Things to do in Montréal – September 6 to 12, 2019

September in Montréal keeps the city's summer vibes going with lively events and festivals. Eat well and boost your cooking skills at food Festival YUL EAT, discover more local food at First Fridays, cheer on FIBA 3X3 World Tour street-style basketball players, see the world differently at the World Press Photo and MOMENTA | Biennale de l'image exhibitions, and wander through gorgeous Gardens of Light. Also explore markets, parks and museums, see dance, theatre and immersive media creations, and stay out late for live music by Carly Rae Jepsen, Marina and more.

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Outdoor activities

Glittering hand-made lanterns and multimedia creations illuminate the Montréal Botanical Garden during the annual Gardens of Light experience in the Chinese Japanese and First Nations Garden – always a must for autumn visitors to Montréal. Meanwhile, art brightens downtown too: stroll along pedestrian-only Sainte-Catherine Street in the Quartier des spectacles, where you can show off your chess skills on the giant chessboards and snap photos with the colourful dogs of Dans ma cour… ç’a du chien!

Back-to-school festival OUMF turns Saint-Denis Street in the Quartier latin into a block party this weekend, with live electronic, hip hop and indie rock, street art, games and more from September 5 to 7. Nearby, 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. Stop by pop-up gallery Artch in downtown's Square Dorchester from September 12 to 15 to see art by emerging contemporary artists. 

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Food and drink

Montréal is one of North America’s major food destinations and this week's Festival YUL EAT shows us exactly why: the festival celebrates the city's creative gastronomy this week with expert-led masterclasses at several restaurants, a Taste of the Future dinner on September 11 and the ¡Destinación México! event on September 12, plus the outdoor Grand Tasting Experience from September 13 to 15. Join the fun of the First Fridays food truck event at Olympic Park on September 6 – in collaboration with First Fridays, Montréal's Vietnamese community launches the first Festival Viet Montréal, celebrating Vietnamese culture, heritage and amazing food! Return to the Esplande of the Olympic Park on September 8 for UPA open house on Québec Farms, a free, family-focused event showcasing local farmers, their products and their farm animals.

For more outdoor entertainment and refreshments, Montréal's seasonal outdoor spaces continue through September, including Jardins Gamelin outside Berri-UQAM metro station (walk east from there under the rainbow in the Gay Village), Village au Pied-du-Courant near the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, and the Old Port’s Marché des Éclusiers. The Esplanade of the Olympic Park also features green space and café Les Jardineries – if you're there at lunch hour, look for Halte 76, hosting different food trucks every week, while Sundays feature a fiesta of music and dancing. Discover what's in season, eat well and bring home locally made products at Jean-Talon Market and Atwater Market. Meanwhile, dozens of restaurants cook up new burger creations for Le Burger Week  – try as many as you can from September 1 to 7.

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City sights

See the city from the Mount Royal Park lookout, also where you'll find Café suspendu and several other activities on the mountain. For picnics, natural sights and quiet moments explore 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, have coffee, cocktails or a snack with a panoramic view at MTL Bistro and take an audio tour around Olympic Park (get the code for the free app at the Montréal Tower ticket booth). 

Be sure to see the 2019 World Press Photo exhibition at Marché Bonsecours in Old Montréal, featuring hundreds of photographs of the world and its people by international press photographers, running until September 29. Visit Notre-Dame Basilica to see multimedia show AURA and explore iconic Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal, where you can hear percussive music by Tambouyés outside on September 11 at 7 p.m. 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 try many other activities. Nearby, the Montréal Science Centre presents exhibition Spiders: From Fear to Fascination as well as IMAX films and hands-on science activities. Whether you're 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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Sports and outdoor adventures

Cheer on Olympic-level basketball players and get into the game yourself at B3 Montréal and the International Basketball Federation's 2019 FIBA 3X3 Basketball World Tour, from September 6 to 8, with high-energy street-style games, breakdancing, live music, basketball workshops and more. In CFL football action, cheer on the Montréal Alouettes as they play the BC Lions on September 6 at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium on the McGill University campus. Watch thousands of athletes compete in the 35th edition of the Montréal Esprit Triathlon at Parc Jean-Drapeau from September 7 to 8.

Boat enthusiasts can check out the Montréal In-Water Boat Show, featuring more than a hundred boats in the Jacques-Cartier Basin from September 6 to 8. Go camping along the Lachine Canal at the oTENTik cabins. You can also camp in a cabin-like tent with Huttopia on 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 their massive galaxy-themed corn labyrinths.

On stage

Festival Quartiers Danses brings contemporary dance to unexpected places from September 6 to 15, with performances in the Place des Arts, outdoor performances and dance film screenings – this week, see free performances outside Place des Arts in the afternoons and evenings, and indoor shows by Tentacle Tribe, Pauline Gervais, Beaver Dam Company, Lo Fi Dance Theory and more. Get dancing yourself on September 10 and 11 at the Midis dansés Bhangra Indian dance workshops outside Place des Arts. Or sing along with Jireh Gospel Choir director Carol Bernard at Midis chantés on September 12 at noon.

The Segal Centre for Performing Arts opens its season from September 8 to 29 with The Pianist of Willesden Lane, based on the true story of Jewish musical prodigy Lisa Jura, who escaped Nazi-ruled Vienna. Innu artist Natasha Kanapé Fontaine adapts her powerful poetry for the stage in TSHISHIKUSHKUEU, d’après Bleuets et Abricots at Théâtre La Chapelle from August 26 to September 7. Audrey-Anne Bouchard's immersive multi-sensory Camille : Un rendez-vous au-delà du visuel circumvents our sense of sight to lead us through an emotional landscape at MAI Montréal, arts interculturels from September 4 to 22. Watch a captivating and creative circus show in an elegant cabaret atmosphere at Circus Cabaret at Le Monastère on September 6 and 7. On Saturday, attend a live recording of podcast Welcome To Night Vale at Corona Theatre. Get into the Sin City spirit at Welcome to Vegas! as the Casino de Montréal entertains with showgirls, drag queens, a wedding chapel, special cocktails and dishes fit for the King from September 9 to October 12. Meanwhile, several Gay Village stages light up with world-class drag shows in Montréal.

On screen

Go on multi-sensory trip through time and space in Through the Echoes at immersive entertainment space PY1 – look for the pyramid in the Old Port of Montréal. By night, dress up for themed PY1 Nights and dance among lasers, live performances and wild visuals. Nearby, step into the Phi Centre's virtual reality exhibition >HUM(AI)N – Being human in the age of technology, a 360° view of human nature and evolution in nine immersive VR works – the centre also highlights five famous paintings in VR Cinema: Short Films on Canvas.

In the Society for Arts and Technology's 360° dome, see immersive work Remote Sense, an exploration of the “shamanic/artistic process of entoptic phenomena” by artists Jonny Knox and Darien Brito. Explore the universe at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, featuring science-meets-multimedia shows Planet Nine, Secrets of Gravity, Continuum and Aurōrae as well as Mice and the Moon for little kids. 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.

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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.

Also at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, catch the high-fashion artistry of Thierry Mugler: Couturissime before the show closes on September 8 as well as Montreal Couture, showcasing inventive Québec designers, Omar Ba: Same Dream and more. Interactive and documentary exhibition Yoko Ono: LIBERTÉ CONQUÉRANTE/GROWING FREEDOM explores how Yoko Ono's work affected contemporary art practices and activism, at the Fondation Phi pour l’art contemporain in Old Montréal. 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.

The McCord Museum's The Polaroid Project – At the Intersection of Art and Technology highlights the artistic and scientific creativity of Polaroid photography through the work of 20th-century artists – while there, also see SDING K’AWXANGS – Haida: Supernatural Stories and historic photography exhibition Montréal at work along McGill College Avenue. At the Phi Centre catch This Light Never Goes Out: Political Cartoons by Jim Carrey until September 8 as well as the Goodee Pop-up Studio until the end of the month, putting sustainable brands and humanist e-commerce in the spotlight. Buy local art and print creations at Papier Marché on September 7 and 8. And there's more art to discover while gallery hopping and antiquing in the city. 

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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. 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. Explore the old fort that houses the Stewart Museum and five centuries of day-to-day life in New France in exhibition History and Memory. And Château Ramezay features summer activities as well as World War I exhibition WAR Flowers.

At the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Our Happy Life looks at measurements of happiness. Edward Hillel's photography installation Chambre Noire/Darkroom draws on his book The Main: Portrait of a Neighbourhood at the Museum of Jewish Montreal. The city's Irish roots also run deep – discover Irish Montréal through landmarks and more. 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.

Live music

On Friday night get down with Brooklyn-based jazz and funk collective Snarky Puppy at MTELUS. On Saturday it's time to go dancing to the electronic beats of French DJ and producer Cedric Gervais at New City Gas. On the afternoon of Sunday, September 8, you can dance in the open air at Piknic Électronik in Parc Jean-Drapeau, featuring electronic music producers Ben Klock, CMD, Madam X and more. Sunday night brings indie-rockers Vampire Weekend and Christone Kingfish Ingram to MTELUS.

On Monday, see Mark Kozelek's folk-rock project Sun Kil Moon at L’Astral or long-running emo rockers The Appleseed Cast at Ritz P.D.B. Don't miss high-energy synth-pop band Hot Chip with opener Holy F*ck on Tuesday, September 10 at MTELUS or check out Avatar and '68 at Corona Theatre. Wednesday, September 11 is packed with shows: see British singer-songwriter Marina and Daya at MTELUS, costumed funk band Here Come The Mummies and Danny Rebel & The KGB at Petit Campus, singer-songwriter Christian French at Le Ministère and Brooklyn-based sax-and-percussion trio Moon Hooch and Saxsyndrum at Le Belmont.

Thursday, September 12 features the one and only Carly Rae Jepsen with opener Ralph at MTELUS and the Summersault 2019 show with Our Lady Peace, Bush, Live and more bands at the Bell Centre, plus Australian alt-dance electro band Crooked Colours at L’Astral and Norwegian musician Girl in Red at Le Ministère. 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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