Things to do in Montréal this September 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.

In Montréal, summer lasts well into September with festivals, pop-up performances, outdoor wining and dining, incredible art, and more. September festivals like the Jazz Fest, Les Francos and POP Montréal bring music of all kinds to the city streets and indoor venues alike. Creative local food is in the spotlight at restaurant event MTLàTABLE. Have a meal and a drink on restaurant terrasses or get take-out for a picnic in the park. Indoors, explore new exhibitions at Montréal’s museums and art galleries, watch new theatre and dance, and go out for live music!

September-summer activities

Summer isn’t over yet and Montréal can prove it this September, with warm days and fun nights perfect for an island getaway in Montréal: check out outdoor entertainment downtown and open-air spaces to eat, drink and socialize throughout the city. If you haven’t done these 21 things to do in summer 2021 and 7 things you can only do in Montréal, maybe now is the time? And save on hotels and activities all month with the summer 2021 Food & Fun Package!

Gourmet food event First Fridays returns to the Esplanade of the Olympic Park from September 3 to 5 and October 1 to 3, with all kinds of food trucks, outdoor bars, DJs and more activities. In the heart of downtown Montréal, the Quartier des spectacles surprises with spontaneous outdoor performances, multimedia projections, and art installations that double as urban oases as part of Les aventures du cœur de l’île. Meanwhile, the photographed faces of Montrealers come together 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” – keep your eye out for roving performances too!

September is also a wonderful time to explore Montréal's many parks and green spaces. See incredible city views in Mount Royal Park or reconnect with nature at the Montréal Botanical Garden– September 3 marks the return of Gardens of LIght, a gorgeously lantern-lit nighttime journey through the Chinese, Japanese and First Nations gardens, on until October 31. Nearby, visit with penguins, lynx and more at the Biodôme and explore the universe at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium (purchase fixed-time tickets online ahead of time). A few steps away on the esplanade of Olympic Park, skateboard at Vans Skatepark and rock climb at Nomad Bloc. Visit Parc Jean-Drapeau, where the famed geodesic Biosphère, Environment Museum recently reopened with new exhibitions. And add extra adrenaline to your month at La Ronde amusement park!

Stellar September festivals

Montréal’s autumn festivals also stretch throughout September with outdoors, indoors and online entertainment that showcases the tremendous talent and entertainment the city has to offer. Immerse yourself in the latest electronic music and digital arts from around the world at MUTEK from August 24 to September 5, with 360º art-and-sound experiences and music late into the night. A mini music festival on the water, Contre Courant brings Lido Pimienta, Safia Nolan, Arianne Moffant, Dan Mangan and more artists to Parc Jean-Drapeau’s Jean-Doré Beach from September 1 to 4 – rent or bring a paddle board, canoe or kayak for the full experience! Festival MEG returns with three days of music at Parc Jean-Drapeau, featuring Mike Shabb, Omnikrom, Misstress Barbara, Robert Robert and many more artists from September 4 to 6. The international Momenta Biennale showcases contemporary art in multiple venues, including an Indigenous-led outdoor garden and augmented reality route in public space, from September 8 to October 24.

This year's Montréal International Jazz Festival aims to please with free shows on two outdoor stages in Place des Festivals from September 15 to 19: see Daniel Lanois, Charlotte Day Wilson, Shay Lia, Basia Bulat and many, many more artists. Les Francos de Montréal returns with a wide world of French-language music from September 9 to 12, including performances by Sarahmée, Jérôme 50, Calamine, Klô Pelgag, Amay Laoni and many more artists. See striking new contemporary creative dance performances indoors and in an urban context at Festival Quartiers Danses from September 8 to 19. The FAR Festival enlivens the city streets and ruelles with art and performances from August 12 to September 12. Festival Zéro Déchet focuses on a waste-free future, with installations in Parc La Fontaine from September 3 to 5. August’s MURAL Festival may be over, but you can still see all the newly painted murals on Saint-Laurent Blvd. and adjacent streets.

At the end of the month, POP Montréal brings live music to multiple venues from September 22 to 26, with performances by The Dears, Backxwash, Suuns, and many more artists, plus Film POP, the POP Symposium, Puces POP craft fair, Kids POP in the park and more. Electronic music festival ÎLESONIQ REDUX lets loose at Parc Jean-Drapeau from September 24 to 26 with Deadmaus, Test Pilot, Rezz, Loud Luxury and more artists. And stay tuned for news of more Piknic Électronik electronic music parties this month. For health and safety reasons, tickets are limited for all festivals, so purchase them in advance!

September city sights

Take yourself sightseeing in Montréal this month and you’re sure to see something spectacular. In Old Montréal and the Old Port of Montréal, look out at the entire on the Observation Wheel, relax with a river view at Clock Tower Beach or immerse yourself in the water at Bota Bota, spa sur l’eau and other world-class spas. Climb high at the Voiles en Voiles adventure park, wander through the SOS Labyrinthe, explore the Saint-Lawrence River by peddle boat, and 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. And see circus performances by Cirque Éloize and Les 7 Doigts until September 5! Or watch the pros in action: go to a CF Montréal soccer game on September 11, 19 and 29 at Stade Saputo or catch CFL team the Montréal Alouettes on September 18 at Molson Stadium.

Downtown, stroll along Sainte-Catherine Street in the Village and catch music and entertainment, along with great food and drink, at Jardins Gamelin outside Berri-UQAM metro. Explore some of Montréal’s distinct neighbourhoods, from Hochelaga and Rosemont in the east to Outremont and Westmount in the west, where you’ll find other pedestrian-only avenues, many open into September. Learn more about the Montréal’s unique history and culture on private walking tours with knowledgeable local companies. 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 – the BIXI network features 725 new electric BIXIs and 83 new electric stations, as well as a new variable pricing model. Bike over to Parc Jean-Drapeau to ride around the 4,361-metre Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve bike path and the Route Verte – cool off with a dip in the park’s pool too! And explore further afield on these bucket-list bike rides.

Food and drink

New seasonal menus at local restaurants, a Montréal foodies program (with prizes!) and a Food & Fun gourmet getaway make this year’s MTLàTABLE from September 1 to October 11 – with table-d’hôte menus for every budget, 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 summertime food and classic dishes are all on the menu at Montréal’s many restaurants and cafés. Meanwhile, Le Burger Week serves up original and exclusive burgers from dozens of participating restaurants from September 1 to 14.

Outdoors, check out gourmet food event First Fridays on the Esplanade of the Olympic Park from September 3 to 5 and October 1 to 3, with all kinds of food trucks, outdoor bars, DJs and more activities. Take a walk through the Jean-Talon Market and Atwater Market to find ready-to-eat dishes and all the ingredients to make your own feasts or lay out an impressive late-summer picnic meal. Enjoy a meal and drinks 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.

While the weather’s warm, wine and dine outdoors 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. Have a September picnic in the park with these made-in-Montréal picnic and park pairings. And if you’re in the mood for ice cream, Montréal's best ice cream shops have you covered with everything from gelato to dipped cones and sundaes.

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 summer fades into fall in Montréal, fashions start to change too – pick up new wardrobe and home items 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. Shop local and eco-friendly at the most fabulous vintage boutiques in the city.

Montréal fashion week, known as Semaine Mode de Montréal and presented by fashion industry organization Mmode, features pop-up shops, workshop visits, designer sales and more from September 13 to 19. 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, 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.

September 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, Riopelle: The Call of Northern Landscapes and Indigenous Cultures (until September 12), 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 – at the end of the month don’t miss shows by Yousuf Karsh and 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 2017 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. PHI also presents Alejandro G. Iñárritu's Oscar® award-winning virtual reality installation CARNE y ARENA (Virtually present, Physically invisible) at Arsenal Contemporary Art until September 5, exploring the human condition of immigrants and refugees. Experience Venice VR Expanded, 30 works from the virtual reality section of the Venice Biennale, as well as the multidimensional and mysterious worlds of Three Movements at the Phi Centre in Old Montréal.

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, opening September 9. A massive immersive experience in surround sound and laser light, Oasis Immersion’s Inspirations and other sensory installations take over the ground floor of Palais des congrès. At the Grand Quai du Port de Montréal, don’t miss Divina Dali, 101 works by Salvador Dalí illustrating Dante's Divina Commedia. See new exhibitions at Never Apart in Little Italy, Bradley Ertaskiran in St. Henri, Elephant 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 new exhibitions A Railroad to Dreams (until September 6) and Italian Montréal, tracing the journey of Italo-Montrealers from the early 20th century, interactive display Come Aboard! Pirates or Privateers? and more. At the McCord Museum don’t miss Christian Dior featuring over 50 classic designs, works by cartoonist Chapleau, outdoor exhibition All Together, guided historical tours and other outdoor activities, and new permanent exhibition Indigenous Voices of Today: Knowledge, Trauma, Resilience, opening September 25.

See exhibitions The Things Around Us: 51N4E and Rural Urban Framework (closing September 19), Middleground: Siting Dispossession and The Design of Carpets That Design Us (opening September 16) at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. Or go back in time with the Château Ramezay exhibition 1812: Objects to Discover. 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 has arrived! In theatre, Centaur Theatre presents its Brave New Looks series with Okinum by Émilie Monnet, performed in English, French and Anishnaabemowin from September 2 to 11. 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. Ballet-Opéra-Pantomime and I Musici de Montréal chamber orchestra perform double bill Riders to the Sea | Le Flambeau de la nuit at Places des Arts on September 25 and 26. La Chapelle announces a new season of multidisciplinary performances, starting with Elle Barbara’s AyiboboTM III: Little Dollhouse on the Prairie.

In dance, Les Grands Ballets inaugurate the new season at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier with Dancing Beethoven from September 10 to 12. Festival Quartiers Danses presents dance performances at Place des Arts and Bourgie Hall until September 19, including Mohawk artist Barbara Kaneratonni Diabo’s Sky Dancers, Projet Feldman/Renaud, a duet by Jeanne Renaud with dancers Louise Bédard and Marc Boivin, and more. Maria Kefirova builds space through physicality and makes sound visible in backs boxes towels from September 15 to 18 at MAI. See a new season of dance in person at Agora de la danse starting this month. And Tangente presents new short choreographies in the Danses Buissonnières series in mid-September and Camille Lacelle-Wilsey’s environmental fable Come a Bit Closer from September 23 to 26.

On screen

Watch the 13thFestival Stop Motion Montréal from September 10 to 19 on the Cinéma Public website, featuring stop-motion films from around the world for all ages, including comedy Waiting for Harold by Christoph & Wolfgang Lauenstein and family film A Stone in the Shoe by Éric Montchaud. 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

On September 9, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal’s new music director Rafael Payare conducts a free end-of-summer concert by the full orchestra on the Esplanade at Olympic Park – be sure to register in advance! Les Violons du Roy features conductor Jonathan Cohen and French soprano and Mozart specialist Sandrine Piau performing the composer’s most beautiful arias at Maison symphonique on September 24.

Along with music festivals like MUTEK, Les Francos de Montréal and POP Montréal, hear live music at city venues throughout the month. Heavy Metal presents IWS Blood Sweat and Beers 2021 on September 4 at MTelus, catch Nouvelle Vague September 13 at L’Astral, Gogol Bordello on September 15 at MTelus, Men I Trust from September 16 to 18 at L’Astral, Chiiild on September 22 at  L’Astral and Actors play Bar Le Ritz, Soccer Mommy at Theatre Fairmount on September 25, Monolink at SAT on September 26, Arlo Parks at Petit Campus on September 26, RMR on September 27 at L’Astral followed by Badflowers on September 28, Alec Benjamin with opener Harry Hudson on September 30 at MTelus while Nation of Language play Bar Le Ritz.

Go for dinner and a show or just go for the great music at Le Balcon opening this month with soul divas Kim Richardson and Michelle Sweeney 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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