We’re already feeling the summer hype here in Montréal this week, with cutting-edge outdoor entertainment, farmers’ markets, walking tours and more fun under the sun, while our indoor venues light up with fabulous food and fashion, dynamic circus and drama, inspiring art and live music.
The Quartier des Spectacles’ Jardins Gamelin officially opens for the season, offering a park-like atmosphere, delicious food (some from gourmet food trucks) and free entertainment in the heart of downtown near Berri-UQAM metro station. Take a picturesque guided walking tour of the Quartier des Spectacles – see public art, learn some of the city’s history, and stroll by and take a swing on interactive musical art installation 21 Swings, located on de Maisonneuve Boulevard outside Place des Arts. Walk around the city’s public markets, full of colourful fruits and veg, local meats and cheeses, full meals and delicious desserts. One step away from being outdoors, the must-see Chromatic festival of urban art and music kicks off on May 19 under the high ceilings of Hangar 16 in the Old Port, with art exhibitions, interactive installations and Afrobeat electro music by Pierre Kwenders. And under the big top nearby, see Cirque du Soleil’s newest artistic and acrobatic circus creation LUZIA, a beautiful, heartfelt show of acrobatic feats inspired by the culture of Mexico, running to July 17.
Go for a walk In Old Montréal to find museums, family and kid-friendly restaurants, hotels for families, and shops suited to everyone. Curious scientifically-inclined minds will love the Body Worlds: Animals Inside Out show at the Montréal Science Centre and new IMAX films. Montréal history and archaeology surfaces in brilliant multimedia shows and exhibitions at the Pointe-à-Callière museum. There’s more history – this time all the way from Italy – at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ Pompeii exhibition. Further east, near the Olympic Stadium, you’ll find the Space for Life – walk around the blooming Botanical Garden or see animals of all kinds at the Biodôme and Insectarium. And a little further afield, inspire budding pilots and engineers at the Montréal Aviation Museum. For more activities for the family, read our free things to do in Montréal guide.
Food, fashion, nightlife
First: relax and kick back with our guide to living in the lap of luxury in Montréal for shopping, spas, restaurants and more. Go from trending grilled cheese to legendary fare at Montréal’s oldest restaurants. Find the latest trends and classic styles at WANT Apothecary and the Montréal headquarters of men’s retailer Frank Oak. Okay, now you’re ready to party in the belly of the city’s nightlife scene: whether you’re here for a bachelor and bachelorette party or not, have a blast in style at one of the city’s hottest new restaurants, the Casino for cards and a show, or out on the town for a night of live music and dancing.
Art and stage
Tango: Tribute to Piazzolla showcases the revolutionary work of the Grand Maestro of Tango in a performance of music and choreography lead by Uruguayan musician-composer Néstor Vaz, at Place des Arts’ Cinquième Salle on May 17 and 18. The 21st edition of Festival Accès Asie continues with music, art, dance, film and more – see photography exhibition Found throughout the festival at La maison de la culture Frontenac and a dance competition on May 19 at La Sala Rossa. Chants Libres presents The Trials of Patricia Isasa featuring six soloists and a chorus along with musicians, conducted by Cristian Gort, at Monument National May 19-21. Comedy-musical Last Night at the Gayety illuminates Montréal’s jazzy nightlife history as “Sin City” at Centaur Theatre to May 15 and classic comedy-music I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change plays for laughs and love at the Segal Centre, to May 29. See A. R. Gurney’s Off-Broadway theatre hit Sylvia, a New York story about a man (and his wife) and his dog, to May 14 at Mainline Theatre. And comedy queen and drag legend Mado graces Never Apart on May 14. Digital Spring showcases technological art and creativity to June 21 at venues such as the Phi Centre, the SAT, Circa, Oboro and Arsenal galleries, and dozens of other locales. On only until May 13, the Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal presents work by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson, who blends song into durational performance on video, featuring music by The National. And DHC/ART hosts a must-see retrospective spanning five decades of work by American multi-media artist Joan Jonas.
The weekend starts with the smooth sounds of Mr. James Taylor at the Bell Centre and the Orchestre Métropolitain’s fascinatingly beautiful concert Bach’s Legacy, making correlations between the master composer’s work and our modern world, at Maison symphonique at Place des Arts on May 13, while later on Friday night: producer, mixer and Grammy-winning reggae dub artist Lee Scratch Perry Subatomic Sound System get Club Soda hopping; Montréal rap crew The Posterz and opener Tre Mission pump the bass at Le Belmont; electro dance producer The Magician kicks off DSTRKT’s Friday night residency at New City Gas, and Montréal’s post-punk-psych-pop band Dead Messenger rocks La Vitrola. On Saturday, 60-musician ensemble Orchestre à Vents Non Identifié plays a 10th anniversary concert at Place des Arts’ Maison symphonique, while at 2 p.m., local music maker Jeff Elise Barbara launches a new record at POP Montreal’s Espace POP in Mile End. That night, dance to: Toronto-based soulful electronic duo LAL at Casa del Popolo, British garage-grime producer Preditah at Newspeak, and electronic dance pop with Cash Cash at New City Gas. On Sunday afternoon, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal plays the world premiere of concert made just for kids ages 5 to 12: The Travels of Babar Other Ports of Call, featuring Raphael Mostel’s music based on Jean de Brunhoff’s classic book, along with additional works by Bizet, Stravinsky and Satie, and projections on the big screen, at Place des Arts’ Maison symphonique. On May 16, Canada’s very own preeminent pop star Justin Bieber plays the Bell Centre, or see singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe at Théâtre Fairmount and Seattle surf rockers La Luz at Bar Le Ritz P.D.B. Californian indie-folk duo The Milk Carton Kids and Margaret Glaspy bring smiles to faces on Tuesday, May 17 at Théâtre Corona, while Grammy nominated artist and Skrillex and A-Trak collaborator ZHU stops at at New City Gas on his Neon City Tour, and Chicago garage pop-rock band Twin Peaks rolls into La Vitrola. French electro-swing band Caravan Palace saunters into Métropolis on Wednesday, May 18, while French DJ and producer Breakbot electrifies at Théâtre Fairmount, Sam Patch a.k.a. Tim Kingsbury of Arcade Fire plays his own tunes with Basia Bulat, Jeremy Gara and Matthew Brown at Bar Le Ritz P.D.B. And Simon Leclerc conducts the Orchestre Symphonique De Montréal accompanied by acclaimed singer-songwriter Patrick Bruel, May 18-20 at Place des Arts. Haitian-Canadian electronic musician Kaytranada takes over on May 19 at Métropolis, Montréal symphonic-pop ensemble Syngja plays songs from their lush new album, accompanied by dancers and projections at the Rialto Theatre, and eclectic electro-pop stars Islands land swimmingly at Bar Le Ritz P.D.B.
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