Things to do in Montréal March 23-29

Robyn Fadden

The sun shines on Montréal this week as we welcome the start of spring with two Major League Baseball games, indulgent outdoorsy sugar shack meals, high-tech Digital Spring events and even more excellent food, art, film, theatre, dance and live music.

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Spring sights and sounds

The crack of a bat signals spring this week as Major League Baseball comes to Montréal March 26 and 27, thrilling thousands of fans in two pre-season baseball games: Toronto Blue Jays versus the St. Louis Cardinals at Olympic Stadium. Meanwhile in NHL action, the Montréal Canadiens take on the Capitals on March 24 and the Red Wings on March 26 the Bell Centre – get your tickets from Ticket Vault. Step into a colourful natural world as hundreds of butterflies and moths flit through the air at the Botanical Garden’s Butterflies Go Free event. Head to the biggest urban lumberjack party around: Cabane Panache et bois rond, with live Québécois music, dancing, maple syrup and more, March 22-25 along Wellington Street in Verdun. See the whole city 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, spot 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 outside in Place des Arts. Follow our guide to Montréal's most famous icons for more of the city's unique architecture. And Montréal's high-tech, season-long arts event Digital Spring, aka Printemps numérique officially begins at galleries, museums and cultural centres across the city.

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Food and drink

Dig in to the abundant seasonal meals at Québec sugar shacks in and around Montréal, including La Cabane chez Jean in Parc Jean-Drapeau, chef Laurent Godbout’s Un Chef à l’Érable and Panache et Bois Rond in Verdun – also where Wellington Street transforms into an urban sugar shack March 22-25. Spring clean your eating habits at this weekend's Expo Manger et Vivre Vert at Palais des congrès and try these great health-conscious restaurants and the many vegan options in our ultimate guide to vegan eating in Montréal. On the other hand... 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. And discover amazingly delicious chocolate creations made by Montréal's top chocolatières. Warm up with hot food for cold days, from spicy Indian food to big bowls of ramen and pho. 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. Spend some time sampling your favourite tipple 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.

Leonard Cohen's Montréal

Montréal celebrates Leonard Cohen and his legacy in immersive international exhibition Leonard Cohen – A Crack in Everything at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, 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. 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.

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 to March 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 to March 24; 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 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. And see Serbian composer Ana Sokolović's emotional chamber opera Svadba, designed for six voices of women a cappella and produced by the Opéra de Montréal, at Espace Go March 24-31.

On screen

An immersive virtual reality experience inspired by space travel, climate change, and mass migration, Particles of Existence explores the universe at a non-human scale, giving us new perspectives on life's big questions  – at the Phi Centre starting March 27. In the multimedia dome of the Society for Arts and Technology, immerse yourself in Liminality, an international collaborative work of 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. And Martin Frigon's documentary Cities Held Hostage addresses pressing issues of urban planning, the environment, corruption and and democracy, opening March 30 at Cinéma du Parc.

Museums and galleries

Discover another side of downtown in Art Souterrain, turning Montréal’s Underground City into a 3-kilometre art gallery until March 25. See how Théâtre Sans Fil has been creating giant marionettes for 47 years in a free exhibition in Place des Arts. At the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts see major exhibition Napoleon: Art and Court Life in the Imperial Palace, along with Nadia Myre's Scattered Remains and more. Peer into Montréal'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 an exploration of enduring technologies in Indigenous Ingenuity: Timeless Inventions. Lab Cult at the Canadian Centre for Architecture explores the unorthodox history of interchanges between science and architecture. Multi-artist exhibition The Material Turn focuses on contemporary textile practices in the digital age, at Galerie FOFA. Fashion is an art in the hands of these Montréal's high-end designers making 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

Friday night's on fire with Pink at the Bell Centre, the gorgeous flamenco voice of Diego El Cigala at Maison symphonique, and Québec indie-rockers Final State play up a storm at L’Astral. Classical music hits a crescendo as Kent Nagano conducts the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal in Verdi's Requiem March 21-25 at Maison symphonique. On Saturday, March 24, major club New City Gas invites everyone over for an electro dance party open house, while bands Gulfer, Everett Bird and Zouz rock Casa del Popolo. Sunday brings metal band Iced Earth to Théâtre Corona, capitivating English singer-songwriter Lucy Rose and opener Charlie Cunningham to the Phi Centre, and melody makers Choir Boy and Palissades to Bar Le Ritz PDB. On Monday night, hear the cinematic sounds of L.A.'s Son Lux with opener Sinkane at Théâtre Fairmount, and the electro excellence of Laurel Halo and Montréal's Pelada at the Phi Centre.

On Tuesday, March 27, none other than Rod Stewart plays his hits with charm at the Bell Centre, German electronic musician and Kompakt Records artist Wolfgang Voigt performs as GAS, with opener Jessica Moss at Théâtre Rialto, jazz-leaning indie-rockers BadBadNotGood and opener Standing On The Corner play MTelus, singer-songwriter Billie Eilish performs at Théâtre Corona, art-rock-noisemakers Yamantaka // Sonic Titan enthrall along with openers Petra Glynt and Teke Teke at L'Escogriffe, and it's a night of doom metal with Primitive Man at Bar Le Ritz PDB. On Wednesday, mysterious electro-pop artist Elohim and opener Yoshi Flower play M2 at MTelus, Dominique Fils-Aimé sings powerful, soulful songs the Phi Centre, and Vowws and The Going Away Present play Casa del Popolo. And on Thursday, March 29, soulful-pop Irish musician EDEN and Vérité come to Théâtre Corona and post-punk band The Soft Moon rock Théâtre Fairmount. 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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