Things to do in Montréal – August 2 to 8, 2019

This week Montréal welcomes thousands of music fans to three-day festival Osheaga, the world's tennis greats compete in the Rogers Cup, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal performs a massive free concert, the Montréal First Peoples festival illuminates Place des Festivals, museums and galleries enlighten, parks and summer markets have us relaxing under the sun, while live music keeps us dancing into the night. 

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Summer festivals

One of the biggest Montréal summer festivals, music and arts festival Osheaga, returns to its original (now beautifully renewed) site in Parc Jean-Drapeau from August 2 to 4: see The Lumineers, Janelle Monáe, Tame Impala, The Chemical Brothers, Childish Gambino, Flume, Interpol, Metric, Kaytranada, beloved local bands, public art and more all weekend. The Montréal First Peoples festival gathers Indigenous artists and culture creators from around the world, screens films, hosts art exhibitions and seminars, and brings music and dance performances to the big outdoor stage at Place des Festivals from August 6 to 14 – this Thursday see Māmā Mihirangi & the Māreikura and more. On Saturday, August 3, Matsuri Japon celebrates Japanese culture with a festival of food, dance, martial arts and more activities at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Montreal.

The 42nd edition of Festival de Lanaudière comes to a close this week with performances by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, but classical music doesn't take a vacation: the OSM Classical Spree concert series opens on August 7 with a free grand opening concert of Verdi's Great Requiem at Olympic Park – Maestro Kent Nagano conducts the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, a choir of 500 singers plus soloists. And ever-fabulous Montréal Pride kicks off on August 8 with an opening night at the Casino de Montréal and more events – Pride continues until August 18 (parade day!), celebrating with free outdoor concerts, conferences, film screenings, club nights, Community Day and more.

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More activities for all ages

Along with free festival entertainment, Montréal offers even more free things to do this summer. Show off your chess skills on the giant chessboards along pedestrian-only Sainte-Catherine Street in the Quartier des spectacles, while after sunset see illuminated public artwork Synergie outside Saint-Laurent metro station. Walk under the rainbow in the Gay Village. In Old Montréal, visit Notre-Dame Basilica to see multimedia show AURA and at night search out the projections of Cité Mémoire on building facades. The Atmosph'Air on the Plaza Festival along Plaza St-Hubert continues this weekend with sidewalk sales and live music outdoors on Friday and Saturday starting at 7 p.m. with Pierre Kwenders, Dominique Fils-Aimé, Bourbon and Bleu Jeans Bleu.

For more outdoor entertainment and refreshments, head to Montréal's seasonal outdoor markets and spaces, including Jardins Gamelin outside Berri-UQAM metro station, Village au Pied-du-Courant near the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, the Old Port’s Marché des Éclusiers and Mile End's Le Marché des Possibles, including daytime activities for kids, live music, cuisine and more. Green space and café Les Jardineries is an oasis at the Esplanade of the Olympic Park, while downtown follow the pink brick road to Le Petit Montréal in Phillips Square, and in Griffintown hang out in former metro cars repurposed into event space MR-63 Montréal at the corner of Peel and Ottawa Streets.

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Food and drink

Join the delicious fun of First Fridays, a family-friendly event featuring 50 food trucks serving up local dishes, from tacos and lobster rolls to dim sum and dessert, at Olympic Park on August 2 starting at 4 p.m. Also dine outdoors on Montréal terrasses – among the many patios, drop by Marcus Restaurant + Terrace at the Four Seasons Hotel, downtown's Foodlab for great food and DJs, Joël Robuchon’s L’Atelier terrasse at the Casino de Montréal, green patios around the city or any of the lively patios in the Gay Village.

Discover what's in season, eat well and bring home locally made products at Jean-Talon Market and Atwater Market. Beat the heat with ice cream and frozen treats. Eat well at these top Montréal restaurants for the gourmet traveller, cheerful bring-your-own-wine eateries, lovely romantic dining options and laid-back casual restaurants. Start the day with an excellent brunch or do lunch like a Montrealer at these 10 great lunch spots. Any time of day grab a pick-me-up at Montréal's indie coffee shops, local coffee roasters and most “Instagrammable” cafés.

Later on, see what's hot at the city's new bars, relax with a cocktail at one of Montréal's award-winning bars, taste what's in season at the city's microbreweries (check out the Passeport en fût app deal) or have a drink away from it all in a hidden bar, speakeasy or perfect date spot. The Casino de Montréal hosts sci-fi-themed food and entertainment event Futuristik Nights until August 24. For something light, seek out these health-conscious restaurants and great sushi restaurants and peruse our ultimate guide to vegan eating in Montréal. Or indulge your sweet tooth at Montréal's best bakeries and pastry shops.

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Sports and outdoor adventures

Watch the best male tennis players in the world, including Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem, play the Rogers Cup at Montréal’s IGA Stadium from August 2 to 11 – not only that, but the IGA Family Weekend, from August 2 to 4, lets everyone watch the pros as they practice and offers free tennis clinics, autograph sessions, games for children, face painting and other activities. In hometown CFL action, the Montréal Alouettes take on the Ottawa Redblacks on August 2 at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium. Montréal's Major League Soccer team the Montréal Impact hosts the Match des Légendes du Soccer at Saputo Stadium on August 4, featuring former Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldinho, Drogba  and more pro soccer players in a friendly game. Then on August 7 at Saputo Stadium cheer on the Montréal Impact as it plays Calgary Cavalry. Skateboarders can check out weekly Skate Jam and BBQ on Tuesday evenings in Place de la Paix or try the new Vans skatepark on the Esplanade of the Olympic Park.

Go hiking, canoeing or fishing on an adventure with nature guides Bonjour Nature – their day trips take you outside Montréal to the Lanaudière region and beyond. Within the city limits, learn to camp with Parks Canada along the Lachine Canal on August 3 or try their oTENTik campground on the canal. You can also camp in a cabin-like tent with Huttopia on nearby island Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville. Or go on a day trip to the Laurentians to hike the green mountains and for Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur from July 25 to August 6.

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City sights

See the city from the Mount Royal Park lookout, also where you'll find Café suspendu. Among the other activities on the mountain, go on a guided nature walk or row around Beaver Lake. In the Old Port of Montréal, climb on high-ropes course Voiles en Voiles, ride the MTL Zipline, explore the SOS Labyrinthe and try other activities. In the city's parks and green spaces, discover vegetation from Québec and around the world as well as live music on Sundays at the Montréal Botanical Garden. For a 360º view of the city, look out from the Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown or ride La Grande Roue de Montréal in the Old Port. Take an audio tour around Olympic Park too – get the code for the free app at the Montréal Tower ticket booth.

Follow the landscaped Promenade Fleuve-Montagne from Mount Royal Park, through the Golden Square Mile and down to the St. Lawrence River. Relax at Montréal's best spas or enjoy outdoor yoga at the Clock Tower Beach at the Old Port of Montréal on Tuesday nights. Whether you're coming by plane or train, solo or with family, plot your days and nights with My Official Montréal City Guide. And save on your visit with the MTL Sweet Deal.  

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On screen and stage

Go on a multi-sensory trip through time and space in Through the Echoes at new immersive entertainment space PY1 – look for the pyramid in the Old Port of Montréal. By night, dress up for themed PY1 Nights and dance among lasers, live performances and wild visuals. Step into the Phi Centre's virtual reality exhibition >HUM(AI)N – Being human in the age of technology, a 360° view of human nature and evolution in nine immersive VR works – the centre also highlights five famous paintings in VR Cinema: Short Films on Canvas. And Repercussion Theatre's Shakespeare-in-the-Park brings comedy Measure for Measure to city parks from July 11 to August 11.

Outdoor film screenings this week include: Henri-Georges Clouzotat's 1947 film Quay des orfèvres at cult crime film festival Film Noir au Canal on August 4 at Square Saint-Patrick; Downtown screenings under the stars present Kim O’Bomsawin's Du teweikan à l’électro (part of the Montréal First Peoples festival program) at Place de la Paix downtown; and Cinéma sous les étoiles screens films all week in parks around the city. Roam the cosmos in science-meets-multimedia shows such as Planet Nine, Secrets of Gravity, Continuum and Aurōrae as well as Mice and the Moon for little kids at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. The Montréal Science Centre features exhibition Spiders – From fear to fascination as well as IMAX films and hands-on science activities such as the Clic! zone (made specifically for kids ages 4 through 7). Among Montréal's great indie cinemas, Mile End's Cinéma Moderne screens art-house, Québécois and cult films every day plus family screenings on weekends, Cinémathèque québécoise shows films by more auteurs, while Cinéma du Musée and Cinéma du Parc also screen Canadian and international features and documentaries all week.

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Art for everyone

Among summer's must-see exhibitions, enter the high-fashion art world of Thierry Mugler: Couturissime at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts – also see Montreal Couture, showcasing inventive Québec designers, Omar Ba: Same Dream, a monograph dedicated to the influential African artist, Alanis Obomsawin, Printmaker and Dale Chihuly sculpture The Sun. The Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal summer exhibitions are also a must: the poignant and timely career-spanning exhibition Rebecca Belmore: Facing the Monumental; beautiful and moving work by Nadia Myre, installation and performance art (including dance performances) by Chloë Lum and Yannick Desranleau; and Ragnar Kjartansson's video work A Lot of Sorrow, featuring band The National in a six-hour performance. An interactive and documentary exhibition, Yoko Ono: LIBERTÉ CONQUÉRANTE/GROWING FREEDOM explores how Yoko Ono's work affected contemporary art practices and activism at the Fondation Phi pour l’art contemporain in Old Montréal.

The McCord Museum's The Polaroid Project - At the Intersection of Art and Technology highlights the artistic and scientific creativity of Polaroid photography through the work of 20th-century artists – while there, also see SDING K’AWXANGS – Haida: Supernatural Stories, work by Kanien’kehá:ka artist Hannah Claus and historic photography exhibition Montréal at work along McGill College Avenue. Look for art in store windows downtown as part of the Vitrine sur l'art project. See Nehirowisidigital, illustrations by artist Meky Ottawa at La Guilde. At the Phi Centre catch This Light Never Goes Out: Political Cartoons by Jim Carrey and the Goodee Pop-up Studio, putting sustainable brands and humanist e-commerce in the spotlight. Head to Mile-Ex for the edgy Never Apart summer exhibitions, covering themes aligned with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. And there's more art to discover while gallery hopping and antiquing in the city.

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History near and far

Among the city's many family-friendly museums, Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex features high-tech multimedia exhibition Generations MTL, cabinet of curiosities Into the Wonder Room and food-related royal history show Dinner is served! French Gastronomy at its Best – join in Family Sundays activities and hear live music every Thursday at noon. The Musée de Lachine illuminates 350 years of history, wax museum Grévin MONTRÉAL features Québécois and international celebrities past and present, and the free Barbie Expo shows off Barbie's high-fashion transformations through the decades. Explore the old fort that houses the Stewart Museum and five centuries of day-to-day life in New France in exhibition History and Memory. And Château Ramezay features summer activities as well as World War I exhibition WAR Flowers.

At the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Our Happy Life looks at measurements of happiness. Witness Montréal underground art and culture of the 1970s and '80s in a retrospective of Zïlon and other Montréal artists at the Écomusée du fier monde. Edward Hillel's photography installation Chambre Noire/Darkroom draws on his book The Main: Portrait of a Neighbourhood at the Museum of Jewish Montreal. The city's Irish roots also run deep – discover Irish Montréal through landmarks and more. Read all about jazz in Montréal, from the Roaring Twenties to today. And pick up some historic and present-day facts about Montréal that even some locals might not know.

More live music

By night, the Osheaga music festival moves from the park into the city for several late-night afterparties this weekend. On Friday, see Kodaline and We Are Monroe at Corona Theatre, Australian producer Fisher with Bob Moses and Hito at MTELUS, MSTRKRFT and a DJ set by Millimetrik at Newspeak, Chicago soul duo The O'My's and Qari at Le Belmont and rock duo The Flamingos Pink at l'Escogriffe Bar Spectacle.

On Saturday night, go dancing with a surprise Osheaga-related guest at factory-turned-club New City Gas or dance in the Society for Arts and Technology's amazing Satosphère dome at the Dômesicle party #4 Osheaga afterparty with Vladimir Cauchemar, Cherry Cola, Gold Casanova and Binocle, while Australian electronic dance group Rüfüs Du Sol and opener Driss Skali take over the SAT's lower floor. Meanwhile, NYC electro-pop duo Sofi Tukker unleashes their Animal Talk party at L’Astral and electronic producer Robotaki throws down a DJ set at Newspeak. The Osheaga afterparties continue into Sunday night with a DJ set by German techno producer Monolink at L’Astral, electronic dance music producer Ryan Playground at Newspeak, and more electronic dance sounds with Monitors and Atlassi at STEREO MONTREAL.

In non-Osheaga content, Canadian crooner Michael Bublé performs for a second night at the Bell Centre. On August 5, get heavy with rock-metal legends Iron Maiden at the Bell Centre. And on Thursday, August 8, see R&B singer-songwriter and free spirit Khalid and opener Clairo at the Bell Centre. For even more music throughout the week, check out our picks on how to get your nightlife on in Montréal, where to hear live music in Montréal, 10 great places to see indie bands, Montréal's best jazz and blues clubs and our guide to electronic music in Montréal. And if you want to bring the music home with you, go record shopping at Montréal's excellent vinyl stores.

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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