Things to do this Thanksgiving weekend in Montréal
This article was updated on September 13, 2019.
Along with the changing season and cooler weather in Montréal comes Canadian Thanksgiving, or as we know it in Québec, Action de grâce, on Monday, October 14 this year. The holiday also means a long weekend full of things to do – and plenty to eat from October 11 to 14.
Thanksgiving dinner and more
Montréal satisfies the seasonal palate with classic and non-traditional dinners alike. Fine-dining luxuries and local delicacies make these Montréal meals worth writing home about – we've also selected some top Montréal restaurants for the gourmet traveller, designer restaurants for those who love to eat in style and five restaurants with five amazing chefs – among them, try Le Club Chasse et Pêche Restaurant Bar Salon and Restaurant Leméac and wine bar Accords le Bistro. Find Parisian flair at these authentic French restaurants or tap into Montréal's DIY spirit at these cheerful bring-your-own-wine eateries. And for families, Montréal has plenty of great places to eat with kids.
By day, go for an excellent brunch, drink some great coffee and pick up something sweet or savoury at Montréal's best bakeries and pastry shops. Go for dinner and a Motown, blues or soul show at classy Le Balcon downtown. The Casino de Montréal's Welcome to Vegas event lays out a Vegas-style feast fit for the King with entertainment by show girls and drag queens to match until October 12. Take a food tour around the city or take to the St. Lawrence River on a dinner cruise with Croisières AML and Bateau-Mouche. And visit Montréal’s public markets, including Jean-Talon Market and Atwater Market, to sample in-season fruit and vegetables, meats and cheese and all manner of Thanksgiving-worthy pies. Or take a day trip to Verger Labonté to pick apples and pumpkins and find your way through its massive galaxy-themed corn labyrinths.
Fall for families
An annual event always worth attending for its magical beauty, Gardens of Light fills the Montréal Botanical Garden with glittering hand-made lanterns and multimedia creations. Families will love the Botanical Garden by day as well at the Great Pumpkin Ball. 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.
Roam through nature in the city at Mount Royal Park and see all of downtown and the St. Lawrence River from the lookout and chalet. Watch the leaves fall in beautiful Parc La Fontaine in the Plateau and cross the St. Lawrence River to visit Parc Jean-Drapeau on Île Sainte-Hélène. Among kid-friendly indoor activities, experiment at the Montréal Science Centre, see dinosaur bones at the Redpath Museum or discover Barbie’s high-fashion history at the free Barbie Expo. Catch a high-energy game of football as the Montréal Alouettes take on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on October 12. In NHL action, the Montréal Canadiens face off against the St. Louis Blues on October 12 at the Bell Centre. And see the city from great heights on La Grande Roue de Montréal in the Old Port or from the Observatoire Place Ville Marie.
Public art resounds In the Quartier des spectacles until October 14: watch your voice become illuminated in the electronic wavelengths of art installation Spectrum in Place de la Paix, let the Compassion Machine scan you for altruism on the corner of Bleury and Sainte-Catherine Streets, and create symphonic ambient sounds on artist Étienne Paquette's 28-foot-high Wind Instrument.
On stage and screen
Spend a night on the town, starting at the theatre! Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal present Carmina Burana & Stabat MATER, choreographed by Edward Clug, from October 3 to 19 at Place des Arts. See cutting-edge contemporary dance at Agora de la danse, Danse-Cité and Théâtre La Chapelle. And stay out late to catch world-class drag shows in Montréal. In film, the expertly curated 46th Festival du nouveau cinéma features hundreds of films from Canada and around the world as well as workshops, new cinema technologies, performances and parties from October 9 to 20.
Art and history
While the trees provide their own colourful display, Montréal’s museums, galleries, stages and screens pop with bright offerings as well. Visit the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, including Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives, a touring exhibition produced by the British Museum, Omar Ba: Same Dream, a monograph dedicated to the influential African artist, and much more. See a survey of the work of painter Janet Werner at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal.
The MAC, Galerie de l'UQAM, McCord Museum and several more venues also host the MOMENTA | Biennale de l’image exhibitions – this year under the theme “The Life of Things” until October 13. Bring something beautiful home with you while gallery hopping and antiquing, and even pick up arts and crafts at these cool (no, really) souvenir shops.
The McCord Museum presents SDING K’AWXANGS – Haida: Supernatural Stories and historic photography exhibition Montréal at work along McGill College Avenue. Immerse yourself in the nocturnal worlds of renowned Québec writers in the Stewart Museum's Nights exhibition. 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 Musée de Lachine presents history and archeology from the times of fur trade and New France alongside contemporary art. The Canadian Centre for Architecture explores measures of happiness in Our Happy Life. And the Museum of Jewish Montreal presents Iraqi Jewish Voices.
Music in the air
The CIOC Festival presents free concerts on October 13 with James Mellichamp at Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal and Sebastian Heindl at the Grand Séminaire de Montréal. L'OFF Festival de Jazz de Montréal showcases eclectic jazz artists from October 3 to 12 – during the weekend, catch Viñu-Vinu, bassist Frédéric Alarie, saxophonist Samuel Blais' Equilibrium, and closing concert The Mystic Mind Suite by L'Orchestre National de Jazz de Montréal with Jean-Nicolas Trottier. Also check out these cool jazz and blues venues and other places to hear live music in the city.
The Australian Pink Floyd Show thrills fans at the Bell Centre on October 11. On Saturday, see British indie-pop band Kero Kero Bonito at Théâtre Fairmount, British singer-songwriter Bishop Briggs at Club Soda, and electronic producer and guitar master Sullivan King at Le National. Pianist Denis Matsuev performs Liszt and Stravinsky at Maison symphonique de Montréal on October 13. On Monday, October 14 catch folk-pop singer-songwriter Noah Kahan at Corona Theatre and synthpop duo Boy Harsher and guests at the Phi Centre. And legendary Québécois poet-musician Gilles Vigneault performs at Place des Arts until October 14. For more, check out these 10 great places to see indie bands.
If you're in the mood to dance late into the night, let loose at these dance clubs or head to New City Gas, hosting a weekend of electronic dance music with Felix De Laet aka Lost Frequencies on October 11 and Joyryde's Brave World Tour on October 12, or the annual Black & Blue Festival, where you can dance all night Sunday (and sleep all day Monday).
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.