Things to do in Montréal – July 12 to 18, 2019

It's a hot time for entertainment in the city this week with creative circus festival MONTRÉAL COMPLÈTEMENT CiRQUE, comedy fest Just For Laughs, the music of Festival International Nuits d'Afrique and even more festivals! The L’International des Feux Loto-Québec fireworks and Cirque du Soleil's Alegria wow us. Visit museums and galleries for art and historic perspectives and experience the city like a local at the city's parks, outdoor markets and favourite restaurant patios.

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Summer festivals

Circus shows and acrobatic activities delight all ages as international festival MONTRÉAL COMPLÈTEMENT CiRQUE takes to the city's stages, streets and parks from July 4 to 14 – indoors, see Les 7 Doigts’s Bosch Dreams, Gandini Juggling's Spring, Analog's FINALE and Machine de Cirque's La Galerie. Outdoors catch free early-evening performance Les MINUTES COMPLÈTEMENT CiRQUE on Saint-Denis Street and aerial show Candide at Jardins Gamelin, plus more circus fun in Complexe Desjardins, Evening Complètement Cirque at Olympic Park on July 12, Week-end complètement cirque at TOHU on July 13 and 14 and more. Another family-friendly festival, Week-ends du monde celebrates Montréal’s cultural diversity with music, dance, activities, food and more at Parc Jean-Drapeau from July 13 to 14.

Comedy fest Just For Laughs entertains this week with the ever-popular Ethnic Show and Nasty Show, Mike Paterson's one-man show French Comedy is Easy and Zoofest and OFF-JFL shows by a variety of performers, including Cameron Esposito, Aliya Kanani, Lisa Treyger, Morgan O’Shea and more. Festival International Nuits d'Afrique continues with performances by famed Malian kora players Yacouba Sissoko and Zal Sissokho, Senegalese kora player Ablaye Cissoko and group Constantinople, Tuareg rockers Imarhan, traditional Mandingo and desert blues artist Djely Tapa, music every night at Club Balattou and more – plus all kinds of outdoor performances and activities in the Quartier des spectacles starting July 16. Enjoy great food, music and family activities at A Taste of the Caribbean from July 11 to 14. Fans of classical music flock to the 42nd edition of Festival de Lanaudière from July 5 to August 4 – this week, hear pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin, Les Violons du Roy, tenor Michael Spyres, cellist Stéphane Tétreault, the Orchestre Métropolitain and more.


More activities for all ages

Along with outdoor shows at festivals, Montréal offers even more free things to do this summer. Downtown, Sainte-Catherine Street Celebrates! with a massive street fair from July 12 to 15: go shopping, listen to music, watch graffiti artists create and acrobats perform, and follow the pink brick road to summer oasis Le Petit Montréal in Phillips Square. Stay up late to see the brilliantly creative fireworks set to music for L’International des Feux Loto-Québec on July 17 at 10 p.m. – watch from La Ronde amusement park, the Old Port's Clock Tower Beach, Observatoire Place Ville Marie or a rooftop patio. See the city from the Mount Royal Park lookout, one of the most “Instagrammable” views in Montréal. While there, check out the Café suspendu du mont Royal. Among the other activities on the mountain, you can go on a guided nature walk or row around Beaver Lake. In the Old Port of Montréal, check out kid-focused high-ropes course Voiles en Voiles, the MTL Zipline, SOS Labyrinthe, pedal boats and other adventurous activities. Among the city's many parks and green spaces, discover vegetation from Québec and around the world as well as live music on weekends at the Montréal Botanical Garden.

For a 360º view of the city, go to the top of the Montréal Tower at Olympic Park, look out from the Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown and ride La Grande Roue de Montréal in the Old Port. Follow the landscaped Promenade Fleuve-Montagne from Mount Royal Park, through the Golden Square Mile and down to the St. Lawrence River – then kick back and relax at Montréal's best spas or enjoy outdoor yoga at the Clock Tower Beach at the Old Port of Montréal on Tuesday nights. In Old Montréal, search out the projections of Cité Mémoire on building facades and visit Notre-Dame Basilica to see multimedia show AURA. Whether you're in Montréal by plane or train, solo or with family, plot your days and nights with My Official Montréal City Guide, a travel app that lets you experience the city like a Montrealer. And save on your next visit with the MTL Sweet Deal


Food and drink

Dine outdoors throughout the city on Montréal terrasses – among the many patio dining experiences, drop by Marcus Restaurant + Terrace at the Four Seasons Hotel, downtown's Foodlab for great food and DJs, Joël Robuchon’s L’Atelier terrace at the Casino de Montréal, or any of the lively patios in the Gay Village. For outdoor drinks, food, live music and more entertainment, spend some time at Montréal's seasonal outdoor markets, including Jardins Gamelin outside Berri-UQAM metro station, Village au Pied-du-Courant near the Jacques-Cartier Bridge (join the LayLit Middle-Eastern dance party on Friday night), the Old Port’s Marché des Éclusiers and Mile End's Le Marché des Possibles (with music curated by MUTEK on Friday night).

See what's in season and bring home locally made gourmet products at Jean-Talon Market and Atwater Market. Beat the heat with delicious ice cream and frozen treats. Eat well at these top Montréal restaurants for the gourmet traveller, cheerful bring-your-own-wine eateries, lovely romantic dining options, laid-back casual restaurants and new ones. Let Montréal's design-trending restaurants and bars inspire a home makeover. 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. Later on, see what's hot at the city's new bars, relax with a perfect cocktail, or have a drink away from it all in a hidden bar, speakeasy or perfect date spot. The Casino de Montréal hosts Futuristik Nights food-and-entertainment events this month. 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. Explore more of Montréal and its culinary delights on Montréal's best food tours.


Sports and outdoor adventures

Cheer on Montréal's Major League Soccer team the Montréal Impact as they play Toronto FC on July 13 at Saputo Stadium. Skateboarders of all ages won't want to miss the Vans Park Series Men’s & Women’s Pro Tour on the afternoons of July 12 and 13 on the Esplanade of the Olympic Park – it's free, but get there early to see the skateboarding action up close! Skateboarders can also check out weekly Skate Jam and BBQ on Tuesday evenings in Place de la Paix downtown. Go hiking, canoeing or fishing on an outdoor adventure with nature guides Bonjour Nature – their day trips take you outside Montréal to the spectacular Lanaudière region and beyond. Within the city limits, go camping in a cabin-like tent with Huttopia in Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville.


On stage and screen

Cirque du Soleil's stunning Alegria impresses and inspires with world-class circus arts performers, incredible costumes and beautiful design, with shows until July 21 under the blue-and-white big top in the Old Port of Montréal. The 23rd edition of Fantasia International Film Festival screens action, horror, anime and more genre-defying films from around the world from July 11 to August 1, including Sadako, Ready or Not and The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil. Go on a multi-sensory trip in Through the Echoes at new immersive entertainment space PY1 – look for the pyramid in the Old Port of Montréal. 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. On stage, Repercussion Theatre's Shakespeare-in-the-Park brings comedy Measure for Measure to city parks from July 11 to August 11, including July 16 and 17 in Westmount Park. Montréal's vibrant queer nightlife boasts its own amazing drag stars – and you can bet some of them will be in the front row at RuPaul's Drag Race Season 11 Tour at L'Olympia on July 12.

Outdoor film screenings this week include: Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho launching the 5th edition of outdoor cult crime film festival Film Noir au Canal on Sunday, July 14 at Square Saint-Patrick; Downtown screenings under the stars show Black Mother and Âme Noire with directors in attendance on July 16 at Place de la Paix downtown; and Cinéma sous les étoiles presents Pauline Julien, intime et politique at Parc Saint-Gabriel and Yours in Sisterhood at Parc du Pélican on July 16 (in English or with English subtitles), a short films competition on July 17 at Parc Laurier, and more. 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 IMAX films Pandas 3D, Volcanoes 3D and Superpower dogs 3D – along with hands-on science activities such as the Clic! zone (made specifically for kids ages 4 through 7) and a 3.8-billion-year-old moon rock! Among Montréal's great indie cinemas, Mile End's Cinéma Moderne screens art-house, Québécois and cult films every day plus family screenings on weekends, Cinémathèque québécoise shows films by more auteurs, while Cinéma du Musée and Cinéma du Parc also screen Canadian and international features and documentaries all week.


Art for everyone

Among summer's must-see exhibitions, enter the high-fashion art world of Thierry Mugler: Couturissime, featuring wild creations by the French designer at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts – also see Montreal Couture, showcasing inventive Québec designers, Omar Ba: Same Dream, a monograph dedicated to the highly influential African artist, Alanis Obomsawin, Printmaker and Dale Chihuly sculpture The Sun outdoors. The Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal’s summer exhibitions are also a must: the extremely poignant and timely career-spanning exhibition Rebecca Belmore; beautiful and moving work by Nadia Myre, installation and performance art (including daily dance performances) by Chloë Lum and Yannick Desranleau; and Ragnar Kjartansson's A Lot of Sorrow, featuring band The National. Yoko Ono: LIBERTÉ CONQUÉRANTE/GROWING FREEDOM explores how the art and life of icon Yoko Ono (and partner John Lennon) has affected years of contemporary art practices, art reception and activism at Fondation Phi pour l’art contemporain in Old Montréal.

The Osheaga, Music and Arts Festival presents exhibition Music on Paper from July 4 to 18 at Station 16. The McCord Museum features The Polaroid Project - At the Intersection of Art and Technology, highlighting 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 downtown. At the Phi Centre catch This Light Never Goes Out and 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. See works by Indigenous women artists in Oubliées ou disparues : Akonessen, Zitya, Tina, Marie et les autres at Ashukan Cultural Space. And there's more art to discover while gallery hopping and antiquing in the city.


History near and far

Experience 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 at Pointe-à-Callière Archaeology and History Complex – also join Family Sundays activities, hear live music every Thursday at noon and celebrate Bastille Day—the French National Holiday—with free outdoor activities on July 14. Among the city's other family-friendly museums, watch kids' eyes light up when they see the dinosaur skeletons, fossils and more at the Redpath Museum. Wax museum Grévin MONTRÉAL features Québécois and international celebrities past and present. Nature and climate come into full view at the geodesic Biosphère, Environment Museum in Parc Jean-Drapeau. The Canadian Railway Museum Exporail celebrates locomotive history, and the Musée de Lachine celebrates the 350th anniversary of its LeBer-LeMoyne Heritage Site on July 13. History museum Château Ramezay features summer activities as well as the World War I exhibition WAR Flowers alongside rooms full of local history.

At the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Our Happy Life looks at measurements of happiness – stick around on the night of July 18 for Garage Club, featuring music by pop-industrial band Dead Dog and dub-techno producer Errhead. Edward Hillel's art installation Chambre Noire/Darkroom uses archives from his photography book The Main: Portrait of a Neighbourhood at the Museum of Jewish Montreal. Explore underground culture of 1980s Montréal through a retrospective of the artwork of Zïlon and other Montréal artists at the Écomusée du fier monde. The city's Irish roots also run deep – discover Irish Montréal through landmarks and more. See Barbie's high-fashion transformations through the decades at the free Barbie Expo. 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 night, house and R&B producer Pat Lok, PWRFNK and more producers roll out a roster of electronic sounds at Newspeak downtown. Dance at the Dômesicle Parties - Summer Edition parties every Saturday night this summer in the 360º dome at the Society for Arts and Technology downtown and dance some more with Dutch-Filipino producer Laidback Luke at New City Gas. On Sunday afternoon, dance in the open air at Piknic Électronik in Parc Jean-Drapeau, featuring the electro of Crew Love collective with Soul Clap and Wolf + Lamb, plus Denmark's Courtesy on the Boisé stage – along with the Petit Piknic activity zone for kids. On July 15, Backstreet Boys are back at the Bell Centre and long-time Scottish indie-pop favourites Belle & Sebastian return to Montréal at MTELUS. Tuesday night features glorious classic rock duo Heart at the Bell Centre and Turkish psych folk band Altin Gün and opener Teke Teke at Théâtre Fairmount. On Wednesday it's another comeback: Def Leppard rock the Bell Centre. 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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