Things to do in Montréal this August 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.

Summer in Montréal hits a high point this August, with even more festivals, outdoor activities, pop-up entertainment and open-air dining. The streets shine in a thousand colours at MURAL Festival and Montréal Pride, while MTLàTABLE shines the spotlight on fresh local food and creative menus. Spend time in the sun on restaurant terrasses, at ephemeral summertime spaces, city pools and beaches, and picnicking in the parks. Indoors, explore Montréal’s museums and galleries or catch a film at Fantasia. There’s something going on in every neighbourhood this August in Montréal!

Urban summer activities

Whether you’re visiting Montréal or a local on staycation, the warm, relaxing days of August are perfect for an island getaway in Montréal – the island of Montréal reverberates with all kinds of fun in the sun this month, from outdoor entertainment downtown to open-air spaces to eat, drink and socialize throughout the city. Be sure to check out these 21 things to do in summer 2021, from the best places to soak up the sun to hotel deals, or quiz yourself on whether you’ve done all 7 things you can only do in Montréal. And save on hotels and activities with the summer 2021 Food & Fun Package!

In the heart of downtown Montréal, the Quartier des spectacles surprises with spontaneous outdoor circus, theatre and dance performances, multimedia projections, and art installations that double as urban oases as part of Les aventures du cœur de l’île, enlivening the city centre. Meanwhile, the photographed faces of Montrealers come together in Les Visages de Montréal, large-scale collages in Place des Arts, Complexe Desjardins and several other cultural venues.

August is also the perfect time to explore Montréal's many parks and green spaces. See incredible city views in Mount Royal Park or reconnect with nature at the Montréal Botanical Garden. Nearby, visit with penguins, lynx and more at the Biodôme and explore the universe at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium (purchase fixed-time tickets online ahead of time). A few steps away on the esplanade of Olympic Park, skateboard at Vans Skatepark and rock climb at Nomad Bloc. Add extra adrenaline to your month at La Ronde amusement park! Or relax and cool down on sunny days at Montréal's pools and beaches, from Parc Jean-Drapeau to Parc Jarry and everywhere in between.

Amazing August festivals

Fall in love with Montréal’s summer festivals all over again or for the first time this August: outdoors, indoors and online, festivals showcase the tremendous talent and entertainment the city has to offer. The 31st International First Peoples' Festival brings live music and performances to Place des Festivals, plus film, art and talks to other venues from August 3 to 11. Watch wild and wonderful films from around the world at the 25th Fantasia International Film Festival from August 5 to 25. italfestMTL showcases Italian-Canadian music, art, food, fashion and more in performances and activities from August 6 to 22.

Expect a rainbow of talent and community spirit at Montréal Pride this year, from August 9 to 15, kicking off with musician Jeremy Dutcher performing in the opening ceremonies and featuring the return of the Pride March on August 15! Watch street art in the making and join block parties with live music at MURAL Festival from August 12 to 22 on Saint-Laurent Blvd. (NOTE: the summer festivals piece says Saint-Leonard Boulevard!) The FAR Festival enlivens the city streets and ruelles with art and performances from August 12 to September 12. Also downtown, Art Souterrain’s CRÉER DES PONTS installs 60 new works of public art in storefronts and transparent “exhibition cubes” – keep your eye out for roving performances too!

Check out the catwalks, pop-up shops and Osheaga-programmed music of this year’s Montréal Fashion & Design Festival in the Quartier des spectacles from August 17 to 22. Immerse yourself in the latest electronic music and digital arts from around the world at MUTEK from August 24 to September 5. Every weekend this month, dance outdoors in Parc Jean-Drapeau at Piknic Électronik – the electronic music event returns with big names and emerging talents – tickets are limited so purchase them in advance! And Festival Go Vélo celebrates cycling from August 27 to 29, with guided tours, the Tour la Nuit ride on August 27 and Tour de l’Île ride on August 29.

August city sights

Take yourself sightseeing in Montréal this month and you’re sure to see something spectacular. In Old Montréal and the Old Port of Montréal, look out at the entire on the Observation Wheel, relax with a river view at Clock Tower Beach or immerse yourself in the water at Bota Bota, spa sur l’eau and other world-class spas. Climb high at the Voiles en Voiles adventure park, wander through the SOS Labyrinthe, explore the Saint-Lawrence River by peddle boat, and zip over the the port on the Tyrolienne MTL Zipline! Take an eco-friendly daytime cruise with Petit Navire, have dinner on the river with Bateau-Mouche, or indulge your need for speed by jet boating with Saute-Moutons and Jet Saint-Laurent. And see circus performances by Cirque Éloize and Les 7 Doigts every weekend!

Downtown, stroll along Sainte-Catherine Street in the Village and catch music and entertainment, along with great food and drink, at Jardins Gamelin outside Berri-UQAM metro. Explore some of Montréal’s distinct neighbourhoods, from Hochelega and Rosemont in the east to Outremont and Westmount in the west, where you’ll find other pedestrian-only avenues, including Saint-Laurent Blvd., Mont-Royal Avenue, Wellington St. in Verdun, Ontario St. E., Bernard Street in Mile End and more. Learn more about the Montréal’s unique history and culture on private walking tours with knowledgeable local companies. Go on a Portrait Sonore sound walk downtown and on the Mountain. And hunt for more public art everywhere in the city.

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 – 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 4,361-metre Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve bike path and the Route Verte – cool off with a dip in the park’s pool too! And explore further afield on these bucket-list bike rides.

Food and drink

New seasonal menus at local restaurants, a Montréal foodies program (with prizes!) and a Food & Fun gourmet getaway make this year’s MTLàTABLE event an August must! Explore the diversity of Montreal's gastronomy as chefs prepare themed menus just for the month of August. Whether you’re dining in person or ordering take-out and delivery, seasonal summertime food and classic dishes are all on the menu at Montréal’s many restaurants and cafés. Take a walk through the Jean-Talon Market and Atwater Market to find ready-to-eat dishes and all the ingredients to make your own feasts or lay out an impressive picnic meal. Enjoy a meal and drinks next to the water at these top spots for sunning, including Marché des Éclusiers and Terrasses Bonsecours in the Old Port, Canal Lounge on a barge by Atwater market, and many more! And see Montréal from a new perspective on a summer staycation at local hotels, with restaurant meals to match.

Wine and dine outdoors at Montréal’s many restaurant and bar terraces, whether on main streets where you can watch the world go by, on fabulous patios in the Village, tucked away on hidden terrasses, or in the midst of greenery on Montréals lushest garden patios. August is also perfect for picnics in the park: try something different with these made-in-Montréal picnic and park pairings. Meanwhile, Montréal’s gourmet food trucks and street food chefs bring local treats to the streets, parks and festivals. And if you’re in the mood for ice cream, Montréal's best ice cream shops have you covered with everything from gelato to dipped cones and sundaes.

Get your caffeine fix at Montréal's indie coffee shops or embrace summer with the best iced coffee in Montréal. 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 in Montréal. By night, these bars give us a taste of the tropics – or mix cocktails at home with gin, vodka, rum and more specialty spirits from these Montréal specialty alcohol and spirit makers. For the beer lovers, pick up these Montréal beers to drink this summer or a unique six pack from inventive Montréal microbreweries

Local retail therapy

As the heat rises in August, add more hot-weather style to your summer wardrobe and your home with Montréal shopping for all styles tastes, including unique clothing and accessories made by Montréal designers. Relax 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.

Take a high-fashion hint from this month’s Montréal Fashion & Design Festival and go shopping for clothing, accessories and more in Old Montréal, downtown on Sainte-Catherine Street, at the new Holt Renfrew Ogilvy and in the underground city, or check out the boutiques along Mont Royal Avenue, in Mile End and throughout the city. And fill your home with Montréal-focused books from Montréal’s bookstores and music from Montréal's excellent vinyl stores.

August exhibitions and experiences

Museums and many art galleries have officially reopened this month with world-class exhibitions! Visit the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to see Riopelle: The Call of Northern Landscapes and Indigenous Cultures, collections exhibitions Ecologies: A Song for Our Planet and GRAFIK! Five Centuries of German and Austrian Graphics, outdoor artwork Adrift on Du Musée Avenue summer-long and more. The Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal transitions through renovations this summer, but offers online exhibitions like the immersive Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything, a recreation of the MAC’s 2017 monumental show.

Explore space and the International Space Station in The Infinite, the world’s largest multisensory and interactive VR experience created by the Phi Centre and Felix & Paul Studios, at Arsenal Contemporary Art. PHI also presents Alejandro G. Iñárritu's Oscar® award-winning virtual reality installation CARNE y ARENA (Virtually present, Physically invisible) at Arsenal Contemporary Art until August 15, exploring the human condition of immigrants and refugees. And experience the multidimensional and mysterious worlds of Three Movements in Virtual Reality and installation at the Phi Centre in Old Montréal.

A massive immersive experience in surround sound and laser light, Oasis Immersion’s Inspirations and other sensory installations take over the ground floor of Palais des congrès this summer. Immerse yourself in the abstract underwater world of Écosystèm in the Society for Art and Technology’s 360-degree dome this month. At the Grand Quai du Port de Montréal, don’t miss Divina Dali, 101 works by Salvador Dalí illustrating Dante's Divina Commedia. See new exhibitions at Never Apart in Little Italy, Bradley Ertaskiran in St. Henri and many, many other amazing art galleries in every neighbourhood – find out more in our Montréal guide to gallery hopping and these affordable places to buy contemporary art.

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 exhibitions Chapleau and There Once Was a Song, guided historical tours, and other outdoor activities.

See exhibition The Things Around Us: 51N4E and Rural Urban Framework and more at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. Or go back in time with the Château Ramezay exhibition 1812: Objects to Discover. Take a historic walking tour, like Beyond the Bagel Food Tour and Making their Mark, a tour of Jewish Montréal, with the Museum of Jewish Montreal. And discover the vivid history and present of Québec ceramics at the Musée des métiers d'arts du Québec.

On screen

Catch new films, panels and workshops at the 25th Fantasia International Film Festival, from August 5 to 25, including screenings of Richard Bates Jr.’s King Knight, Tsutomu Hanabusa’s Kakegurui 2, Julien Knafo’s Brain Freeze and more Canadian premieres, plus a celebration of Japanese cinema. Meanwhile, enjoy cinema under the stars this month too: the SAT presents Cinéma urbain, outdoor film screenings in Parc de la Paix on August 5, 12 and 19, Cinéma sous les étoiles screens films in Laurier Park, Molson Park and other outdoor spaces this July and August, and the CCA hosts Ciné Façade on August 5, 12 and 19.

Cinéma Moderne continues its Cinéma Public online program of feature films, family-friendly animated features, documentaries and more. See the art world in a whole new light thanks to the International Festival of Films on Art year-round ART FILM program. Discover new art house films and more from Montréal indie cinemas' programming, including in-person and virtual screenings from Cinéma du ParcCinéma du Musée and Cinémathèque québécoise, which hosts a music-themed film program and exhibition this summer. Watch cinematic nature documentaries for the whole family thanks to the Montréal Science Centre’s online programming. And explore the city through cinema in these Hollywood movies made in Montréal.

Montréal music

Along with all the music you’ll hear at summer festivals and outdoor pop-up performances this August, there’s more! Though OSHEAGA is postponed to 2022, the festival keeps the music alive this month with OSHEAGA Through the Ages in the Quartier des Spectacles: see the Music on Paper photo and art exhibition, a fashion show and live concerts by Rymz, Foreign Diplomats, Kallitechnis, Elephant Stone, Matt Holubowski and more artists! 

Free and featuring local musicians like Ouri, Maky Lavender, No Joy, Julien Sagot and many more, mini-festival FME de l’Avent comes to Parc Riverain de Lachine from August 6 to 8. A month before its annual festival kicks off, POP Montréal brings live music to Mile End alleys and green spaces: hear local artists perform in series POP Montréal dans la ruelle at Ursa and visit open-air market and music venue Marché Des Possibles at Entrepôt 77 on Bernard Street E. Jardins Royalmount transforms from drive-in to open-air event space for live music, comedy, theatre performances, film screenings and more activities this summer.

The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal heads outdoors too this month, performing free concerts in the Quartier des spectacles for the Week-end classique from August 12 to 15. While just outside Montréal in Joliette, Festival de Lanaudière features numerous Montréal and Québec orchestras and classical artists, including the OSM and Orchestre Métropolitain, on outdoor stages from July 17 to August 8. And as more venues open for limited-seating shows, watch for performances by Montréal’s own queens of jazz, soul and blues.

Live sports

August 13 to 15, at the Port of Montréal, see some of the Olympians who shone in Tokyo compete at the Groupe Copley 2021 World Triathlon Championship Series.

To get where you’re going hassle-free, public transportation is the way to go. The STM has special offers on fares and a handy tool to plan your trip quickly and efficiently. You can also download the Transit and Chrono apps for up-to-the minute bus schedules.

If you’re travelling by car, check out the Agence de mobilité durable’s website to see where parking is available near your destination. You can also download the P$ Mobile Service app to pay or top up your parking meter, wherever you are.

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Need a change of pace? Why not go for an all-inclusive island getaway in Montréal, with endless delights to explore! Check out our Food & Fun Package and plan your escape today!

Make the most of summer and save big with the 2021 Passeport MTL city pass. Discover 5 Montréal attractions for one low price, and get discounts on many more! Find out more here.

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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