Things to do in Montréal – July 19 to 25, 2019

This week in Montréal, comedy festival Just For Laughs has us rolling in the aisles and in the streets, while Festival International Nuits d'Afrique gets everyone dancing in Place des Festivals, Fantasia International Film Festival thrills film lovers, and L’International des Feux Loto-Québec lights up the sky. Watch Cirque du Soleil's Alegria or an Alouettes football game, listen to an outdoor symphony, visit museums and galleries, and explore parks, summer markets and more.

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Summer festivals

Comedy fest Just For Laughs brings the biggest names in comedy to Montréal and shines the spotlight on up-and-coming talents. This week get yourself to galas hosted by Howie Mandel and Jim Jefferies, solo stand-up by Michael McIntyre, Nick Kroll, Blake Griffin, Rachel Bloom, Ronny Chieng and many more comedians, Second City Toronto sketch show She The People, podcast series We Called Your Mom and more! Also check out the ever-popular Ethnic Show and Nasty Show and Zoofest & OFF JFL shows by a variety of great performers including Cameron Esposito, Fortune Fiemster, K. Trevor Wilson, Ron Funches and The Lucas Bros as well as theatrical shows like Lesbian Speed Date from Hell! Also head to Place des Festivals for free outdoor entertainment, from comedy to drag to karaoke – and on July 20 at 10 p.m. sing along with Toronto’s Choir! Choir! Choir!

Festival International Nuits d'Afrique continues with performances by percussionist Daniel Bellegarde and pianist Eddy Prophete at Théâtre Fairmount and great music at Club Balattou plus outdoor performances, dance classes and instrument demos, a marketplace and more in the Quartier des spectacles from July 16 to 21, featuring Algerian star Hakim Salhi, reggae-Afrobeat artist Wesli, Cuban musician Carlos Placeres, Colombian group Bazurto All Stars and Haitian supergroup Tabou Combo. Montréal's Haitian community celebrates with Haiti on Fire! from July 24 to 28, featuring music, a culinary fair, workshops, readings and an artisanal fair in Parc La Fontaine, plus an evening show on July 22 in Place des Festivals as part of Just For Laughs. Fans of classical music flock to the 42nd edition of Festival de Lanaudière from July 5 to August 4 – this week, hear Philip Glass's Third Piano Concerto performed by pianist Simone Dinnerstein and the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, a tribute to “Count” Basie, Dutch ensemble Calefax, and more.


More activities for all ages

Along with outdoor shows at festivals, Montréal offers even more free things to do this summer. See brilliantly creative fireworks set to music for competition L’International des Feux Loto-Québec, featuring Canada's Apollo 11 spaceflight-themed show on Saturday, July 20 and Australia's “shapeshifter” display on Wednesday, July 24, starting at 10 p.m. – watch from La Ronde amusement park, the Old Port's Clock Tower Beach, Observatoire Place Ville Marie, a rooftop patio or even on a boat with Croisières AML and Bateau-Mouche! The wonderful Orchestre Métropolitain performs a free outdoor concert, with live projections on giant screens, at the foot of Mount Royal near the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Monument, on July 25 at 8 p.m. The 10th edition of Atmosph'Air on the Plaza Festival along Plaza St-Hubert begins on July 19 with a weekend of sidewalk sales as well as outdoor shows starting at 7 p.m. by Damien Robitaille, Hanorah, Foreign Diplomats and Forest Boys.

See the city from the Mount Royal Park lookout, also where you'll find Café suspendu. 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, climb on high-ropes course Voiles en Voiles, ride the MTL Zipline, explore the SOS Labyrinthe, pedal boats and try other activities. Among the city's many parks and green spaces, discover vegetation from Québec and around the world as well as live music on Sundays 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 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, visit Notre-Dame Basilica to see multimedia show AURA and at night search out the projections of Cité Mémoire on building facades. Whether you're in Montréal solo or with family, plot your days and nights with My Official Montréal City Guide. 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, the Old Port’s Marché des Éclusiers and Mile End's Le Marché des Possibles green space and market, including daytime activities for kids, live music (curated by Indie Montréal on Friday), cuisine and more. Green space and café Les Jardineries opens this weekend at the Esplanade of the Olympic Park, while downtown follow the pink brick road to summer oasis Le Petit Montréal in Phillips Square and in Griffintown hang out in former metro cars repurposed into event space MR-63 at the corner of Peel and Ottawa Streets.

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 and laid-back casual restaurants. Let Montréal's design-trending restaurants and bars inspire a home makeover. Start the day with an excellent brunch or 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


Sports and outdoor adventures

In hometown CFL action, the Montréal Alouettes take on the Edmonton Eskimos on July 20 at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium. Cheer on Montréal's Major League Soccer team the Montréal Impact as they play York9 on July 24 at Saputo Stadium. And watch Canada’s best junior and senior Olympic and Paralympic athletes compete at the Canadian Track and Field Championships from July 25 to 29 at Complexe sportif Claude-Robillard.

Go bouldering outdoors in the city at Bloc Urbain – two huge granite blocks with climbing grades ranging from V2 to V10 – on the afternoon of July 25 on the Esplanade of the Olympic Park. Skateboarders can check out weekly Skate Jam and BBQ on Tuesday evenings in Parc de la Paix downtown. Movecamp breaks down fitness myths and gets people moving at Rutherford Park, McTavish reservoir on July 19 at noon. 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. Within the city limits, go camping in a cabin-like tent with Huttopia in Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville.


On stage and screen

After an impressive run under the blue-and-white big top in the Old Port of Montréal, Cirque du Soleil's incredible Alegría comes to a close this week – don't miss the show's world-class circus arts performers, incredible costumes and beautiful design, on stage up to July 21. If you're a film fan, you're probably already standing in line to see action, horror, anime and more genre-defying films from around the world at the 23rd edition of Fantasia International Film Festival, running from July 11 to August 1. 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. Watch the acrobats of Analog in cabaret-circus Finale, the wild, high-energy tale of a pop diva and her sidekick drummer, at Théâtre St-Denis 2 until July 20. Repercussion Theatre's Shakespeare-in-the-Park brings comedy Measure for Measure to city parks from July 11 to August 11, including in Parc Jarry on July 19 and Parc Girouard in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce on July 23.

Outdoor film screenings this week include: Jacques Becker's Casque D’or at outdoor cult crime film festival Film Noir au Canal on Sunday, July 21 at Square Saint-Patrick; Downtown screenings under the stars show The Hunchback of Notre-Dame on July 23 at Place de la Paix downtown; and Cinéma sous les étoiles presents films all week in parks around the city. In Little Italy's Parc Dante on July 24, see Italian film Mediterraneo (with English subtitles). 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 exhibition Spiders: From fear to fascination, as well as IMAX films Superpower dogs 3D, Volcanoes 3D and Pandas 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 summer exhibitions are also a must: the extremely poignant and timely career-spanning exhibition Rebecca Belmore: Facing the Monumental; beautiful and moving work by Nadia Myre, installation and performance art (including dance performances) by Chloë Lum and Yannick Desranleau; and Ragnar Kjartansson's video work A Lot of Sorrow, featuring band The National in a six-hour performance. 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 McCord Museum's The Polaroid Project highlights 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: Political Cartoons by Jim Carrey 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 – join the gallery's 4th anniversary celebrations on July 20, featuring music and drag performances! 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, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex – also join in Family Sundays activities and hear live music every Thursday at noon. 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. 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, while the Musée de Lachine illuminates 350 years of history at its LeBer-LeMoyne Heritage Site and wax museum Grévin MONTRÉAL features Québécois and international celebrities past and present. Explore the old fort that houses the Stewart Museum and exhibition History and Memory, spanning more than five centuries of day-to-day life in New France. And 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. Explore Montréal’s underground art and culture of the 1970s and '80s through a retrospective of the artwork of Zïlon and other Montréal artists at the Écomusée du fier monde. 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. 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.


More live music

On Friday night join the Osheaga pre-party at the Society for Arts and Technology, featuring local pop star Eli Rose, hip-hop by Benny Adam and KNLO, and rising star Lolo Zouai, plus upstairs in the Satosphere dome, get dancing with Glowzi, DJ Windows 98, local luminary Marie Davidson and Feu St-Antoine, plus DJ sets from Heartstreets. Or catch Nashville pop-rock band *repeat repeat and flipturn at Turbo Haüs and dance to trance producer Sneijder at Newspeak. On Saturday, July 20 Piknic Électronik presents Anjunadeep Montreal with electronic producers Luttrell, Jeremy Olander, Cubicolor and many more at Parc Jean-Drapeau. Also on Saturday, dance with DJ Quiz (G-Eazy's Official DJ) at New City Gas or Berlin house producer Martin Roth at Newspeak, while it's a night of soulful underground fabulousness with Bbymutha, Backxwash, Mister Wallace, Pantayo, LAL and Empress at the Phi Centre.

On Sunday afternoon, dance in the open air at Piknic Électronik in Parc Jean-Drapeau, featuring Italian producer Deborah de Luca, Okin, Brian Cuta and more producers. Sunday night brings Australian rockers Amyl and the Sniffers to Ritz P.D.B. On July 22, the National Youth Orchestra of Canada performs at Montréal's Maison symphonique as a part of its 2019 Odyssey Tour. And on July 25, The Orchestre de la Francophonie celebrates its 55th anniversary with Leonard Bernstein's score to West Side Story, at Centre Pierre-Charbonneau. 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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