Things to do in Montréal – June 28 to July 4, 2019

Montréal celebrates the summer heat and Canada Day this week in true festival style: get in the groove at the 40th Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, watch fireworks in the Old Port and at L’International des Feux Loto-Québec and let the MONTRÉAL COMPLÈTEMENT CiRQUE circus festival and Cirque du Soleil's Alegria amaze you. Take a walk on the mountain or through the Village's Mtl en Arts exhibition. Relax at the city's outdoor markets and parks, visit museums and galleries and hear music throughout the city.

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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. In outdoor shows this week, see Erik Truffaz Quartet Ft. NYA, Ilhan Ersahin, The War and Treaty, LowDown Brass Band, Cha Wa, Nick Murphy FKA Chet Faker, Molly Johnson and many more musicians. Indoor shows this week feature Blue Rodeo, Chucho Valdés Jazz Batá, Bebel Gilberto, Steel Pulse, Morcheeba, Thus Owls, Ravi Coltrane Quartet, Dianne Reeves, alt-J and many more great artists.

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, UK company Gandini Juggling's Spring and more, while outdoors, catch early-evening performances on Saint-Denis Street followed by dozens of circus artists in Les MINUTES COMPLÈTEMENT CiRQUE at Jardins Gamelin, plus activities and shows in neighbourhoods across Montréal. 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.


Outdoor celebrations

Along with free 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 Wednesday and Saturday nights – this week on June 29 and July 3 – watch from La Ronde amusement park, the Old Port's Clock Tower Beach, Observatoire Place Ville Marie or a rooftop patio. Join Montréal's Canada Day celebrations on July 1 with: a Canada Day Parade on downtown's Sainte-Catherine Street and ending at Place du Canada; a party at the Sir George-Etienne Cartier National Historic Site; and afternoon activities, an evening of live music by David Usher, Ludovick Bourgeois, Brigitte Boisjoli and more artists, and fireworks at 10 p.m., at Carré St. Pierre in the Old Port of Montréal.

On June 29, Parc Jean-Drapeau's open house celebrates the park's renewal with special activities, live music and free admission for kids to the beach, aquatic complex and more. Celebrate the return of CFL season with a Montréal Alouettes home game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on July 4 at open-air Percival Molson Memorial Stadium. And cheer on the athletes of ITU World Triathlon Series Montréal on June 29. Or cheer for the FIFA Women's World Cup, ongoing until July 9, and other summer sports at Montréal's best sports bars.


More activities for all ages

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. 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. 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. Take a 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, 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 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. Along McGill College Avenue downtown, see historic photography exhibition Montréal at Work, presented by the McCord Museum. In Old Montréal, search out the projections of Cité Mémoire on building facades and visit Notre-Dame Basilica (one of Montréal's most famous icons) to see multimedia show AURA. Whether you're in Montréal for a long weekend or a week, 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


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, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon’s 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, 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 green space and market, including daytime activities for kids, live music, cuisine and more. And 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 (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


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. 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. Redacted Tonight host Lee Camp does a stand-up comedy set on June 29 with opener Krish Mohan at Ritz P.D.B. 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. Downtown screenings under the stars presents short films from the Festival international du film d’animation d’Annecy on July 2 at Place de la Paix downtown. And Cinéma sous les étoiles presents films in parks city-wide, including documentaries Anonymous Comes to Town at Parc du Pélican on July 2 and Naila and the Uprising on July 3 at Parc Laurier.


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, exhibitions Omar Ba: Same Dream and Alanis Obomsawin: Printmaker and Dale Chihuly sculpture The Sun. The Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal summer exhibitions are also a must: the extremely poignant and timely career-spanning exhibition Rebecca Belmore: Facing the Monumental; beautiful and moving work by Nadia Myre, installation and performance art (including daily dance performances) by Chloë Lum & 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) has affected years of contemporary art practices, art reception and activism, at Fondation Phi pour l’art contemporain in Old Montréal. The McCord Museum features The Polaroid Project, 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. 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. 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.


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 – and at noon on July 28, enjoy a concert with Zal Idrissa Sissokho playing West African music on the kora. 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

Wear white and dance all weekend at Bal en Blanc, celebrating its 25th edition from June 28 to 30 at New City Gas, with music from elrow, Steve Aoki, Don Diablo, Armin Van Buuren, Gareth Emery and more producers. French DJ and electronic musician Worakls comes to the Society for Arts and Technology on June 28 and 29. Also on Friday night, see NYC-California garage band The Mystery Lights and Future Punx at l'Escogriffe Bar Spectacle. On Saturday, June 29, NYC producer Grammatix takes over the Piknic Électronik stage in Parc Jean-Drapeau, while in the city, rapper CupcakKe stuns with her radical lyricism with opener Janette King at Théâtre Fairmount, and underground house producer Jason Hodges owns the dancefloor at Newspeak. On Sunday afternoon, dance in the open air at Piknic Électronik in Parc Jean-Drapeau, with Spanish house duo Chus + Ceballos, Brooklyn's Octo Octa and more producers. And on Thursday, July 4, see California rockers New Years Day and Savage After Midnight at Petit Campus, and hear the tropical futurism of NYC folk-psych-punk group Combo Chimbita with Strangerfamiliar at Ritz P.D.B.

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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