Things to do in Montréal this July 2021

Robyn Fadden

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.

Montréal welcomes summer with open arms – and open terrasses, restaurants, shops and more this July! The city simply bursts with things to do during July’s warm days and nights, from surprise performances downtown to adventures in the Old Port. Several music and cultural festivals return with hybrid programs this summer too! Spend time at outdoor pools, have a picnic in the park, walk through the Botanical Garden, explore art and history at museums and galleries, even book a long-weekend staycation at a hotel or spend the evening at the drive-in.

Montréal’s summer festivals make a comeback this month! Pedestrianized Ste-Catherine Street in Montréal’s Gay Village becomes an open-air gallery for Mtl en Arts from June 30 to July 11. Dance outdoors again at Piknic Électronik in July, returning to Parc Jean-Drapeau every weekend this month – tickets are limited so purchase them in advance! Festival International Nuits d’Afrique celebrates its 35th year with performances and activities from July 6 to 18. Circus performances of all kinds make TOHU – MONTRÉAL COMPLÈTEMENT CiRQUE a must from July 8 to 18. Science for all ages fills the program at Festival Eurêka! from July 14 to 18. Comedy from Montréal and around the world goes online for all to see at Just For Laughs from July 15 to 31. And festival Haiti en Folie presents its gala concerts and more online and in person from July 26 to August 1.

In the heart of downtown Montréal, the Quartier des spectacles surprises with spontaneous outdoor circus, theatre and dance performances, multimedia projections, and art installations that double as urban oases – all part of Les aventures du cœur de l’île, enlivening the city centre. Meanwhile, the photographed faces of Montrealers come together in Les Visages de Montréal, large-scale collages in Place des Arts, Complexe Desjardins and several other cultural venues.

July is also the perfect time for outdoor activities in Montréal's parks and green spaces. See incredible city views in Mount Royal Park and even take a stroll through Mount Royal Cemetery. The Space For Life is an ideal place to reconnect with nature: see the world in bloom at the Montréal Botanical Garden, visit with penguins, lynx and more in the Space for Life Biodôme's five ecosystems, and explore the universe in the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium’s immersive films and exhibitions (purchase fixed-time tickets online ahead of time). A few steps away, the esplanade of Olympic Park, skateboard at Vans Skatepark and rock climb on two giant granite blocks. And add extra adrenaline to your month at La Ronde amusement park!

July city sights

There’s never a dull moment when sightseeing even as a local in Montréal: there’s simply always something new to see and do! The sights in Old Montréal and the Old Port of Montréal always shine, where you can see the city from above on the Observation Wheel, or simply relax with a view at Clock Tower Beach or with a water circuit experience and massage at Bota Bota, spa sur l’eau and other world-class spas. Climb high at the Voiles en Voiles adventure park, find your way through the SOS Labyrinthe, explore the river by peddle boat, and even zip over the the port on the Tyrolienne MTL Zipline! While there, have a meal or a drink on the terrace of Scena, along the riverside at Marché des Éclusiers and at Terrasses Bonsecours. Even take to the water on a Petit Navire eco-friendly daytime cruise, have dinner on the river with Bateau-Mouche, or indulge your need for speed by jet boating with Saute-Moutons and Jet Saint-Laurent.

Downtown, walk along Sainte-Catherine Street in the Village and catch music and entertainment, along with great food and drink, at Jardins Gamelin outside Berri-UQAM metro. Explore some of Montréal’s distinct neighbourhoods, from Hochelega and Rosemont in the east to Outremont and Westmount in the west, where you’ll find other pedestrian-only avenues, including Saint-Laurent Blvd., Wellington St. in Verdun, Masson Street in Rosemont, Place du Marché-du-Nord in Jean-Talon Market, Ontario St. E. and more. See the city’s murals on buildings, in parks and every neighbourhood thanks to MURAL Festival, LNDMRK, MU and other Montréal artists and collectives. Learn more about the Montréal’s unique history and culture on private walking tours with knowledgeable local companies. Go on a Portrait Sonore sound walk downtown and on the Mountain. And hunt for more public art everywhere in the city.

When the weather’s right, see the city from two wheels, whether on your own bike, a rental bike, with a bike tour, or on a BIXI shared bike – the BIXI network features 725 new electric BIXIs and 83 new electric stations, as well as a new variable pricing model. Bike over to Parc Jean-Drapeau to ride around the 4,361-metre Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve bike path and the Route Verte – cool off with a dip in the park’s pool too! And explore further afield on these bucket-list bike rides.

Food and drink

Summer weather brings the return of outdoor dining: eat, drink and be merry this season at a wide variety of restaurant and bar terraces across the city, whether on main streets where you can watch the world go by or tucked away on hidden terrasses. It’s also the seasons for picnics in the park, any park! Try something different with these made-in-Montréal picnic and park pairings. Meanwhile, Montréal’s fabulous food trucks and street food chefs bring local treats to the streets! Throughout the spring and summer, you’ll see food trucks in parks, on downtown streets, Old Montréal squares and neighbourhood corners serving up restaurant-quality dishes. And if you’re in the mood for ice cream, Montréal's best ice cream shops have you covered with everything from gelato to dipped cones and sundaes.

Seasonal summertime food and classic dishes are all on the menu at Montréal’s many restaurants and cafés, whether you’re ready to dine in person or order take-out and delivery, including from the best new restaurants in the city and some of the best Chinese food in Montréal. Take a walk through the Jean-Talon Market and Atwater Market to find ready-to-eat dishes and all the ingredients to make your own feasts or lay out an impressive picnic meal. And see Montréal from a new perspective on a summer staycation at local hotels, with restaurant meals to match.

Get your caffeine fix at Montréal's indie coffee shops or embrace summer with the best iced coffee in Montréal. Get a pastry to go with it at Montréal's best bakeries and pastry shops or get fresh-baked doughnuts! Sample chocolate creations at the best chocolate shops, indulge your sweet tooth at local candy shops or pick up other musts for foodies in Montréal. By night, mix cocktails at home with gin, vodka, rum and more specialty spirits from these Montréal specialty alcohol and spirit makers. Or for the beer lovers, pick up these Montréal beers to drink this summer or a unique six pack from inventive Montréal microbreweries

Local retail therapy

Reinvent your summer wardrobe and your home with some quality Montréal shopping for all styles tastes, including amazing clothing and accessories made by Montréal designers. Relax with these self-care staples or redecorate with these home decor musts. Buy that perfect piece of jewelry for your loved one – or yourself! – at the coolest Montréal jewelry stores. Shop local and eco-friendly at the most fabulous vintage boutiques in the city.

Go shopping for clothing, specialty food and more downtown on Sainte-Catherine Street, at the new Holt Renfrew Ogilvy and in the underground city, or check out the boutiques along Mont Royal Avenue. And fill your home with Montréal-focused books from Montréal’s bookstores and music from Montréal's excellent vinyl stores.

July exhibitions

Museums and many art galleries have officially reopened this month with world-class exhibitions! Visit the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to see Riopelle: The Call of Northern Landscapes and Indigenous Cultures, collections exhibitions Ecologies: A Song for Our Planet and GRAFIK! Five Centuries of German and Austrian Graphics, as well as contemporary exhibitions Yann Pocreau: Impermanencies and Caroline Monnet: Ninga Mìnèh, and outdoor artwork Adrift on Du Musée Avenue summer-long. The Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal transitions through renovations this summer, but offers online exhibitions like the immersive Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything, a recreation of the MAC’s 2017 monumental show.

Visit the PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art in Old Montréal to see Dora García’s durational performance Two Planets Have Been Colliding for Thousands of Years and go online for guided visits, virtual workshops, and a video program. At the Phi Centre to experience the multidimensional and mysterious worlds of Three Movements in Virtual Reality and installation. PHI also presents Alejandro G. Iñárritu's Oscar® award-winning virtual reality installation CARNE y ARENA (Virtually present, Physically invisible) at Arsenal Contemporary Art gallery, exploring the human condition of immigrants and refugees. And, starting July 21, the Phi Centre takes off into space with The Infinite, a multisensory and interactive virtual reality experience aboard the International Space Station!

A massive immersive experience in surround sound and laser light, Oasis Immersion’s Inspirations and other sensory installations take over the ground floor of Palais des congrès this summer. See new exhibitions at Never Apart in Little Italy, Bradley Ertaskiran in St. Henri and many, many other amazing art galleries in every neighbourhood – find out more in our Montréal guide to gallery hopping and these affordable places to buy contemporary art.

History past and present

Montréal's history museums reopen their doors and continue with online activities this month! 

History buffs of all ages will love Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex whether in person or online: see new exhibitions A Railroad to Dreams and Italian Montréal, tracing the journey of Italo-Montrealers from the early 20th century, interactive display Come Aboard! Pirates or Privateers? and more. At the McCord Museum don’t miss Christian Dior featuring over 50 classic designs as well as Chapleau and There Once Was a Song.

See new exhibition The Things Around Us: 51N4E and Rural Urban Framework and more at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. Or go back in time with the Château Ramezay exhibition 1812: Objects to Discover. Take a historic walking tour, like Beyond the Bagel Food Tour, with the Museum of Jewish Montreal or join live-on-Zoom Making Their Mark: A Virtual Tour of Historic Jewish Montreal, guiding visitors through the city’s historic Jewish quarter.

On screen

Immerse yourself in new digital worlds at the Society for Art and Technology’s SAT Fest 2021, screening eight new films by local and international artists in the SAT’s 360-degree dome from April 27 to June 19. Watch films under the stars with Cinéma sous les étoiles in Laurier Park, Molson Park and other outdoor spaces this July and August. Cinéma Moderne launches Cinéma Public, a new online program of feature films, family-friendly animated features, documentaries and more. And see the art world in a whole new light thanks to the International Festival of Films on Art year-round ART FILM program. And Jardins Royalmount transforms from drive-in to open-air event space for movies, live music, comedy, theatre performances and other activities this summer.

Discover new art house films and more from Montréal indie cinemas' programming, including in-person and virtual screenings from Cinéma du ParcCinéma du Musée and Cinémathèque québécoise, which hosts a music-themed film program and exhibition this summer. Watch cinematic nature documentaries for the whole family thanks to the Montréal Science Centre’s online programming. And explore the city through cinema in these Hollywood movies made in Montréal.

Montréal music

The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal welcomes award-winning songwriter-musician Alexandra Stréliski in a concert conducted by Thomas Le Duc-Moreaue live on July 2 at Maison symphonique and webcast to July 16. Watch the Orchestre Métropolitain perform Local Colours: From Sibelius to Boudreau in a webcast from July 9 to 18. Violinist and conductor Alexandre Da Costa performs in concert Stradivarius intime at Place des Arts on July 30.

Just outside Montréal in Joliette, Festival de Lanaudière features numerous Montréal and Québec orchestras and artists on outdoor stages from July 17 to August 8. Das Mörtal performs immersive show The Ritual Forest on July 8 at the Society for Arts and Technology. And as more venues open for limited-seating shows, watch for performances by Montréal’s own queens of jazz, soul and blues.

Robyn Fadden

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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