The lively streets of Montréal get even livelier this week with the return of 21 Swings musical installation at Place des Festivals alongside more innovative art, theatre and dance at Place des Arts and beyond – add to that world-class restaurants, a literary festival, fun family activities and plenty of live music.
Whether this is your first time in Montréal or your tenth, expect the unexpected: like 21 Swings, a musical instrument, art installation, colourful swing set and gathering place all in one. The swings return to the streets for the sixth year, lining de Maisonneuve Boulevard outside Place des Arts downtown, from April 11 to May 29. At night, the 9x [MTL] Video Projections illuminate the facades of eight building in the Quartier des Spectacles, screening colourful photomontages of iconic people, places and events in Montréal, created by motion designers, Gabriel Poirier-Galarneau and Vincent Bilodeau. Another sign of spring: the Butterflies Go Free event at Space for Life, where local butterflies venture outdoors and tropical butterflies and caterpillars have the run of the Botanical Garden’s and Insectarium’s Main Exhibition Greenhouse, until April 24. On top of that, see the Harlem Globetrotters on April 8 and the Montréal Canadiens against the Lightening on April 9 at the Bell Centre. And discover all kinds of free things to do in Montréal this spring.
Food and fancies
Discover two authentic Montréal food experiences that go hand-in-hand with spring: a visit to the city’s public markets and an urban sugar shack meal featuring traditional Québécois dishes and creative new twists on tourtière, sugar pie and, of course, maple syrup. Eat well and in creative top-chef style at Canada’s Best 100 Restaurants for 2016, Grand Prix du Design Montréalais-winning restaurants and cafés, and Montréal’s hottest new restaurants. If you’re in the mood to be pampered at the spa or in a luxurious hotel, consult our guide to living in the lap of luxury in Montréal. And add new designer looks to your spring wardrobe at La Grande Braderie de Mode Québécoise fashion sale, April 14 to 17 at Marché Bonsecours in Old Montréal.
Film and books
If you’re in a bookish mood and want to hear what local and international authors have to say about writing, you’ll love the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival, April 11 to 17 – featuring readings, workshops, parties and more by Anne Carson, Anakana Schofield, Thomas King, Joseph Boyden, Valeria Luiselli and many more writers, plus a reading series just for kids – consult the Blue Met calendar for all the details (and read our interview with award-winning author and former Montrealer Yann Martel too!) Citywide arts event Digital Spring continues, including with multimedia screenings at the SAT’s 360-degree audio-visual dome during SATFest and at the Phi Centre’s Virtual Reality Garden, extended to April 15, and in the centre’s weekly screenings: a 4K restored version of Akira Kurosawa’s Ran on April 8, Belgian filmmaker Robin Pront’s dramatic thriller The Ardennes on April 14, and Anomalisa, directed by Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman on April 12.And for a behind-the-scenes look at film, attend an evening with the master of editing, Joe Walker on April 11 at 6 p.m. – the British artist and technician, known most recently for Sicario, 12 Years a Slave, Shame (playing April 11) and Hunger, lets us in on the secrets of the editing room. The Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal spotlights buzzed-about Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson in large-scale, long-form video works featuring musical collaborations with bands The National, Múm and Kjartan Sveinsson of Sigur Rós. And in the windows of the Goethe-Institut at the corner of St-Laurent at de Maisonneuve, see Unnamed Sound Sculpture by Daniel Franke, a moving sculpture created from recorded motion data of a dancer’s movements.
Famed Canadian dance troupe The Holy Body Tattoo pairs up with eight musicians from legendary post-rock Montréal band Godspeed You! Black Emperor in monumental, a show of urban grit and humanity, at Place des Arts, April 11 and 12. La Tohu circus centre presents the wild fantasy world of Cirque Eloize’s CIRKOPOLIS, an electrifying show of high-flying acrobatics and awe-inspiring circus arts, at Place des Arts, April 14 to 16. Also in dance see free performance 1 = 5 by choreographer Ginette Laurin and professional dancers of O Vertigo, at Place des Arts’ Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme, April 8 at 5 p.m. In English-language theatre: Montréal native Rick Miller brings 100 of the most influential figures of the Baby Boom era to the stage in BOOM at the Segal Centre to April 10; and dancer-performer-artist Dulcinea Langfelder harnesses authentic human emotion and her own dreams in multimedia stage show Pillow Talk at Centaur Theatre.
Rainy day family fun
Multimedia exhibitions, visual art and more reveal Québec’s varied history, art and culture – see it all with a Passeport MTL culture (plus, kids 12 and under have free admission at several of the city’s major museums and galleries when accompanied by an adult): Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, history museums Pointe-à-Callière, the McCord Museum, the Stewart Museum and the Centre d’histoire de Montréal, the Biosphere environment museum at Parc Jean-Drapeau, McGill’s Redpath Museum (see whale and dinosaur bones!), the Canadian Centre for Architecture and more. See animals as never before at the Montréal Science Centre’s new BODY WORLDS: Animal Inside Out exhibition, laying bare the muscular, skeletal, nervous, and digestive systems of animals using a technique called “plastination” – opening April 14. Watch the stars at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, featuring multimedia shows Vertiges and Tempo and more. And stay active indoors with friends and family (including babies and toddlers too!) by playing laser tag, going rock climbing and more.
Friday night rocks with critically lauded locals Ought playing the intimate setting of La Sala Rossa, the indie-rock twang of Nova Scotia’s intense Nap Eyes at Casa del Popolo with openers Cian Nugent and Brave Radar, electro-house music producer Snails and opener Botnek at Club Soda, and young NYC electronic music producer Geotheory at Newspeak. Former member of Genesis and super group GTR and a prolific solo musician, Steve Hackett comes to Place des Arts on April 9 with his new album Wolflight, while Saturday night stands out with indie-folk musician Eamon McGrath at Bar Le Ritz P.D.B., Quilt at Divian Orange touring their new album, Plaza, on the Mexican Summer label, and on the electronic dance music scene: producer/DJ duo Blasterjaxx is at New City Gas and eclectic LA artist Tokimonsta mixes hip hop and electro at Newspeak. Sunday brings Portland 90s college rock stalwarts The Dandy Warhols to L’Astral with new tunes and old favourites, and Arcade Fire violinist Sarah Neufeld’s brilliant solo music to La Sala Rossa. The Montréal Symphony Orchestra presents Gil Shaham and The Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, with conductor Kent Nagano, at Maison symphonique at Place des Arts April 9 and 10, while from April 12 to 14, conductor Alain Altinoglu debuts with the Montréal Symphony Orchestra with a program of British works including The Planets by Holst, at Maison symphonique, April 12 to 14. Discover more classical music as young musicians give recital concerts at UQAM’s Festival Coda to April 20. On Monday, April 11, Duran Duran return with all their pop hits at the Bell Centre, with openers legendary disco group Chic. Also on Monday, musician, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird is a must-see at Théâtre Corona. Chill out and sing along with Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals April 12 at Metropolis. Pop star and fashion icon Ciara comes to town on Wednesday, April 13 at Metropolis. Inventive Canadian folk-rock-ska band Walk Off the Earth (watch their acoustic cover of Adele’s Hello) wows at Metropolis on April 14, while emerging indigenous artists present an evening of dance, music, film and performance at Katacombs, and Elephant Stone creates a psych-pop-rock reverie at La Sala Rossa.
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