Things to do in Montréal – May 31 to June 6, 2019
June arrives in Montréal with the colourful outdoor art of MURAL Festival, entertainment and socializing at Jardins Gamelins and street fairs in several neighbourhoods, plus theatre and more at the St-Ambroise Montréal Fringe Festival. Don't miss the magic of Cirque du Soleil's Alegria or the brand-new immersive experiences at the PY1 pyramid. And see all kinds of brilliant art, go for a bike ride and stay out late as the nights warm up.
Spring in the city
The trees are in full bloom and so is Montréal as the city launches into outdoor festival season. From June 6 to 16, MURAL Festival brightly transforms Saint-Laurent Boulevard and side streets from Sherbrooke Street to Mont-Royal Avenue: the street becomes an open-air pedestrian art gallery as international artists paint murals live. Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté and his Lune Rouge company launch new immersive entertainment space PY1, featuring multi-sensory experience Through the Echoes – just look for the illuminated pyramid in the Old Port of Montréal. Downtown's Quartier des spectacles hums with activity and plenty of free things to do: along Sainte-Catherine Street 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. For outdoor drinks, food, live music and entertainment, make a stop at Jardins Gamelin outside Berri-UQAM metro station. Village au Pied-du-Courant, a summer-long event with live music, fresh food, film screenings and all kinds of fun, also opens this weekend. The St-Ambroise Montréal Fringe Festival kicks off this weekend with affordable theatre, dance, comedy and genre-defying events like Crowd Karaoke and nightly after-hours recap event the 13th Hour, plus the Fringe Park opening night on June 6 at the corner of Saint-Laurent Boulevard and Rachel Street. The Mont-Royal Avenue Trade Fair closes the busy commercial avenue to traffic from May 30 to June 2 with sidewalk sales, restaurant patios, music, activities for kids and more – while there, look for these 11 treasures of Mont-Royal Avenue. 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 the Jarry Varry in Villeray celebrates with food, a street fair, circus workshops and live music by Random Recipe and Quality Motel on June 1. If you love biking, rent a bike and join friendly locals at Go Bike Montréal Festival's family-oriented city-wide bike rides Tour de l’Île de Montréal on June 2 and Tour la Nuit on May 31.
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 terrace 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. On June 1 and 2, join the fun and get 2-for-1 tickets on Voiles en Voiles, Bateau-Mouche, the MTL Zipline and more activities during the Old Port Summer Launch. 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. Among this season's can't miss sporting events: cheer on Montréal's Major League Soccer team the Montréal Impact as they play Orlando City SC on June 1 and Seattle Sounders FC on June 5 at Stade Saputo; go for the hard-hitting action of the Montréal Alouettes in a pre-season CFL game against the Ottawa Redblacks at Percival-Molson Stadium on June 6; or watch the NHL and NBA playoffs at Montréal's best sports bars. Go for gold at the interactive and immersive Canadian Olympic Experience at Canada Olympic House downtown – create an athletic profile, try virtual bobsleigh, track and field, fencing and freestyle skiing, and discover Canada's rich history in the Olympic Games. Get a thrill and a view too at La Ronde, the second largest amusement park in Canada, featuring new rollercoaster Chaos. If spring showers send you indoors, keep your mind active with escape game adventures or relax at Montréal's best spas (enjoy live music at Bota Bota, spa-sur-l'eau from 6 to 8 p.m. on June 6). Whether you're in Montréal for a long weekend or a week, 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.
Food and drink
Check out 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. The city's fabulous food trucks re-emerge this month too along with 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 restaurants 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.
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 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 at Place des Arts from May 30 to June 1. Sing along with long-time children's music entertainers Sharon, Bram & Friends, stopping at Montréal's Place des Arts on June 2 for their 40th anniversary farewell tour. Summer festival season blooms in theatre and dance this week too. Festival TransAmériques showcases dance and theatre that challenges conventions: this week see choreographer Dana Michel's Cutlass Spring, Korean artist Jaha Koo's theatre work Cuckoo, choreographer Lara Kramer and Émilie Monnet's This Time Will Be Different, Martin Messier's free electro doomsday ballet Innervision and more. Alt-festival OFFTA tackles themes of work and maintenance through performance art. And Geddy Lee of rock band Rush launches Geddy Lee's Big Beautiful Book of Bass on Tuesday, June 4 at Rialto Theatre.
Catch the Phi Centre's new virtual reality exhibition >HUM(AI)N, which gives us a 360° view of human nature and evolution in nine immersive VR works. In the Satosphere dome at the Society for Arts and Technology, see 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. 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 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.
Art for all
A truly moving new exhibition, Yoko Ono: LIBERTÉ CONQUÉRANTE/GROWING FREEDOM explores how the art (and life!) of icon Yoko Ono (and partner John Lennon) 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 and more. Seasonal art, culture and technology exploration Digital Spring launches new conference <MTL> Connecte – Digital Week with public events on June 1 and 2 – the events cover themes of architecture, artificial intelligence, transportation, health, culture and creativity. 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’s sculpture The Sun outside the museum. Meanwhile, the McCord Museum features SDING K’AWXANGS – Haida: Supernatural Stories and work by Kanien’kehá:ka artist Hannah Claus. Head to Mile-Ex for the edgy Never Apart spring exhibitions. As part of UQAM'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.
History near and far
Pointe-à-Callière Archaeology and History Complex 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 – and starting June 5, new exhibition Dinner is served! French Gastronomy at its Best chronicles the food-related history and secrets of monarchs to artisans. 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, 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.
The second of four OASIS parties transforms the Esplanade of the Olympic Park into a club on from May 31 to June 2, with EDM by Tiësto, Flux Pavilion, Diplo and more producers. Also on Friday night, English trance producer John 00 Fleming gets the dance floor going at Newspeak, electronic musician Mind Bath plays at Le Ministère, and arguably the biggest rapper in Québec right now, LOUD, is at the Bell Centre on both Friday and Saturday night. Saturday also features legendary rock band The Cult and Red Mass at MTELUS, indie pop band The Japanese House and opener Art School Girlfriend at L’Astral, a mix of techno, trance and electro from electronic producer and DJ Asquith (label head at Lobster Theremin) at Newspeak, and Dutch EDM producer Mike Williams is joined by Cheyenne Giles and DLMT at New City Gas – or experience immersive audiovisual creation alea(s) and dance with DJs Ryan Playground and Lis Dalton at Nuit ix at the Society for Arts and Technology. In classical music, Kent Nagano conducts Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique in the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal's season closing concert at Maison symphonique on May 31 and June 1. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts the Orchestre Métropolitain in concert Hymns of Praise, including Bernstein's Symphony No. 1 “Jeremiah” at Maison symphonique on June 2. Discover the world’s finest young violinists at the Concours musical international de Montréal, with competition performances from June 3 to 5 at Maison symphonique.
On Sunday, dance in the open air at Piknic Électronik in Parc Jean-Drapeau, with electronic music by Tunisian-German producer Loco Dice, Berlin-based techno duo Fjaak and more. On Monday, sit back and listen to the music of Grammy award winning producer David Foster at Place des Arts and hear Israeli musician Dennis Lloyd at Corona Theatre and Chicago synth-pop and damaged-folk band Grapetooth at Ritz P.D.B. Tuesday marks the first day of month-long music festival Suoni Per Il Popolo, dedicated to avant-garde jazz, outsider rock and experimental electronic excursions: this week, catch Jack Marvel Parsons, Hans-Joachim Roedelius, The Dwarfs of East Agouza and more artists. Wednesday brings Anglo-Swiss symphonic power metal band Gloryhammer and Aether Realm to L’Astral, rockers Remo Drive and Slow Pulp to Le Ministère, and L.A. psych rock staple Jjuujjuu gets weird and loud at Ritz P.D.B. And on Thursday, sing along with the melodic folk-rock of Great Lake Swimmers at 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, 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.