks to the Montréal Science Centre’s online programming. Explore the city from a cinematic distance in these Hollywood movies made in Montréal. And the PHI Centre's VR TO GO delivers world-class VR content (and headsets) to your door until April 30.

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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