Things to do in Montréal March 16-22

Robyn Fadden

Montréal rings in spring this week with a rollicking St. Patrick's Day Parade, marvellous sugar shack meals, speed skating, an international art film fest, high-tech Digital Spring events, and more excellent food, art, film, theatre, dance and live music.

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Signs of spring

No matter what the weather, fun-loving, green-clad crowds will be out in full force on Sunday, March 18 for Montreal's 195th St. Patrick's Day Parade, this year moving a block north to De Maisonneuve Boulevard, starting at noon at City Councillors Street and moving west all the way to Mackay Street. Go for a colourful walk among hundreds of butterflies and moths at the Botanical Garden’s Butterflies Go Free event or a late-winter skate at Old Montréal's refrigerated Natrel Skating Rink, open to March 18 no matter what the weather. Take in the city sights from the comfort of the La Grande Roue de Montréal observation wheel, the Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown or the Montréal Tower at Olympic Stadium. At night, see some of Montréal's high-tech wonders and flagship legacy 375th anniversary projects in Old Montréal, such as the historic tableaux projections of Cité Memoire and multimedia wonder AURA at Notre-Dame Basilica. Downtown, look up to see the magical animated projections of 100 Millions d'idées on the Façade of UQAM's Président-Kennedy Pavillon across from Place des Arts. Follow our guide to Montréal's most famous icons to see more of the city's unique architecture. And Montréal's high-tech, season-long arts event Digital Spring, aka Printemps numérique, kicks off with a an evening of cocktails, robots and VR at the McCord Museum on March 22.

Sports action

Montréal gets an Olympic-level dose of speed skating this week as the prestigious 2018 ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships come to Maurice-Richard Arena – the home of Canada’s national short track speed skating team, located in the Olympic Park – March 17-18. Catch soccer fever early this year at the Impact de Montréal's home opener against Toronto FC at the Olympic Stadium on March 17. And in pro-hockey action, watch the Montréal Canadiens take on the Florida Panthers on March 19 at the Bell Centre – get your tickets from secure Canadiens-authorized site Ticket Vault.

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Food and drink

Now's the time to experience the abundant meals at Québec sugar shacks in and around Montréal, including La Cabane chez Jean in Parc Jean-Drapeau and chef Laurent Godbout’s Un Chef à l’Érable, Panache et Bois Rond in Verdun – also where Wellington Street transforms into an urban sugar shack March 22-25. Or get a taste of the tropics in Montréal's sunniest restaurants, cafés and bars. For tried-and-true Québécois classic dishes, follow our guides to the best poutine, the best Montréal bagels and the best smoked meat, along with more musts for foodies visiting Montréal and where to go shopping for foodies too. Warm up with hot food for cold days, from spicy Indian food to big bowls of ramen. From creatively casual to classically French, these restaurants let you bring your own wine. Take it easy at these new casual restaurants in Montréal or grab a quick bite at Montréal lunch counters. If you're on the hunt for a favourite haunt, try these restaurants open from brunch to well past dinner. Sip some of the best hot chocolate in the city, incredible coffee at Montréal's indie coffee shops, Montréal's best bubble tea and great drinks at creative cocktail bars. Explore the wide world of health-conscious food in Montréal along with vegan options in our ultimate guide to vegan eating in Montréal. And discover amazingly delicious chocolate creations made by Montréal's top chocolatières. Whether your tipple is fine wine, creative cocktails or micro-brewed beer, spend some time sampling it in the mood lighting of Montréal's new bars and brasseries. And if you're here with friends for Spring Break, indulge in all Montréal can offer when it comes to amazing food, sweet socializing and late-night fun.

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Leonard Cohen's Montréal

Montréal celebrates Leonard Cohen and his legacy in many ways this season. International exhibition Leonard Cohen – A Crack in Everything at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal features work by 40 artists from 10 countries, inspired by Leonard Cohen's life, music and writing – an absolute must-see before it closes on April 9. While there, also explore That's How the Light Gets In, a collections exhibition that frames art in terms of the fundamental aspect of light (visibility, reflection, representation, perception), and The Gaze Listens, an auditory contemplation of art. Dancer-choreographer Clara Furey's dance cycle When Even Then, inspired by the poems of Cohen, also graces the Musée this week. See building-sized murals of Leonard Cohen on Crescent Street downtown near the Sir Winston Churchill Pub and on Saint-Laurent Boulevard at Napoleon Street not far from Schwartz's. Nearby, stop by The Museum of Jewish Montréal to see new immersive installation Scintillements | 1001 Lights by award-winning filmmakers Marlene Millar and Philip Szporer. Also at the museum, take an archival tour of the hidden shmata trade history of the Vineberg Building.

On stage

Montréal's winter-spring dance season continues in fine form this week: Les Grands Ballets presents The Firebird by American choreographer Bridget Breiner and The Rite of Spring by France's Étienne Béchard, at Place des Arts March 15-24; Alan Lake Factori(e)'s contemporary dance work Le Cri Des Méduses blends dance, visual art and video to strikingly portray humanity adrift, at Place des Arts March 20-24; Jérémie Niel's Elle respire encore let's us peer in on 15 characters in an enclosed space at Agora de la danse March 14–17; and Pluton - Acte 3 sees lauded choreographer-dancers collaborate with each other in fascinating intergeneration performances – Benoît Lachambre and Dana Michel, Peter James and Katie Ward – at LaChapelle March 22-31. In this season's English-language theatre calendar, see Marjorie Prime, a Pulitzer Prize Finalist play about an aging woman who shares her memories with a companion robot in the image of her late husband, at the Segal Centre until March 18; Canadian puppet mastermind Ronnie Burkett is a must-see at Centaur Theatre until March 24 as he brings The Daisy Theatre to life, a wild one-man show populated by 40 lively, and sometimes bawdy, puppet characters. On March 22, ShazamFest brings circus and sideshow acts, dance, theatre, vaudeville, burlesque and puppetry to town in the Blue Mushroom Sirkus Psyshow at Theatre Plaza. And laugh it up with a former Kid in the Hall at an Evening of Comedy with Kevin McDonald on Sunday, March 18 at Montreal Improv.

On screen

The International Festival of Films on Art runs March 8-18, featuring mind-expanding features, shorts, documentaries and events dedicated to the wide world of art – we've picked 7 must-see art films in this year's dynamic program. In the multimedia dome of the Society for Arts and Technology, immerse yourself in Liminality, an international collaborative work presented by the Festival of Films on Art that fuses live contemporary dance, music and film production in a 360-degree environment. Explore the cosmos in immersive films EXO and Space Next at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. Go on a wild ride in IMAX with Tiny Giants, Amazon 3D and Incredible Predators 3D at the Montréal Science Centre.

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Gallery hopping

Discover another side of downtown in Art Souterrain, turning Montréal’s Underground City into a 3-kilometre art gallery. Revive yourself and warm up all over at one of Montréal's best spas. From major museums to commercial galleries, original art abounds in Montréal – don't miss these must-see winter and spring exhibitions while you're here. At the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts see major exhibition Napoleon: Art and Court Life in the Imperial Palace, along with Nadia Myre's Tout ce qui reste – Scattered Remains and more. Also at the Museum on March 20, DHC/ART and Art Speaks present The Black Madonna, a Talk by Theaster Gates. Peer into the city's past through photography exhibitions Gabor Szilasi: Le monde de l’art à Montréal, 1960-1980 and Michel Campeau: Life Before Digital at the McCord Museum. New exhibitions delight at Galerie de l'UQAM: Earthlings featuring ceramics and works on paper by contemporary Canadian artists, including Shary Boyle, Shuvinai Ashoona and Pierre Aupilardjuk; and Masters student Leyla Majeri's Don't Blame Us If We Get Playful. The UQAM Centre de Design presents an exhibition on design firm Foster + Partners. The Montréal Science Centre presents Indigenous Ingenuity: Timeless Inventions. Multi-artist exhibition The Material Turn focuses on contemporary textile practices in the digital age, at Galerie FOFA and Concordia University's long-running Art Matters festival continues with exhibitions at the VAV gallery, Espace POP, Mainline Gallery, articule and more happening spaces. Experience fashion as art by following Montréal's high-end designers guide to find classic and edgy ready-to-wear and unique accessories for all tastes or go antiquing along the Canal for unique treasures. And if you're looking for that perfect piece of art to bring home with you, check out our guide to where to buy art in Montréal.

Live music

On Friday night, Beth Ditto and SSION rock Théâtre Fairmount, pop-rock singer-songwriter K.Flay and opener Yungblud comes to Théâtre Corona, award-winning Québécois singer-songwriter Philippe Brach returns from extensive touring to play MTelus, Marmozets and Prieur & Landry at Petit Campus, and Montréal faves Plants and Animals play their iconic album Parc Avenue at Le Ministère – and do it all again on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, dance to MGMT and Matthew Dear at MTelus, see star Demi Lovato at the Bell Centre, jump to hip hop duo Atmosphere and opener Evidence at Théâtre Corona, avant-jazz saxophonist and composer Jason Sharp launches a new album at the Phi Centre, hear the post-punk abstractions of Berlin's group A, Hiro Kone and more bands La Sala Rossa, country-folk sounds of The White Buffalo and Matthew Barber Café Campus, and dance the night away with house producer 3LAU and Throttle at New City Gas. Montreal Oi! Fest takes over Katacombes March 16-17 with a roster of bands. And Festival de la Voix features Canadian composers and emerging artists in six concerts, from choirs to Irish music to Broadway revue, March 16-25.

Sunday night wraps the weekend up with the beats of French rapper Ninho at L'Olympia. Tuesday welcomes Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish to MTelus. Kent Nagano conducts the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal in Verdi's Requiem March 21-25 at Maison symphonique. Also on March 21, Santana strums his Divination Tour 2018 into the Bell Centre, Our Last Night and I the Mighty play Théâtre Corona, Brooklyn electronic duo Brasstracks mix funk, soul, hip-hop and jazz at Le Belmont, French indie band Talisco plays L'Escogriffe. As part of its year-round programming, the Montreal Jazz Festival presents experimental pianist and composer Nils Frahm on his All Melody tour, March 22 at MTelus. For more live music throughout the week, check out our picks for where to hear live music in Montréal, Montréal's best jazz and blues clubs and our insider guide to electronic music in Montréal

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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