Things to do in Montréal July 21-27

Robyn Fadden

Montréal rides an entertainment high this week with comedy fest Just For Laughs, two nights of fireworks, free performances for the city's 375th anniversary, the Fantasia international film fest, an open-air food festival downtown, live music and more.  

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Montréal celebrates

It's Montréal's 375th birthday all year and the summer celebrations are nothing short of spectacular. This week, the free outdoor performances of We're Acting Out continue with the puppet-like creatures and acrobatics of Les Plasticiens Volants on Saint-Denis Street July 21-22 at 9 pm while The Color of Time parades along Sainte-Catherine Street near Beaudry metro July 22-23 at 4 pm. The International des Feux Loto-Québec Montréal Fireworks competition brightens the sky on Saturday and Wednesday at 10 p.m. and Cirque du Soleil's VOLTA adds to the Old Port's liveliness. Take a wild ride back in time to Montréal's prohibition years in Les 7 Doigts's VICE & VERTU, a world premier of circus, burlesque, comedy and more delights at the SAT to August 6.

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Repercussion Theatre stages Shakespeare's comedy Much Ado About Nothing on the lawn of the Canadian Centre for Architecture on July 21, in Westmount Park July 22-23 and other parks throughout the summer. Groove to the beat of Festival International Nuits d’Afrique in Place des Festivals. And get a taste of the upcoming Osheaga festival at the Sessions 375 X Le Block Party Osheaga with the BADDER Band, Poirier and more on July 22 under the Van Horne viaduct steps away from Mile End. 

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Just For Laughs

The world's biggest comedy fest, one of Montréal's wildest summer festivals and one of July's biggest hits, Just For Laughs brings on the star-studded shows this week – including Jerry Seinfeld & Gad Elmaleh, Judd Apatow, Ali Wong, David Spade, Sugar Sammy, Rick Mercer, Colin Jost & Michael Che – plus a conversation with Jim Carey and the I'm Dying Up Here cast, The Ethnic Show at Club Soda, The Nasty Show at Métropolis, local stars with global reps and so much more.

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Meanwhile, JFL's family-focused outdoor site at Place des Festivals features free performances, a labyrinth, fun games at Mondial des jeux, cinema under the stars, plenty of food and drink, the annual Twins Parade on July 22 and more. See documentary Everybody Has an Andy Dick Story at the Phi Centre July 26 and Viceland's Funny How? series on July 27. And get your theatre fix at the English-language premier of comedy What's in a Name? at the Segal Centre and burlesque cabaret show Limbo at the Casino de Montréal.

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Food and drink

Sample local dishes and drinks at Bouffons MTL, a new open-air village on the Esplanade at Clark and Ste-Catherine Street with fabulous food and drink, performances and music. Further east on Ste-Catherine Street, stop by urban green space, outdoor eatery and bar in the heart of downtown Les Jardins Gamelin where there's also live music, dance classes, morning and afternoon family activities and more. There's more music, food and socializing at the Village au Pied du Courrant next to the Jacques Cartier Bridge. Grab a bite from one of Montréal’s food trucks, seasonal outdoor markets or on restaurant patios throughout the city. And Pop Montréal's family-friendly Marché des Possibles in Mile End features live music, food, workshops and more every weekend.

On screen

See international film premiers, cult classics and more at the excellent Fantasia film festival until August 2, featuring Jung Byung-gil's action thriller The Villainess, David Leitch’s Atomic Blonde starring Charlize Theron, Robert Pattinson in Good Time, Thai director Nattawut Poonpiriya’s Bad Genius, cinema under the stars and more. Cinémathèque québécoise presents its 20x5 program, a tour through cinematic history from Charlie Chaplin to Lars von Trier. Immerse yourself in the Lucid Realities VR exhibition at the Phi Centre.

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Among this week's outdoor film screenings, see noir film Le Doulous at Film Noir au Canal on July 23, documentary Food Coop at Place de la Paix on July 24, and a Cinémania presentation of Lisa Azuelos' biographical documentary DALIDA on July 27 at Parc des Compagnons-de-Saint-Laurent near Parc LaFontaine. Watch music documentary Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk on Tuesday, July 25 at Bar Le Ritz PDB. And explore space in double feature KYMA – Power of Waves and Edge of Darkness at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium.

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Urban art

Summer at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts features the gorgeous Love Is Love – wedding haute couture and prêt-à-porter by Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition alongside Revolution, a look at the 1960s in music, film, fashion and design. Explore the colourful creations of artist Olafur Eliasson at the Musée d'art contemporain as well as new contemporary art inspired by Expo 67. Head to the Village to see AIRES LIBRES open-air art installations, including Galerie Blanc, musical bicycles and the Funamboule suspension bridge.

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In Old Montréal, British artist Ed Atkins intrigues with questions on human bodies, digital creation and reality in Modern Piano Music at DHC-ART and Pointe-à-Callière archaeology and history museum presents the fascinating Amazonia: The Shaman and the Mind of the Forest. Marvel at the technological innovations of EXPO 67: A World of Dreams at the Stewart Museum and architect Moshe Safdie's Habitat 67 in The Shape of Things to Come at the Centre de design de l’UQAM. Cheer for baseball history at the Grévin wax museum's Montréal, City of Baseball and at City Hall's Montréal à coup sûr! Watch out for mural art while walking along St-Laurent Boulevard. And in Mile-Ex, drop by gallery Never Apart to see the Femme Realness summer exhibition and more.

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More live music

Festival International Nuits d’Afrique brings some of the best African and African-influenced music to Montréal this weekend, including Bandidas, King Abid, Jean-François Léger and shows at Club Balattou, plus high-energy outdoor workshops, dance and music by Admiral T, Sidi Wacho, Tribu Baharu and more in Place des Festivals. The 40th Festival de Lanaudière, one of the biggest classical music festivals in the country, continues to August 6 in nearby Joliette. Saturday afternoon bounces with the Good Vibes Only Garden Party at New City Gas, while Saturday night shines bright with Jamila Woods at Petit Campus, Australian blues singer-songwriter CW Stoneking and Joe Grass at Théâtre Fairmount and the Tupi Collective dance party at Divan Orange.

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Sunday afternoon at outdoor dance party Piknic Électronik features French producer Chloé, My Favourite Robot and more DJs plus a Petit Piknic area for families. Sunday night brings indie-rock legends Spoon and The New Pornographers to Métropolis and power metal band Dragonforce to Théâtre Corona. Monday night's a wild one with rockers The Aquabats! and Reggie and the Full Effect at Théâtre Fairmount, Japanese pop-rock band One OK Rock at Théâtre Corona and the heavy sounds of Lamb of God and Behemoth at Métropolis.

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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