Things to do in Montréal – February 7 to 13, 2020
Winter's bright this week in Montréal with all kinds of snow-day activities at festival Fête des neiges, in Mount Royal Park and throughout the city, while the grand finale weekend of electronic music festival Igloofest brings its high-energy beat to the Old Port of Montréal. Indoors, see Egyptian Mummies and other museum shows, incredible art, theatre and contemporary dance, classical and live music (scroll down!), film and more. And indulge in fabulous meals, seasonal beverages and fabulous desserts at Montréal's excellent eateries.
Make the most of snowy days at family-oriented winter festival Fête des neiges de Montréal in Parc Jean-Drapeau – go tube-sliding on a massive hill, play on an ice-sculpted pirate ship and ice slides, skate along a winding path, listen to live music and more (and if you bring a reusable mug, the hot chocolate and coffee is free!). Among Montréal's many other wonderful winter activities, ice skate at the Old Port of Montréal ice skating rink and on the tree-lined Parc La Fontaine ice skating rink. In Mount Royal Park go ice skating, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, tube-sliding and sledding – and on February 13, join the Tuques Bleues Celebration to support environmental conservation on Mount Royal, with snowshoe walks and races, music, drinks, treats and more under the stars and in the Mount Royal Chalet.
At Olympic Park, check out Jardineries d'hiver, where you can play games of pétanque and bowling, listen to music, roast marshmallows and drink mulled wine and hot chocolate. Learn to snowboard and ski at the Pente à neige snow park, also featuring a snow-tubing hill. Visit Montréal's large nature parks, like du Cap-Saint-Jacques and de l’Île-de-la-Visitation, for more winter activities. Or take a day trip with Express du Nord, a coach service from downtown Montréal to Saint-Sauveur and Mont Tremblant in the Laurentian Mountains. No matter what the weather, keep kids entertained with great indoor family activities or a visit with Québec wildlife at the conservation-focused Ecomuseum Zoo.
Bright lights, city sights
An only-in-Montréal experience, electronic music festival Igloofest gets thousands of people dancing outdoors under the light of high-tech visuals in the Old Port of Montréal: the fest's final weekend features star Canadian duo ZEDS DEAD, bass producer Eprom, Michael Sparks and VNSSA on Friday night, while Saturday's all about incredible Belgian producer Charlotte de Witte, Irish techno producer Matador, the exuberant club sounds of New Zealand's Chaos In The CBD and more.
Also in Old Montréal, Notre-Dame Basilica (one of many Montréal churches featuring cultural activities) features beautiful multimedia show AURA and La Grande Roue de Montréal offers incredible views – also see the city from Mount Royal Park, the Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown and the observatory at the top of the Montréal Tower at Olympic Park. Or set your sights on sports this week: cheer on the Montréal Canadiens as they play the Toronto Maple Leafs on February 8 and the Arizona Coyotes on February 10 at the Bell Centre. See all the games at Montréal sports bars with big screens. And add your cheers to the Cheerfest Championship on February 8 and 9 at Stade IGA. Whether you're in Montréal for a long weekend or a week, plot your visit with My Official Montréal City Guide (and save with the MTL Sweet Deal!).
Winter food and drink
Don't miss the delectable and affordable table d’hôte dinners, brunches and happy hour menus at 10 Old Montréal restaurants during wintertime food festival Happening Gourmand, ending on February 9. Meanwhile, new culinary event Tour de Tables offers five-course tasting menus at six excellent restaurants in the Plateau and other neighbourhoods. Poutine Week ends on Friday so there's still time to try specially created poutine dishes at dozens of restaurants throughout Montréal – after Friday, you'll still have plenty of chances to try Montréal's best poutine. Sit down at these five restaurants with amazing chefs for their unique local dishes. From elegant multi-course meals to sensational acclaimed fried chicken, amazing food awaits at these new Montréal restaurants. Or try Montréal's best bring-your-own-wine restaurants and great casual restaurants.
Warm up with excellent winter cocktails and more at Montréal's coziest bars and inventive Montréal microbreweries, or go on a hot date at these romantic bars. Sip perfectly brewed hot tea at Montréal tea houses, get your caffeine fix in style at Montréal's indie coffee shops, and savour the sweet stuff with the best hot chocolate in the city – get a pastry to go with it at Montréal's best bakeries and pastry shops. If you're shopping downtown, head to the new Time Out Market in Centre Eaton on Sainte-Catherine Street. Another excellent new Montréal food hall, LE CENTRAL - MANGER MONTRÉAL serves up delicious local fare at the corner of Sainte-Catherine Street and Saint-Laurent Boulevard. And new to the downtown food scene is Cathcart Restaurants et Biergarten, a skylight-lit space featuring nine food counters, three restaurants, two cafés and a biergarten. Also check out these other foodie hotspots downtown. And explore more of Montréal and its culinary delights on Montréal's best food tours.
Modern circus meets a colourful Moroccan atmosphere and distinctive acrobatics in Halka by North African company circus company Groupe acrobatique de Tanger, at La TOHU from January 29 to February 9. Choreographer-dancer José Navas performs his solo work Winterreise, embodying the essence of composer Schubert's journey, from February 11 to 22 at Place des Arts. An incredible sight to see, masters of high-speed percussive Argentine Malambo Che Malambo Dance Company perform on February 7 at Place des Arts. Long-running hit musical We Will Rock You brings the music of Queen to the stage at Place des Arts on February 10. Inspired by painting, writing and sculpture, the duos of Promesses by Louise Bédard Danse play with texture and the passage of time at Agora de la danse from February 5 to 8, followed from February 12 to 15 by Pour sortir au jour, Olivier Dubois's intimate solo show focused on memory and the body. A meditation on osmosis and internalisation, Jamila Johnson-Small's i ride in colour and soft focus, no longer anywhere is part of Queer Performance Camp on February 8 and 9 at Théâtre La Chapelle.
A musical voyage celebrating the strength and resilience of Black women in the 20th century, Edinburgh Fringe hit Century Song comes to Centaur Theatre from February 12 to 16, part of Black History Month, which also centres the Black community at storytelling night Confabulation, hosted by Kadi Diop at the Phi Centre on February 8. Also at Centaur, see Imago Theatre's The Tropic of X, the wild story of street kids and arcade freaks Maura and Mori, by Latinx playwright Caridad Svich, until February 8. At MainLine Theatre, comedy Malunderstood by Kenny Streule regales with tales of how Kenny was raised by a wild beaver of a grandmother. For families, Geordie Theatre presents its recent touring shows The Water Chronicles and Fear of Missing Out on February 8 and 9. And in the Gay Village, stages light up with world-class drag shows in Montréal.
Art for everyone
At the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, see “For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you”: Selections From the Bailey Collection as well as About Face: Photographs by Cindy Sherman, Laurie Simmons and Rachel Harrison from the Collection of Carol and David Appel and more. At the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, see Painting Nature with a Mirror, a portrait of 1980s painting in Canada, Points of Light, 40 years of moving image art, and Arthur Jafa's cinematic montage Love is the Message, the Message is Death. The Fondation Phi pour l’art contemporain features music-oriented installations and video by British artist Phil Collins, and Eva & Franco Mattes’s Internet-focused video and sculptural works. Arsenal Contemporary Art hosts Imagine Van Gogh, an immersive, technologically-enhanced experience of the artist's paintings.
See film art exhibition Quand nous sommes / When we are, inspired by the third cinema of Patricio Guzman, at SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art. At La Guilde see Nunavut artist Jessie Oonark's Artworks - Still Very Much Alive and Love-Struck Souls by jeweler Aurelie Guillaume. The Museum of Jewish Montreal presents Return to The Fortress by Julie Gladstone along with city walking tours. The Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery presents multi-artist exhibition In the No Longer Not Yet, operating on the premise that the apocalypse is not to come but ongoing. Galerie de l’UQAM presents climate-change focused These Rooms of Earth and Stones by Michel Boulanger and Katja Davar and Heidi Barkun's in vitro fertilization exhibition Let's Get You Pregnant! Galerie D’Este presents reflective duo exhibition Pause Papier : Les mondes de Karine Demers et Megan Herwig. Stop by Mile-Ex gallery and cultural space Never Apart to see new painting, photography and installation art as part of its winter exhibitions. And there's more art to discover while gallery hopping and antiquing in the city.
History near and far
History buffs can witness the ancient past and local stories at Montréal museums. At the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, see Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives, one of this season's major exhibitions in Montréal, reconstructing the lives of six Egyptians from about 900 BC to AD 180. At Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex discover the origins and legacy of the Inca Empire in The Incas, Treasures of Peru, plus multimedia show Generations MTL and other activities. History meets architecture in the Canadian Centre for Architecture's current exhibitions Building a new New World – Amerikanizm in Russian Architecture and Detour: Alternative Readings of Travel. At the McCord Museum see retrospective exhibition Jean-Claude Poitras: Fashion and Inspiration, new exhibition Griffintown by photographer Robert Walker, interactive toy exhibition It’s Your Move! Board Games: Larger Than Life and more.
The Stewart Museum's Nights lets visitors explore the fiction-meets-reality of four worlds created by Québec writers Heather O’Neill, Simon Boulerice, Dominique Demers and Éric Dupont – if you're at the museum on February 9, feel free to join a snowshoeing tour too! At the nearby Biosphère, Environment Museum see several exhibitions on marine environments, weather and current environmental issues. Among the city's other family-friendly museums, Exporail / The Canadian Railway Museum invites train enthusiasts of all ages to Iron and Ice: Snow Trains until February 23, the Musée de Lachine illuminates 350 years of history, wax museum Grévin MONTRÉAL features Québécois and international celebrities, and the free Barbie Expo shows off Barbie's fashion transformations through the decades. And pick up some historic and present-day facts about Montréal that even some locals might not know.
Relive the award-winning drama of blockbuster film Titanic with live accompaniment by an orchestra, choir and Celtic musicians on February 8 and 9 at Place des Arts. The immersive screen-and-sound creations of SAT Fest wow in the Society for Arts and Technology's 360° dome until February 28 with seven creations by artists from around the world. Explore the universe at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, featuring science-meets-multimedia shows Planet Nine, Secrets of Gravity, EXO, POLARIS, Continuum and Aurōrae as well as Mice and the Moon for younger kids. The Montréal Science Centre presents IMAX film Great Bear Rainforest 3D and hands-on science exhibitions for kids such as Health from Head to Toe.
Among Montréal's great indie cinemas, see art-house, documentaries, Québécois, cult films and more at Mile End's Cinéma Moderne, the Cinémathèque québécoise (currently showing Will Prosper's Haiti-set film Kenbe la, Until We Win as part of Black History Month), Cinéma du Musée at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (this week featuring new made-in-Montréal doc Tuning the Brain with Music and more) and at long-running Cinéma du Parc (currently playing 2020 Oscar-nominated short films, 3D documentary Cunningham about choreographer Merce Cunningham, and more).
Starting with classical music, on Friday evening Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts the Orchestre Métropolitain, the Chœur Métropolitain and soloists in wide-ranging concert Mozart Larger-than-Life at Maison symphonique de Montréal – on Friday afternoon, Yannick Nézet-Séguin also conducts l’Orchestre symphonique du Conservatoire de musique de Montréal in a free concert at Maison symphonique. The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal performs Dvořák’s Symphony “From the New World” with conductor Xian Zhang on February 9 at Maison symphonique. Eleven of Canada’s finest female voices come together to sing music by Québec songwriter Luc Plamondon in Symphonic Plamondon from February 11 to 13 at Maison symphonique. And Bourgie Concert Hall presents Louis Lortie Plays Beethoven as part of its Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Sonatas series, on February 7 and 9.
On Friday, English electronic band Metronomy comes to MTELUS, French electronic collective Bon entendeur remixes disco, funk, pop and hip-hop with historic sound bites and their own electro style at L'Olympia, British singer-songwriter-producer Michael Kiwanuka plays Corona Theatre, dream-pop artist Ghostly Kisses and Raveen perform at La Sala Rossa, dance into the night at the New City Gas official Igloofest afterparty featuring a secret special guest, at Newspeak's Igloofest afterparty with Midnight Jacuzzi, or at the Society for Arts and Technology’s Dômesicle in the 360° dome with DJs Klusa Daba, D.B.Y. and Quan. On Saturday night, don't miss Citizen Cope at Club Soda, electronic producer Nghtmre at MTELUS, X-Coast and Ankh at the Igloofest afterparty at Newspeak, and 30 Years In 1 Night- Mind Soul & Spirit 30th Anniversary Gospel Concert with local favourites and NYC choir Vincent Bohanan & The Sound Of Victory on February 8. Also part of Black History Month is JAMBANA’s A Tribute to the Legends of Reggae with Judy Mowatt at Le Belmont on February 9.
The Casino de Montréal's Pop casino event hosts Poptastic ‘80s and ‘90s music nights on Friday and Saturday, a tribute show to The Beatles on February 13, themed food and drinks and more. Go out for dinner and live music at Le Balcon's show The Best of Soul, Motown and Jazz on Friday and An Amazing Soul, Motown and Disco Evening on Saturday. On Wednesday, February 12, check out Calgary indie-folk band Reuben And The Dark at Petit Campus and North Carolina MC Rapsody with opener Sa-Roc at Le Belmont. On Thursday see Chicago indie band Whitney at Corona Theatre, Australian indie folk band Hollow Coves at L’Astral, British singer Katie Markham performing Someone Like You - The Adele Songbook at Club Soda, and Ethnic Heritage Ensemble on their Raise The Spirit Tour! at La Sala Rossa.
For 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. Or stand up and sing yourself at Montréal's best karaoke bars! And if you want to bring the music home with you, go record shopping at Montréal's excellent vinyl stores.
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.