Things to do in Montréal from June 23 to 29

Robyn Fadden

Summer shifts into high-energy mode this week with Fête Nationale du Québec celebrations, the Montréal International Jazz Festival, illuminating 375th anniversary events, open-air art, film and live music.  

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Celebrate Québec

Summer events get a festive boost this year as the city celebrates its 375th birthday all year and Canada’s 150th anniversary on July 1 – that also means plenty of free things to do this summer! Join thousands of happy locals this weekend to celebrate the 181st Fête Nationale du Québec, including a huge party in the Quartier des Spectacles on June 23, a parade along St-Denis Street on June 24, the Fête nationale Latin Quarter celebrations and more parties in every neighbourhood. And on June 25 at 10 p.m., watch astounding light show Living Connections on the Jacques-Cartier Bridge.

Jazz Fest joys

The biggest festival of its kind in the world, the Montréal International Jazz Festival showcases hundreds of musicians playing jazz, blues, rock, pop, electro and hip hop at indoor venues and on outdoor stages throughout downtown, June 28 to July 8. The festival starts June 28 with evening shows at Monument National, House of Jazz, Upstairs and Dièse Onze and massive free concerts outdoors in Place des Festivals by Half Moon Run, Cœur de pirate, Milk & Bone, The Franklin Electric, Plants and Animals and Urban Science Brass Band plus late-night electronica and hip-hop shows. On June 29, groove to free concerts on outdoor stages from noon to midnight – see Souljazz Orchestra, Tami Neilson, a tribute to Bob Walsh, Monterey Jazz Festival Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, AfrotroniX, Urban Science Brass Band and more.

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Outdoor activities

Watch Montréal history come to life on the Saint Lawrence River in spectacular, free multimedia show Montréal Avudo every night in the Old Port. The Old Port is also where you'll see Cirque du Soleil's VOLTA under the big top. Pop Montréal kicks off the first weekend of the family-friendly Marché des Possibles in Mile End with a  St-Jean celebration June 23-25, featuring live music, prizes, cider sampling, a water fight, a West African Drums workshop and more. Join the Skate Jam and BBQ on June 26 at 6 p.m. at Place de la Paix downtown on St-Laurent Blvd., followed by an outdoor film screening of Dieumerci, presented by the Montréal Black Film Festival. Urban green space, outdoor eatery and bar in the heart of downtown Les Jardins Gamelin hosts music performances, dance classes, family activities and more. And 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 great food trucks, seasonal outdoor markets or on a restaurant patio

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Stage and screen

The Elektra international festival of digital arts opens June 27 with 360º immersive show TIM at the Société des arts technologiques, followed by two days of audiovisual art, from a participative robot performance to a lumino-kenetic sculpture, June 28-29 at Usine C. In film, Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary delves into the artist's life and music at Cinema du Parc, while documentary Expo67 Mission Impossible relives a major year in Montréal history at Cinema du Parc – see more of Expo 67 in exhibitions around the city, including  the photographs of Expo 67: The Place to Be along McGill College Avenue, the McCord Museum's Fashioning Expo 67, EXPO 67: A World of Dreams at the Stewart Museum, and contemporary works at the Musée d'art contemporain's In Search of Expo 67. Travel through virtual worlds in Felix & Paul Studios Virtual Reality Garden at the Phi Centre and explore space in double feature KYMA – Power of Waves and Edge of Darkness at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium.

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Art events

Fashion meets passion in Love Is Love – wedding haute couture and prêt-à-porter by Jean Paul Gaultier at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, while Revolution explores the 1960s in music, film, fashion and design, while the Musée d'art contemporain shows the first solo exhibition in Canada by Olafur Eliasson. British artist Ed Atkins intrigues with questions on human bodies, digital creation and reality in Modern Piano Music at DHC-ART. Pointe-à-Callière archaeology and history museum presents the fascinating Amazonia: The Shaman and the Mind of the Forest. Annual art celebration AIRES LIBRES presents open-air Galerie Blanc at the corner of Wolfe and Ste-Catherine in the Village, featuring work by Delaney Allen, Benoit Paillé, Synchrodogs and Valérie Blass. Walk through the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts Open-Air Museum on Sherbrooke Street. And see art by Kent Monkman, Dayna Danger and more at the Never Apart 2 Year Anniversary party on Sunday.

Live music

On Friday, country music meets rock orchestra as The History of Gunpowder performs at La Sala Rossa, while Ancient Future presents the electro-funk-Arabic love songs of Omar Souleyman at Club Soda. Saturday afternoon in Jeanne-Mance Park, Picnic Tupi Collective and PNYF celebrate St-Jean with Brazilian music played on a bike-powered  sound system. On Saturday afternoon, join the Good Vibes Only Garden Party at New City Gas, and later on rave it up at the Official Shambhala Pre Party with Truth, Badklaat, Bommer and more at Club Soda, or join Boiler Room Montreal with producers Jacques Greene and Deadboy at a secret location. The Montréal Baroque Festival, June 22-25, holds concerts at Place Jacques Cartier, Square Phillips, in the McCord Museum’s Urban Forest and more outdoor and indoor venues. The eclectic and excellent Suoni per il Popolo festival continues with Haïtian pianist and singer-songwriter Henri-Pierre Noel on June 24 and Niger-based Les Filles de Illighadad in a second show of Tuareg guitar music, vocals and rhythms on June 28.  

Sunday afternoon at outdoor dance party Piknic Électronik features Guillaume & the Coutu Dumonts, Fred Everything, DJ Mini and Ponsolo – plus a new Petit Piknic area for families. NYC multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Elliot Moss plays L'Escogriffe on Tuesday, June 27, while Brooklyn indie folk-rockers Big Thief steal some hearts at Bar Le Ritz P.D.B., and Montreal new-wave-meets-garage-rock Sheer Agony play La Vitrola. Montreal singer-songwriter Tamara Sandor releases a new album on Wednesday at Bar Le Ritz P.D.B. And on Thursday, June 29, legendary Canadian thrash metal band Annihilator play Café Campus, while differently legendary Canadian band Nickelback land in Montréal's Bell Centre on their Feed the Machine tour.

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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