Things to do in Montréal – January 10 to 16, 2020

January shines in the snow in Montréal this week. Take a stroll in Mount Royal Park, or go snow-tubing down the hills, try ice skating in the Old Port and play with the art of Luminothérapie downtown. Catch a Montréal Canadiens hockey game or the ISU Four Continents Short Track Speed Skating Championships, see Egyptian Mummies at the museum, immerse yourself in virtual reality and other artistic creations. Any time of day enjoy a great seasonal meal, excellent coffee or delicious hot chocolate. Check out live music and go dancing with the jubilant crowd at Igloofest!

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Winter activities and sports

Among Montréal's many wonderful winter activities, go ice skating at the lovely Old Port of Montréal ice skating rink, where you can rent skates and sip on hot chocolate too, or on Mount Royal Park's refrigerated rink next to the Beaver Lake Pavilion – rent skates and glide through nature in one of the biggest parks in the city, also where you can take a snowshoeing tour, go tobogganing and tube-sliding on the snow-covered hills, and take part in activities inside the Chalet du Mont-Royal. Learn to snowboard and ski at Pente à neige snow park, also featuring a snow-tubing hill. Or visit Montréal's large nature parks, like Parc-nature du Cap-Saint-Jacques and Parc-nature de l’Île-de-la-Visitation, for more winter activities.

Watch the pros on ice as the Montréal Canadiens play the Calgary Flames on January 13 and the Chicago Blackhawks on January 15 at the Bell Centre. See high-calibre athletes compete at the ISU Four Continents Short Track Speed Skating Championships from January 10 to 12 at Aréna Maurice-Richard. A regular host of sporting events year-round, Montréal also hosts the Olympics-qualifying International Fencing Federation's Sabre Grand Prix from January 10 to 12 and the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Judo Pan-American Championships on January 11 at Centre Pierre-Charbonneau in the Olympic Park.

City sights

Play with the bright, colourful and musical creatures of interactive artwork POP! by Montréal creative studio Gentilhomme, created for this year's Luminothérapie downtown in Place des Festivals, one of Montréal's free things to do this winter. One-of-a-kind winter electronic music festival Igloofest brightens the Old Port of Montréal's Jacques-Cartier Pier this month too: on January 16, dance with hundreds of people under the light of high-tech visuals to the music of French electro duo The Blaze, German Italo-Disco producer Lauer, Kizi Garden Crew and more producers.

Visit Notre-Dame Basilica (one of many Montréal churches featuring cultural activities) to see beautiful multimedia show AURA. Look out on the snowy city from Mount Royal Park or the Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown, La Grande Roue de Montréal in the Old Port or the observatory at the top of the Montréal Tower at Olympic Park. If the temperature drops, set your sights on warming up at Montréal's best spas. No matter what the weather, kids will be busy (and not bored!) with these entertaining indoor family activities or a visit with Québec wildlife at the conservation-focused Ecomuseum Zoo. Plot your visit with My Official Montréal City Guide (and save with the MTL Sweet Deal!).


Winter food and drink

Warm up with excellent winter cocktails and more at Montréal's coziest bars and inventive Montréal microbreweries, 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 (and get a pastry to go with it at Montréal's best bakeries and pastry shops). If you're shopping downtown and looking for a quick yet impressive meal, head to the new Time Out Market in Eaton Centre 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. Also check out these other foodie hotspots downtown.

Sit down at these 5 restaurants with amazing chefs for their unique local dishes, from classic French menus to ground-breaking Asian cuisine. Explore Montréal's new restaurants too, from twists on Italian classics to warming Moroccan dishes to Japanese ramen bowls. And try Montréal's best bring-your-own-wine restaurants and great casual restaurants. Have a locally sourced meal at Marcus restaurant in the Four Seasons hotel downtown – or drop in for its delectable afternoon tea service every afternoon. Also enjoy a classic afternoon tea service at the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth's Rosélys Restaurant from Thursday to Sunday. Explore more of Montréal and its culinary delights on Montréal's best food tours or discover some of Montréal's hidden gems. Montréal's best bakeries and pastry shops create irresistible desserts and more.


On stage

Centaur Theatre presents the Annual Wildside Theatre Festival from January 7 to 18, featuring audacious, wild and hilarious works of indie theatre, from soul icon Michelle Sweeney's Her Songs, My Story to surrealist comedy Multiple Organism, Cabal Theatre's reckoning within a post-conflict landscape Chattermarks and more! Also at Centaur Theatre, see incredible Stratford Festival production Paradise Lost, a theatrical adaptation of John Milton’s epic poem, from January 14 to February 2. Famed for its energetic and inspiring performance of traditional Irish music and dance, Riverdance celebrates its 25th anniversary with shows at Place des Arts from January 10 to 12.

On screen

Experience the contemporary VR artistry of the Cadavre exquis exhibition, featuring work by Marina Abramovi, Olafur Eliasson, Laurie Anderson, Antony Gormley, Paul McCarthy and other artists, at the Phi Centre – also visit the VR Cinema to see InnerFlood, creations by artists Anish Kapoor, Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg, Jakob Kudsk Steensen and Mali Arun. The Phi Centre also presents BIBELOT, an audio visual kinetic installation piece by composer Jay Crocker, until January 12. And SAT Fest wows in the Society for Arts and Technology's 360° multimedia dome from January 7 to February 28 with seven immersive 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 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, Cinéma du Musée at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and long-running Cinéma du Parc. And the LGBTQ Village stages light up with world-class drag shows in Montréal.


Art for everyone

At the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, don't miss “For Every Atom Belonging to Me as Good Belongs to You”: Selections From The Bailey Collection, About Face: Photographs by Cindy Sherman, Laurie Simmons and Rachel Harrison From the Collection of Carol and David Appel and more, and check out the museum's weekend tours and art workshops. At the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, experience the video works of Francis Alÿs: Children's Games, a survey of prominent Montréal painter Janet Werner and more. The Fondation Phi pour l’art contemporain presents music-oriented installations and video work by British artist Phil Collins exploring how we participate in popular culture, while Eva & Franco Mattes redefine the boundaries of the Internet in video and sculptural works. Montréal's Arsenal Contemporary Art gallery in Griffintown hosts Imagine Van Gogh, an immersive, technologically-enhanced experience of over 200 of the artist's paintings, including Sunflowers and The Starry Night.

Galerie de l’UQAM presents Le déploiement, an exhibition of works focused on the Canadian Far North by photographer and video artist Emmanuelle Léonard. The Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery presents ᓄᓇᙳᐊᓕᐅᕐᓂᖅ ᓄᓇᕐᔪᐊᙳᐊᓂᒃ Mapping of the World by Nunavut-based artist Shuvinai Ashoona to January 18. At La Guilde see Nunavut artist Jessie Oonark's Artworks - Still Very Much Alive and Love-Struck Souls by jeweler Aurelie Guillaume. At the Canadian Centre for Architecture, see Building a new New WorldAmerikanizm in Russian Architecture, as well as Rough Cuts and Outtakes, showcasing the work of Gordon Matta-Clark. The Museum of Jewish Montreal presents Return to The Fortress by Julie Gladstone. Mile-Ex gallery and cultural space Never Apart features fascinating art in its fall exhibitions. And there's more art to discover while gallery hopping and antiquing in the city.


History near and far

Montréal is also a must for history buffs. The British Museum's Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives makes its North American premiere at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, reconstructing the lives of six Egyptians who lived along the Nile 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 stunning exhibition The Incas, Treasures of Peru, and experience multimedia show Generations MTL and family-friendly activities. At the McCord Museum see retrospective exhibition Jean-Claude Poitras: Fashion and Inspiration, Celia Perrin Sidarous: The Archivist, toy exhibition It’s Your Move! Board Games: Larger Than Life and more. The Stewart Museum's Nights exhibition lets visitors explore the fiction-meets-reality of four worlds created by Québec writers Heather O’Neill, Simon Boulerice, Dominique Demers and Éric Dupont – while at the museum, peek into day-to-day life in New France in History and Memory.

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 from January 10 to February 23, 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 fashion transformations through the decades. At the Biosphère, Environment Museum see several exhibitions on marine environments, weather and current environmental issues. Discover Irish Montréal and Montréal's Scottish history through historic 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.

Live music

On Friday, dance into the night with French electro house producer Sébastien Léger at Newspeak. On Saturday night, rapper Fat Joe returns to New City Gas, UK trance EDM producer Genix rolls into Newspeak, electro indie-rock duo Tempers plays Casa del Popolo, while the Society for Arts and Technology's first Dômesicle dance party of the winter sparkles in the 360° dome, with music by producers Inōcent, Lucide and D.Blavatsky accompanied by wild visuals. Also on Saturday, it's a Montréal star-studded fundraiser concert for the Amazon with music by Safia Nolin, Brad & Andrew Barr, Ariane Moffatt, Patrick Watson and more artists at Théâtre Rialto. Or go out for dinner and dancing or simply for the great live music at Le Balcon's Best of Soul, Motown and Jazz on January 10 with Leanna White and The Best Soul, Motown, Disco and Pop Hits with Freddie James Project on January 11. Meanwhile, at the Casino de Montréal it's all pop all the time with Poptastic music weekends and a pop tribute show to Céline Dion on January 16.

Incredibly talented musician, composer and songwriter Chilly Gonzales performs piano and more at Théâtre St-Denis on January 13 and 14. The also multitalented Québécois composer and pianist Jean-Michel Blais performs at Place des Arts on January 14 and 15. Also on January 14, the eclectic, jazz-inflected Modern Nature (with frontman British songwriter Jack Cooper) and Olden Yolk play Ritz P.D.B. and Montréal rockers Barrasso shake up l'Escogriffe Bar Spectacle. Conductor Kent Nagano and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal celebrate the orchestra's 85th anniversary with concert The Vienna of Rossini and Schubert at Maison symphonique on January 14, while on January 15 and 16 the OSM performs Schubert concert Vienna in Waltz Time with tenor Ian Bostridge.

Also on Thursday, January 16, producer and musical director Damien Sneed presents We Shall Overcome - A Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a 9-piece ensemble playing repertoire from across the African American music traditions. Classical guitarist Christ Habib performs a noon-hour concert at Place des Arts' intimate Salle Claude-Léveillée. Later on that night, Kizi Garden and RA+RE headline the first After Igloofest party of the season at Newspeak. 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. 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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