Things to do in Montréal May 11-17

Robyn Fadden

Warm spring days in Montréal mark the start of picnic season and the opening of downtown oasis Jardins Gamelin, new exhibitions at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Mother's Day brunches to remember, along with even more art, food, film, dance, theatre and live music.

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Springtime in the streets

With warm weather comes outdoor entertainment and more on Ste-Catherine Street in Place des Festivals, now a pedestrian-only zone for the season. This week it's looking more like a typical Montréal backyard than a downtown street thanks to art installation Dans ma cours! (In my backyard!): islands of grass, hammocks and deck chairs invite passersby to rest, eat and watch the world go by. Among many other free things to do this spring in Montréal, swing and make music together on 21 Swings, a colourful set of high-tech swings in the Quartier des Spectacles, and at night watch for the intergalactic antics and disco stylings of outdoor projections Space Monkey, part of this year's Digital Spring events. Stroll further east for the grand opening of Jardins Gamelin on May 17, where you'll find snacks, a bar and music from Tupi Collective, Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra, Red Tail Spirit Singers, Nomadic Massive and more starting at 5 p.m. And over in the Village, walk under the annual Aires Libres rainbow. Meanwhile, in Mile End, outdoor event and work space Aire Commune opens with music, food and games on the evening on May 17. Or if you're a pro sports fan, watch the Montréal Impact play the Philadelphia Union on May 12 at Saputo Stadium.

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Mother's Day in Montréal

Beyond a bouquet of flowers, give mom a garden in full bloom on a walk through the Montréal Botanical Garden and greenhouse. Show her the Montréal skyline from the comfort of Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown – offering 2-for-1 passes and a spectacular brunch at Les Enfants Terribles on May 13 – or look out on the city from La Grande Roue de Montréal observation wheel in the Old Port, or from the Montréal Tower at Olympic Stadium. There's more Mother's Day brunch in store city-wide, including at bistro Les Cavistes. At night in Old Montréal, watch high-tech wonder AURA at Notre Dame Basilica and spot Cité Memoire projections on the sides of historic buildings. Follow our guide to Montréal's most famous icons to see more of the city's major sights and architecture. For some pampering, relax at one of Montréal's best spas or get a colourful mani-pedi for spring. Shop for fun (and great deals) at Montréal outlet stores, for a stand-out spring look by a Montréal designer, or for all kinds of local creations at EtsyMTL Marché Créatif on May 12 and 13. Go antiquing along the Canal for unique treasures, or brighten up mom's day with a work of art. Find all this and more at your fingertips with My Official Montréal City Guide, a new travel app that lets you experience the city like a Montrealer.

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Spring food and drink

Explore Montréal and its culinary delights this season on Montréal's best food tours. Find more local food and Québécois classics in our guides to the best poutine, the best Montréal bagels and the best smoked meat, delicious chocolate creations made by Montréal's top chocolatières, along with more musts for foodies visiting Montréal and where to go shopping for foodies too. 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. Get your coffee fix in style at Montréal's indie coffee shops. Prepare your palate for the taste of Montréal's best bubble tea. Later on, go out for creative cocktails or spend time sampling your favourite tipple in the mood lighting of Montréal's new bars and brasseries. And if spring inspires a change to your eating habits, try these great health-conscious restaurants and the many vegan options in our ultimate guide to vegan eating in Montréal.

On stage

At the theatre this week, The Angel & the Sparrow follows the true story of Marlene Dietrich and Edith Piaf and features 20 unforgettable songs, at the Segal Centre until May 13, and Tableau D’Hôte Theatre's award-winning production of Michel Tremblay's passionate and honest Hosanna comes to Centaur Theatre in English from May 15 to June 10. Montréal's spring dance season continues with a free performance of Forward Movements Company's new creation AmalGame 2.0 and Eden Creative's Zenith on Jeanne-Mance Street in Place des Festivals on May 11 at 6 p.m. as well as more dance as part of Festival vue sur la relève, and see the street dance of Or Pür's Zodiak at Place des Arts's Cinquième Salle on May 13. The eclectic and colourful program of the 23rd Festival Accès Asie features Japanese and Canadian collaborative new classical music in Eau douce - Eau trouble on May 11 at Gesù, performative art installation Orchestre sauvage de sons inédits et manipulés avec soin at OBORO gallery until May 12, Indian music concert Strings of Romance on May 12 at Bourgie Hall, and dance-theatre creation Sophia's Resurrection on May 17 at Maison de la culture Ahuntsic.

On screen

Virtual reality meets space travel, climate change and other global concerns in Particles of Existence, an immersive experience that lets us explore the universe at a non-human scale, at the Phi Centre. In the multimedia Satosphere dome of the Society for Arts and Technology, immerse yourself in the audio-visual world of Créatures by Vincent Houzé and Dave & Gabe to May 12, followed by NOVA LANDS G1-203 H by Camille de Dieu and Laurent Novac, May 15 to 18. Explore the cosmos in science-meets-multimedia creations EXO, The Blind Man with the Starry Eyes, Continuum and Aurōrae at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. Go on a wild ride in IMAX at the Montréal Science Centre with Tiny Giants 3D, Amazon 3D and Incredible Predators 3D, plus new addition, America's Musical Journey. The 13th edition of the Montréal Israeli Film Festival opens May 6 with The Testament by Amichai Greenberg and runs until May 17, screening a variety of features, shorts and documentaries. And the Cinémathèque québécoise brings back films from the year 1968, featuring Pasolini, Cassavetes, Godard, cult animation series The Shadoks and more.

Museums and galleries

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts unveils new exhibitions on May 12: in 200 works, From Africa to the Americas: Face-to-Face Picasso, Past and Present explores the complex question of “primitivism” in art history since the late-19th century, while Here We Are Here: Black Canadian Contemporary Art brings together works by Canadian artists of African origin. Also at the MMFA, see Nadia Myre's Scattered Remains, the drawings of From the Hands of the Masters II From Parmigianino to Matisse and more. In acclaimed painting and sculpture woven through with the artist's signature use of the bindi, Bharti Kher: Points de départ, points qui lient explores hybridity, the female body and the nonphysical in the material world at DHC/ART. Discover just how royally the Queens of Egypt lived in a new exhibition at Pointe-à-Callière and uncover 500 years of local history at the Château Ramezay Historic Site and Museum, also offering Suivez Le Chef! 18th-century culinary tours this spring. At the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, The Prophets features small sculptures by Richard Ibghy and Marilou Lemmens, while That's How the Light Gets In frames art in terms of light. Dive into Montréal's past at the McCord Museum, featuring new exhibition Shalom Montreal – Stories and Contributions of the Jewish Community. Explore what life was like during the fur trade in the late 1600s in the Maison Le Ber-Le Moyne historical site's Scene of Dreams exhibition at the Musée de Lachine. Lab Cult at the Canadian Centre for Architecture addresses interchanges between science and architecture. Machines make their own art in Adam Basanta's All We'd Ever Need Is One Another mixed-media installation at Ellephant. Stop by Mile Ex gallery Never Apart to see the spring 2018 exhibitions. Or if you're a baseball fan, check out our exclusive peek into the world's biggest collection of Montréal Expos memorabilia.

Live music

Variety is the spice of Friday night with Kiefer Sutherland and his rock band at Club Soda, the heavy sounds of The Sword at Foufounes Électriques, high-energy French DJ duo Ofenbach at the Society for Arts and Technology, the experimental ambient electro of Rival Consoles and Woulg at Théâtre Fairmount, Theo Parrish's house grooves at the Phi Centre, a night of electro dance with Steve Lawler at New City Gas, R&B-meets-pop artist Amber Mark at Le Belmont and the electro-pop of Au Revoir Simone's Annie Hart at Bar Le Ritz PDB. On Saturday afternoon, join the Block Party inside Place des Arts at 1 p.m. with hip hop DJs and MCs, dancers and graffiti artists. Saturday night's a party with R&B-singer and electro-producer duo Haute at Le Ministère, '90s punk Canadian legends Slow with Dearly Beloved at La Sala Rossa and dancefloor shaker Afrojack at New City Gas. Distorsion Psych Fest continues with Le Marché Psychédélique at Église du Mile End on Friday afternoon followed that night by Lydia Lunch Retrovirus, Red Mass and more, while Saturday brings Make-Overs, Ponctuation and more to the venue, followed on Sunday by Jane & The Magic Bananas, Dunes and a Xarah Dion DJ set at L'Escogriffe. Meanwhile, the 23rd edition of Festival vue sur la relève, May 8 to 19, showcases emerging artists from Québec and the rest of the French-speaking world.

On Sunday, May 13, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal presents fantastical family concert The Mysterious Metamorphosis of Mr. and Mrs. Tacet at Maison symphonique, while at night The Sherlocks and The Frisky Kids go wild at Petit Campus and Horse Jumper of Love slow-rocks at Bar Le Ritz PDB. It's time to lose your mind with Melvins on May 14 at Corona Theatre. On May 15, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal presents energetic star pianist Yuja Wang at Maison symphonique. The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal's Science Fiction Film Festival wows with soundtracks to sci-fi classics, from 2001: A Space Odyssey to Star Wars, on May 16 at Maison symphonique. Also on May 16, catch the incomparable Fever Ray at MTelus, unconventional singer-songwriter Margaret Glaspy and Julian Lage at L'Escogriffe, the powerful voice and rock beat of British musician Bishop Briggs at L’Astral and incredible international music ensemble Bokanté at the Phi Centre. And Thursday marks the first night of Bon Jovi at the Bell Centre, while Brooklyn rap stars Flatbush Zombies shake up L'Olympia. For more live music throughout the week, check out our picks on how to get your nightlife on in Montréal, where to hear live music in Montréal, Montréal's best jazz and blues clubs and our 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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