Things to do in Montréal – August 9 to 15, 2019

Summer festivals continue this week in Montréal with the electronic rhythms of îleSoniq Montreal, the music of Orchestre symphonique de Montréal's OSM Classical Spree, the illuminating Montréal First Peoples festival, the shining colours of Montréal Pride and more, plus the world's tennis greats competing at the Rogers Cup, incredible art at museums and galleries, and great food and entertainment citywide, from morning until late into the night.

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Summer festivals

Montréal summer festivals keep us on our toes this week, especially at electronic dance music festival îleSoniq Montreal, on August 9 and 10 in Parc Jean-Drapeau with music from Marshmello, Lil Pump, Oliver Heldens, Bad Bunny, Above & Beyond, Excision and more producers – check out our music section below for îleSoniq afterparties. On a different note, until August 11, the OSM Classical Spree features concerts by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and guest musicians, special concerts such as Makusham! with the music of Innu artists Florent Vollant and Scott Pien Picard and Metis artist Moe Clark, plus free performances, instrument demonstrations and workshops in Place des Arts' Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme and across the street in Complexe Desjardins.

The largest LGBTQ Pride festival in Canada Montréal Pride shines from August 8 to 18, with concerts and huge drag shows at Parc des Faubourgs plus conferences, film screenings, club nights, Community Day, shows at the Casino de Montréal and more events! Several Off-Pride events also entertain, including art exhibitions at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Écomusée du fier monde and Never Apart, and horror-comedy play Lesbian Speed Date From Hell! And get the inside scoop on where to see drag shows in Montréal during Pride and at any time of the year.

The Montréal First Peoples festival gathers Indigenous artists and culture creators from around the world: watch music and dance performances on the big outdoor stage at Place des Festivals and experience films, art exhibitions, seminars and more from August 6 to 14. Discover Italian art and culture in Canada at Montreal's Italian Week Festival from August 9 to 18, with live music, an opera performance, FIAT 500 car exhibition, art, film and great food! In its 24th year, urban culture and graffiti art festival Under Pressure brings people together with live art, hip hop music, urban dance competitions and more from August 7 to 11 on Sainte-Catherine Street East between Saint-Dominique and Saint-Elisabeth Streets.

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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 and 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.

Falla Saint-Michel is a family-friendly fiesta with live music, kids’ activities, a collective wooden sculpture (that is burned on Sunday!) and more, outdoors at La TOHU from August 9 to 11. On August 10, Holland-America celebrates the 500,000th passenger to board the cruise line from Montréal – join in a day of free activities on the Grand Quai green roof. Also on August 10, throw bright colours around and dance to the joyful beat of Bollywood, indie and house music at Holi - Festival of colours in the Old Port of Montréal.

For more outdoor entertainment and refreshments, head to Montréal's seasonal outdoor spaces, including Jardins Gamelin outside Berri-UQAM metro station, Village au Pied-du-Courant near the Jacques-Cartier Bridge and the Old Port’s Marché des Éclusiers. Green space and café Les Jardineries is an oasis at the Esplanade of the Olympic Park (if you're there at lunch hour, look for Halte 76, hosting different food trucks every week), 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

Dine, have a drink and socialize outdoors on Montréal terrasses – from downtown's Foodlab to green terrasses to 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. Cool down with delicious locally made ice cream and frozen treats. Get a taste of Montréal at these 5 restaurants and 5 amazing chefs, crafting unique dishes, from classic French menus to ground-breaking Asian cuisine. Also eat well at these top Montréal restaurants for the gourmet traveller, cheerful bring-your-own-wine eateries, romantic dining options and 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.

See what real poutine is all about at the Great Montréal PoutineFest from August 9 to 11 in the Old Port of Montréal. By night, relax with a cocktail at one of Montréal's award-winning bars, lift a pint at the city's Irish pubs, 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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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, ride La Grande Roue de Montréal in the Old Port, and go to the observatory at the top of the Montréal Tower at Olympic Park – while there, have coffee, cocktails or a snack with a panoramic view at MTL Bistro and take an audio tour around Olympic Park (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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Sports and outdoor adventures

Cheer on the best male tennis players in the world as they play the finals of the Rogers Cup at Montréal’s IGA Stadium this weekend. In hometown CFL action, the Montréal Alouettes take on the Saskatchewan Roughriders on August 9 at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium. 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, camp along the Lachine Canal at the oTENTik cabins. You can also camp in a cabin-like tent with Huttopia on nearby island Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville.

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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 Parc Westmount on August 10 and 11.

Outdoor film screenings this week include: Roche Papier Ciseaux by Yan Lanouette Turgeon (with English sub-titles) at cult crime film festival Film Noir au Canal on August 11 at Square Saint-Patrick; in celebration of Pride, Downtown screenings under the stars show Asaf Galay's Army of Lovers in the Holy Land on August 13 at Place de la Paix downtown; and Cinéma sous les étoiles presents 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, see art-house, documentaries, Québécois, cult films and more at Mile End's Cinéma Moderne, the Cinémathèque québécoise, Cinéma du Musée at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and long-running Cinéma du Parc.

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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. At the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal see Rebecca Belmore: Facing the Monumental, a poignant and timely career-spanning exhibition of installation and performance art. 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 as well as 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. Grande Fabrique street sale and art fair features over 250 artist kiosks as well as activities for kids and more, on August 10 and 11 on Sainte-Catherine Street East. The Go Somewhere! Japanese Art Tour features work by five prominent female Japanese artists at Galerie Roger Bellemare/Galerie Christian Lambert, BBAM! Gallery, and McKiernan Luncheonette, from August 8 to 10 and August 15 to 17. 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

Music festival îleSoniq Montreal moves from the park into the city at night for major electronic music afterparties this weekend. On Friday choose from six places to dance late into the night: Tengraphs at L’Astral, Whipped Cream with DJ Frozen and Musik Me Luv at the Society for Arts and Technology, a surprise guest at New City Gas, SUPER8 & TAB with Kärl K-Otik and Isoprospect at Newspeak, Murda Beatz with DJ Coco at École Privée, and High Klassified, Da-p, Lou Phels and Didier at Le Belmont. On Saturday, check out a surprise guest with Revah Brothers at New City Gas, Krimer, Sam Lamar, CYMN and surprise guests at the Society for Arts and Technology, Cri, Willaris.K and Mitch Oliver at Newspeak, Mark Sherry at Circus, and Madeon at MTELUS.

On August 9, OK LÀ & Suoni Per Il Popolo present an outdoor show in Verdun with NYC electronic musician Michele Mercure, projection art by filmmaker Météo Ciel Bleu, composer Marianne H and a minimal techno DJ set by Xenakiss. Also, that night, Merge Records musician Mike Krol plays La Vitrola. On August 10, see Nova Scotia four-piece indie band Mauno at Ritz P.D.B. On Sunday, August 11, Nigerian Afro-fusion singer-songwriter Burna Boy brings The African Giant Tour to L'Olympia. Oakland metal band Neurosis and opener Bell Witch get loud at Corona Theatre on Wednesday, August 14, while legend CJ Ramone rocks out at l'Escogriffe Bar Spectacle. And l'Orchestre de la Francophonie closes its season on August 14 with pianist Anne-Marie Dubois at Maison symphonique. 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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