Things to do in Montréal – October 11 to 17, 2019

It's Canadian Thanksgiving this week and Montréal's ready for a long weekend. Enjoy autumn's vibrant colours at illuminated outdoor events Gardens of Light and Feux Follets. Let performances by Cirque Éloize and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal awe you. Experience the new art of MOMENTA | Biennale de l'image and more museum and gallery exhibitions. See new and classic films at Festival du nouveau cinéma. Listen to all kinds of live music and even go dancing until dawn.

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Thanksgiving activities

If you're spending Thanksgiving in Montréal, we've got ideas on how to spend your Thanksgiving long weekend, including festive meals, strolls through the parks to see Montréal's fall colours, great entertainment and fun harvest-season activities like the Montréal Botanical Garden's family event The Great Pumpkin Ball with pumpkin decorating, storytelling and a Halloween play area. More family activities await in the Old Port of Montréal: climb on high-ropes course Voiles en Voiles, ride the MTL Zipline and explore the area while playing family-friendly augmented reality escape game Horos. Meanwhile, amusement park La Ronde's Halloween-themed Fright Fest event continues all month.

Coinciding with the holiday, Tourisme Montréal turned 100 last week! We've made a list of 100 creative things to do in celebration of the city's inventive spirit. Get a bird's eye view of Montréal from the Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown, La Grande Roue de Montréal in the Old Port, and the observatory at the top of the Montréal Tower at Olympic Park. 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).


Urban illumination

Montréal brightens the autumn night with truly illuminating events. Gardens of Light fills the Montréal Botanical Garden's Chinese, Japanese and First Nations gardens with glittering hand-made lanterns and multimedia creations. Traditional Chinese lanterns meet Montréal’s signature magic at new event Feux Follets, an immersive journey through Parc Jean-Drapeau, featuring holograms, shadow art, 3D animation and even dancing drones until October 31.

In downtown's Quartier des spectacles until October 14, watch your voice turn to light in the electronic wavelengths of interactive art installation Spectrum in Place de la Paix, while nearby Wind Instrument (next to Saint-Laurent metro station) amplifies the ambient sounds of the city. After dark, watch the façade of UQAM’s Pavillon Président-Kennedy for the geometric projection art of Caroline Monnet's Mooniyang, inspired by traditional Anishinaabe pattern. Visit Notre-Dame Basilica to see multimedia show AURA and by night in Old Montréal search out the projections of Cité Mémoire on building facades.


Food and drink

The Esplanade of the Olympic Park green space and café Les Jardineries closes out the season on October 11 – join the party for live music, wood-oven-made pizza, drinks and fun for all ages. If you're in the Old Port of Montréal, stop by seasonal outdoor market Marché des Éclusiers and discover more of what's in season at Jean-Talon Market and Atwater Market. DIY your own Oktoberfest tour at these inventive Montréal microbreweries. And explore the city to discover some of Montréal's hidden gems, including excellent restaurants off the beaten track.

Get a taste of Montréal at these five restaurants with amazing chefs crafting unique dishes, from classic French menus to ground-breaking Asian cuisine. Go for a dinner cruise on the St. Lawrence River with Croisières AML or Bateau-Mouche! Or get into the Sin City spirit at Welcome to Vegas at the Casino de Montréal, with special cocktails and dishes fit for the King, plus showgirls, drag queens, a wedding chapel and more until October 12. Explore more of Montréal and its culinary delights on Montréal's best food tours. If you're here in early November, book your table now for major Montréal culinary event MTLàTABLE.


Sports and outdoor adventures

Fall also marks the start of the official NHL season: cheer on the Montréal Canadiens at home this week with games against the St. Louis Blues on October 12, Tampa Bay Lightning on October 15 and the Minnesota Wild on October 17 at the Bell Centre. Catch a CFL football game with the Montréal Alouettes and Winnipeg Bluebombers on October 12 at Percival-Molson Memorial Stadium.

Take a bike ride through city streets and parks – consult our guide to bike paths, bicycle rentals, BIXI and all things biking in Montréal. You can camp in a cabin-like tent with Huttopia in nearby Parc national des Îles-de-Boucherville. Go hiking, canoeing or fishing on an adventure with nature guides Bonjour Nature – their day trips take you outside Montréal to the Lanaudière region and beyond. Head to Saint-Sauveur and Mont Tremblant in the Laurentian Mountains with Express du Nord's affordable trips. And take a day trip to orchard Verger Labonté to find your way through its massive galaxy-themed corn labyrinths.

On stage

Cirque Éloize's creation Serge Fiori, Seul Ensemble is a must see for its circus arts set to the music of the artist at Théâtre St-Denis from September 26 to October 20. Another excellent artistic circus show with a rock-music twist is Cirque Alfonse's Tabarnak at La TOHU from October 2 to 12. And Yonder Window Theatre Company’s The Dream Project is a contemporary circus version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream – see the international production from October 9 to 13 at Universcène.

Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal present Carl Orff's Carmina Burana & Giovanni Battista Pergolesi's Stabat MATER, viscerally choreographed by Edward Clug, from October 3 to 19 at Place des Arts. Agora de la danse presents Van Grimde Corps Secrets' AI-focused EVE 2050 from October 8 to 11. As part of the Altérité, pas à pas! festival, Tangente presents Moroccan choreographer Taoufiq Izeddiou's Borderlines and Nasim Lootij and Kiasa Nazeran's La Chute from October 10 to 13, followed by Elad Schechter's Premiere from October 17 to 20. The Phénomena festival presents experimental performances from October 5 to 20, including Stéphane Crête's NUMAIN at Théâtre La Chapelle and Jacqueline Van De Geer and Michael Martini's Hold It, Kiss It, Squeeze It.

A woman's life turns upside down in drama-comedy Alice and the World We Live In from October 15 to November 3 at Centaur Theatre. Persephone Productions present Blue Stockings, a witty late-Victorian era story of four young women at Cambridge University fighting for self-determination and the right to receive higher education. On Friday, October 11, watch the incredibly funny Montreal Strip Spelling Bee! - OMGoth Edition at MainLine Theatre followed from October 17 to November 2 by Richard O'Brien's The Rocky Horror Show live musical. Meanwhile, several Gay Village stages light up with world-class drag shows in Montréal.

On screen

The 48th Festival du nouveau cinéma continues this week with Atom Egoyan's new feature film Guest of Honour, Pain and Glory by Pedro Almodovar, François Girard's The Song of Names, a night dedicated to the first four Alien films on October 12, free multimedia and VR works at FNC EXPLORE in Complexe Desjardins, and more. The festival screens new and classic features, shorts and multimedia projects, and includes presentations and workshops, “P'tits Loups” weekend children's programming, live music and more until October 20.

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 long-running Cinéma du Parc. See art in virtual reality in the Phi Centre's VR Cinema: Short Films on Canvas. The Montréal Science Centre presents IMAX films and hands-on science exhibitions and activities such as Health from Head to Toe. 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.


Art for everyone

The multi-venue MOMENTA | Biennale de l'image presents exhibitions, workshops and events under this year's theme of “The Life of Things” until October 13, including Alinka Echeverría's Simulacra at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Francis Alÿs: Children's Games at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, Celia Perrin Sidarous: The Archivist at the McCord Museum and multi-artist exhibitions at Galerie de l'UQAM, VOX and several other venues. 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, while Untamed Colour: Celebrating Jean McEwen pays homage to the Montréal painter.

Also at the McCord Museum see SDING K’AWXANGS – Haida: Supernatural Stories and historic photography exhibition Montréal at work along McGill College Avenue. La Guilde presents exhibition Nunatsiavut / Our Beautiful Land featuring work by 25 artists from Nunatsiavut, the Inuit region of Labrador. At the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Our Happy Life looks at measurements of happiness. Mile-Ex gallery and cultural space Never Apart opens its fall exhibitions this week – among them see the dreamlike visions of Cosmic Manifestations, the meditative Infinite Light and MAPP_MTL's video “micro mapping.” The Musée des maîtres et artisans du Québec presents two new exhibitions, Escales de murmures and Permanence & transfiguration. And there's more art to discover while gallery hopping and antiquing in the city.


History near and far

At Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex, experience multimedia exhibition Generations MTL, cabinet of curiosities Into the Wonder Room and food-related royal history show Dinner is served! French Gastronomy at its Best. 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, you can also explore the old fort that houses five centuries of day-to-day life in New France in exhibition History and Memory. 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.

Château Ramezay features autumn activities like outdoor exhibition Pick a Peck of Pumpkins in the Governor’s Garden, as well as World War I exhibition WAR Flowers. At the Museum of Jewish Montreal see multimedia exhibition Iraqi Jewish Voices. The city's Irish roots also run deep – discover Irish Montréal through landmarks and more – as does Montréal's Scottish history. Tour Montréal architectural icon Moshe Safdie's Habitat 67. Écomusée du fier monde presents Raconte-moi Centre-Sud, stories and photographs about the neighbourhood – and on October 17, the Flavours of History! culinary event pairs local apple cider with a variety of excellent dishes. 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.

Classical and jazz live music

Legendary American jazz pianist Chick Corea headlines Maison symphonique de Montréal on October 16. L'OFF Festival de jazz de Montréal features eclectic jazz artists from Montréal and around the world from October 3 to 12 – during the weekend, catch Viñu-Vinu, bassist Frédéric Alarie, saxophonist Samuel Blais' Equilibrium, and closing concert The Mystic Mind Suite by L'Orchestre National de Jazz de Montréal with Jean-Nicolas Trottier. Explore iconic Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal, where you can hear a by-donation organ concert by James Mellichamp on October 13 presented by the CIOC as well as concerts at Christ Church Cathedral on October 11 and at Le Grand Séminaire de Montréal on October 13. And pianist Denis Matsuev performs Liszt and Stravinsky at Maison symphonique on October 13.

More live music

Dance all weekend at the 29th Black & Blue Festival's parties. Also on Friday night, Pink Floyd fans come out for The Australian Pink Floyd Show at the Bell Centre. Swedish melodic death metal band Amon Amarth and opener Arch Enemy get heavy at MTELUS and hardcore heaviness comes to Club Soda with Despised Icon. Saturday night brings folk-pop singer-songwriter Noah Kahan to Corona Theatre, British indie-pop makers Kero Kero Bonito to Théâtre Fairmount, guitar master and multi-instrumentalist Sullivan King with opener Charlie Zane to Le National, British rebel musician Bishop Briggs and Miya Folick to Club Soda, Brooklyn producer Moon Boots to Le Belmont plus electronic dance music of Marc Rebillet and Radiant Baby at the Society for Arts and Technology. Factory-turned-dance-club New City Gas hosts a long weekend of electronic dance music with Belgian producer Lost Frequencies on Friday night, Joyryde on Saturday and Quavo (of Migos) on Sunday.

Also on Sunday, settle in for the sounds of Finnish psychedelic black metal band Oranssi Pazuzu and the great Insect Ark at Ritz P.D.B. Tuesday, October 15 features English electro-pop singer-songwriter Charli XCX and Allie X at Corona Theatre, indie roots-folk band Big Thief and Palehound at La Tulipe, and Aussie rockers The Lazys at l'Escogriffe Bar Spectacle. On Wednesday night, catch acoustic post-rock trio City Of The Sun and Old Sea Brigade at Petit Campus. And on Thursday, don't miss legendary electronic duo Thievery Corporation and Karl Denson's Tiny Universe at MTELUS, plus singer-songwriter Sabrina Claudio and Gallant at Corona Theatre, Benjamin Francis Leftwich and Abraham Alexander at Café Campus, and benefit Concert for Dignity 2019 with star musicians Gregory Charles, Kim Richardson and Lulu Hughes performing classic songs from the '50s to '70s at Maison symphonique. 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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