Things to do in Montréal – June 21 to 27, 2019

Summer makes itself official in Montréal this week with Francos de Montréal's wild final weekend of music, Fête nationale du Québec festivities and the 40th Festival International de Jazz de Montréal! Let Cirque du Soleil's Alegria, PY1's Through the Echoes and celebrations for National Indigenous Peoples Day dazzle your senses. And stroll through the Village's open-air art exhibition Mtl en Arts, have a meal at the city's outdoor markets and hear live music near and far.

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Summer festivals

Downtown's Quartier des spectacles hums with festival activity and plenty of free things to do this week. Hear French-language music from Québec and around the world at one of the biggest festivals of the month, Francos de Montréal, featuring free outdoor concerts in Place des Festivals and indoor shows by Pierre Lapointe and the Orchestre Métropolitain, Groovy Aardvark, Mario Pelchat's Tribute to Charles Aznavour, singer-songwriter Tire le Coyote and more until June 22. On June 26, the biggest jazz festival in the world, Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, kicks off one night early with free concert Funk It Up! 40th Anniversary Party, featuring Morcheeba, Lee Fields and the Expressions and more artists performing in Place des Festivals. There's more Jazz Fest music outdoors throughout the day and night on June 27, including concerts by Charlotte Cardin, The Brooks and other artists, while indoors see Richard Galliano with bassist Ron Carter and the Quatuor Molinari, Brad Mehldau Quintet, Norah Jones and Cuban legend Omara Portuondo. The Montréal Baroque Festival invites everyone to Little Italy for grand chamber music concerts in Madonna della Difesa Church, free performances in the neighbourhood's parks as well as in downtown's Philips Square, morning concerts for kids and more from June 20 to 23. And open-air art festival Mtl en Arts lines Sainte-Catherine Street in the Village with the work of over 100 artists from June 26 to 30.


Fête nationale weekend

The entire province celebrates the Fête nationale du Québec (also known as Saint-Jean-Baptise Day) on Monday, but the celebrations go all weekend, from backyard BBQs to major concerts. This year, Montréal hosts the Fête Nationale du Québec à Montréal event at Parc Jean-Drapeau on June 23 – get there earlier in the day for family activities before the evening's big show, featuring Éric Lapointe, Koriass, Marie-Élaine Thibert, Roxane Bruneau, Florent Vollant and more artists. On June 24, the annual Fête nationale parade proceeds down Saint-Denis Street from Boucher to Cherrier Streets, with floats, live music, acrobatics and more. Every neighbourhood holds its own celebrations too, including in the city's South-West area, where, from June 22 to 24, the SDC – Les Quartiers du Canal presents free activities and concerts, a parade, a street fair and food on Notre-Dame Street West from Atwater Avenue to Saint-Augustin Street. And Mile End's Le Marché des Possibles green space and market officially opens this weekend with Fête de la Saint-Jean celebrations, including daytime activities for kids, funk and indie music, Mexican and Malaysian cuisine and more.


More activities for all ages

In the Old Port of Montréal, check out kid-focused high-ropes course Voiles en Voiles, the MTL Zipline, SOS Labyrinthe and other adventurous activities. Get a thrill at La Ronde, the second largest amusement park in Canada, featuring new rollercoaster Chaos. Among the city's many parks and green spaces, discover vegetation from Québec and around the world at the Montréal Botanical Garden or take a walk or bike ride through Frédéric-Back Park within the Saint-Michel Environmental Complex, also where you'll find kite celebration Grain de ciel from June 22 to 24. For National Indigenous Peoples Day, Land InSight presents an event celebrating Indigenous culture and people on the morning of Friday, June 21 at Place Vauquelin and PY1 in the Old Port, featuring a multimedia show by Attikamekw artist Catherine Boivin. 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


Sports and games

Catch Montréal's Major League Soccer team the Montréal Impact playing the Portland Timbres on June 26 at Saputo Stadium, or Karate1 Series A Montreal competitions from June 21 to 23 at Centre Sportif Claude-Robillard. Basketball and hockey season are officially over, but sports fans can cheer for the FIFA Women's World Cup, ongoing until July 9, and other summer sports at Montréal's best sports 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. Indoors, keep your mind active with escape game adventures.


City sights

See the city from the Mount Royal Park lookout, one of the most “Instagrammable” views in Montréal, also where you'll find Café suspendu, a patio, café and event space opening this weekend. 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 and the Old Port’s Marché des Éclusiers. Nature and classical music align on June 27 as Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts the Orchestre Métropolitain in free concert L'OM Grandeur Nature, celebrating the new Espace 67 at Parc Jean-Drapeau. 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).

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 (check out their outdoor terrace too) and ride La Grande Roue de Montréal in the Old Port. Walk 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 along the shores of the St. Lawrence at the Clock Tower Beach at the Old Port of Montréal on Tuesday nights. 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

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, or any of the lively patios in the Gay Village. See what's in season and bring home locally made gourmet products at Jean-Talon Market and Atwater Market. The Casino de Montréal hosts Garden Party food-and-entertainment events until June 22. 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 kids, check out these great places to eat with kids in Montréal.


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 June 30 under the blue-and-white big top in the Old Port of Montréal. Go on a 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. See a Disney animated classic accompanied by the live music of l’Orchestre FILMharmonique in Fantasia in Concert on June 22 at Place des Arts. 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 Festival International de Jazz de Montréal.

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. On June 25 outdoors at Place de la Paix downtown, see Innu Nikamu : Chanter la résistance, by Innu director Kevin Bacon Hervieux, as well as two short films for Downtown screenings under the stars. And Cinéma sous les étoiles presents award-winning documentary Maxima on June 25 at Parc du Pélican while June 26 features documentary Pauline Julien at Parc Laurier.


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 summer exhibitions are also a must: see Rebecca Belmore, 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 museum will also be free of charge on June 21 in honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day. 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 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. 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 spring exhibitions. And there's more art to discover while gallery hopping and antiquing in the city. And 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, from June 20 to July 19 at Foufounes Electriques.


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. Edward Hillel's art installation Chambre Noire/Darkroom uses archives from his photography book The Main: Portrait of a Neighbourhood, opening June 26 at the Museum of Jewish Montreal. Explore underground culture of 1980s Montréal through a retrospective of the artwork of Zïlon and other Montréal artists, opening June 26 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

On Friday night: fans of long-running band The National can see the band in the comfort of Place des Arts, with great opener Hannah Georgas; German electronic producer Christian Löffler amazes at the Society for Arts and Technology; experience electroacoustic and audiovisual artistry with Die ANGEL, Xambuca and France Jobin as part of the month-long music festival Suoni Per Il Popolo. On Saturday, Piknic Électronik and Osheaga present electronic artist Bonobo's Outlier series with openers Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, J-E-T-S, Prefuse 73 and Durante outdoors in Parc Jean-Drapeau. See Khruangbin and Kikagaku Moyo at Corona Theatre, Chicago post-metal quartet Pelican at Ritz P.D.B. or rapper and producer Ill Bill at Foufounes Electriques, while Australian house music producer Dom Dolla incites a party on the huge dance floor at New City Gas. On Sunday afternoon, dance in the open air at Piknic Électronik in Parc Jean-Drapeau, celebrating Fête nationale with bright electronic music by producers Kora, Sinca and more. Sunday night features metalcore band August Burns Red with opening acts Silverstein and Silent Planet at MTELUS. Monday brings melodic garage-punks Culture Abuse with Tony Molina and Young Guv to Ritz P.D.B. while Tuesday features rockers She Wants Revenge and MXMS at Théâtre Fairmount, and cinematic synth pop band FM-84 and Jessie Frye at Le Ministère. 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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