Things to do in Montréal January 19-25

Robyn Fadden

This week, embrace winter activities like a Montrealer at family-friendly outdoor festivals Barbegazi and Fêtes des Neiges, catch a contemporary circus or dance show, go gallery hopping, and energize with a three-course meal before dancing late into the night outdoors at Igloofest.

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Wintery activities

Go snow-skating, fat-biking and more – try your had at Christmas tree throwing! – at the family-friendly Barbegazi Winter Action Sports Festival January 20-21 on the Olympic Park Esplanade, right next to the V Winter Village where you can go ice skating, listen to live music and more every day from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. There's more family fun in the snow at Fêtes des Neiges this weekend in Parc Jean-Drapeau, with ice slides, snow tubing, a zip line, dog sledding, entertainment and more. Spend time out in the snow like a local with these classic Montréal winter activities, from sledding on the Mountain to bird watching at the Botanical Garden and ice skating next to the Saint-Lawrence River day or night at the Natrel Skating Rink. Among the many free things to do this winter in Montréal (not to mention the picks in our budget-friendly guide to Montréal), ride illuminated see-saws while having a warm drink at outdoor art event Luminothérapie in downtown's Place des Festivals – look up to see dreamlike architectural video projection Les Lointaines and show up on Jan. 20 to roast (free) marshmallows over an open fire! And dance outdoors to electronic music at Igloofest Jan. 18-20 in the Old Port, with French musician Petit Biscuit and locals Ouri and Frankie Teardrop on Friday, plus British producer Bonobo and the experimental beats of TOKiMONSTA on Saturday.

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Snowy city sights

Follow our guide to Montréal's most famous icons to see the city's famed architecture and other unique sights. Visit the Buckminster Fuller-designed Biosphère to see the city anew in exhibition Planète MTL and see Montréal from great heights on La Grande Roue de Montréal observation wheel, at the Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown and at the Montréal Tower at Olympic Stadium. Or relax with a river-level view of the Saint Lawrence at Bota Bota floating spa, one of Montréal's best spas. Old Montréal sparkles with some of Montréal's high-tech wonders and flagship legacy projects for Montréal’s 375th anniversary, such as the historic tableaux projections of Cité Memoire on building facades throughout the area and in multimedia wonder AURA at Notre-Dame Basilica, one of the Montréal's stunning historic churches. Indoors, see the animals at play in the tropics and beyond at the Biodome and watch the Montréal Canadiens play the Bruins on Jan. 20 and the Avalanches on Jan. 23 at the Bell Centre – get your tickets at the only Canadiens authorized and secure site Ticket Vault. And discover Montréal hockey history in exhibition Passion: Hockey at Pointe-à-Callière museum.

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Decadent food and drink

January weather calls for just the right hot food for cold days, from spicy Indian food to big bowls of ramen. In Old Montréal to Feb. 4, enjoy a hearty multi-course meal or delicious brunch at the 11th edition of Happening Gourmand at BEVO Bar + Pizzeria, Taverne Gaspar, Kyo Bar Japonais, Méchant Boeuf, Modavie, Brasserie 701, Verses Bistro, Vieux-Port Steakhouse and Maggie Oakes. Warm up next to the cozy fireplaces of several bars and restaurants or by sipping a creative cocktail or the best hot chocolate in the city. If you're still feeling decadent after the holidays, indulge with Montréal's traditional terroir, high tea and more gourmet meals. For tried-and-true Québécois classic dishes, follow our guides to the best poutine and the best Montréal bagels along with more musts for foodies visiting Montréal – plus where to go shopping for foodies too. Or discover creative new cuisine from Québec at our Montréal restaurant picks and a wide world of vegan options in our ultimate guide to vegan eating in Montréal. Explore the city's public markets and some of Montréal's liveliest neighbourhoods through their restaurants. Caffeinate in style at Montréal's indie coffee shops or relax at weekend brunch. And if your New Year is all about eating well, there's plenty of genuinely delicious health-conscious food in Montréal too.

Leonard Cohen's Montréal

In honour of his artistic impact on the city and the world, Montréal celebrates Leonard Cohen this winter with international exhibition Leonard Cohen – A Crack in Everything at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal features 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. And 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.

Stage and screen

Enjoy the fantastic spectacle of non-traditional circus-meets-multimedia show Temporel by Lemieux Pilon and Les 7 Doigts, Jan. 10-27 at Place des Arts' Cinquième Salle. Montréal's winter-spring dance season begins this week as Danse Danse presents a meditative exploration of nature and life in The Eternal Tides by Lin Lee-Chen’s Taipei-based troupe Legend Lin Dance Theatre, at Place des Arts Jan. 24-27, and Agora de la danse presents Icône Pop by Mélanie Demers, George Stamos's live installation Recurrent Measures, and Peter Quanz's Instant Community interactive experience, Jan. 24-28. In this season's English-language theatre calendar, a 1960s Québec tale of two young Lebanese women, their families and the emerging feminist movement is told in The Baklawa Recipe, Jan. 23 to Feb. 18 at Centaur Theatre, Black Theatre Workshop presents Athol Fugard’s play “Master Harold”...and the boys, set in South Africa in 1950 during apartheid, at the Segal Centre Jan. 21 to Feb. 11, and the Dawson Professional Theatre Program brings the beloved characters of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice to life Jan. 22 to Feb. 3. See cutting-edge immersive short films in the Society for Arts and Technology's 360-degree dome during SAT Fest, to Feb. 2. Explore the cosmos in two new immersive films at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium: EXO and Space Next, and go on a wild ride in IMAX with Amazon 3D and Incredible Predators 3D at the Montréal Science Centre. And the Phi Centre hosts the 17th Canada's Top Ten Film Festival Jan. 12-20, featuring shorts and feature films from the Toronto International Film Festival, and Virtual Reality Garden: Canadian Screen Awards Jan. 23 to Feb. 12.

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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. At the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Once Upon A Time… The Western gives the Western film genre new artistic life with a critical First Nations art twist – while there also see installation Kushapetshekan / Kosapitcikan by Eruoma Awashish, Meky Ottawa and Jani Bellefleur-Kaltush and Nadia Myre's Tout ce qui reste – Scattered Remains. Always a must-visit, DHC/ART in Old Montréal 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. 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. The Montréal Science Centre presents Indigenous Ingenuity: Timeless Inventions alongside photo exhibition Regalia: Native Pride. See photography exhibition Gabor Szilasi: Le monde de l’art à Montréal, 1960-1980 at the McCord Museum. Lynda Gaudreau's project Out of Sight at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery is an “exhibition in development” that explores perception and what is outside our field of vision. In Mile-Ex, Never Apart's Winter 2018 Exhibitions features artwork by 10 international and local multimedia artists. Mohawk artist Skawennati created kid-focused exhibition Teiakwanahstahsontéhrha' | We Extend the Rafters at VOX. SBC Gallery presents All good things must begin, a conversation between Audre Lorde and Octavia E. Butler. 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 night, The Devil Makes Three blends bluegrass, jazz, country and blues with openers Roebuck at MTelus, Elliott Brood, Harrow Fair and Woodpigeon play similar yet different alt-country-folk sounds at La Sala Rossa, and if you're not dancing in the snow at Igloofest, let electronic producer Vanic get you on the Newspeak dance floor. Saturday night brings the good-time rock n' roll of Big Wreck and Attica Riots to Théâtre Corona, Danish electro-pop singer-songwriter and Cashmere Cat to MTelus and Vancouver “crush pop” band Belle Game to Bar to Le Ritz PDB, along with progressive house producer Markus Schulz's Coldharbour Recordings night at New City Gas and the winter season's Dômesicle Party at the Société des arts technologiques. On Monday, get good and psychedelic with Slow Dawn, Lungbutter and Dead Dog at La Vitrola. Always a deep musical experience, Dan Bejar's Destroyer comes to Théâtre Fairmount, with opener Mega Bog. Shake it to German indie alt-pop duo Milky Chance on Wednesday, Jan. 24 at MTelus. And on Thursday, go for the heavy metalcore sounds of Killswitch Engage, Anthrax and Havok at MTelus, Michigan rockers Sleeping with Sirens at Club Soda or punk meets dirty pop with Weakened Friends, Weird Star and Laureate at L'Esco. 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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