Things to do in Montréal May 18-24

Montrealers know that summer's on its way when outdoor venue Jardins Gamelin turns the music up, open-air dance party Piknic Électronik begins, creative business conference C2 Montréal welcomes Snoop Dogg, and there's incredible art, performances, food and live music on every block.

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May days and nights

It's picnic time on Sainte-Catherine Street in Place des Festivals, a pedestrian-only zone for the season, with added greenery, hammocks and deck chairs this week thanks to art installation Dans ma cour! (In my backyard!). Among the many 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 to step into Jardins Gamelin for snacks, drinks and music of all kinds. Over in the Village, walk under the annual Aires Libres rainbow and have a drink on a terrasse. Much more than a business conference, C2 Montréal is an experience from morning to night, this year featuring speakers ranging from Snoop Dogg to marketing heavyweight Frank Cooper III to world famous AI android Sophia, May 23 to 25. Or if you're a pro sports fan, venture indoors to watch the Montréal Impact play the LA Galaxy on May 21 at Saputo Stadium.

Sunny sights

Watch spring bloom in the Montréal Botanical Garden and see the city spring to life from the high-altitude comfort of Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown, La Grande Roue de Montréal observation wheel in the Old Port or the Montréal Tower at Olympic Stadium. 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. Relax indoors and out at some of Montréal's best spas. Check out what's in style and scoop it up when shopping at Montréal designer boutiques. Go antiquing along the Canal for unique treasures or gallery hop for that one-of-a-kind work of art. Find all this and more at your fingertips with My Official Montréal City Guide, a travel app that lets you experience the city like a Montrealer.


Spring food and drink

Get everything you need for a picnic in Montréal style with our guide to picnic and park pairings. Or take it easy at these new casual restaurants and lunch counters in Montréal. Caffeinate with a perfect espresso at Montréal's indie coffee shops. Discover Montréal's many brunch options and more local food and Québécois classics in our guides to the best poutine, the best Montréal bagels and the best smoked meat, along with more musts for foodies visiting Montréal. If you love chocolate, look no further than the delicacies made by Montréal's top chocolatières. From creatively casual to classically French, these restaurants let you bring your own wine, while the Contest of the Best Sommelier of the Americas event brings together the best sommeliers in the world from May 21 to 24. If you're on the hunt for a favourite haunt, try these restaurants open from brunch to well past dinner, go out for creative cocktails or spend time sampling your favourite tipple in the mood lighting of Montréal's new bars and brasseries. 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. And explore Montréal and its culinary delights this season on Montréal's best food tours.

On stage

Opera Roméo & Juliette harmonizes Shakespeare's star-crossed tragedy with the music of French composer Charles Gounod, presented by Opéra de Montréal at Place des Arts from May 19 to 26. Belgian-Colombian choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's contemporary ballet Vendetta - Storie di Mafia explores the human psyche and its violent impulses; it’s presented and danced by Les Grands Ballets at Place des Arts from May 24 to June 2. 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. See contemporary dance outdoors in Place des Festivals on April 18 at noon as part of Festival Vue sur la Relève. The eclectic and colourful program of the 23rd Festival Accès Asie features the Romani music of the Golestan project on May 18, dance performance Triangle Courbé on May 19, and Persian and Indian classical dance in Perles d’ailleurs on May 24. Multilingual, festive and a yearly homage to innovation, Festival TransAmériques begins on May 23; this week, see Ivo van Hove's incredible Shakespeare trilogy Kings of War, the refined dance of Chinese choreographer Tao Ye in 6 & 9, choreographer Lara Kramer's meditation on a residential school in Phantom Stills & Vibrations and Gabino Rodríguez's factory-worker tale Tijuana.

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 Nova Lands G1-203 h by Camille de Dieu and Laurent Novac, May 15 to 18, and interactive audiovisual dance performance Disorder, May 22 to 26. Roam the cosmos in science-meets-multimedia creations EXO, The Blind Man with the Starry Eyes, Continuum and Aurōrae at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. And 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.

Museums and galleries

In 200 works, From Africa to the Americas: Face-to-Face Picasso, Past and Present tackles the complex question of “primitivism” in art history since the late-19th century, at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, alongside works by Canadian artists of African origin in Here We Are Here: Black Canadian Contemporary Art and more exhibitions. At the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Canadian artists Sarah Anne Johnson, Graeme Patterson, Jon Rafman and Jeremy Shaw reflect on societal paradoxes in new exhibition Alone Together, along with the sculpture of The Prophets and collections exhibition That's How the Light Gets In. 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. Interdisciplinary group exhibition Refus contraire looks at current and historical themes of revolution and challenging the status quo through collective actions in Québec at Galerie de l’UQAM. Discover just how royally the Queens of Egypt lived in a new exhibition at Pointe-à-Callière. Dive into Montréal's past at the McCord Museum, featuring new exhibition Shalom Montreal – Stories and Contributions of the Jewish Community. The 4th edition of the Contemporary Native Art Biennial continues with art, film and talks at galleries Art Mûr, La Guilde, The McCord Museum and more. 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 at Ellephant. Stop by Mile Ex gallery Never Apart to see the spring 2018 exhibitions. Playful and critical, WORLD CUP! takes a different look at soccer, community and national identity, at articule. Or if you're a baseball fan, check out our exclusive peek into the world's biggest collection of Montréal Expos memorabilia.

Live music

On Friday night, rockers Bon Jovi play their second night at the Bell Centre, Montréal rock stars The Damn Truth fill Corona Theatre, Vancouver singer-songwriter David Beckingham (of Hey Ocean) sets up at Casa del Popolo, we're dancing all night to the electro of Gene Tellem and CFCF at Newspeak, and Christian Marc Gendron performs hits from the 1940s to today in his Piano Man Experience at Place des Arts from May 18 to 19. Community-minded punk rock festival Pouzza Fest takes over the Quartier des Spectacles from May 18 to 20 with indoor and outdoor shows, food and drinks, kids activities and more. On Saturday night, Nana Mouskouri performs at Maison symphonique, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats revive American blues-folk with opener Robert Finley at MTelus, pop-electronic act Isaac Delusion plays a wild DJ set at Théâtre Fairmount, west coast indie-rock originals Frog Eyes return for a farewell tour at Bar Le Ritz PDB, Brooklyn blues-punk singer-songwriter Shilpa Ray plays Casa del Popolo, and South African record producer Black Coffee shakes the dance floor at New City Gas. 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. Sunday and Monday brings the first Piknic Électronik of the season: back-to-back days of electronic music outdoors in Parc Jean-Drapeau, featuring techno producers ANNA, Marcel Dettmann, DeWalta and lauded locals Kris Tin and Atroxx.

Also on Sunday, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal presents live organ music to accompany the film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at Maison symphonique, while Austin, Texas musician Shakey Graves plays his indie Americana with openers And the Kids at Corona Theatre, Rodriguez Jr (Live) gets us into a mellow electro groove at Newspeak, while Swedish DJ duo Dada Life electrifies New City Gas. On Monday, May 21, hear NYC acoustic post-rock trio City of the Sun at Petit Campus, the abstract art-rock of Facs (members of Disappears) with opener Jessica Moss at Casa del Popolo, and Brooklyn lo-fi pop-rock makers Cut Worms at L'Escogriffe. Return to the '80s in your mind as the Orchestre symphonique performs the music of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial at Maison symphonique on May 22. On May 23 and 24, French actor Gérard Depardieu sings the music of French singer Barbara at L'Olympia. Hip hop artist, activist and Trans Trenderz label founder Lucas Charlie Rose hosts The Royal Cabaret on May 23 at La Vitrola. On Thursday, May 24, Norwegian black metal band Satyricon comes to Corona Theatre while Alex Zhang Hungtai (formerly known as Dirty Beaches) and Gabriel Ferrandini hypnotize as a duo at La Sala Rossa, and it's a night of techno and dubscapes as electronic music festival MUTEK brings Helena Hauff and Space Afrika to StereoBar. 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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