Things to do in Montréal November 17-23

Robyn Fadden

See Montréal in all its late-autumn glory this week, from Leonard Cohen murals on a sunny day to the Santa Claus Parade, along with film festivals, food and drink, art, new theatre and dance, the Bach Festival, plus more moving classical, electro and rock music.  

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City sights

Among the many free things to do this fall in Montréal, learn more about the Saint-Lawrence River's history with self-guided tour Montréal, toute une histoire, or download Projet EVA art collective's Cortège to your phone and take an immersive tour along the Promenade Fleuve-Montagne. Explore the Plateau neighbourhood through the eyes of Paul à Montréal. At the Buckminster Fuller-designed Biosphère see the city anew in 3D interactive model Planète MTL and travel back 50 years with Écho 67. We've got all kinds of ways to face your fears in Montréal, including conquering heights in the name of amazing views from La Grande Roue de Montréal, the tallest observation wheel in the country, fm the Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown and the Montréal Tower at Olympic Stadium. Cheer for NHL greats the Montréal Canadiens as they face off against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 18 at the Bell Centre. And an international gathering for the creative industries, HUB Montréal continues to Nov. 18 with conferences, high-tech multimedia events and more.


Seasons greetings

This weekend, the holiday spirit officially arrives in Montréal: see Santa and all his friends at the annual Santa Claus Parade on Nov. 18 along Sainte-Catherine Street downtown. Meanwhile, Santas Are Taking Over the Museum throughout November and December at the Stewart Museum's annual holiday exhibition of Santa through the ages – and yes, the “real” Santa will be there too. On that note, begin your holiday shopping in Montréal: the city's Christmas markets start up this week, including local-designer market Marché des ateliers Capitol Nov. 16-17, kid-focused Marché Nënë Nov. 18-19 in Mile End, the Marché de Novembre on Plaza St-Hubert Nov. 18 and Marché Éphémère EtsyMTL at Gare Windsor downtown on Nov. 23. In Old Montréal, choirs sing Christmas carols and Québécois traditional songs on Saturday afternoon on the Place d’Armes and the square of the Marché Bonsecours. Later on, see the historic tableaux projections of Cité Memoire and multimedia wonder AURA at Notre-Dame Basilica. And if you're in Montréal for the U.S. Thanksgiving Weekend we've got all kinds of suggestions on where to eat, what to do and where to shop while you're here.

Leonard Cohen's Montréal

As part of Montréal's 375th anniversary and in honour of his artistic impact on the city and the world, Montréal celebrates Leonard Cohen. International exhibition Leonard Cohen – A Crack in Everything at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal features work by 40 artists from 10 countries, inspired by Leonard Cohen's life, music and writing – as well as an upcoming concert series covering Cohen's music album by album. And see building-sized murals of Leonard Cohen on Crescent Street downtown near the Sir Winston Churchill Pub and on Saint-Laurent Boulevard at Napoleon Street not far from Schwartz's.


Food and drink

Enjoy the change of seasons in Montréal with harvest activities for all ages. Explore the city's public markets and discover creative new cuisine from Québec at our Montréal restaurant picks for fall. If you're looking for tried-and-true Québécois classic dishes, we've got the goods on where to find the best poutine and more musts for foodies visiting Montréal – plus where to go shopping for foodies too. Explore some of Montréal's liveliest neighbourhoods through their great restaurants and during Montréal Restaurant Day on Nov. 18, when mini-restaurants pop up in backyards, alleyways and living rooms around the city. Caffeinate in style at Montréal's indie coffee shops or with the city's best iced coffee. Relax with weekend brunch or a creative cocktail. And there's plenty of genuinely delicious health-conscious food to be found in Montréal.


Art inspires

Once Upon A Time… The Western gives the Western film genre new artistic life at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts – while there also see installation Kushapetshekan / Kosapitcikan – A Glimpse Into the Other World by Atikamekw artists Eruoma Awashish and Meky Ottawa and Innu artist Jani Bellefleur-Kaltush, Nadia Myre's new exhibition Tout ce qui reste – Scattered Remains and WOOL WAR ONE, composed of a battalion of 780 small knitted soldiers. Renowned art foundation DHC/ART in Old Montréal celebrates its 10th anniversary with dynamic group exhibition The Gift as well as the pioneering video art and installation work of Bill Viola: Naissance à rebours – and on Nov. 19, DHC presents a live performance by artist Ed Atkins at the Phi Centre. The Phi Centre also pays homage to American artist, designer and illustrator Barbara Nessim in exhibition Conditions de fluidité, featuring over 50 works. See Montréal painter Melanie Authier's solo show Contrarieties & Counterpoints and new photography work by Carolyne Scenna at Galerie de l’UQAM. The Montréal Science Centre presents Indigenous Ingenuity: Timeless Inventions, from the essentials of First Peoples’ scientific principles to how to build an igloo, alongside photo exhibition Regalia: Native Pride featuring 30 Indigenous portraits. ATSA, When Art Takes Action presents the return of l’État d’Urgence performances outdoors at Place Émilie-Gamelin downtown, Nov. 16-19, critically focused on both homelessness and tax havens. Explore the golden age of magicians in the McCord Museum's Illusions: The Art of Magic. Hannah Claus and Peter Morin address the fluidity of culture, body and land in there are so many stars at OBORO. And if you're driving to or from the airport along Highway 20, keep an eye out for Alain Paiement's art work Bleu de Bleu.

On stage

In high-drama fashion, Opéra de Montréal tells the early 19th century Cinderella story of Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Nov. 11-18 at Place des Arts. World-renowned circus company, Les 7 Doigts presents Triptyque in collaboration with choreographers Marie Chouinard, Victor Quijada and Marcos Morau at Place des Arts Nov. 23-25. On the English-language theatre scene this fall, see family-friendly classic winter tale The Hockey Sweater: A Musical at the Segal Centre to Nov. 19 or smash comedy hit Bad Jews to Nov. 26, while Alfred Hitchcock murder-mystery spy story The 39 Steps intrigues at Centaur Theatre, romance goes rocky for two women in genre-bending romance-horror Vic and Flo Saw a Bear at Centaur Theatre Nov. 21 to Dec. 2, and Canadian playwright Jordan Tannahill’s Late Company counters bullying and addresses homophobia, mental health and teen suicide, to Nov. 19 at Mainline Theatre. Creative circus company Nord Nord Est presents the raw energy of Une Chambre de Verre starring acrobat Valérie Doucet, at La Tohu to Nov. 18. Montréal's fall dance scene promises thrilling, contemplative, boundary-pushing shows: Danse Danse presents BC-based Indigenous dance company Dancers of Damelahamid in supernatural story and multimedia performance Flicker, at Place des Arts Nov. 14-18; Tangente's double bill Gender Fluidity by Sébastien Provencher and Manuel Shink looks at queerness, femininity, masculinity and androgyny, at the Wilder Nov. 16-19; Agora de la danse presents Montréal-inspired show Rewriting Distance by Belgian dramaturge Guy Cools and choreographer Lin Snelling, Nov. 15-18 and Paul-André Fortier's Trois, a mosaic of short dances, Nov. 22-25 at the Wilder; and love forms the core of theatrical, musical and audiovisual experience MYTHOMANIA, to Nov. 25 at La Chapelle.

On screen

The 20th annual Montréal International Documentary Festival (RIDM) features 142 films from 47 countries, including world and Quebec premiers, retrospectives, special events, free performances and more to Nov. 19. Mundial Montréal international world music screens documentary film The Africa Express, based on Damon Albarn’s 2012 Africa Express project, on Nov. 17 at Monument National. On Nov. 21, the Phi Centre hosts a conversation with Don Hahn, producer behind The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast, and on Nov. 23 screens comedy Absolute Giganten by Sebastian Schipper. International animation festival Les Sommets du cinéma d’animation features over 30 stunning films, many of them premiers, at the Cinémathèque québécoise Nov. 22-26. And image+nation LGBTQ film festival opens its 30th edition Nov. 23 with Luca Guadagnino's feature Call Me By Your Name. At the Phi Centre, try on a VR headset to see a roster of short films and immersive VR work in Lucid Realities and the Virtual Reality Garden or watch the short films of the Not Short on Talent showcase. Explore space in double feature KYMA – Power of Waves and Edge of Darkness at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, see Amazon 3D in IMAX at the Montréal Science Centre or immerse yourself in high-tech audiovisual spectacle Liquid Architecture by Wiklow, Diagraf and EWERX and Hyperforme by Max Cooper and maotik, at the SAT.

Classical and cultural

The Montréal Bach Festival opens Nov. 17 with Collegium 1704 – Prague at the Maison symphonique followed by pianist Nick van Bloss playing The Goldberg Variations on Saturday at Bourgie Hall, the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal in concert The Magnificence of Bach and Mozart Nov. 21-23 at the Maison symphonique, concerts at Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal and more to Dec. 3 – throughout the festival, lunchtime Mélodines concerts feature young Québec musicians at Place des Arts. In other classical music this fall, Le Choeur Philharmonique du Nouveau Monde sings Mozart's Requiem Nov. 18 at Notre-Dame Basilica, Baroque orchestra Tafelmusik presents J.S. Bach: The Circle of Creation at Bourgie Hall Nov. 21, and Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts the Orchestre Métropolitain in The French Touch on Nov. 22 at the Maison symphonique.

More live music

Mundial Montréal, an international world music forum with a professional track plus spectacular performances, wraps up on Friday with the exciting Afro-latin sounds of Kobo Town and Roberto López at Groove Nation plus an RPM Live after party, while the M for Montréal music festival shines with shows on Friday by Alvvays at Club Soda, Ralph, Darcys and Boniface at Petit Campus, Thus: Owls at La Vitrola and a late-night show with Del The Funky Homosapien and opener Lou Phelps at the Cabaret du Casino de Montréal, followed on Saturday by Yamantaka // Sonic Titan at Le Ministère, Rymz and David Lee at Club Soda, Deradoorian at La Vitrola and more great shows.

Electronic music duo ODESZA transports us for two nights, Nov. 17-18 at MTelus, with NY duo Sofi Tukker opening – later on Friday night, Sofi Tukker play a DJ set at Newspeak. Also on Friday, dance to the electro of Polo & Pan at the SAT. On Saturday, spend an evening with the music of Yasmine Hamdan at L'Astral, dance to the sounds of German producer Robin Schulz at New City Gas, and that 90s afterhours vibe returns in special event One Night At Sona at Théâtre Paradoxe. On Sunday, pop singer-songwriter Poppy performs at L'Astral with a DJ set by Charlotte the Mannequin and Hey Ocean play an intimate show at Casa del Popolo. American blues-rock singer-songwriter and guitarist Joe Bonamassa wows at the Bell Centre on Nov. 20. Tuesday night's massive with Jay-Z at the Bell Centre and Yelawolf and Mikey Mike at MTelus. On Nov. 22, hear the electronic beats of Ekali and Josh Pan at Théâtre Fairmount, folk-rock soulfulness with Whitehorse and Terra Lightfoot at Petit Campus, and Australian electronic group Cut Copy at Théâtre Corona. Legendary music comes alive in tribute concert The Simon & Garfunkel Story at Théâtre St-Denis Nov. 22-23. Also on Thursday, Nov. 23, see British singer-songwriter and chart-topper Dua Lipa with opener Marteen at MTelus, POP Montréal presents the return of Land of Talk and the band's new album Life After Youth, plus opening act Casper Skulls at the Phi Centre, while Suuns & Jerusalem In My Heart collaborate in a unique show, with openers Oiseaux-Tempête at La Sala Rossa.

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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