Things to do in Montréal July 28 to August 3

Robyn Fadden

Montréal races into a high-energy week with the FIA Formula E Championship, Just For Laughs gala shows, fireworks, spectacular performances in the streets, an outdoor punk music fest, the Fantasia film fest and more.

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Electric avenues

Montréal hosts the FIA Formula E Championship for the first time this weekend, July 29-30, showcasing the finale of the world’s first fully-electric single-seater racing series. The race winds through the historic streets of Old Montréal and downtown and also features electric-energy-related activities, racing simulations, autograph sessions and music in the eVillage. The city encourages everyone to use alternate forms of transportation to get to the race – that's also why public transit and the BIXI bike system are free all weekend!

Montréal celebrates

Montréal's spectacular 375th anniversary celebrations thrill this week with We're Acting Out's free outdoor performance Place des Anges, a beautiful aerial acrobatic show followed by an outdoor dance party with A-Trak on July 29. 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. Catch the finale of free circus shows Rouge and Jardins Gamelin Complètement Cirque July 28-29 at downtown's Jardins Gamelin and Rêveurs Définitifs, a cutting edge technological spectacle with music by Patrick Watson at Théâtre St-Denis II — all part of the Montréal Complètement Cirque festival. All that and the International des Feux Loto-Québec Montréal Fireworks competition illuminates the night sky with Britain's Jubilee Fireworks' pyromusical theatre on Saturday at 10 p.m.


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  galas hosted by Lilly Singh, Jane Krakowski, Joel McHale, Laverne Cox, Howie Mandel and Sugar Sammy – plus more stand-up from Judd Apatow, Trevor Noah, John Mulaney, Chris D'Elia, The Ethnic Show, The Nasty Show, local stars with global reps and so much more. 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, and more. See feature film Person to Person, directed by Dustin Guy Defa and starring Michael Cera and Abbi Jacobson at the Phi Centre July 28. Get your theatre fix at the English-language premier of comedy What's in a Name? at the Segal Centre and fabulous burlesque cabaret show Limbo at the Casino de Montréal. And close out the festival at a free outdoor concert with Kool and the Gang at Place des Festivals on July 30.


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, to July 30. 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. Pop Montréal's family-friendly Marché des Possibles in Mile End features live music, food, workshops and more every weekend. Stop by Marché de Nuit Mile X at Alexandraplatz in Mile Ex all afternoon and into the night on July 29. And cool down with some of Montréal's best ice cream.


On screen

See international film premiers and cult classics of horror, suspense, anime and more at the excellent Fantasia film festival until August 2, including cinema under the stars, Takashi Miike's Blade of the Immortal, and a homage to George A. Romero with a 4K projection of The Crazies on July 28 at J.A. De Sève theatre. 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, also where you can see documentary Play Your Gender with Melissa Auf der Maur, Patty Schemel and Kinnie Starr, co-presented by MTL Women in Music on August 1. Among this week's outdoor film screenings, see Manoir on August 2 at Parc Laurier, noir film Charade starring Cary Grant at Film Noir au Canal on July 30, the French-langauge version of Spaceballs at Place de la Paix on July 31. And explore space in double feature KYMA – Power of Waves and Edge of Darkness at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium.


Open-air artistry

Experience the city from the comfort of a rocking chair in 375 Lullabies for Montréal, a  sound installation sharing 375 songs that create a portrait of Montréal – installed at Dorchester Square on July 28 and Place De La Dauversière on July 29. Head to the Village to see AIRES LIBRES open-air art installations, including Galerie Blanc, musical bicycles and the Funamboule suspension bridge. Walk through La Balade pour la Paix Open-air Museum on Sherbrooke Street downtown and watch for mural art along St-Laurent Boulevard. Groove to West coast jazz at the Botanical Garden's Cocktail Time at the Garden July 28-29 and see performances ranging from live music to circus at Soirée performances #9 aux Jardineries July 28 at the nearby Olympic Stadium Esplanade and Fiesta Olympica on July 30. Repercussion Theatre stages Shakespeare's comedy Much Ado About Nothing in NDG's Benny Park on July 30, in McGill University's lower field on August 1 and in Mount Royal Cemetery on August 3. And the Présence Autochtone Montréal First People’s Festival brings music, performances, art and cultural activities, food and film to Place des Festivals August 3-9.


Museums and galleries

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. 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. In Mile-Ex, drop by gallery Never Apart to see the Femme Realness summer exhibition and more. And see gorgeous screen-printed music posters at the Osheaga Arts Music on Paper 7 exhibition at MainLine Gallery on St-Laurent Blvd. 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!

More live music

Inspired by shifts in punk, new wave and alternative music in the past 40 years, all-ages fest '77 MONTRÉAL brings Rancid, Dropkick Murphys, X, Vandals, Montréal hardcore legends Genetic Control and more bands, plus a record fair, documentaries and a poster expo to Parc Jean-Drapeau on July 28. Also on Friday, Danger and Das mörtal get heavy at Théâtre Fairmount. Festival Haïti en Folie à Montréal brings music, dance, an artisanal fair and more to Jardins Gamelins downtown and Parc Lafontaine in the Plateau July 26-30. 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 and Sunday afternoon shines at outdoor dance party Piknic Électronik with Motor City Drum Ensemble and more electro. On Sunday night, famed German film score composer Hans Zimmer plays the Bell Centre and electro-pop makers Sports play to win at Bar le Ritz PDB. On August 1, get into some legendary metal with Neurosis and Converge at Métropolis. Rock with The All-American Rejects and Punchline 13 on Tuesday, August 1 at Théâtre Corona. On Wednesday, August 2, catch electronic music producer and musician Mura Masa and KUČKA at Théâtre Corona and eclectic musician-artist Daniel Romano at Bar le Ritz PDB. Join the official Osheaga Pre-Party on August 3 with Motel Raphael, John Jacob Magistery and Common Holly at Turbo Haus and Lakes of Canada and guests at Divan Orange. Or try some hair of the dog with Scottish hard rockers Nazareth at Théâtre Corona.