Fast cars, fun parties, great music, excellent food: it’s June in Montréal, that’s for sure. Music festivals dominate the entertainment field this week, from French pop to classical Baroque, loudly rivalled by F1 Grand Prix events plus a beer festival, a science fest, a celebration of street art, and more.
Start your engines
Fast, flashy and over the top, the annual Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada returns this weekend with a race at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve near Parc Jean-Drapeau, plus meet-ups with star drivers, outdoor entertainment and too many parties to count in downtown Montréal. The biggest parties happen outdoors: at the Crescent Street Canadian Grand Prix Festival, the Peel Formula event a couple of blocks over, F1 Old Montréal activities and Little Italy Racing Weekend celebrations, late-night electro dance parties at New City Gas and more – cars, drivers, beautiful people, music, food and drink, what else could an F1 fan ask for?
Outdoor entertainment for all ages
All those outdoor stages at Place des Festivals downtown light up with new and legendary music stars from Québec, France, Belgium, Mali and other French-speaking countries for the Les FrancoFolies festival, ongoing to June 18 – plus there’s food and drink, children’s activities and more. The best in street art hits the walls at MURAL Fest this weekend, closing St-Laurent Boulevard to traffic from Sherbrooke to Mont Royal for a street party, featuring live painting, live music and awesome parties. Curious kids will love the Eurêka Festival!, a science-themed free event featuring exhibitions, performances, workshops and more among 100 free interactive activities at the Old Port, June 10 to 12. And let kids make and fly kites, learn aerial circus moves, try rock climbing and more at Grain de Ciel festival at La Tohu circus centre, June 11 to 12. From there, keep walking east on Sainte-Catherine Street to the redesigned Jardins Gamelin near Berri-UQAM metro station in the Quartier des Spectacles, where food, drink and entertainment awaits – on June 10, hear She-Devils and APigeon at 7 pm, salsa dance on Saturday evening, and bring the kids for activities all day Sunday. Walk a little further and you’ll find yourself under a pink canopy in the Gay Village. And when night falls in Old Montréal, look up on the building’s facades and even on trees to see 20 poetic and playful tableaux of Cité Mémoire.
Eat, drink and shop local
A whole world of beer can be yours at the Mondial de la Bière festival, where local and international breweries set up shop so we can test their hoppy wares, to June 12 at Palais des Congrès – entry is free and tasting coupons are $1 each, with the price of samples varying. Discover even more beer varieties with the Beer Passport, letting you sample a dozen local microbrews at a dozen artisanal-style bars for one low price. Sample food and drink from the islands and be entertained by live music and more at the Taste of the Caribbean Festival, June 16 to 19 in the Old Port. Find some of the best local places to shop, dine and relax in our Guide to living in the lap of luxury in Montréal. See why Montréal is an official world-class city of design, from architecture to fashion. And check out small, sparkly examples of that design at the fourth edition of Bijou Bijoux, a sale of new jewellery by dozens of designers, June 10-12 at Marché Bonsecours – entry is free and includes access to demos and workshops on jewellery, make-up and skin care – plus there’s chocolate!
Take a different kind of tour
See the city sights in whatever way you please and with the added bonus of a knowledgable guide on a guided tour. Montréal’s many walking tours will take you as far as you’re willing to go, from the Old Port and the Quartier des Spectacles all the way to the Plateau, Jean Talon Market and several stops in between. Speed up the pace on a guided bike tour that suits your interests and your style (rides through nature, foodie rides, historical sights and more) – and get the whole scoop on biking in our Guide to bike paths, bicycle Rentals, Bixi and all things biking in Montréal. And add some motor to your tour on a double-decker bus with Montréal City Hop-on Hop-off Tour or on a boat with Croisières AML, Bateau Mouche, Amphi Tours or Le Petit Navire. Or tailor a tour of your own to suit a bachelorette weekend or bachelor party spree.
Get into history and art
The McCord Museum of history moves partly outside this summer with their next-door Urban Forest, a brightly hued oasis for resting, eating, drinking, playing piano and being entertained every day until October – be sure to go indoors to see the Eleganza: Italian Fashion From 1945 to Today exhibition too. The Montréal Fine Arts Museum takes us further back in time in its Pompeii exhibition, featuring artifacts from the ancient city leveled by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. At the Musée d’art contemporain, see the contemporary art of influential Québécois artist Edmund Alleyn in the first major exhibition since his death, following his creative trajectory in painting, drawing, film and technological pieces from the 1950s until the early 2000s – take a free guided tour Wednesday and Sunday evenings, an art workshop based on Alleyn’s work on Tuesdays and Wednesdays ($16), or get kids creating at free children’s art workshops on Sundays. See work from one of the world’s largest private circus-art collections at circus centre TOHU. Learn about animals from the inside out at the Montreal Science Centre. And get deep into history’s stories with multimedia and interactive exhibitions at Pointe-à-Callière history and archaeology museum. For more museums from history to art, science to circus, see the comprehensive Montréal Museums site.
See it on stage and screen
The Montréal St-Ambroise Fringe Festival brings us local and international artists in quirky, dramatic, comedic and genre-defying shows for low prices – plus free live music and more at the Fringe Park on St-Laurent at Rachel – all ongoing until June 19. Fans of the King will be at Return to Grace, a musical celebration of Elvis Presley, at Place des Arts June 15 to 19. If you love show tunes, you won’t want to miss The Lyric Theatre Singers’ new musical theatre show Raise Your Voice! A Glorious Broadway Revue, at D.B. Clark Theatre, June 16 to 18. The Phi Centre screens two classic films about women: Luc Besson’s Nikita (in French) on June 13 and Pretty in Pink on June 14, and launches immersive new exhibition Embodied Narrative: Sensory Stories of the Digital Age on June 14 – while there, go one block over to DHC-ART to see a new exhibition by Joan Jonas. And 5th annual Festival Bloomsday Montréal offers film screenings, Irish culture walking tours, various talks and discussions on Ulysses, pub crawls and more, June 12 to 16.
It’s officially summer music festival season here in Montréal and we’re counting ourselves lucky yet again to have so much talent on so many stages. Start downtown with Les FrancoFolies, hosting world-class musicians like Québécois star Jean LeLoup, pop-rocker Marc Dupré, good-time rock band Les Trois Accords, hip hop artist Oxmo Puccino, an orchestra and singers for Gainsbourg Symphonique, and more in indoor and outdoor shows. Classical is definitely cool at the Montreal Chamber Music Festival, with classical and jazz shows at various venues including the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts to June 19. The Montreal Folk Festival on the Canal starts up June 15 with shows by John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on June 15, plus musicians Stefanie Parnell, Alexander Brown and Tamara Weber-Fillion on June 16 – the folk fun continues to June 17 to 19 on outdoor stages by the Lachine Canal. And the Suoni per il Popolo jazz and underground music festival runs all month, presenting dozens of excellent shows at La Sala Rossa, Casa del Popolo, La Vitrola and other venues: Lust for Youth on June 11, Marie Davidson on June 12, Tim Darcy and A.J. Cornell’s atmospheric electronics meets spoken-word plus King Khan and the Shrines on June 14, Constellation Records Night with Sandro Perri, Lorenz Peter, Jason Sharp and Automatisme plus local electro-acoustic geniuses 10,000 Horses and eclectic rockers Screaming Females all on June 16, and more. Alt-rock out and alt-rock hard with Brand New, June 11 and 12 at L’Olympia. The Botanical Garden kicks off its outdoor arts series with live music from the ever-excellent Arthur H on June 12 at 2 pm. Australian psychedelic rock band Tame Impala roll into town on June 12 for a wild show at the Bell Centre, The Cure make us dance and sigh and fall in love again on June 14 at the Bell Centre, and Portland-based country-rockers Blitzen Trapper step into Bar Le Ritz P.D.B on June 16.
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