Things to do in Montréal February 16-22

Robyn Fadden

February's looking fine this week in Montréal, with so many ways to keep us warm and entertained. Winter festival MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE begins, The Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg's Requiem wows, we're celebrating Chinese New Year, loving exhibition Prince: His Purple Majesty and singing along with Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds. Read on for more activities, food and drink, art and film, theatre and dance, and live music.

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Warm up in Montréal

After seeing some of Montréal's high-tech wonders and flagship legacy 375th anniversary projects in Old Montréal (such as the historic tableaux projections of Cité Memoire and multimedia wonder AURA at Notre-Dame Basilica), see the city sights from the comfort of the La Grande Roue de Montréal observation wheel, the Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown or the Montréal Tower at Olympic Stadium. Enter the tropical climate of the Botanical Garden’s Butterflies Go Free event, starting Feb. 22. Warm up all over at Bota Bota floating spa, one of Montréal's best spas. And indulge in winter festival extraordinaire MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE, beginning Feb. 22 with fine dining and more food and drink from top chefs, all kinds of live music, dance and theatre, and a free outdoor site at Place des Festivals – ride the Ferris wheel and the zip-line, go ice sliding, have a drink and a bite to eat, and interact with the high-tech ILLUMINART projections.


Winter playtime

Among the many free things to do this winter in Montréal, spend more time outdoors with these classic Montréal winter activities, from sledding on the Mountain to bird watching at the Botanical Garden and ice skating at Olympic Park's V Winter Village or next to the Saint-Lawrence River on the Natrel Skating Rink. For something different, try snowshoeing after dark on Mount Royal Feb. 16-17, old-fashioned curling and snowshoeing in the Stewart Museum's courtyard and vintage board games in the Hall of Games, a visit to see the animals in their winter habitats at the Ecomuseum Zoo, or get together indoors to solve the mysteries of Montréal's Escape Games. Discover Montréal hockey history in exhibition Passion: Hockey at Pointe-à-Callière museum and follow our guide to Montréal's most famous icons to see the city's famed architecture and other unique sights, including the Buckminster Fuller-designed Biosphère. On the ice in NHL action, see the Montréal Canadiens take on the Rangers  on Feb. 22 – get your tickets from secure Canadiens-authorized site Ticket Vault. And watch the Winter Olympic Games in comfort and with cheering company at the best sports bars in Montréal.


Food and drink

Party like it's 4716 at Montréal's Chinese New Year celebrations, ringing in the year of the dog Feb. 16-18 in Chinatown with parades and great food, from noodles, dumplings and fish to sweet pastries and dragon beard candy. Winter weather calls for just the right hot food for cold days, from spicy Indian food to big bowls of ramen. Yet even in the middle of winter, you can still taste the tropics in Montréal's sunniest restaurants, cafés and bars. For tried-and-true Québécois classic dishes, follow our guides to the best poutine plus the best Montréal bagels along with more musts for foodies visiting Montréal and where to go shopping for foodies too. Warm up in classic Montréal style with traditional terroir, high tea and more gourmet meals. Try some of the best hot chocolate in the city, incredible coffee at Montréal's indie coffee shops,  Montréal's best bubble tea or indulge at the city's most creative cocktail bars. Or discover new Montréal restaurants and a wide world of health-conscious food in Montréal along with vegan options in our ultimate guide to vegan eating in Montréal.


Leonard Cohen's Montréal

Montréal celebrates Leonard Cohen and his legacy with international exhibition Leonard Cohen – A Crack in Everything at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, featuring work by 40 artists from 10 countries, inspired by Leonard Cohen's life, music and writing – an absolute must-see. While there, also explore That's How the Light Gets In, a collections exhibition that frames art in terms of the fundamental aspect of light (visibility, reflection, representation, perception), and The Gaze Listens, an auditory contemplation of art. Dancer-choreographer Clara Furey's dance cycle When Even Then, inspired by the poems of Cohen, also graces the Musée this week. See building-sized 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. Nearby, stop by The Museum of Jewish Montréal to see new immersive installation Scintillements | 1001 Lights by award-winning filmmakers Marlene Millar and Philip Szporer.

On stage

An unforgettable night of gorgeous dance awaits as The Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg and Les Grands Ballets presents Requiem, with one program set to Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8 and the other to Mozart’s unfinished work, at Place des Arts Feb. 21-25. We're in for a true contemporary dance treat as the Martha Graham Dance Company performs pieces by Graham as well as new works in Répertoire, presented by Danse Danse at Place des Arts Feb. 22-24. There's even more to see this week in Montréal's winter-spring dance season including Margie Gillis's Veriditas, an exploration of modern humanity through three female performers, Feb. 14–17 at Agora, and the urban dance of 100Lux at Place des Arts Feb. 15-17. In this season's English-language theatre calendar, a 1960s Québec tale of two young Lebanese women and the emerging feminist movement is told in The Baklawa Recipe, to Feb. 18 at Centaur Theatre; Black Boys, about the lives of three gay Black men, at Theatre Espace Libre Feb. 13-17, playwright Brad Fraser’s dark comedy True Love Lies tells a tangled love tale at the Centre culturel Calixa-Lavallée Feb. 8-18, and family secrets explode in Infinithéâtre's dramatic comedy Conversion to Feb. 25 at Espace Knox. And join the podcast team of Tranna Wintour and Thomas Leblanc's Chosen Family for a live recording on Feb. 19 at the Phi Centre.

On screen

New and celebrated Québec film shines at long-running film festival Les Rendez-Vous Québec Cinéma, Feb. 21 to March 3. Old Montréal's Phi Centre hosts Virtual Reality Garden: Canadian Screen Awards to Feb. 12 and photojournalist Karim Ben Khelifa's virtual reality installation The Enemy / Ennemi Feb. 10 to March 10, revealing the human side of global conflicts. Immerse yourself in the incredible audiovisual creativity of Hidden Dimensions and NAscent in the 360-degree multimedia dome of the Society for Arts and Technology. Explore the cosmos in immersive films EXO and Space Next at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. And go on a wild ride in IMAX with Tiny Giants, Amazon 3D and Incredible Predators 3D at the Montréal Science Centre.


Gallery hopping

From major museums to commercial galleries, original art abounds in Montréal – don't miss these must-see winter and spring exhibitions while you're here. Delve into Prince's musical and cultural legacy in exhibition Prince: His Purple Majesty, curated by musicologist Duke Eatmon, to March 3 at Place des Arts as part of Montréal's Black History Month. At the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts don't miss major exhibition Napoleon: Art and Court Life in the Imperial Palace, along with installation Kushapetshekan / Kosapitcikan and Nadia Myre's Tout ce qui reste – Scattered Remains. Always a must-visit in Old Montréal, DHC/ART celebrates its 10th anniversary with dynamic group exhibition The Gift/L'Offre alongside the pioneering video art and installation work of Bill Viola: Naissance à rebours. Peer into the city's past through photography exhibitions Gabor Szilasi: The Art World in Montréal, 1960–1980, 1960-1980 and Michel Campeau: Life Before Digital at the McCord Museum. Artist Maria Hupfield explores memory and family through felt objects and performance-based works in exhibition The One Who Keeps On Giving at Galerie de l'UQAM while the UQAM Centre de Design presents an exhibition on  design firm Foster + Partners. The Montréal Science Centre presents Indigenous Ingenuity: Timeless Inventions alongside photo exhibition Regalia: Native Pride. In Mile-Ex, Never Apart's Winter 2018 Exhibition features artwork by 10 international and local multimedia artists. Artist Hanna Abd El Nour's Utopie(s) tackles questions of identity, memory and collective imaginary, featuring a chorus of 15 performers in life tableau performances, to March 10 at Arsenal. Experience fashion as art by following Montréal's high-end designers guide to find classic and edgy ready-to-wear and unique accessories for all tastes. And if you're looking for that perfect piece of art to bring home with you, check out our guide to where to buy art in Montréal

Live music

On Friday, Kent Nagano conducts the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal Concert in the Dark, playing music of the 1960s, the premier of work for electric guitar and orchestra by John Anthony Lennon, plus a funk-themed post-concert party, at Maison symphonique, while Leonardo García Alarcón conducts Les Violons du Roy in a concert of Handel, Bach and more at Bourgie Hall. Marie Davidson’s Bullshit Threshold mixes the musician's poetic lyrics, electronic music and occasional theatrical delivery with live cinematic projections of John Londono and Gonzalo Soldi, Feb. 14-16 LaChapelle. Also on Friday, Drew Mcdowall presents Coil's Time Machines at La Sala Rossa, and Dutch producer Don Diablo rules the dance floor at New City Gas. Saturday night's alright for Celebrating David Bowie with Bowie collaborators Mike Garson, guitarist Earl Slick, Bernard Fowler and more at MTelus, while producer and instrumentalist Byron the Aquarius brings deep, daring Detroit house to the Phi Centre, soulful singer-songwriter Kat Wright and band performs at Quai des Brumes, and it's a night of dancing to electronic grooves with none other than Steve Aoki at New City Gas and at the Dômesicle party in the dome at the Société des arts technologiques.

Playing songs from the new album, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds hits new heights at Place des Arts on Feb. 18, Norwegian extreme metal band Enslaved gets heavy at Théâtre Corona with Wolves in the Throne Room and Myrkur, while Tyler, The Creator and Vince Staples shake up MTelus and synth-pop makers Porches and Girl Ray get the indie-groove going at Théatre Plaza. Listen to the electro and dance to sweet party jams with Rich Aucoin and opener Taylor Knox on Tuesday, Feb. 20 at Bar Le Ritz PDB, or hear the hip-hop-meets-electro beats of Mr. Carmack at Théâtre Fairmount, or the ska-punk of Less Than Jake at La Tulipe. On Wednesday, sing along with Portugal. The Man and Twin Peaks at MTelus or go wild with pop-rockers Hedley and Shawn Hood at Place Bell. Conductor Edo de Waart, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and pianist Christian Zacharias perform a concert of Mozart and Beethoven at Maison symphonique Feb. 21-25. Meanwhile, on Feb. 22, MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE présents Vieux Farka Touré at Club Soda, and Misunderstood: A Nina Simone Celebration with Nadia Theobal at Le Balcon, the Orchestre Métropolitain presents A Passion for Mozart at Maison symphonique, and Montreal trio Misc play their broadminded jazz at the Phi Centre. For more live music throughout the week, check out our picks for where to hear live music in Montréal, Montréal's best jazz and blues clubs and our insider 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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