Things to do in Montréal – October 25 to 31, 2019

Halloween is in the autumn air in Montréal, with eerie events and ghoulish activities all week—you can even see real mummies at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. As well, walk along illuminated paths and see incredible light creations at outdoor events Gardens of Light and Feux Follets. Discover unique wine, beer and spirits at the Salon des Vins d’Importation Privée, La Grande Dégustation de Montréal and RAW WINE. See inspiring new dance, theatre, art and film, including at the Arab World Festival of Montréal. Sit back and listen to a world-class orchestra or rock out to bands every night of the week.

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Halloween happenings

Halloween in Montréal always creeps in to stir up frightening fun well before October 31. Go on an Old Montréal ghost walk, scream at amusement park La Ronde's annual Fright Fest, enjoy the antics of Festival Halloween MTL downtown, ride on a ghost train at Exporail / The Canadian Railway Museum's Railway Ghosts exhibition, and more! Family entertainment and harvest-season activities await at The Great Pumpkin Ball with pumpkin decorating, storytelling and a Halloween play area at the Montréal Botanical Garden. The Strange Ghosts of Pointe-à-Callière take over the archaeology museum on October 26 and 27, while the Stewart Museum's escape game Phantoms of the Island has players running from haunted history.

By night, sing along with Richard O'Brien's fabulous and hilarious live musical The Rocky Horror Show from October 17 to November 2 at MainLine Theatre; or go dancing into the Halloween night at The Masquerade featuring electronic producers Claptone and MK at New City Gas. See our live music section for more late-night Halloween thrills.

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Urban illumination

Autumn nights shine bright in Montréal. The Gardens of Light event illuminates 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 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. And new immersive pop-up experience HideSeek on Saint-Denis Street has us playing like kids again.

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Autumn activities

Visit Mount Royal Park, where the air is crisp and the leaves hued in oranges, reds and yellows, or take a stroll through the city's many other parks and green spaces to see Montréal's fall colours. Take a bike ride through city streets and parks – consult our guide to bike paths, bicycle rentals, BIXI and all things biking in Montréal. 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. Visit the Ecomuseum Zoo conservation area to see 115 animal species from the St. Lawrence Valley, including otters, wolves and hawks.

This fall also marks Tourisme Montréal's 100th anniversary! We've made a list of 100 creative things to do in celebration of the city's inventive spirit and gathered several free things to do this fall too. See Montréal in all its glory 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. Catch the Montréal Canadiens at home this week against the Toronto Maple Leafs on October 26 at the Bell Centre. Or watch CFL football with the Montréal Alouettes against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on October 26 at Percival-Molson Memorial Stadium. 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

A must for wine lovers, the Salon des Vins d’Importation Privée gathers over 150 winemakers from around the world with over 1500 private import products, at Marché Bonsecours from October 26 to 28. Follow that with La Grande Dégustation de Montréal, featuring 200 winegrowers, distillers and brewers from Québec and around the world, at Place Bonaventure from October 31 to November 2. And the Montréal edition of international event Raw Wine celebrates organic and biodynamic wines, at Le Salon 1861 on October 24 and 25. Or DIY your own Oktoberfest at these inventive Montréal microbreweries.

In the Old Port of Montréal stop by seasonal outdoor market Marché des Éclusiers on Saturday, and discover more of what's in season at Jean-Talon Market and Atwater Market. Get a taste of Montréal at these 5 restaurants with amazing chefs crafting unique dishes, from classic French menus to ground-breaking Asian cuisine. If the weather's cool, warm up with a wide variety of hot food for cold days. 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. Or take a day trip to orchard Verger Labonté to pick apples and find your way through its massive galaxy-themed corn labyrinths. And if you're here next week, book your table now for major Montréal culinary event MTLàTABLE.

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On stage

Hear stories of all sorts at the 15th Montreal Intercultural Storytelling Festival from October 18 to 27, including English-language performances The Geography Teacher's Orders by Marta Singh and Confabulation, Montréal's original autobiographical storytelling series. A woman's life turns upside down in fascinating drama-comedy Alice and the World We Live In from October 15 to November 3 at Centaur Theatre. See new pop-rock musical theatre work Mythic, a journey of self-discovery based on the myth of Greek goddess Persephone, from October 27 to November 17 at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts. Persephone Productions present Blue Stockings, a witty late-Victorian story of four women at Cambridge University fighting for self-determination and the right to higher education, running up to October 27.

The 20th Arab World Festival of Montréal features dance, music, film and more dedicated to the meeting of Arab and Western cultures, from October 25 to November 17, opening with the women vocalists and dancers of performance Et la Femme chanta Dieu at Place des Arts on October 25, followed on October 26 by the malouf music of Adlen Fergani and more. Danse Danse presents Australian contemporary dance company Bangarra Dance Theatre's Spirit, interweaving contemporary dance with ancestral traditions and sacred Aboriginal cultural rituals, at Place des Arts from October 30 to November 2. See Australian choreographer Lucy Guerin's demanding, physical and intimate Split at Agora de la danse from October 30 to November 1. Award-winning Montréal choreographer-dancer Dana Michel probes societal constructions of her personality and body in Cutlass Spring at Usine C from October 29 to November 1. Artist Justin Shoulder introduces a post-human shapeshifting specter in Carrion at Monument-National from October 30 to November 2. And in the Gay Village, stages light up with world-class drag shows in Montréal.

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On screen

See classic art in virtual reality at the Phi Centre's VR Cinema: Short Films on Canvas until October 27, followed by the contemporary VR artistry of Cadavre exquis, featuring work by Marina Abramović, Olafur Eliasson, Laurie Anderson, Antony Gormley, Paul McCarthy and other artists, opening October 29. Immersive digital music festival AKOUSMA and the Society for Arts and Technology present immersive experiences Cosmic polarizations and Las Pintas until October 30 in the Satosphère dome.

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, currently hosting the 13th edition of the Montreal Brazil Film Festival from October 25 to 31. Meanwhile, the South Asian Film Festival of Montréal showcases new artistic films focused on South Asia and the South Asian diaspora, from October 25 to 27 and November 1 to 3. 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.

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Art for everyone

Untamed Colour: Celebrating Jean McEwen pays homage to the Montréal painter. See Francis Alÿs: Children's Games at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal as well as a survey of works by prominent Montréal painter Janet Werner opening October 31, as well as two animated films by South African artist William Kentridge and more. At the McCord Museum see Celia Perrin Sidarous: The Archivist as well as SDING K’AWXANGS – Haida: Supernatural Stories and new retrospective exhibition Jean-Claude Poitras: Fashion and Inspiration. Sight + Sound Festival presents sound performances, exhibitions and workshops at Eastern Bloc from October 24 to 26.

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, Second Life offers a glimpse of getting away from it all while Rough Cuts and Outtakes showcases the work of Gordon Matta-Clark. The Museum of Jewish Montreal presents Return to The Fortress by Julie Gladstone, portraits and landscapes drawing from medieval Sephardic iconography, ancient legends and native flora of Béjar, Spain. 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. And the Darling Foundry presents Javier González Pesce's Two Ways To Disappear Without Losing The Physical Form. 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.

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History near and far

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. At Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex, experience multimedia exhibition Generations MTL, cabinet of curiosities Into the Wonder Room and more. 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. The city's Irish roots run deep – discover Irish Montréal through landmarks and more – as does Montréal's Scottish history. Tour Montréal architectural icon Moshe Safdie's Habitat 67. 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 CIOC Festival presents a by-donation organ concert by Nathan Laube on October 27 at Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal as well as concerts at Christ Church Cathedral on October 25, Le Grand Séminaire de Montréal on October 27 and more. The Opéra de Montréal and the Orchestre Métropolitain celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday with the composer's only opera, Fidelio, at Maison symphonique de Montréal on October 25 and 27.Conductor François-Xavier Roth displays his innovative approach with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal in Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben and more at Maison symphonique on October 30 and 31.

More live music

On Friday night South African DJ and electronic producer Black Coffee returns to New City Gas with DJ Angelo, Ameer Brooks and Paskal Daze, while house music producer Hannah Wants blows up the dancefloor at Newspeak. Saturday's a night of electronic ingenuity: check out British producer and multi-instrumentalist Quantic at Théâtre Fairmount, the electronic stylings of Jacques Greene at Ausgang Plaza, New Zealand production duo Chaos in the CBD at Newspeak and Australian musician-producer Timmy Trumpet at New City Gas. Sunday, October 27 brings gothic rock singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe and Ioanna Gika to Le National, Kenyan singer-songwriter J.S. Ondara to L’Astral, incredible guitarist Ariel Posen to Café Campus, and indie-rockers Titus Andronicus to l'Escogriffe Bar Spectacle.

On Monday, October 28, Atlanta rock trio Omni plays post punk-pop at Ritz P.D.B. Spend Tuesday night with Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist and producer King Princess and Girlpool at MTELUS, NY rockers Taking Back Sunday and Red City Radio at Corona Theatre, the one and only Peter Hook & The Light at Théâtre Fairmount or garage-psych rockers Frankie And The Witch Fingers at l'Escogriffe Bar Spectacle. On Wednesday see award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter Loreena McKennitt perform at Place des Arts, Swedish metal band Sabaton at MTELUS and British audio-visual duo THE KVB at Ritz P.D.B. And Halloween night rages on with Half Moon Run and Vince James at MTELUS, pop singer-songwriter Julia Michaels and Rhys Lewis at Corona Theatre, English electronic IDM musician u-ZIQ at Théâtre Fairmount and New Zealand crooner Jonathan Bree 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

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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