Things to do in Montréal, May 25 to 31

The end of May in Montréal marks the true beginning of terrasse season, open-air entertainment at Jardins Gamelin and Piknic Électronik, world-class performances at Festival TransAmérique, innovative art and music at Chromatic, free Museums Day and more!

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May on the move

As downtown's busy Sainte-Catherine Street undergoes a 21st-century makeover, there's nothing stopping its annual summer transformation into a pedestrian-only zone in Place des Festivals – and until May 27, relax among greenery, hammocks and deck chairs 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, until May 27, 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, activities for all ages and music of all kinds – on Friday night, check out the bright lights and poetry of Mouvements Libres, adding mini-LED display units to hundreds of bike wheels. A business conference like no other, C2 Montréal closes on Friday with change-making talks, workshops and an all-star party. Celebrate the opening of patio season on Saint-Denis Street (between De Maisonneuve Boulevard and Sherbrooke Street) with live music courtesy of Osheaga and other activities at Lancement des Terrasses in the Quartier latin from May 25 to 26. And the Mont-Royal Avenue Foire Commerciale closes two kilometres of the street to traffic from May 31 to June 3 – along with great shopping and restaurant patios, you'll come across live music, lots of activities for kids and even a climbing structure with a view.

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Sights and sounds

Watch spring bloom in the Montréal Botanical Garden, also hosting the very popular Great Gardening Weekend from May 25 to 27. Stop by the Chromatic Festival from May 26 to June 2 to experience cutting-edge art on all floors of the Ancienne École des beaux-arts, along with a day of kids activities on May 27 and late-night parties on opening and closing night. In Parc La Fontaine, from May 25 to 27, the Festival BD de Montréal features presentations by Québec authors and artists along with free activities for all ages. See the city spring to life from the high-altitude comfort of Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown, the Montréal Tower at Olympic Stadium or La Grande Roue de Montréal observation wheel in the Old Port. The Old Port launches its summer season at midday on May 26, featuring special $10 pricing on all its activities, including Voiles en Voiles, Bateau-Mouche, MTL Zipline, SOS Labyrinthe and the Décalade. 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. Over in the Village, walk under the annual Aires Libres rainbow and have a drink on a terrasse. 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.

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Spring food and drink

As soon as the weather's warm, it's time to head to the park and picnic like a Montrealer. On the other hand, eat all the lobster your heart desires along with other products from the sea as 25 local restaurants serve signature dishes at the family-friendly Lobster Clam Jam by the Lachine Canal on May 27. Or if spring inspires a change in your eating habits, try these great health-conscious restaurants and the many vegan options in our ultimate guide to vegan eating in Montréal. Take it easy at these new casual restaurants and lunch counters in Montréal. 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. From creatively casual to classically French, these restaurants let you bring your own wine. If you're on the hunt for a favourite haunt, try these restaurants open from brunch to well past dinner, caffeinate with a perfect espresso at Montréal's indie coffee shops, go out for creative cocktails or spend time sampling your favourite tipple in the mood lighting of Montréal's new bars and brasseries. Explore Montréal and its culinary delights this season on Montréal's best food tours and if you love chocolate, look no further than boutiques belonging to Montréal's top chocolatières.

On stage

Opéra de Montréal presents Roméo et Juliette, harmonizing Shakespeare's star-crossed tragedy with the music of French composer Charles Gounod, 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 – presented and danced by Les Grands Ballets at Place des Arts from May 24 to June 2. The Wall LIVE Extravaganza wows with theatrics, visuals and Pink Floyd classics on May 31 at Place des Arts. Tableau D’Hôte Theatre's award-winning production of Michel Tremblay's Hosanna comes to Centaur Theatre in English from May 15 to June 10. Tony nominee Tovah Feldshuh portrays Israel’s first and only female Prime Minister in Golda’s Balcony at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts from May 22 to June 10. Multilingual, festive and an homage to innovation, Festival TransAmériques continues this week with 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, Gabino Rodríguez's factory-worker tale Tijuana, choreographer Meg Stuart's Until Our Hearts Spot, choreographer Jefta van Dinther's Dark Field Analysis, mythological fable Titans and more. Go further off the beaten track with the live art of the OFFTA festival beginning May 25. The eclectic and colourful 23rd Festival Accès Asie closes with dance and music at free outdoor show Wind of Asia on the afternoons of May 25 and 26 at Jardins Gamelin. And DIY theatre, dance, comedy and unclassifiable stage antics abound at the 28th St-Ambroise Montreal FRINGE Festival starting May 28 and running until June 17 at multiple indoor and outdoor venues. 

On screen

In the multimedia Satosphere dome of the Society for Arts and Technology, immerse yourself in the audio-visual world of interactive audiovisual dance performance Disorder, May 22 to 26, and the new 360-degree multimedia creations at Symposium iX. 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. And see the world anew in virtual reality at the Phi Centre: Particles of Existence is an immersive experience that lets you travel through the universe at non-human scale while delving into global concerns.

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Museums and galleries

It's Montréal's Museums Day on May 27! Over 30 museums and galleries open their doors for free and feature special activities throughout the day. Visit the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to see how exhibition From Africa to the Americas: Face-to-Face Picasso, Past and Present tackles the complex question of “primitivism” in art history, see works by Canadian artists of African origin in Here We Are Here: Black Canadian Contemporary Art and more. Meanwhile, Montréal's Centre Afrika presents the art and culture of African Days at Écomusée du fier monde from May 26 to 27. Immerse yourself in architectural “anti-monuments” and other large-scale, participatory installations of artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer in new exhibition Unstable Presence at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. Discover just how royally the Queens of Egypt lived in a new exhibition at Pointe-à-Callière.  At DHC/ART, Bharti Kher: Points de départ, points qui lient explores hybridity, the female body and the nonphysical in the material world in works woven through with the artist's signature use of the bindi. 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. 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 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, guitar daredevil Joe Satriani shows off his serious musical chops at MTELUS, while EDM producer Ghastly turns up the bass with Nitti Gritti & Kompany at Théâtre Fairmount. Saturday night features Canadian country-folk legends Cowboy Junkies at Corona Theatre, rapper Joey Bada$$ at MTELUS, Brooklyn's great and powerful Parquet Courts with opener Goat Girl at Théâtre Fairmount, and indie rockers Dirty Projectors and Buzzy Lee at Le Belmont. On Saturday afternoon and late into the night, Piknic Électronik presents famed Russian electronic producer Nina Kraviz and guests in a special event at Parc Jean-Drapeau. There's more electronic music in store on Saturday night with Deorro, Krewella and Kuuro at New City Gas. Piknic Électronik has us dancing outdoors again on Sunday afternoon at Parc Jean-Drapeau with Irish techno chart-topper Matador, UK dubstep producer Kahn and more electronic artists. Also on Sunday, '90s California punk comes back as Pennywise and Strung Out play MTELUS while singer-songwriter Jesse Marchant and opener Edmund Lam mellow us out at La Vitrola.

Meanwhile, in classical music, trumpet prodigy Lucienne Renaudin Vary performs with Les Violons du Roy at Maison symphonique, pianists Katia and Marielle Labèque play Bourgie Concert Hall on May 25, and Kent Nagano conducts the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal in five Beethoven concerts at Maison symphonique: Fate of a Titan: Beethoven's Fifth Symphony from May 27 to 28, Nature Awakens: Beethoven’s “Pastoral” on May 29, Joy of Life: Beethoven's Seventh Symphony on May 30, Hope for a Better World: Beethoven's “Eroica” on May 31 and Joy and Grandeur: The Ninth Symphony from June 1 to 2. On Monday night, indie-rock stalwarts The Decemberists and opener Eleanor Friedberger play Corona Theatre. Citizen rock on Tuesday, May 29 at Le Belmont, while The Brooks fuse funk, soul and R&B at L’Astral, and Billie Joe Armstrong's The Longshot play a probably sold-out show at Foufounes Électriques. May 29 and May 31 bring magical pop-electro singer-songwriter Charlotte Cardin and opener Ghostly Kisses to beautiful St-Jean-Baptiste Church. And on Thursday, May 31, see indie-rockers No Aloha and guests at Bar Le Ritz PDB and Jamaican singer-songwriter Popcaan at 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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