Things to do in Montréal – July 5 to 11, 2019

Enjoy the heat and the height of summer in Montréal with hot things to do this week, from endless grooves at the 40th Festival International de Jazz de Montréal to circus feats at MONTRÉAL COMPLÈTEMENT CiRQUE – along with more festivals too! Be amazed by L’International des Feux Loto-Québec fireworks and Cirque du Soleil's Alegria. Explore the city's parks and outdoor markets, visit museums and galleries, see a soccer game and even go camping!

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Summer festivals

Downtown's Quartier des spectacles hums with the sound of the biggest jazz festival in the world, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, from June 26 to July 6. Indoor shows this week feature Buddy Guy, Colin James, Peter Frampton, Hein Cooper, Courtney Barnett, CHVRCHES, Pink Martini, Leslie Odom, Jr., bahamas, Holly Cole and more great artists. Among the many free outdoor shows this week, see Matt Holubowski, Québécois musician Jordan Officer, Urban Science Brass Band and more artists – and if you're in the neighbourhood of Verdun, check out the Jazz Fest's outdoor stage on Wellington Street.

Circus spectacles delight all ages as international festival MONTRÉAL COMPLÈTEMENT CiRQUE takes to the city's stages, streets and parks from July 4 to 14 – indoors, see Les 7 Doigts’s Bosch Dreams, Gandini Juggling's Spring, Analog's FINALE and Machine de Cirque's La Galerie. Outdoors, catch free early-evening performance Les MINUTES COMPLÈTEMENT CiRQUE on Saint-Denis Street and aerial show Candide at Jardins Gamelin, plus a day of circus fun on July 7 at Old Montréal's Pointe-à-Callière Archaeology and History Complex and more activities at Saint-Henri Complètement Fou du Cirque at Parc Sir George Etienne Cartier. Stars and fans align at Montréal Comiccon, featuring appearances by William Shatner, Georges St-Pierre, Tom Welling and other guests, along with hundreds of exhibitors and activities, from workshops and gaming to a Family Zone, from July 5 to 7 at Palais des Congrès.

Downtown, watch the bright and joyful Carifiesta Montreal parade on July 6. Escape the city for the music, dancing, food and fun at Week-ends du monde, celebrating Montréal’s cultural diversity at Parc Jean-Drapeau from July 6 to 7 and 13 to 14, one of the city's many summer activities for families. Comedy fest Just For Laughs brings joy to Place des Festivals with entertainers, a kids zone and more from July 10 to 28, plus big-name indoor comedy shows, including the popular Ethnic Show. Festival International Nuits d'Afrique begins this week too, with music every night at Club Balattou and a concert by World Music icon Saleif Keita on July 11. Enjoy food, music and family activities at A Taste of the Caribbean festival from July 11 to 14. And Fantasia International Film Festival opens its 23rd edition on July 11 with Sadako, the new feature film by Hideo Nakata, director of The Ring series.

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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. Stay up late to see the brilliantly creative fireworks set to music for L’International des Feux Loto-Québec on July 6 and 10 at 10 p.m. – watch from La Ronde amusement park, the Old Port's Clock Tower Beach, Observatoire Place Ville Marie or a rooftop patio. See the city from the Mount Royal Park lookout, one of the most Instagrammable views in Montréal, 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, check out kid-focused high-ropes course Voiles en Voiles, the MTL Zipline, SOS Labyrinthe, pedal boats and other adventurous activities. Among the city's many parks and green spaces, discover vegetation from Québec and around the world 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 kick back and 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, search out the projections of Cité Mémoire on building facades and visit Notre-Dame Basilica to see multimedia show AURA. Whether you're in Montréal by plane or train, solo or with family, plot your days and nights with My Official Montréal City Guide, a travel app that lets you experience the city like a Montrealer. And save on your next visit with the MTL Sweet Deal.  

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Sports and camping

Canada hosts the world’s top-500 judo athletes at the Montréal International Judo Grand Prix from July 5 to 7 at Maurice Richard Arena, also featuring the Judo Fan Zone Grand Prix Montreal 2019 with autographs, music, food and family activities. Catch Montréal's Major League Soccer team the Montréal Impact playing Minnesota United on Saturday, July 6 at Saputo Stadium. The Goal Initiative's free GOAL MTL 2019 and GOAL Wellness happen on July 6 and 7 at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium, featuring family activities, a soccer player village, a Women’s World Cup viewing on the Jumbotron and more. Or cheer for the FIFA Women's World Cup, ongoing until July 9, and other summer sports at Montréal's best sports bars. Over 150 teams compete in the MTL Dragon Boat Challenge & Cultural Festival, also featuring music and dance performances, at Olympic Basin at Parc Jean-Drapeau on July 6 and 7. Learn to camp with Parks Canada on the Lachine Canal on July 6 or camp in a cabin-like tent with Huttopia in Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville.

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Food and drink

Join the delicious fun of First Fridays, with 50 food trucks serving up all kinds of local dishes, from tacos and lobster rolls to dim sum and dessert, at Olympic Park on July 5, starting at 4 p.m. Also 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 and spaces, 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, cuisine and more. Follow the pink brick road to summer oasis Le Petit Montréal in Phillips Square on Sainte-Catherine Street downtown.

See what's in season and bring home locally made gourmet products at Jean-Talon Market and Atwater Market. Cool down with some of the best ice cream and frozen treats in Montréal. Eat well at these top Montréal restaurants for the gourmet traveller, cheerful bring-your-own-wine eateries, lovely romantic dining options, laid-back casual restaurants and new restaurants. Let Montréal's design-trending restaurants and bars inspire a home makeover. 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 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 starting July 11. 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. Explore more of Montréal and its culinary delights on Montréal's best food tours.

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On stage and screen

Cirque du Soleil's stunning Alegria impresses and inspires with world-class circus arts performers, incredible costumes and beautiful design, with shows until July 21 under the blue-and-white big top in the Old Port of Montréal. Go on multi-sensory trip in Through the Echoes at new immersive entertainment space PY1, created by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté's Lune Rouge – look for the pyramid in the Old Port of Montréal. Step into the Phi Centre's new 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. In the Satosphere dome at the Society for Arts and Technology experience Quiet River of Dust Vol. 2, by Arcade Fire's Richard Reed Parry and collaborators, from June 25 to July 6, presented by the Jazz Fest.

Roam the cosmos in science-meets-multimedia shows such as Planet Nine, Secrets of Gravity, Continuum and Aurōrae as well as new film for little kids Mice and the Moon at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. The Montréal Science Centre features IMAX films Pandas 3D, Volcanoes 3D and Superpower dogs 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! Also for kids, Théâtre La Roulotte's children's theatre show Cache-Cache plays in Parc Jarry on July 9. 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. Downtown screenings under the stars screen David Lynch's Eraserhead with musical accompaniment by Silicon Beats on July 9 at Place de la Paix downtown and Cinéma sous les étoiles presents films in parks city-wide.

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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's summer exhibitions are also a must: the extremely poignant and timely career-spanning exhibition Rebecca Belmore; beautiful and moving work by Nadia Myre, installation and performance art (including daily dance performances) by Chloë Lum and Yannick Desranleau; and Ragnar Kjartansson's A Lot of Sorrow, featuring band The National. Yoko Ono: LIBERTÉ CONQUÉRANTE/GROWING FREEDOM explores how the art and life of icon Yoko Ono (and partner John Lennon) have affected years of contemporary art practices, art reception and activism, at the Fondation Phi pour l’art contemporain in Old Montréal.

Osheaga, Music and Arts Festival presents exhibition Music on Paper from July 4 to 18 at Station 16. The McCord Museum features The Polaroid Project - At the Intersection of Art and Technology, highlighting 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. See works by Indigenous women artists in Oubliées ou disparues : Akonessen, Zitya, Tina, Marie et les autres at Ashukan Cultural Space. At the Phi Centre catch This Light Never Goes Out 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, opening on July 11 and covering themes aligned with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Metal and heavy rock fans won't want to miss 10 Years of Heavy Montreal: A Retrospective Exhibit by photographer Susan Moss and artist Pat Hamou until July 19 at Foufounes Electriques. And there's more art to discover while gallery hopping and antiquing in the city.

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History near and far

Pointe-à-Callière Archaeology and History Complex brings Montréal's past to life in high-tech multimedia exhibitions like Generations MTL, illuminates a cabinet of curiosities in Into the Wonder Room, and chronicles food-related royal history in Dinner is served! French Gastronomy at its Best – plus Family Sundays activities and live music every Thursday at noon outdoors. 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. Wax museum Grévin MONTRÉAL features Québécois and international celebrities past and present. 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. History museum Château Ramezay features summer activities as well as the touching and beautiful World War I exhibition WAR Flowers alongside rooms full of local history. The Musée de Lachine presents history and archeology from the times of fur trade and New France alongside contemporary art.

At the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Our Happy Life looks at measurements of happiness. 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. Explore the underground culture of 1980s Montréal through a retrospective of the artwork of Zïlon and other Montréal artists at the Écomusée du fier monde. 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

Along with this week's music festival shows, see pop singer and multi-instrumentalist Kiesza and opener Sara Diamond at Petit Campus on Friday, July 5, while later that night Game of Thrones’ Hodor actor and DJ Kristian Nairn leads Rave of Thrones at New City Gas. Norwegian producer Orjan Nilsen brings his energetic groove to New City Gas on Saturday, July 7. On Sunday afternoon, dance in the open air at Piknic Électronik in Parc Jean-Drapeau, with German deep house producer HOSH, plus high-energy Québec artists Groj, Beatrix, Wuachuma and more – along with the Petit Piknic activity zone for kids. On July 10, it's none other than pop star Jennifer Lopez at the Bell Centre, Margaritaville main man Jimmy Buffet at MTELUS, soulful folk duo Freddy & Francine at Quai des Brumes, Andy Shauf's introspective synth-rock band Foxwarren at La Sala Rossa, and house and techno producer Dosem at Newspeak. On Thursday, July 11, see Australian summertime singer-songwriter Ziggy Alberts and opener Garrett Kato at Corona Theatre, indie stalwart Sebadoh at Ritz P.D.B., and electro producer J.u.D. at Le Belmont. 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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