Things to do in Montréal September 8 to 14

Robyn Fadden

Montréal doesn't slow down its summer pace for September: music festivals, dance and circus performances, a street fair, a cycling race, photography and multimedia art, even literal gardens of light make this week shine bright. 

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City sights and celebrations

Join Montréal's 375th anniversary celebrations in the Quartier des Spectacles with the local artistry of interactive public art exhibition KM3, walk along Sherbrooke Street in the Golden Square Mile to see La Balade pour la Paix: An Open-Air Museum, see the historic tableaux projections of Cité Memoire in Old Montréal and stop into Notre-Dame Basilica to see multimedia wonder AURA. It's all-weekend fun at the La Grande Tournée in gorgeous Parc La Fontaine – family activities, Cirque Éloize's L’Heure magique on Saturday night and lots of food to celebrate 375 years of Montréal. Discover the urban artery locals call The Main during the Saint-Laurent Street Fair with shopping, food, music and more activities from Sherbrooke Street to Mont-Royal Avenue. Cheer on the elite athletes of Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal September 10-11 on a road course through Mount Royal Park, with headquarters and activities in Jeanne-Mance Park. See the entire city from the newly opened La Grande Roue de Montréal observation wheel in the Old Port and spend the evening at the Montréal Botanical Garden’s enchanting 25th edition of Gardens of Light.

Open-air festivals

The OUMF fest whoops it up for back-to-school in the Latin Quarter September 6-9 with free music, comedy, street art performances, games and more. Multidisciplinary festival Ancient Future combines music, visual arts and circus September 8-9 in the Old Port – catch performances on three stages, from Friday's headliners Kevin Saunderson and The Underachievers to Saturday's long list of great DJs ending in a live set by Fritz Kalkbrenner. Meanwhile, electronic dance music fest and street party Villa Paradizo takes over Crescent Street downtown September 8-9. Also on Saturday evening, take a traditional dance workshop and dance into the night to electro-trad music on Mount Royal. And The Voice of Nations celebrates the 10th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, September 12-13, featuring free concerts of Indigenous music, dancing, drumming, circus acts and Indigenous food on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the Old Port.

Ready to pop

Long-running, city-wide music and arts festival POP Montréal kicks off its sweet 16th edition with a free show and BBQ on September 13 at POP Headquarters on St-Urbain Street – from there on into Sunday night, the festival does what it does best: bring music legends and hundreds more incredible artists to venues from downtown to Mile End and beyond. Among the shows to see on September 13, hip-hop meets Congolese Rumba with Pierre Kwenders, feel the alt-pop beat with Kali Uchis, Australia's Middle Kids and singer-songwriter Tyrone Wells and enjoy late-night thrills with Love Theme, while on September 14 get down with Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Dead Obies, Son Little, Austra, Juana Molina and more artists plus a late-night party with DJ Lady Kier. All that and the Fashion POP catwalk on September 13 at Théâtre Rialto, Film POP screenings at Cinéma du Parc, and the POP symposium's artist talks and Art POP's art installations at POP HQ. For the full schedule, tickets and passes, see POP's calendar of events.

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Food and drink

Enjoy the summery parts of September with a bite and a drink on a restaurant patio or at a cocktail bar, stop by one of the city's seasonal outdoor markets for picnic supplies for the park or go shopping for foodies, cool down with some of Montréal's best ice cream and rev up with the city's best iced coffee. If you're downtown this weekend, brunch it up! Or eat your vegetables in style at these health-conscious restaurants. Discover some of Montréal's liveliest neighbourhoods through music, food and socializing at Les Jardins Gamelin downtown, the Village au Pied du Courrant next to the Jacques Cartier Bridge, Marché des Éclusiers in the Old Port and Les Jardineries on the Olympic Stadium esplanade – also where you'll find the Québec Farms Open House this Sunday.

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Art and the world

Go global at the World Press Photo exhibition, featuring the most captivating images of international news, life and politics from the past year, at Marché Bonsecours. Multi-venue exhibition Momenta Biennale de l’image explores concepts of reality in photography, with  art and events at Galerie de l’UQAM, VOX, Artexte, McCord Museum, Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal and the Montreal Museum of Fine-Arts. Indulge in the haute couture wedding wear of Love Is Love by Jean Paul Gaultier and the colourful styles of the 1960s in Revolution at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. See yourself in the brilliant shadow and light art of Olafur Eliasson at the Musée d'art contemporain alongside new art inspired by Expo 67. Cheer for baseball history at the Grévin wax museum's Montréal, City of Baseball, marvel at EXPO 67: A World of Dreams at the Stewart Museum as well as Illusions: The Art of Magic and Fashioning Expo 67 at the McCord Museum.

On screen and stage

Contemporary dance wows at Festival Quartiers Danses to September 17 with shows at Place des Arts and free outdoor programming in Place des Festivals. Follow the dancers of RUBBERBANDance's City Thread via your smartphone on the esplanade of Place des Arts every evening to September 10. Catch HAIR - The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical at Mainline Theatre to September 9, where you'll also find the MTL Clown Fest starting September 13. Everyone's welcome at Les Escales Improbables de Montréal festival's Le Déambulatoire performances and musical picnic all afternoon September 9 at Place des la Gare Jean-Talon outside Parc Metro station. Urban art festival Chromatic presents Michel Gondry’s Home Movie Factory – free start-to-finish 3-hour film workshops open to anyone, September 1 to October 15. See an ongoing roster of short films and immersive VR work in Lucid Realities at the Phi Centre, while over at Cinéma du Parc it's documentary RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked The World starring Link Wray, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Robbie Robertson and more artists, plus midnight screenings of psychological thriller Always Shine. Explore space in double feature KYMA – Power of Waves and Edge of Darkness at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, see nature in IMAX at the Montréal Science Centre, or watch high-tech audiovisual spectacle Lamparium in the SAT dome. And Dita Von Teese's The Art Of The Teese Burlesque Revue heats up Metropolis on September 10.

More live music

Along with this week's many music festival shows comes even more sounds to groove to. Spend Friday night with the melodic-electro solo work of Arcade Fire's Jeremy Gara with openers Christian Carrière and Woulg at Bar le Ritz PDB, Motorkiller, CIENFUEGOS and more heavy-electro experimenters at La Sala Rossa and electronic producer Henry Wu at Newspeak. On September 9, go for the good-time rock of The Smith Street Band at L'escogriffe, the glam-punk of Giuda at Le Piranha Bar, get sound-meditative at practice #17: grkzgl in the afternoon at Never Apart, or join the fun of the SAT's 22nd Anniversary Party starting with a BBQ in the Foodlab followed by a night of music by Pheek, Tupi Collective and more. Keep dancing to energetic electro on Saturday night with Andrew Bayer at New City Gas or L.A. techno-house producer Matt Lange at Newspeak. Celebrate the 15th edition of outdoor dance party Piknic Électronik on Sunday afternoon at Parc Jean-Drapeau with The Black Madonna, Groj and more producers. On Tuesday, catch British pop sensation/experimenter Dan Croll at Bar le Ritz PDB, Swedish post-punk band INVSN at Divan Orange, Irish folk singer-songwriter Dermot Kennedy at La Sala Rossa, The Marcus King Band at Le Belmont, and indie-punk-rockers The Hotelier at L'escogriffe. Wednesday night's a little different as Apocalyptica plays Metallica on four cellos at Théâtre St-Denis.