Things to do in Montréal – June 14 to 20, 2019
Summer festival season kicks into high gear this week with French-language music at les Francos de Montréal, folk tunes and more at the Montréal Folk Festival on the Canal, outdoor activities at Festival Beside, along with the colourful art of MURAL Festival. Don't miss amazing on-stage creativity at Cirque du Soleil's Alegria and the St-Ambroise Montréal Fringe Festival, eat delicious food at outdoor markets and classic restaurants, see astounding art in all styles, and hear live music citywide.
Downtown's Quartier des spectacles hums with festival activity and plenty of free things to do, including free outdoor shows at one of the biggest festivals of the month: les Francos de Montréal highlight French-language music from Québec and around the world: see 180 free concerts in Place des Festivals with folk singer Safia Nolin, rapper FouKi and many other talents, plus amazing indoor shows, including Petula Clark, Coeur de pirate, Hubert Lenoir, Tiken Jah Fakoly, Pierre Lapointe and the Orchestre Métropolitain and more. MURAL Festival brightly transforms Saint-Laurent Boulevard into a pedestrian-only space from Sherbrooke Street to Mont-Royal Avenue – until June 16 watch local and international artists paint murals live, take an art tour, listen to live music, grab some barbecue and go for a stroll. The Montréal Chamber Music Festival features Grammy-winning violinist James Ehnes, acclaimed pianist Gregory Charles and free afternoon concerts and evenings of Beethoven and Liszt from June 7 to 16. Join the fun of the St-Ambroise Montréal Fringe Festival and see affordable theatre, dance, comedy and genre-defying events, including free outdoor entertainment at Fringe Park (corner of Saint-Laurent Boulevard and Rachel Street), like Saturday's Drag Races and live music. Free all weekend, the Montréal Folk Festival on the Canal features music on three stages, family-friendly activities, great food and more, outdoors alongside the Lachine Canal.
More activities for all ages
It's Father's Day on Sunday! Keep dad active in the Old Port of Montréal on high-ropes course Voiles en Voiles, the MTL Zipline, SOS Labyrinthe and other adventurous activities or take a slower pace and opt for a walk through the Montréal Botanical Garden or other parks and green spaces. Also get back to nature with outdoor sports, wilderness workshops, intimate music concerts and family activities at the Festival Beside on June 14 and 15, not far from the city at national park Îles-de-Boucherville. Or cheer for the North at NBA and NHL playoffs at Montréal's best sports restaurants (and bars)! Go for gold at the interactive and immersive Canadian Olympic Experience at Canada Olympic House downtown – create an athletic profile, try virtual bobsleigh and freestyle skiing, and discover Canada's history in the Olympic Games. Get a thrill at La Ronde, the second largest amusement park in Canada, featuring new rollercoaster Chaos as well Grandparents' Day on June 15. If spring showers send you indoors, keep your mind active with escape game adventures. 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.
For outdoor drinks, food, live music and Montréal-made entertainment, stop by Montréal's seasonal outdoor markets, including Jardins Gamelin outside Berri-UQAM metro station, Village au Pied-du-Courant near the Jacques-Cartier Bridge and the Old Port’s Marché des Éclusiers. Take an official free walking tour of the Quartier des spectacles or stroll along Sainte-Catherine Street in the Village under a rainbow canopy of 180,000 resin balls designed by landscape architect Claude Cormier (part of summer-long cultural event Aires Libres). See the city from the Mount Royal Park lookout, one of the most “Instagrammable” views in Montréal – walk up through the park and climb the stairs or get there by bus or car and stroll over to the lookout. For a 360º view of the city, ride the funicular at the Montréal Tower at Olympic Park, look out from the Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown (check out its outdoor terrace too) and ride La Grande Roue de Montréal in the Old Port. Walk the landscaped Promenade Fleuve-Montagne down 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. Along McGill College Avenue downtown, see historic photography exhibition Montréal at Work, presented by the McCord Museum. In Old Montréal, visit Notre-Dame Basilica (one of Montréal's most famous icons) and see Moment Factory's immersive multimedia show AURA, while on Friday and Saturday nights you can search out the projections of Cité Mémoire on building facades.
Food and drink
YATAI MTL celebrates Japan and its street food, including yakitori, ramen, takoyaki and sake, at Mile End's Marché des Possibles from June 14 to 16 – and join the Japanese ‘80s disco party by night! Dine in the open air through the city wherever you find food trucks or on Montréal terrasses – among the many patio dining experiences, drop by Marcus Restaurant + Terrace at the Four Seasons Hotel and downtown's Foodlab for great food and DJs. See what's in season and bring home locally made gourmet products at Jean-Talon Market and Atwater Market. The Casino de Montréal hosts lively Garden Party food-and-entertainment events. Eat well at these top Montréal restaurants for the gourmet traveller, cheerful bring-your-own-wine eateries (including some in charming Little Italy), lovely romantic dining options, laid-back casual restaurants and our new restaurant picks. 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. 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. If you're traveling solo, make the most of solo dining in Montréal or, if you're traveling with children, check out these great places to eat with kids in Montréal.
Cirque du Soleil's stunning Alegria impresses and inspires with world-class circus arts performers, incredible costumes and beautiful design, with shows until June 30 under the blue-and-white big top in the Old Port of Montréal. Go on a real trip in multi-sensory experience 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. Technology and art collide in audiovisual performances, live music, innovative design, gaming and interactive art at Festival ELEKTRA, from June 11 to 16: see New York-based Austrian artist Kurt Hentschläger's performance FEED.X, Louis-Philippe Demers' industrial exoskeleton performance Repeat, robot-human art explorations and more, plus the International Marketplace for Digital Art conference. Oprah Winfrey comes to Montréal on her Your Path Made Clear live tour, during which she shares stories of her path towards her purpose in life and welcomes special guest storyteller Iyanla Vanzant, on Sunday, June 16 at the Bell Centre. On June 20, comedian, actor, writer, producer and director Aziz Ansari performs at Place des Arts on his Road to Nowhere tour. In a free performance, elite dancers and choreographers with Springboard Danse Montréal show their skills and artistry at Place des Arts's Espace Culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme on June 14 at 5:30 p.m. Broadway fans can delight in the Lyric Theatre Singers’ Too darn hot! A Sizzling Broadway Revue, at DB Clarke Theatre from June 13 to 15. And the Hua Yun (Phoenix) Artistic Troupe presents its gala show of Chinese folk dances and music at Place des Arts on June 16.
Step into the Phi Centre's new virtual reality exhibition >HUM(AI)N, 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. Also at the Phi Centre, Goodee Pop-up Studio puts sustainable brands and humanist e-commerce in the spotlight. 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! 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.
Art for everyone
A truly moving exhibition, 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 the Fondation Phi pour l’art contemporain in Old Montréal. The Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth hotel commemorates the 50th anniversary of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s 1969 Bed-In for Peace, with tours of the suite and more. Among summer's other 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, exhibitions Omar Ba: Same Dream and Alanis Obomsawin: Printmaker and Dale Chihuly sculpture The Sun. The Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal launches its summer exhibitions on June 20: see major exhibition Rebecca Belmore: Facing the Monumental, inspiring work by artists Nadia Myre and Chloë Lum & Yannick Desranleau as well as Ragnar Kjartansson's A Lot of Sorrow, featuring band The National. The McCord Museum features new exhibition 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 and work by Kanien’kehá:ka artist Hannah Claus. As part of UQAM university's 50th anniversary, Galerie de l’UQAM features group show Over My Black Body, a social reflection and celebration of black life, and installation works by Maude Arès. See works by Indigenous women artists in Oubliées ou disparues : Akonessen, Zitya, Tina, Marie et les autres at Ashukan Cultural Space. Head to Mile-Ex for the edgy Never Apart spring exhibitions. And there's more art to discover while gallery hopping and antiquing in the city.
History near and far
Pointe-à-Callière Archaeology and History Complex brings Montréal's past to life in high-tech multimedia exhibitions like the brand new 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. 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 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. Learn more about Jewish culture in Montréal 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
Along with this week's music festivals, Friday night's show , with indie-experimental rock band Yeasayer and Oh Rose at Le National, Australian reggae fusion group Ocean Alley and opener Ruby Waters at Corona Theatre, and rapper-singer-songwriter Sonreal at Le Belmont. This weekend's OASIS parties transform the Esplanade of the Olympic Park into a club from Friday to Sunday, with Nicky Jam, Tchami, Carl Cox and other major producers. On Saturday, electronic music festival îleSoniq Montréal joins forces with Valhalla Sound Circus to present a long afternoon and night of dance music by Eptic, Blunts and Blondes, AFK, Michael Sparks and more, or go hi-def with producer Flosstradamus at New City Gas. On Sunday afternoon, dance in the open air at Piknic Électronik in Parc Jean-Drapeau, with bright electronic music by producers DJ Tennis, DJ Three, Interstellar Funk, Gene Tellem, Kris Guilty and more. Sunday evening brings pop legend Corey Hart to the Bell Centre and electro-pop group A R I Z O N A to Corona Theatre, and on Monday it's The Specials on their Encore 40th Anniversary tour at Corona Theatre. Tuesday night features Northern Irish singer-songwriter Soak at Ritz P.D.B. Month-long music festival Suoni Per Il Popolo, dedicated to avant-garde jazz, outsider rock and experimental electronic excursions, continues with shows by Fennesz, Wolf Eyes, Fly Pan Am, Lungbutter, Staceyann Chin, Spencer Krug and many more great artists all week. 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, 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.