Things to do in Montréal – October 4 to 10, 2019

Montréal celebrates autumn's vibrant colours and cooler weather this week with illuminating outdoor activities Gardens of Light and The Great Pumpkin Ball at the Botanical Garden, First Fridays and Oktoberfest at Olympic Park and Feux Follets at Parc Jean-Drapeau. Indoor activities range from MOMENTA | Biennale de l'image art exhibitions to Cirque Éloize and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal performances to film fest Festival du Nouveau Cinéma and all kinds of live music.

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Autumn arrives in Montréal

This fall, Montréal brightens the darkening evenings with truly illuminating events. Always worth attending for its magical beauty, Gardens of Light fills the Montréal Botanical Garden's Chinese, Japanese and First Nations gardens with glittering hand-made lanterns and multimedia creations. The Botanical Garden also hosts family event The Great Pumpkin Ball, with pumpkin decorating, storytelling, a Halloween play area and more starting October 4. Traditional Chinese lanterns also 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. The Carnaval des couleurs free program of multicultural music, dance, circus, family activities and more enlivens downtown's Complexe Desjardins day and night from October 7 to 9.

See Montréal's fall colours in Mount Royal Park and the city's many other parks and green spaces too. Follow the landscaped Promenade Fleuve-Montagne from Mount Royal Park, through the Golden Square Mile and down through Old Montréal to the St. Lawrence River. For an incredible 360º view of the city, visit the Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown, ride La Grande Roue de Montréal in the Old Port, and ascend to the observatory at the top of the Montréal Tower at Olympic Park – while there, take an audio tour around Olympic Park (get the code for the free app at the Montréal Tower ticket booth). And explore the city to discover some of Montréal's hidden gems and a whopping 100 creative things to do in Montréal.

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Urban activities

In downtown's Quartier des spectacles 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. Visit Notre-Dame Basilica to see multimedia show AURA and explore iconic Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal, where you can hear a by-donation organ concert on October 6 as part of the CIOC Festival – the festival features more concerts this week at Christ Church Cathedral, at Église du Gesù and the Maison symphonique.

At night in Old Montréal, search out the projections of Cité Mémoire on building facades. 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. At mid-day on October 6, participate in Place des Arts' free family-friendly event Initiation aux rythmes africains with drumming and dancing at Place des Arts' Espace Culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme. Whether you're in Montréal for a long weekend or a week, coming by plane or train, solo or with family, plot your days and nights with My Official Montréal City Guide. Save on your visit with the MTL Sweet Deal

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Food and drink

Enjoy live music while eating delicious food during the First Fridays food truck event at Olympic Park on October 4 – the final First Fridays of the year, this one's dedicated to BBQ of all kinds! The Esplanade of the Olympic Park keeps its green space and café Les Jardineries open this weekend too – go for OktoberFest on October 4 and 5, featuring a biergarten, sausages, sauerkraut, seasonal music and activities for all ages. If you're in the Old Port of Montréal, stop by seasonal outdoor market Marché des Éclusiers. And celebrate the turn of the seasons in Montréal with fall harvest activities.

Get a taste of Montréal at these five restaurants with amazing chefs, crafting unique dishes, from classic French menus to ground-breaking Asian cuisine. Read about Marcus at Four Seasons Montréal from the perspective of chef Marcus Samuelsson. Discover what's in season, eat well and bring home locally made products at Jean-Talon Market and Atwater Market. Go for a dinner cruise with 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. And explore more of Montréal and its culinary delights on Montréal's best food tours.

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Sports and outdoor adventures

The Montréal Canadiens launch into the official NHL season at home this week with a game against the Detroit Red Wings on October 10 at the Bell Centre. Catch a CFL football game with the Montréal Alouettes and Calgary Stampeders on October 5 at Percival-Molson Memorial Stadium. Or watch Major League Soccer team the Montréal Impact as it plays the New York Red Bulls on October 6 at Saputo 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 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. In dance, 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. Danse Danse presents Montréal favourites BJM - Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal in a triple bill by choreographers Itzik Galili and Andonis Foniadakis, from October 2 to 5 at Place des Arts. Agora de la danse presents Cas Public's 30th anniversary show, Suites Ténébreuses, a phantasmagorical exploration set to live music by Dear Criminals, on October 4 and 5, followed on October 8 to 11 by Van Grimde Corps Secrets' AI-focused EVE 2050. Phénomena presents experimental performances from October 5 to 20, including Stéphane Crête's NUMAIN at Théâtre La Chapelle and a mid-day parade on Saint-Laurent Boulevard in Mile End on October 5, ending with live music at the Van Horne Skatepark.

Author, journalist and human rights activist Sally Armstrong presents a 2019 CBC Massey Lecture on the equal status of women and girls on October 4 at Centaur Theatre. Montréal playwright Vittorio Rossi’s 1988 play The Chain follows the lives of a first-generation Italian immigrant family in Montréal. See it at Moyse Hall Theatre until October 6. Dipti Mehta's Honor: Confessions of a Mumbai Courtesan breaks stereotypes and reveals the truth of millions of sex trafficked girls across the world, at MAI Montréal, arts interculturels from October 3 to 6. Fringe Festival favourites make encores this weekend at MainLine Theatre, including one-woman drag comedy show Are you there Margaret? It's me, Gahd. and Make It a Musical, infusing blockbuster movie scenes with Broadway-style singing and dancing. Meanwhile, several Gay Village stages light up with world-class drag shows in Montréal.

On screen

The 48th Festival du nouveau cinéma kicks off on October 9 with Atom Egoyan's new feature film Guest of Honour followed by an opening-night soirée – the festival screens new and classic features, shorts and multimedia projects, and includes presentations, workshops, children's programming, live music and more until October 20. MAPP_MTL showcases video “micro mapping” art at Never Apart, opening along with several other art exhibitions on October 10. 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.

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Art for everyone

The multi-venue MOMENTA | Biennale de l'image event 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 from September 14 to February 2, 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 Musée d'art contemporain, see Rebecca Belmore: Facing the Monumental, a poignant and timely career-spanning exhibition of installation and performance art, and attend the Max and Iris Stern International Symposium on Indigenous Women, Embodiment and Sovereignty on October 4 and 5.

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. And there's more art to discover while gallery hopping and antiquing in the city, at the Volume 2 MTL: Art and the Book on October 5 and 6 at the Society for Arts and Technology, and at local designer and vintage fair Bazar Les Intemporelles de Villeray on October 5 and 6.

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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 and 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. Écomusée du fier monde presents Raconte-moi Centre-Sud, stories and photographs about the neighbourhood. 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

French musician Julien Clerc performs concerts Pianos et cordes at Maison symphonique on October 5 and 7. The KIN Musical Adventure Series presents Music of Hungary with pianist Paul Digout, violinist István Lakatos and soprano Melissa McCann at St. James United Church on Saturday, October 5. The CIOC Festival presents Art of the organ on the Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique at Maison symphonique on October 6. On October 10, the Orchestre Métropolitain performs concert La Symphonie du Nouveau Monde featuring works by Dvořák, Copland and Métis-Canadian composer Karen Sunabacka at Maison symphonique. And l'OFF Festival de jazz de Montréal features eclectic jazz artists from Montréal and around the world from October 3 to 12 – this week see Andrés Vial Trio featuring Dezron Douglas and Eric McPherson, saxophonist Tevet Sela with pianist John Roney, Sam Kirmayer Trio featuring Ben Paterson and more!

More live music

Montrealer Marc Martel fronts The Ultimate Queen Celebration at L'Olympia on October 4 and 5. Also on Friday night, see fab electro group Ladytron with opener Russell Louder at the Society for Arts and Technology, Australian singer and songwriter Dean Lewis and opener Scott Helman at MTELUS, California indie band half•alive at L’Astral and Dutch EDM production duo Moksi and French producer Habstrakt co-headlining New City Gas. On Saturday, check out Lil Mosey at Corona Theatre, Dan Boeckner-fronted band Operators at Théâtre Fairmount, and electronic producer Manila Killa at Newspeak. Sunday brings Ukrainian prog band Jinjer and The Browning to Corona Theatre.

On Monday, see London-based jazz-funk-electronica band The Comet is Coming at L’Astral, Parisian electronic music band Caravan Palace at MTELUS, and Scottish singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi at L'Olympia. Anglo-Dutch experimental rock band The Legendary Pink Dots return to play l'Escogriffe Bar Spectacle on Tuesday, while Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls impress at Corona Theatre. On Wednesday, October 9, EDM-pop production duo The Chainsmokers shake up the Bell Centre, folk metal bands Eluveitie and Korpiklaani get heavy at Corona Theatre, Australian indie rock-folk band The Paper Kites plays L’Astral, California psych-rock project slenderbodies comes to Le Ministère and instrumental psychedelic rock band Earthless enters the atmosphere at Théâtre Fairmount. Close the week on Thursday night with Swedish death metal band Amon Amarth at MTELUS, Fleetwood Mac tribute band Rumours of Fleetwood Mac at Corona Theatre and British pop singer-songwriter Maisie Peters at Petit Campus. 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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