Things to do in Montréal – November 22 to 28, 2019

Montréal launches into the holiday season this week with Saturday's Santa Claus Parade, Christmas markets and the glittering interactive art of Luminothérapie. Indoors, don't miss illuminating art and museum exhibitions, contemporary flamenco by La Otra Orilla and more new dance and theatre, local and international film at the Montreal International Documentary Festival and image+nation, hockey games and more. Indulge in incredible food at restaurants citywide. And scroll down for details on the Montréal Bach Festival, music fest M for Montréal and more live music.

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Holiday festivities

It's late November and the season for holiday gift shopping and visits with Santa has officially arrived in Montréal! Get in the Christmas spirit at the annual Santa Claus Parade on November 23 – the family event begins at 11 a.m. along René-Lévesque Boulevard between Guy and Saint-Urbain Streets. Nearby, experience the magic of Santa's Kingdom, where kids can ride a mini train and carousel, visit Santa and watch performances. Also for families, Exporail / The Canadian Railway Museum hosts Railway Christmas from November 22 to January 5, with train rides, Christmas trees, cookie decorating and Santa visits. And play with the bright, colourful and musical creatures of interactive artwork POP! by Montréal creative studio Gentilhomme, created for this year's Luminothérapie at Place des Festivals, opening on November 28.

Also getting us into the holiday spirit are holiday markets, packed with great gift ideas and unique souvenirs: visit the Pop-Up Market – Collectif Créatif Etsy Montréal at Windsor Station from November 21 to 23; the Marché de Noël on November 23 and 24 for traditional foods, holiday décor and handcrafted items; designer home goods and fashion market souk from November 27 to December 1 at the RCA Building; and the glittering Nutcracker Market (organized by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal) from November 28 to December 8 at the Palais des congrès. And it's time for the holidays at the Casino de Montréal too – enjoy classic Christmas concert Un Noël magique from November 24 to December 19.

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November activities

Catch the Montréal Canadiens at home this week against the New York Rangers on November 23, the Boston Bruins on November 26 and the New Jersey Devils on November 28 at the Bell Centre. Visit Notre-Dame Basilica (one of many Montréal churches featuring cultural activities) to see multimedia show AURA and by night in Old Montréal search out the projections of Cité Mémoire on building facades. And the Salon du livre de Montréal book fair highlights the best writing in Québec, including events for youth and bilingual Quebec Writers' Federation events, from November 20 to 25 at Place Bonaventure.

Take a scenic walk and look out on the snowy city from Mount Royal Park or the Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown, La Grande Roue de Montréal in the Old Port or the observatory at the top of the Montréal Tower at Olympic Park. Montréal shines bright after dark too: in downtown's Quartier des spectacles, see the geometric projection art of Caroline Monnet's Mooniyang, inspired by traditional Anishinaabe patterns, on until November 24. And if you're feeling cold, warm up at Montréal's best spas. No matter what the weather, kids will be busy (and not bored!) with these entertaining indoor family activities. Whether you're in Montréal for a long weekend or a week, plot your visit with My Official Montréal City Guide (and save with the MTL Sweet Deal!).

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Food and drink

Get a taste of Montréal at these 5 restaurants with amazing chefs crafting unique dishes, from classic French menus to ground-breaking Asian cuisine. Or try these great casual restaurants. Discover what's in season at Jean-Talon Market and Atwater Market, while these inventive Montréal microbreweries craft seasonal beers to join their classic line-ups. And explore more of Montréal and its culinary delights on Montréal's best food tours or discover some of Montréal's hidden gems, including excellent restaurants off the beaten track.

Located right downtown in Eaton Centre on Sainte-Catherine Street, the brand new Time Out Market is officially open – try fantastic food by local culinary creators, including chef Paul Toussaint, Montréal Plaza Deli, Le Club Chasse et Pêche and many more. And put on your sparkliest outfit and get ready to boogie under the giant disco ball at the Casino de Montréal's We've got the funk event from November 4 to December 21 – enjoy a special three-course meal, bubbly cocktails and an incredible show by a variety of singers, dancers and musicians performing 50 years of funk and disco hits.

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On stage

Renowned contemporary flamenco company La Otra Orilla contrasts a tale of winter with the heat of flamenco in Magnetikae, presented by Danse Danse at Place des Arts from November 19 to 23. Come From Away tells the remarkable true story of 7,000 stranded passengers and the small town in Newfoundland that welcomed them, from November 26 to December 1 at Place des Arts. See the world premiere of Tableau D'Hôte Theatre's Winter’s Daughter, inspired by the family history of Montréal barber Gino Chiarella, from November 27 to December 8 at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts. Youth-focused Geordie Theatre presents the transformative story of Persephone Bound at D.B. Clark Theatre from November 15 to 24. Outrageous puppet master Ronnie Burkett returns to Montréal with Little Dickens, a naughty remix of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at Centaur Theatre, while the Centaur Children's Series features the Lost & Found Puppet Co. show Journey on November 23 at 10:30 a.m.

Théâtre du Trillium questions the contemporary art scene while turning theatrical expectations upside down and merging virtual and physical realities in Jeff Koons from November 20 to 23 at the Phi Centre. Known for immersive performances, The Other Theatre combines theatre, dance and polyphonic singing in All Flesh is Grass, a meditation on randomness on Earth and in the ever-expanding universe, from November 13 to 30 at Espace Knox. Using theatrical illusions, puppets and ghostly architecture Out Innerspace Dance Theatre's Bygones creates an otherworldly zone, at Agora de la danse from November 27 to 30. Choreographers Liliane Moussa and Caroline St-Laurent present Nadia, est-ce que ça va? while Tess Martens presents Slow Change, at Tangente from November 21 to 24. Laugh out loud and sing along to hit songs of the ‘60s to ‘80s at Shaggypup Productions' Menopause The Musical at Centaur Theatre from November 21 to 23. And in the Gay Village, stages light up with world-class drag shows in Montréal.

On screen

Two international film festivals shine bright this week in Montréal. The Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM) screens 154 auteur documentary films from 47 countries  from November 14 to 24 and also features free discussions, activities, interactive and free-of-charge UXdoc Space at the Cinémathèque québécoise, a documentary series for kids on November 24, and more. The 32nd Montréal International LGBT Film Festival, image+nation, screens the best of queer cinema from around the world, from November 21 to December 1, including Swedish-Georgian drama (and Cannes Film Festival hit) And Then We Danced, Italian drama Zen in the Ice Rift, Chilean film The Prince (El Principe) and more features, shorts and documentaries.

Experience the contemporary VR artistry of the Cadavre exquis exhibition, featuring work by Marina Abramovi, Olafur Eliasson, Laurie Anderson, Antony Gormley, Paul McCarthy and other artists, at the Phi Centre – also visit the VR Cinema to see films by artists Anish Kapoor, Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg, Jakob Kudsk Steensen and Mali Arun. Experience the magic of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince™ In Concert with a live orchestra at Place des Arts on November 22 and 23. In the Society for Arts and Technology's 360° dome, families can experience immersive audiovisual creation Sphere by German composer Robot Koch and French artist Mickael Le Goff, on November 23. Explore the universe at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, featuring science-meets-multimedia shows Planet Nine, Secrets of Gravity, EXO, POLARIS, Continuum and Aurōrae as well as Mice and the Moon for younger kids. The Montréal Science Centre presents IMAX film Great Bear Rainforest 3D and hands-on science exhibitions such as Health from Head to Toe. Among Montréal's great indie cinemas, see art-house, documentaries, Québécois, cult films and more at Mile End's Cinéma Moderne, the Cinémathèque québécoise, Cinéma du Musée at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and at long-running Cinéma du Parc.

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Art for everyone

At the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Untamed Colour: Celebrating Jean McEwen pays homage to the Montréal painter, plus weekend tours and art workshops for families are availalbe. See Francis Alÿs: Children's Games, a survey of works by prominent Montréal painter Janet Werner and more at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal. The Fondation Phi pour l’art contemporain presents music-oriented installations and video work by British artist Phil Collins exploring how we participate in popular culture, while Eva and Franco Mattes dissect, test and redefine the boundaries of the Internet in video and sculptural works. At the McCord Museum see retrospective exhibition Jean-Claude Poitras: Fashion and Inspiration, Celia Perrin Sidarous: The Archivist and the holiday season magic of Enchanted Worlds, recreating the magic of Ogilvy's department store window displays.

Galerie de l’UQAM presents Le déploiement, an exhibition of works focused on the Canadian Far North by photographer and video artist Emmanuelle Léonard. The Leonard & Bina Ellen Gallery presents ᓄᓇᙳᐊᓕᐅᕐᓂᖅ ᓄᓇᕐᔪᐊᙳᐊᓂᒃ Mapping of the World by Nunavut-based artist Shuvinai Ashoona. At La Guilde see exhibition Nunatsiavut / Our Beautiful Land until November 24, featuring work by 25 artists from Nunatsiavut, the Inuit region of Labrador. At the Canadian Centre for Architecture, see Building a new New WorldAmerikanizm in Russian Architecture, as well as Second Life and Rough Cuts and Outtakes, showcasing the work of Gordon Matta-Clark. The Museum of Jewish Montreal presents Return to The Fortress by Julie Gladstone. In Mile End, Centre CLARK showcases new work by Jeanne Marsh, Ingrid Tremblay and Karina Pawlikowski. Mile-Ex gallery and cultural space Never Apart features new art in its fall exhibitions. Montréal artist and radio personality (you might know him from CBC's Wiretap) Howard Chackowicz launches his illustrated book Nothing To See Here on November 28 at Monastiraki in Mile End. And there's more art to discover while gallery hopping and antiquing in the city.

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History near and far

Montréal is also a must for history buffs. One of this fall's major exhibitions, the British Museum's Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives makes its North American premiere at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, reconstructing the lives of six Egyptians who lived along the Nile from about 900 BC to AD 180. Experience multimedia show Generations MTL, cabinet of curiosities Into the Wonder Room and more at Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex. The Stewart Museum's new Nights exhibition lets visitors explore the fiction-meets-reality of four night worlds created by Québec writers Heather O’Neill, Simon Boulerice, Dominique Demers and Éric Dupont – while at the museum, peek into day-to-day life in New France in History and Memory. Château Ramezay offers a glimpse into New France and features World War I exhibition WAR Flowers.

Among the city's other family-friendly museums, the Musée de Lachine illuminates 350 years of history, wax museum Grévin MONTRÉAL features Québécois and international celebrities past and present, and the free Barbie Expo shows off Barbie's fashion transformations through the decades. Discover Irish Montréal and Montréal's Scottish history through historic landmarks and more. Read all about jazz in Montréal, from the Roaring Twenties to today. And pick up some historic and present-day facts about Montréal that even some locals might not know.

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Classical music

The Montréal Bach Festival officially begins with Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin AKAMUS performing Bach's Orchestral Suites on November 22 and 23, continuing with a free concert by organist Shin-Young Lee on November 24 at Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal, while that evening harpsichordist Luc Beauséjour and ensemble perform at Chapellle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, followed by a week of performances at Bourgie Concert Hall by Pallade Musica ensemble, pianist Jean Rondeau and pianists Yaara Tal & Andreas Groethuysen, plus Léon Berben & Johannes Pramsohler on November 27 at Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours. The Conservatoire de musique de Montréal presents classics by Bernstein and Gershwin in Les visages de l’Amérique at Maison symphonique de Montréal on November 22. Sing the music of Handel's Messiah in a free Opéra de Montréal workshop on November 23 at 1 p.m. at Place des Arts' Espace Culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme. And Kent Nagano conducts the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal in Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4, "Romantic" and more on November 27 and 28 at Maison symphonique.

More live music

World music festival and summit Mundial Montréal pairs Montréal's musical and cultural diversity with the world's from November 19 to 22, closing the festival on Friday with a free afternoon showcase at MTELUS, an evening performance by Mamselle Ruiz, a 15th anniversary party for Nomadic Massive, and a genre-spanning LayLit afterparty. Meanwhile, festival M for Montréal fills major venues citywide from November 20 to 23 with established and emerging artists who fuse pop, electronic, hip hop and more, including numerous free showcases and ticketed shows by Corridor, Absolutely Free, Odonis Odonis, Maybe Watson and many more artists. Also on Friday night, Céline Dion stuns with her spectacular voice and a stage show to match in her final night of shows at the Bell Centre. Party with L.A. rockers Allah-Las at Corona Theatre, indie-electro-pop artists Rich Aucoin and Petra Glynt at O Patro Vys, Australian pop punk band With Confidence at L’Astral, and electronic dance music producers Mikey Lion, Lee Reynolds, Marbs and Porky at the Society for Arts and Technology.

Saturday's a wild one with the electronic music of Eptic and Tynan at the Society for Arts and Technology and NYC-based Irish producer Krystal Klear at Newspeak, plus iconic Latin pop-hip-hop artist Becky G performs live at New City Gas, ska punk band Big D & The Kids Table at Café Campus, power pop band Charly Bliss at Ritz P.D.B., and modern-day British crooner Mark Kingswood at Place des Arts. On Sunday, see rapper Lil Tjay at Corona Theatre, Collie Buddz at Corona Theatre, and Australian electronic band Miami Horror at L’Astral, while Australian folk-rock artist Kim Churchill plays Le Ministère on Sunday and Monday night. Tuesday, November 26 features the southern roots and globally-influenced music of Rising Appalachia at L’Astral, and California prog rock band Chon at Corona Theatre. On Wednesday, catch the Jonas Brothers’ Happiness Begins Tour with Bebe Rexha and Jordan McGraw at the Bell Centre, The Pineapple Thief feat. Gavin Harrison at Corona Theatre, post-hardcore band Our Last Night at Club Soda, British musician-producer Kamaal Williams at Théâtre Fairmount, Mac Ayres at L’Astral, Rich The Kid at L'Olympia. And Thursday brings rockers Big Wreck to Corona Theatre, the heavy country sounds of Amigo The Devil to Petit Campus, slide guitar master Jack Broadbent to L’Astral,  and Algerian rapper Soolking to L'Olympia.

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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