What to do in Montréal on Labour Day weekend 2019

The final long weekend of summer, Labour Day weekend in Montréal embraces everything that summer stands for: warmth, freedom and exuberance. Among the many things to do from August 30 through September 2, spend time outdoors in the parks and markets or at open-air music festivals, see the city sights, discover new art and restaurants, and spend evenings under the stars.

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Outdoor activities

Montréal offers all kinds of free things to do in summer, including on Labour Day weekend. Relax, play and picnic at Montréal's parks and green spaces such as Mount Royal, where you can go on a walking tour or try bird spotting, row around Beaver Lake and take in the view from the Kondiaronk lookout and chalet. If you're at the base of the mountain on Sunday you'll  see weekly drum circle gathering Les Tam-tams du mont Royal next to the Sir George-Étienne Cartier monument. And if the weekend's warm, go for a dip at the city's many pools and beaches.

Enjoy music and more entertainment alongside food and drink aplenty at Montréal’s seasonal outdoor markets and spaces: stop by Jardins Gamelin outside Berri-UQAM metro station, Village au Pied-du-Courant near the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, the Old Port’s Marché des Éclusiers or green space and café Les Jardineries on the Esplanade of the Olympic Park – if you're there at lunch hour look for Halte 76 food trucks, or dance to Latin beats at Sunday evening's Fiesta Olympica.

Show off your chess skills on the giant chessboards and snap photos with the colourful dogs of Dans ma cour… ç’a du chien ! backyard scenes along pedestrian-only Sainte-Catherine Street in the Quartier des spectacles. After dark on the façade of UQAM's Pavillon Président-Kennedy, watch HUB studio's bright projection art, celebrating the university's 50 innovative years. And get to know the area and its history on official free walking tours of the Quartier des spectacles.

Festivals and live music

Among this weekend's summer festivals, the 21st edition of MEG Montréal Festival brings together emerging and established electronic, hip-hop and indie artists from August 29 to September 2, with three days of electronic dance music programming with Misstress Barbara, Mood II Swing and more producers at Piknic Électronik in Parc Jean-Drapeau, plus rap duo Ärsenik, techno producer Airod, DJRum and many more artists at the Society for Arts and Technology every night. Meanwhile, enjoy the all-ages good vibes of the Mile Ex End Montréal festival under the Rosemont-Van Horne overpass in the Mile End neighbourhood, featuring performances by Feist, Daniel Lanois, A Tribe Called Red, J Mascis, Chromeo, Alaclair Ensemble and more bands from August 30 to September 2.

Also this weekend, Lenny Kravitz plays the Bell Centre on August 30, power metal band Demons & Wizards comes to Corona Theatre on September 1, Jamaican reggae star Sizzla gets L'Olympia hopping on September 2, and New City Gas keeps dancers dancing every night of the weekend, with electronic music courtesy of CamelPhat, Will Clarke, Malaa, DJ Diesel (aka Shaquille O'Neal) and more producers.

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See the city

Get a bird's eye view of Montréal from La Grande Roue de Montréal in the Old Port, the observatory at the top of the Montréal Tower or the Place Ville Marie 360° Observation Deck. Discover Montréal on a guided tour by bus, walking or biking. And see over 600 public art works throughout the city in self-led art tours.

In Old Montréal, visit Notre-Dame Basilica to see multimedia show AURA and at night search out the projections of Cité Mémoire on building facades. Living Connections lights the Jacques-Cartier Bridge every night. View art installations and more under the Aires Libres rainbow in the Village. Follow our guide to Montréal's most famous icons to see more of the city's major sights and architecture.

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Family activities

Explore the nature-focused Space for Life museums at and around Olympic Park: walk around the Montréal Botanical Garden (and see if you can find grazing sheep!) and participate in workshops and search the cosmos in activities and immersive shows at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. The Montréal Science Centre features exhibition Spiders: From Fear to Fascination. Ride roller coasters big and small at massive La Ronde amusement park. Or cheer on Montréal's Major League Soccer team the Montréal Impact as they play DC United at Saputo Stadium on Saturday, August 31.

Among the city's many family-friendly museums, Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex features high-tech multimedia exhibition Generations MTL, cabinet of curiosities Into the Wonder Room and Family Sundays activities. Make a trip to Maison Saint-Gabriel, Museum and Historic Site, where time seems to have stopped in the days of Marguerite Bourgeoys. Recognize Hollywood stars and discover Québec history at the Grévin MONTRÉAL wax museum and see Barbie's high-fashion transformations at the free Barbie Expo.

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Food and drink

Montréal’s bountiful public markets beckon with seasonal produce, delicious meals and desserts. Speaking of seasonal, cool down with delicious locally made ice cream and frozen treats. From August 31 to September 2, head to Taco Fest in the Old Port of Montréal for over 75 dishes, from tacos and enchiladas to corn and churros, plus hot sauce, salsa and more from the city’s top restaurants. And then Le Burger Week begins – from September 1 to 7, try original and exclusive burgers from dozens of participating restaurants. Stroll through Chinatown on the weekend to experience the tastes, sights and sounds of the Asian Night Market 2019.

Dine, have a drink and socialize outdoors on Montréal terrasses. Grab a pick-me-up at Montréal's indie coffee shops, local coffee roasters and most “Instagrammable” cafés and tea houses. Sip a creative cocktail at happy hour or in a hidden bar. Also eat well at these top Montréal restaurants for the gourmet traveller, cheerful bring-your-own-wine eateries, romantic dining options and casual restaurants. And of course, don't miss Montréal classics like poutine, smoked meat, bagels and brunch! Indulge your sweet tooth at Montréal's best bakeries and pastry shops. For more culinary discoveries, check out Tourisme Montréal's favourite year-round food picks.

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Art and history everywhere

Art enlivens every corner of the city, from public art to free exhibitions. See award-winning professional photographs at the annual World Press Photo exhibition at Marché Bonsecours. Enter the fabulously high-fashion art world of Thierry Mugler: Couturissime at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. At the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal don't miss Rebecca Belmore: Facing the Monumental, a poignant and timely career-spanning 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. Montréal history museums and numerous religious sites blend history with art, as in the McCord Museum's The Polaroid Project - At the Intersection of Art and Technology, Indigenous artifacts exhibition SDING K’AWXANGS – Haida: Supernatural Stories and Montréal at work photographs along McGill College Avenue. For more places to see art for free in the city, check out our guide to gallery hopping in Montréal.

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Immersive entertainment

Go on a multi-sensory trip through time and space in Through the Echoes at pyramid-shaped entertainment space PY1 in the Old Port of Montréal (later on dress up and dance at laser-lit PY1 Nights). 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. Passion, fashion and kink-themed late-night parties entice during Montreal Fetish Weekend in the Gay Village. For more multimedia entertainment, theatre, art and cultural listings, take a look at the La Vitrine, cultural hub ticket centre. And pick up a Passeport MTL for a deal on over 28 major attractions (including local transit). Let the Labour Day adventure begin!

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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