Things to do this Thanksgiving Weekend in Montréal

Robyn Fadden

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 9 this year. The holiday also means a long weekend full of things to do – and plenty to eat.

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Thanksgiving dinner and more

Montréal satisfies the seasonal palate with classic and non-traditional dinners alike. Try Old Montreal’s cozy L’Orignal for a chalet-like experience, Le Club Chasse et Pêche and Lemeac and more for gourmet creations and comforts, find Parisian flair at these authentic French restaurants, imbibe and dine at wine bar and bistro Accords, and for that incredibly-full, post-Thanksgiving dinner feeling, Au Pied de Cochon and other classic Québécois restos. Go for dinner and a motown, blues or soul show at classy Le Balcon downtown. The Casino de Montréal adds a touch of country to its Vegas-style glamour with country music, line dancing and way-out-west feasts. Take a food tour around the city or a take to the Saint-Lawrence River on a dinner cruise onwith Croisières AML. Sip the perfect latté at the city’s indie cafés or go for an incredible brunch. 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 pies – if the weather's agreeable, go for a picnic in the park.


Fall for families

Early-October weather is still warm enough for spending plenty of time outdoors. At Montreal’s Space for Life, the Botanical Garden, Insectarium and Biodôme celebrate pumpkins and assorted autumnal squash throughout the month during the Great Pumpkin Ball, while the Botanical Garden’s Gardens of Light lantern exhibition lights up the evening. Start the weekend feast early and in the open-air with a visit to First Fridays on Oct. 6, pairing the inventive menus of dozens of food trucks with live music and more at Olympic Stadium’s Esplanade Financière Sun Life. Step into the urban oasis of Jardins Gamelin downtown for music, seasonal food and family-friendly weekend activities outdoors. Among kid-friendly indoor activities, visit the Montréal Science Centre or see Barbie in high-fashion glory at the free Barbie Expo. Catch a high-energy game of football as the Montréal Allouettes take on Edmonton on Oct. 9. And see the city from great heights on the newly opened La Grande Roue de Montréal observation wheel in the Old Port or from the Au Sommet Place Ville Marie Observatory.


Walks to remember

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. Visit the vibrant Viaduc 375 project in Mile End, October 2-9, to learn more about the area's history and culture. Nature abounds in the city at Mount Royal Park – see all of downtown and the Saint Lawrence River from the lookout – as well as at beautiful Parc La Fontaine in the Plateau and Parc Jean-Drapeau on Île Sainte-Hélène.


Art everywhere

While the trees provide their own colourful display, Montréal’s museums, galleries, stages and screens pop with bright offerings as well. White weddings and high fashion meet in the Love Is Love, Wedding Bliss for All à la Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition while REVOLUTION explores the ideals of he late-60s through music, film, fashion and design, both at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts. 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. DHC-ART in Old Montréal celebrates its 10th anniversary with multi-artist show L'OFFRE. The Pointe-à-Callière archaeology and history museum presents Amazonia. The Shaman and the Mind of the Forest. Over at the McCord Museum, fans of magic will love Illusions: The Art of Magic showcasing posters from the golden age of magic shows. And travel back in local time to Expo 67 in several exhibitions, including Expo 67: Place aux arts at Place des Arts, immersive multimedia exhibition EXPO 67: A World of Dreams at the Stewart Museum, Écho 67 at the Biosphere museum, the photographs of Expo 67: The Place to Be along McGill College Avenue and Explosion 67: Youth and their World in Old Montréal.


On stage and screen

A new and spectacular production of The Phantom of the Opera comes to wow fans in Montréal, at Place des Arts October 4-15. Old Montréal's Centaur Theatre opens its 49th season on October 3 with Playing with Fire, the story of hockey great Theo Fleury. Contemporary dance thrills as Tangente presents powerful solos by Iranian choreographer Nasim Lootij and First Nations artist Christine Friday in Porter l’héritage, October 5 to 8. Put on a VR headset to explore the Virtual Reality Garden and Lucid Realities at the Phi Centre. And the expertly curated 46th Festival du nouveau cinéma features hundreds of films from Canada and around the world as well as workshops, performances and parties, October 4-15.

Music in the air

The Canadian International Organ Competition opens early on Friday, October 6 with an “alternative organ” concert featuring Leif Vollebekk and Jean-Willy Kunz at the Maison symphonique. Meanwhile, Future Islands rocks MTelus, trip-hop artist Tricky makes a comeback Théâtre Fairmount and Corona Theatre hosts a Daft Punk Tribute. The OFF JAZZ Festival happens Oct. 5-14 – during the weekend, catch music from the Joe Sullivan Big Band, Artie Roth Quartet, Benjamin Deschamps Quintet and more at Résonance Café, Upstairs, Lion d’or and other venues. For more, check out these cool jazz and blues venues and other places to hear live music in the city. Spend Saturday night with Against Me! at Corona Theatre or British singer-songwriter Luke Sital-Singh and Lucy Rose at the Phi Centre. Senegalese pop singer Viviane Chidid N'Dour performs at Club Soda October 8. The “King of Latin Pop” Enrique Iglesias co-headlines the Bell Centre with hip-hop’s party poster boy Pitbull on October 9, while Atlanta, Georgia heavy metallists Mastodon thunder into MTelus with Eagles of Death Metal by their side. If you're in the mood to dance, try these dance clubs or even dance all night at the Black & Blue Festival Ball on Sunday (and sleep all day on holiday Monday.)