Things to do in Montréal – July 26 to August 1, 2019

This week in Montréal, comedy festival Just For Laughs has us rolling in the aisles and in the streets, while '77 Montréal and HEAVY MONTRÉAL rock Parc Jean-Drapeau, the Fantasia International Film Festival thrills movie lovers, and L’International des Feux Loto-Québec lights up the sky. Watch the Canadian Track and Field Championships, 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 Wanda Sykes, Anthony Jeselnik, Michael Che, Anthony Anderson and Jonathan Van Ness, and solo stand-up shows by Trevor Noah, Kevin Hart, Hasan Minhaj Gala, Marc Maron, Shaun Majumder, Rachel Bloom, Fred Armisen and many more comedians, live podcast How Did This Get Made?, Second City Toronto sketch show She The People, podcast series We Called Your Mom and more! Also check out ever-popular The Nasty Show, The British Show and The Alternative Show, and Zoofest & OFF JFL shows by a variety of great performers including Ron Funches, Nicole Byer, Shasheer Zamata, Mark Watson 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.

On July 26 at Parc Jean-Drapeau, see Bad Religion and Pennywise, punk and hardcore bands The Exploited and Cro-Mags, supergroup OFF and many more punk bands at annual festival '77 Montréal – and it's family-friendly too! Follow '77 Montréal with a weekend of heavy rock and metal at HEAVY MONTRÉAL, on July 27 and 28 at Parc Jean-Drapeau, with Slayer, Sweden's Ghost, Godsmack, Evanescence, Anthrax and more – see our live music section below for Friday and Saturday shows downtown. 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. Fans of classical music flock to the 42nd edition of Festival de Lanaudière from July 5 to August 4 – this week, hear pianist Seong-Jin Cho, Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Orchestre Métropolitain and more.

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More activities for all ages

Along with outdoor shows at festivals, Montréal offers even more free things to do this summer. On Saturday night, watch brilliantly creative fireworks set to music for competition L’International des Feux Loto-Québec, featuring pyrotechnics company Rozzi's Famous Fireworks Panzera's celebration of the Casino de Montréal's 25th anniversary – 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 10th edition of Atmosph'Air on the Plaza Festival along Plaza St-Hubert continues with a weekend of sidewalk sales as well as outdoor shows on Friday and Saturday starting at 7 p.m. with Sasha Cay, Coco Méliès, Rose Bouche and Kandle.

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 – while there, take an audio-guided tour around Olympic Park too – get the code for the free app at the Montréal Tower ticket booth.

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 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. Explore the neighbourhood of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve by group bike Vélopousse, stopping by Olympic Park and more sights. Whether you're coming by plane or train, 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.  

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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, including daytime activities for kids, live music (curated by Indie Montréal on Friday), cuisine and more. Green space and café Les Jardineries is an oasis 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 Montréal 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, taste what's in season at the city's microbreweries, or have a drink away from it all in a hidden bar, speakeasy or perfect date spot. Discover more Québec microbreweries with the Passeport en fût app. The Casino de Montréal hosts sci-fi-themed food and entertainment event Futuristik Nights until August 24. 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

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Sports and outdoor adventures

Olympics here we come! Watch Canada’s best junior and senior Olympic and Paralympic athletes compete at the exciting Canadian Track and Field Championships from July 25 to 29 at Complexe sportif Claude-Robillard. Cheer on Montréal's Major League Soccer team the Montréal Impact as they play Philadelphia Union on July 27 at Saputo Stadium. Skateboarders can check out weekly Skate Jam and BBQ on Tuesday evenings in Place de la Paix downtown or try the new Vans skatepark on the Esplanade of the Olympic Park. 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. Or go on a day trip to the Laurentians to hike the green mountains and for the contemporary dance and music of Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur from July 25 to August 6.

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On stage and screen

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 through time and space 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. And Repercussion Theatre's Shakespeare-in-the-Park brings comedy Measure for Measure to city parks from July 11 to August 11.

Outdoor film screenings this week include: American film noir The Killers at outdoor cult crime film festival Film Noir au Canal on July 28 at Square Saint-Patrick; Downtown screenings under the stars show post-apocalyptic action-comedy Turbo Kid at Place de la Paix downtown; and Cinéma sous les étoiles presents films all week in parks around the city. 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.

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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 - At the Intersection of Art and Technology 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. Look for art in store windows downtown as part of the Vitrine sur l'art project. See Nehirowisidigital, illustrations by artist Meky Ottawa at La Guilde on Sherbrooke Street. 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. And there's more art to discover while gallery hopping and antiquing in the city.

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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 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 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

HEAVY MONTRÉAL leaves Parc Jean-Drapeau to present shows downtown this weekend too: on Friday night it's Fit For a King with Norma Jean, Currents and Left Behind at Foufounes Électriques, Pig Destroyer and Landscape of Hate at Corona Theatre and Holy Grail at Turbo Haüs, plus Saturday's Emo Night with Wade MacNeil (Alexisonfire) and  Liam Cormier (Cancer Bats) at Foufounes Électriques. On Friday night also see indie rockers Goldfish and TJ Plenty & Remington Steele at O Patro Vys. Go dancing on Saturday night with Jus Ske at New City Gas or dance in the Society for Arts and Technology's amazing Satosphère dome at the Dômesicle party #3 on July 27 with music by The Fitness, 99 Wolves and more producers. Or spend Saturday night with The Growlers at Rialto Theatre, long-time rock experimenters Have A Nice Life with openers Consumer and Planning For Burial at Ritz P.D.B. or NYC noise rockers A Place To Bury Strangers at l'Escogriffe Bar Spectacle.

On Sunday afternoon, dance in the open air at Piknic Électronik in Parc Jean-Drapeau, featuring the house rhythms of Detroit Swindle plus Demuja, Omnom and more producers. On Sunday night don't miss singer-guitarist Steve Gunn with opener Bill Mackay at Ritz P.D.B. Monday brings screamo band Jeromes Dream to Ritz P.D.B., while Tuesday features emo-rock stars The Get Up Kids at Ritz P.D.B. Annual music and arts festival Osheaga happens from August 2 to 5 at Parc Jean-Drapeau, but the pre-party starts in the city: on Thursday, August 1, catch The Franklin Electric with Saens at L’Astral, plus Mndsgn, Sugarface Bell Fo and Jamvvis at Newspeak and Anemone at Turbo Haüs. And on August 1, Michael Bublé plays the first of two nights at 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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