Things to do in Montréal this October 2021

Robyn Fadden

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.

As Montréal’s landscape turns from a gorgeous summer greenery into bright oranges, reds and yellows, autumn activities abound in every corner of the city. Take a walk or bike ride through the parks or pick up a pumpkin at the market. Indulge in creative seasonal MTLàTABLE meals, Thanksgiving feasts and even a beer festival! October music festival Osheaga Get Together brings music to Parc Jean-Drapeau, while film festivals like Festival nouveau cinéma bring the world to Montréal screens. Indoors, explore new exhibitions at Montréal’s museums and art galleries, watch new theatre and dance, listen to live music, and even catch a hockey game!

Fall activities

Whether you’re exploring Montréal with your sweetheart, taking a solo trip or having a family adventure in Montréal, October’s activities are sure to suit. As the leaves fall and the seasons change, go out and explore Montréal's many parks and green spaces big and small, or try apple picking, corn maze walking and other fall harvest activities. See incredible city views in Mount Royal Park or reconnect with nature at the Montréal Botanical Garden – visit at night to walk through the Gardens of Light!

In the heart of downtown Montréal, explore the Quartier des spectacles to see the photographed faces of Montrealers in Les Visages de Montréal, large-scale collages in Place des Arts, Complexe Desjardins and several other cultural venues. Also downtown, Art Souterrain’s CRÉER DES PONTS installs 60 new works of public art in storefronts and transparent “exhibition cubes” until October 15. And at the end of the month, watch out for all kinds of Halloween installations and activities citywide!

October festivals

Montréal’s fall festivals showcase the tremendous talent and entertainment the city has to offer, whether on outdoor stages, in indoor venues or online. The Osheaga Get Together makes music in Parc Jean-Drapeau from October 1 to 3, with live performances by Charlotte Cardin, Jessie Reyez, Half Moon Run and many more artists. The 17th Montréal International Black Film Festival screens 134 films from 30 countries from September 22 to October 3, while the largest general-interest international film festival in Québec and the oldest in Canada, Festival du nouveau cinéma celebrates its 50th season this year from October 6 to 17. And Montréal’s Korean Film Festival Canada screens films and hosts talks in person and online from September 30 to October 30.

For anyone who loves local beer, the Montréal Beer Fest is ready to serve up over 500 products from 90 breweries, from October 7 to 10. The Montréal OFF Jazz Festival returns with live jazz at Place des Arts and several other venues from September 30 to October 9. Vision Diversité presents live music at MUZ at L’Astral downtown every evening from October 7 to 10. In several of Montréal’s galleries and museums, the international Momenta Biennale showcases new contemporary art, including an Indigenous-led outdoor garden and augmented reality route in public space, from September 8 to October 24. For health and safety reasons, tickets are limited for all festivals, so purchase them in advance!

Autumn city sights

Watch the seasons change before your eyes while sightseeing in Montréal this month. In Old Montréal and the Old Port of Montréal, walk along the riverside boardwalk or see the entire city on the Observation Wheel. Relax at Bota Bota, spa sur l’eau and other world-class spas. Or zip over the the port on the Tyrolienne MTL Zipline! Take an eco-friendly daytime cruise with Petit Navire, have dinner on the river with Bateau-Mouche, or indulge your need for speed by jet boating with Saute-Moutons and Jet Saint-Laurent.

Explore some of Montréal’s distinct neighbourhoods, from Hochelega and Rosemont in the east to Outremont and Westmount in the west. Learn more about the Montréal’s unique history and culture on private walking tours with knowledgeable local companies or go on a Portrait Sonore sound walk downtown and on the Mountain. And hunt for more public art everywhere in the city. When the weather’s right, see the city from two wheels, whether on your own bike, a rental bike, with a bike tour, or on a BIXI shared bike. Explore further afield on these bucket-list bike rides.

And check out the pro-sports sights this season too: see the Montréal Canadiens on the ice at the Bell Centre against the Ottawa Senators on October 2 and 7, and the Rangers, Sharks, Hurricanes and Red Wings later in the month; go to a CF Montréal soccer game on October 2 and 16 at Stade Saputo or catch CFL team the Montréal Alouettes in action on October 11, 22 and 30 at Molson Stadium.

Fall family time

Just outside the city, walk through a corn maze or go apple picking until mid-October (or find a pumpkin patch in time for Halloween!) Autumn activities also abound at the Biodôme, where the antics of animals are always a hit with families. Next door, the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium's immersive films and interactive exhibitions offer a glimpse into the secrets of the universe (purchase fixed-time tickets online ahead of time). A few steps away on the esplanade of Olympic Park, skateboard at Vans Skatepark. Visit Parc Jean-Drapeau, where the famed geodesic Biosphère, Environment Museum recently reopened with new exhibitions. Or visit the Ecomuseum Zoo to see local wildlife in their natural habitats.

In the Old Port of Montréal, climb high at the Voiles en Voiles adventure park every weekend in October, wander through the SOS Labyrinthe, or visit the newly reopened Montréal Science Centre for science activities, interactive experiments and 3D IMAX films. And add extra adrenaline to your month at La Ronde amusement park, where things get spooky scary on Halloween weekend!

Seasonal food and drink

Along with fall harvest activities at Jean-Talon MarketAtwater Market and other markets in Montréal and farms just outside the city, autumn is truly in the air menus at local restaurants. This year’s MTLàTABLE restaurant event, until October 11, offers table-d’hôte menus for every budget, a Montréal foodies program (with prizes!) And dine in your favourite neighbourhoods, indoors or on a terrasse downtown and in Old Montréal, or get take out for a picnic in the park. Whether you’re dining in person or ordering take-out and delivery, seasonal food, Thanksgiving meals and classic dishes are all on the menu at Montréal’s many restaurants and cafés.

In Chinatown, don’t miss the final weekend of the Asian Night Market from October 1 to 3. Until the weather becomes cold, enjoy a meal and drinks at Montréal’s many restaurant and bar terraces, whether on main streets where you can watch the world go by, on fabulous patios in the Village, tucked away on hidden terrasses, or in the midst of greenery on Montréals lushest garden patios. Or sit next to the water at Marché des Éclusiers and Terrasses Bonsecours in the Old Port, Canal Lounge on a barge by Atwater market, and many more! And see Montréal from a new perspective with sweet deals at local hotels, with restaurant meals to match.

Get your caffeine fix at Montréal's indie coffee shops and the best iced coffee in Montréal. Get a pastry to go with it at Montréal's best bakeries and pastry shops or try fresh-baked doughnuts! Sample chocolate creations at the best chocolate shops, indulge your sweet tooth at local candy shops or pick up other musts for foodies in Montréal. By night, these bars give us a taste of the tropics – or mix cocktails at home with gin, vodka, rum and more specialty spirits from these Montréal specialty alcohol and spirit makers. For the beer lovers, pick up these Montréal beers to drink this summer or a unique six pack from inventive Montréal microbreweries

Local retail therapy

As the season changes so does fashion: find a new look for yourself, your family or home in Montréal, where there’s something stylish for everyone, including unique clothing and accessories made by Montréal designers. Relax with these self-care staples or redecorate with these home decor musts. Buy that perfect piece of jewelry for your loved one – or yourself! – at the coolest Montréal jewelry stores or the SOUK HABITAT on the 20th floor of Place Ville Marie. Shop local and eco-friendly at the most fabulous vintage boutiques in the city.

Go shopping for clothing, accessories and more in Old Montréal, downtown on Sainte-Catherine Street, at the new Holt Renfrew Ogilvy and in the underground city's Centre EatonPlace Montréal TrustCours Mont-RoyalPlace Ville Marie or the Complexe Desjardins. Or check out the boutiques along Mont Royal Avenue, in Mile End and throughout the city. And fill your home with Montréal-focused books from Montréal’s bookstores and music from Montréal's excellent vinyl stores.

October exhibitions and experiences

Autumn art is all new at Montréal’s many museums and art galleries. Visit the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to see themed exhibition How long does it take for one voice to reach another?, highlighting major works in the Museum's permanent collection that touch on subjects that have affected us all over the past year, Ecologies: A Song for Our Planet, as well as exhibitions that are part of the multi-venue MOMENTA Biennale de l’image and new online experience, Resonsances – and don’t miss solo shows of work by great photographer Yousuf Karsh and Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson. As the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal transitions through renovations, it offers online exhibitions like the immersive Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything, a recreation of the MAC’s monumental show.

Explore space and the International Space Station in The Infinite, the world’s largest multisensory and interactive VR experience created by the Phi Centre and Felix & Paul Studios, at Arsenal Contemporary Art. The Phi Centre illuminates the invisible in immersive multi-sensory installation We Live in an Ocean of Air. At the Phi Foundation for Contemporary Art, explore large-scale, multidisciplinary exhibition Larry Achiampong’s Relic Traveller: Where You and I Come From, We Know That We Are Not Here Forever.

At the Grand Quai du Port de Montréal until the end of October, catch Divina Dali, 101 works by Salvador Dalí illustrating Dante's Divina Commedia. Among many free things to do this fall, see new exhibitions at Never Apart in Little Italy, Bradley Ertaskiran in St. Henri, Ellephant downtown, and many, many other amazing art galleries in every neighbourhood – find out more in our Montréal guide to gallery hopping and these affordable places to buy contemporary art.

History past and present

History buffs of all ages will love Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex whether in person or online: see exhibitions Italian Montréal, tracing the journey of Italo-Montrealers from the early 20th century, kid-friendly interactive display Come Aboard! Pirates or Privateers?, fantastical new exhibition It’s Circus time!, opening October 13, and more. At the McCord Museum don’t miss Exquisite Score by Caroline Monnet and Laura Ortman, works by cartoonist Chapleau, outdoor exhibition All Together, guided historical tours and new permanent exhibition Indigenous Voices of Today: Knowledge, Trauma, Resilience.

See exhibitions Middleground: Siting Dispossession and The Design of Carpets That Design Us at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. Or go back in time with the Château Ramezay exhibition 1812: Objects to Discover and seasonal show Pick a Peck of Pumpkins. Take a historic walking tour, like Beyond the Bagel Food Tour and Making their Mark, a tour of Jewish Montréal, with the Museum of Jewish Montreal. And discover the vivid history and present of Québec ceramics at the Musée des métiers d'arts du Québec.

On stage

The new fall season of theatre, dance and other creative performance continues throughout October! In theatre, the Segal Centre presents poignant and humorous one-man show Every Brilliant Thing, from October 24 to November 14. Manolis Antoniou and his Boulouki Theatre tackle issues of individualism – with the help of a potato – in The Future Is Another Country from September 28 to October 9 at Montréal, arts interculturels. La Chapelle announces a new season of multidisciplinary performances, featuring Geneviève et Matthieu’s M. Gros and Josiane Bernier and Nicolas Cantin’s Catapulte this October.

In dance, don’t miss Sylvain Émard’s Prelude #1  - The Circle and Prelude #2 - The Square performed by multiple dancers outdoors in the Place des Arts Esplanade on October 2 and 3.

Danse Danse presents Ebnflōh, choreographed by Alexandra ‘Spicey’ Landé, on October 5 and 9 at Place des Arts. Les Grands Ballets presents Mauro Bigonzetti's The Four Seasons as well as a new collaboration with choreographer Edouard Lock and Rule 26 ½ by choreographer Gaby Baars, from October 14 to 23. Danse Danse presents Alan Lake’s L’effritement des parades on October 19 and 23 at Place des Arts. And see a new season of contemporary dance in person at Agora de la danse and Tangente all month.

On screen

The Montréal International Black Film Festival screens 134 films from 30 countries from September 22 to October 3. Montréal’s Korean Film Festival Canada screens films and hosts talks in person and online from September 30 to October 30. And always awesome Festival du nouveau cinéma celebrates its 50th season this year with screenings, talks and more from October 6 to 17. Immerse yourself in multimedia creation corps minéral par le désert mauve under the domed screen of the SAT from September 7 to October 16.

See independent features, family films, documentaries and more at Cinéma Moderne in person and online. See the art world in a whole new light thanks to the International Festival of Films on Art year-round ART FILM program. Discover new art house films and more from Montréal indie cinemas' programming, including in-person and virtual screenings from Cinéma du ParcCinéma du Musée and Cinémathèque québécoise. Watch cinematic nature documentaries for the whole family thanks to the Montréal Science Centre’s online programming. And explore the city through cinema in these Hollywood movies made in Montréal.

Live music in Montréal

Classical music fills the this month too. On October 2, Orchestre FILMharmonique performs concert Music at the Movies at Maison symphonique. Russian conductor Vasily Petrenko leads the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and pianist Yefim Bronfman in concert Sibelius Hero, Beethoven Resplendent on October 13 and 14 at Maison symphonique. Online, Orchestre Métropolitain conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts pianist Hélène Grimaud in webcast Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major from October 14 to 24. Conductor Lionel Bringuier leads the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal in Brahms’ Romani Accents on October 20 and 21. The Orchestre Philharmonique et Choeur des Mélomanes performs Vivaldi’s Gloria and more on October 23 at Maison symphonique. The Orchestre Métropolitain and guests perform concert Yannick Nézet-Séguin: Romantic Treasures on October 29 at Maison symphonique.

Along with music festivals October’s music festival, hear live music at city venues throughout the month. In Parc Jean-Drapeau on October 2, dance to the beat of dance party All Day I Dream of Montreal Magic presented by Piknic Electronik, followed the next weekend by Kaytranada on October 8. On October 5, see Lany at L’Olympia and Shallou at L’Astral, while October 6 and 7 brings Lil Tjay to MTELUS. Enrique Iglesias and Ricky Martin play a hot double bill on October 9 at the Bell Centre. Blue Skies Turn Black presents a variety of shows at Bar le Ritz and L’Esco this month, including Amyl and the Sniffers on October 5, Orkestar Kriminal on October 16, Fast Romantics on October 22 and more. Colombian artist Maluma performs at the Bell Centre on October 22. Be Svendsen plays Theatre Fairmount on October 23. On October 26, catch 100 gecs at MTELUS, while Poorstacy is at Le Ministère on October 27. And Ouri performs live at the Phi Centre on October 27.

Go for dinner and a show or just go for the great music at Le Balcon this month with soul and jazz divas like Kim Richardson and Michelle Sweeney, gospel brunches on the weekend, and more amazing artists – as more venues open, watch for performances by Montréal’s own queens of jazz, soul and blues. And Jardins Royalmount transforms from drive-in to open-air event space for live music, comedy, theatre performances, film screenings and more activities this summer.

Robyn Fadden

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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