Things to do in Montréal – May 24 to 30, 2019

Montréal makes the most of warm weather in the urban outdoors this week with free activities at Jardins Gamelins and Place des Festivals downtown, plus street fairs in some of the city's most vibrant neighbourhoods. Experience the joys of Cirque du Soleil's Alegria, exhibition Thierry Mugler: Couturissime and more during Sunday's citywide Museums Day, sample local brews at Festival Mondial de la bière, dance outdoors at Piknic Électronik and so much more.

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Spring in the city

The end of May brings an abundance of outdoor activities and festivals in Montréal. Downtown's Quartier des spectacles hums with activity and plenty of free things to do: along Sainte-Catherine Street you'll find Dans ma cour… ç’a du chien until May 29, a series of backyard scenes with lawn chairs made for public lounging, while further east in the Village, walk under a rainbow canopy of 180,000 resin balls designed by landscape architect Claude Cormier, kicking off summer-long cultural event Aires Libres. Make music on 21 Balançoires (21 Swings) along the Promenade des Artistes until May 28, see the iconic spiral staircase of art installation Our DNA and play a game on the giant chessboards too! Join the Jardins Gamelin Grand Opening Party on May 30, celebrating the annual return of the outdoor gathering and performance space with food, drinks and music by Papagroove, Afrotronix and more artists. Gardening enthusiasts won't want to miss the Great Gardening Weekend at the Montréal Botanical Garden from May 24 to 26, which includes presentations by horticultural professionals and environmental workshops for children. Art, history, culture, science, religion – you name it and Montréal Museums Day includes it: on Sunday, May 26, enjoy free access to museums and galleries along with special activities and a handy shuttle bus between venues. In downtown's Latin Quarter, Osheaga music fest presents free event OSHEAGA x St-Denis, two nights of live music outside, plus an activity “fun zone” on May 24 and 25. The Mont-Royal Avenue Trade Fair closes the busy commercial avenue to traffic from May 30 to June 2, featuring store sidewalk sales, restaurant patios and food stands, music, activities for kids and more. Another neighbourhood street fair, Branle-Bas d'Hochelaga, opens up several blocks of Ontario Street for music and more from May 30 to June 2. And have a cocktail while you browse locally made creations at Marché de nuit - Platz Night Market on May 25 in Mile-Ex. 

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City sights

Watch Montréal burst into spring from the top of Mount Royal Park, one of the most Instagrammable views in Montréal – walk up through the park and climb the stairs or get there by bus or car and stroll over to the lookout. For a 360º view of the city, take the funicular at the Montréal Tower at Olympic Park, look out from the Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown (check out the outdoor terrasse too) and ride La Grande Roue de Montréal in the Old Port. Walk the landscaped Promenade Fleuve-Montagne down from Mount Royal Park to the St. Lawrence River, stopping to see historic and artistic sights along the way. Stroll through the Montréal Botanical Garden and other parks and green spaces as the trees turn green and spring flowers bloom. In Old Montréal, visit Notre-Dame Basilica (one of Montréal's most famous icons) and see Moment Factory's immersive multimedia show AURA, while on Friday and Saturday nights you can search out the projections of Cité Mémoire on building facades. If spring showers send you indoors, keep your mind active with escape game adventures, go ice skating at Atrium Le 1000, relax at Montréal's best spas or catch the NHL and NBA playoffs at Montréal's best sports bars. Watch Major League Soccer team the Montréal Impact against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday, May 29 at Stade Saputo. Get a thrill and a view too at La Ronde, the second largest amusement park in Canada, featuring new rollercoaster Chaos. Whether you're in Montréal 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

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Food and drink

Festival season extends to food in Montréal too! This week, check out the Festival Mondial de la bière from May 22 to 25 at Windsor Station downtown, where you can sample local microbrews and international brews and take part in workshops too. Meanwhile, try exclusive festival cocktails, learn how to mix and muddle like a pro and more during Invasion Cocktail from May 20 to 31 at over 20 participating restaurants and bars. Enjoy tartare appetizers and wine pairings at TartareFest from April 18 to 28 at over 20 restaurants. This week you'll also witness the re-emergence of the city's fabulous food trucks and the re-opening of even more Montréal terrasses – among the many patio dining experiences, drop by Marcus Restaurant + Terrace at the Four Seasons Hotel and downtown's Foodlab for great food and DJs. Dine 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. And if you're traveling solo, make the most of solo dining in Montréal. 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 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. Let the good times roll along with great food at the Casino de Montréal, currently hosting “garden party” themed activities, cocktails and menus. If you're traveling with kids, check out our ideas for great places to eat with kids in Montréal.

On stage

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. See the National Circus School’s annual show, this year titled Où vont les fleurs?, spotlighting the artistic and acrobatic mastery of up-and-coming circus stars, at La TOHU from May 29 to June 9. Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal present Parlami d’Amore, a new program of contemporary ballet that captures the brightness of spring, at Place des Arts from May 16 to 25, followed by multi-company show Soirée des Étoiles : Et je t'aime encore, featuring classical and neoclassical repertoires by acclaimed dancers and music sung by choir Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal from May 30 to June 1. Summer festival season blooms in theatre and dance this week too. Festival TransAmériques showcases dance and theatre that challenges conventions: this week see Wajdi Mouawad's play Tous des oiseaux, Daria Deflorian and Antonio Tagliarini's Quasi niente, Serge Aimé Coulibaly's Kalakuta Republik (a dance tribute to musician Fela Kuti), Lebanese choreographer Ali Chahrour's May He Rise and Smell the Fragrance, Korean artist Jaha Koo's theatre work Cuckoo, Polish theatre creator Anna Karasińska's Fantasia, Clara Furey-directed Rather a Ditch and more. While alt-festival OFFTA tackles themes of work and maintenance through performance art. And Festival Accès Asie showcases pan-Asian arts and culture – this week see transcultural dance work Undivided Colors, created by four South Asian dancers and choreographers, documentary Havana Divas, eclectic musical event Odyssée, and closing cocktail event at MAI Montréal, arts interculturels.

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On screen

Catch the Phi Centre's VR Museum exhibition of immersive paintings, a collaboration with the Geneva International Film Festival, until May 26, while starting May 28, new virtual reality exhibition >HUM(AI)N gives us a 360° view of human nature and evolution in nine immersive VR works – the Centre also screens The Best Short Films of Sundance on May 27. See immersive audiovisual triple-bill Origines in the Satosphere dome at the Society for Arts and Technology until May 25, followed by Spectacles iX - Expériences 360°, eight immersive experiences that are part of the SAT's Symposium iX conference program and open to the public from May 29 to June 1. Experience Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix™ in concert and on the big screen with a live orchestra performing the original score at Place des Arts on May 24 and 25. Roam the cosmos in science-meets-multimedia shows Planet Nine, Secrets of Gravity, Continuum and Aurōrae as well as new films POLARIS and Passport to the Universe 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! The 14th edition of the Festival du Cinéma Israélien de Montréal screens features, shorts and documentaries, including opening film The Unorthodox, from May 26 to June 5. 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.

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Art for all

A truly moving new exhibition, Yoko Ono: LIBERTÉ CONQUÉRANTE/GROWING FREEDOM explores how the art (and life!) of icon Yoko Ono has affected years of contemporary art practices, art reception and activism, at the Fondation Phi pour l’art contemporain in Old Montréal. The Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth hotel commemorates the 50th anniversary of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s 1969 Bed-In for Peace, with tours of the suite, a peace-and-love party on May 25, a bed-in commemorative concert on May 30 and more. Seasonal art, culture and technology exploration Digital Spring launches new conference <MTL> Connecte – Digital Week with public events on May 25 and 26 and June 1 and 2 – the events cover themes of architecture, artificial intelligence, transportation, health, culture and creativity. Meanwhile, the McCord Museum celebrates with cocktail-hour event Digital Spring x Afterhours – Sport and Wellness, with immersive demos and interactive performances on May 30 – while there, also see SDING K’AWXANGS – Haida: Supernatural Stories and work by Kanien’kehá:ka artist Hannah Claus. Enter the high-fashion art world of Thierry Mugler: Couturissime, featuring innovative ready-to-wear, haute couture and more wild creations by the French designer at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts – also see Montreal Couture, showcasing inventive Québec designers, new exhibition Omar Ba: Same Dream, and the return of Dale Chihuly sculpture The Sun outside the museum on May 21 at noon. Discover the Griffintown and Little Burgundy neighbourhoods through public art exhibition Galerie Connexe at Parc des Meubliers. Head to Mile-Ex for the edgy Never Apart spring exhibitions. As part of UQAM university's 50th anniversary, Galerie de l’UQAM features group show Over My Black Body, a social reflection and celebration of black life, and installation works by Maude Arès. In Speculations, Black, Indigenous and other artists reflect and speculate on their position in the universe, the world and society, at Artexte. Jean-Paul Kelly's A sensation best described by another questions the limits of representation, at VOX, centre de l'image contemporaine. See works by Indigenous women artists in Oubliées ou disparues : Akonessen, Zitya, Tina, Marie et les autres at Ashukan Cultural Space. Discover the complex and contemporary beadwork art of 11 Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists in exhibition BEADING NOW - contemporary beading, at La Guilde. Galerie Deux Poissons presents Overworld, collaborative and solo new work by Jim Holyoak and Matt Shane. And there's more art to discover while gallery hopping and antiquing in the city.

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History near and far

Archaeology and history complex Pointe-à-Callière brings Montréal's past to life in high-tech multimedia exhibitions like the brand new Generations MTL and illuminates an international cabinet of curiosities in new exhibition Into the Wonder Room. 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. Climb aboard Canadian Pacific’s steam locomotive No. 2850 this month at the Canadian Railway museum Exporail. History museum Château Ramezay features 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, Scripts for a new world: Film storyboards by Alessandro Poli explores elements of film that helped Poli form his language for architecture, while Second Life takes us away from it all in real, imagined and virtual spaces outside of ordinary time and space, and Our Happy Life looks at measurements of happiness. Learn more about Jewish culture in Montréal at the Museum of Jewish Montreal exhibitions. 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 downtown. Read all about jazz in Montréal, from the Roaring Twenties to today, featuring local history and jazz clubs still hopping to this day. And pick up some historic and present-day facts about Montréal that even some locals might not know.

Live music

In classical music, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal presents virtuoso pianist Evgeni Kissin at Maison symphonique on May 25, while I Musici's 35th Anniversary Concert fills Maison symphonique with more music on May 26, and Kent Nagano conducts Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique in the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal's season closing concert at Maison symphonique from May 29 to June 1. Also on Friday night, Brooklyn singer-songwriter King Princess holds court at Corona Theatre and Belgian indie pop band Balthazar plays Petit Campus. The first of four OASIS parties transforms the Esplanade of the Olympic Park into a club on May 24 and 25, with EDM by REZZ, Jamie Jones and more producers. Summer EDM festival îleSoniq Montréal throws a springtime party with Anjunabeats producers Gabriel & Dresden, ilan Bluestone and more on Saturday, May 25 at Parc Jean-Drapeau. Also on Saturday, see electro pop band Chromatics with openers Desire and In Mirrors at the Society for Arts and Technology, inventive pop singer Lolo Zouaï at Le Ministère and Dutch electro producer Blasterjaxx at New City Gas. On Sunday, dance in the open air at Piknic Électronik in Parc Jean-Drapeau, with electronic music by Argentina's Hernan Cattaneo, Italian producer Massimiliano Pagliara and more. Tuesday brings the one and only Florence & The Machine and openers Blood Orange to the Bell Centre, while L.A. indie rockers Local Natives and openers Middle Kids take over Rialto Theatre. And on Thursday, wild man Jon Spencer & The Hitmakers shake up 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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