Travel Blog

21 May

Things to Do in Montreal: May 17-23


Festivals and outdoor activities spring forth this week with a bout of beautiful weather just in time for the long weekend: celebrate La Fête de Montréal with street entertainment and food; be inspired by the art of Festival Transamériques and Chromatic; fall under the spell of the Montreal Opera, the Chamber Music Festival, and live music from electro-dance to glam rock…

(outdoor life) The fun starts outdoors on Friday, May 17 with free, all-day party La Fête de Montréal in the heart of the Quartier des Spectacles. The day celebrates Montreal’s 371st anniversary with performances from circus troupe Les 7 Doigts de la Main, folk-rock band Irreverend James and the Critical Mass Choir, choreographer-dancers Jocelyne Montpetit and Manon Oligny, artist Armand Vaillancourt and more. Food is also front and centre at the festivities with a variety of gourmet food trucks and a happy hour cocktail party at 4:30 p.m., followed by DJ sets by Vincent Lemieux and a multimedia musical event at 9:30 p.m. Sundays are for relaxing in the open air, chilling with drummers and dancers at the Tam Tams on Mont Royal or at this summer’s first weekend of Piknic Electronik (pictured above) at Parc Jean-Drapeau, starting its 11th season off right with two days and two stages of music to dance to: on May 19, hear house-label Leftroom producers Jay London and Laura Jones and the UK’s Matt Tolfrey, while on Monday, Detroit house legend Carl Craig headlines. And thrill-seekers flock to the sunny opening weekend of La Ronde amusement park.

(daring performance) Some of the highest caliber multidisciplinary theatre, dance and performance art comes to Festival Transamériques, May 22-June 8, featuring international and Canadian talents, including German director Thomas Ostermeier’s not-to-be-missed modern interpretation of Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People on May 22-24, and South African artist-choreographer Robyn Orlin’s Beauty Remained For Just A Moment Then Returned Gently To Her Starting Position…, an engaging, humorous critique of South African society – and society in general, for that matter, dressed in elaborate costumes made of recycled materials.


(art the street) Multidisciplinary art festival Chromatic, May 18-22 at art gallery and studio space The Darling Foundry puts on a long weekend of all kinds of avant-garde art, film screenings, music and more, indoors and outdoors – there’s even an art party on Saturday night with music by Capitaine Soldat, Aroara, Memoryhouse, TEEN, Rock Forest, High Klassified and Toast Dawg. On May 19, bring the family for a picnic on Ottawa Street outside the gallery, complete with free art workshops for kids. May 22 closes the show with an Art Affaire party. Catch two art exhibitions at the PHI Centre: Philomène Longpré’s interactive video system Cereus Queen of the Night, and Gabriel Coutu-Dumont’s multidisciplinary Wonders of a Transient Universe. And experimental Sight and Sound Festival continues to blend art and technology, with performances at Eastern Bloc to May 29. And make music outside just by swinging on  music-art installation 21 Swings, outside along de Maisonneuve Avenue in the Quartier des Spectacles.

(love mystery) The Opera de Montreal, alongside the Orchestre Métropolitain reach new heights with Massenet’s opera of love and poverty, Manon, directed by Fabien Gabel and featuring soprano Marianne Fiset, Canadian baritone Gordon Bintner and Portuguese tenor Bruno Ribeiro. Dream Away, the latest work by award-winning choreographer Stephan Thoss, is a surreal exploration of movement and gesture, presented by Les Grands Ballets to May 25. Thoroughbred and highly trained horses make up the magic of Odysseo, a theatrical new show from the makers of Cavalia, to June 9 in Laval. And Greg Kramer’s adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, starring Jay Baruchel, unravels mysteries of man and nature at the Segal Centre until May 28.

(chamber classical music) The Montreal Chamber Music Festival mixes traditional quartets with chamber-inspired jazz, to June 1: on May 17, hear Brazilian guitarist Chico Pinheiro and his ensemble perform music from their new album There’s a Storm Inside; on May 18, it’s the Swingle Singers 50th Anniversary Celebration at Église St-George, singing tunes from The Beatles to Bach; and on May 22, hear solo performances of Bach played on impressive instruments from the Canada Council Musical Instrument Bank. Meanwhile, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra plays out its spring season with the family fare of the Magic Horn, a story of a genie told through the sounds of exotic musical instruments. On May 21, the Orchestra tackles surrealist music of the early 20th century, and on May 22-23, David Zinman conducts Mahler’s Fifth.

(may music fests) Pop-punk is the name of the Pouzza Fest game, as are Pabst and poutine, all a part of the fests take over of 10 downtown Montreal venues by 150 bands – there’s even a Sunday breakfast show at Foufounes and BBQ dinners at Katacombes. Among the headliners: Me First the Gimmie Gimmies, New Found Glory, A Wilhelm Scream, The Planet Smashers, Saves the Day, and man, many more, including free outdoors shows at the Quartier des Spectacles (at the corner of Clark and Ste-Catherine) on Saturday and Sunday starting at 11 a.m. Later in the week, catch a variety of great solo acts at the One Man Band Festival, May 23-26: on Thursday night, see Bloodshot Bill, Danny Lutz, André Daneau and more.

(more live music) Friday night is alright for an electro-groove party with RJD2 at the SAT. On Saturday night, the man behind The Twist performs the kind of rock and roll that inspired a generation: Chubby Checker gets the crowd dancing at the Rialto Theatre, in the Mile End neighbourhood. On May 19, glam-rock band The Darkness prove they still believe in a thing called love, with Free Energy opening, at the Corona Theatre, while Connecticut-based rapper Chris Webby  rhymes to the beat at L’Astral (305 Ste-Catherine E.). Listen to the sweet and sometimes sad music of Montreal’s Folly And The Hunter and Aidan Knight at Cabaret Du Mile End on May 22. And on May 23, UK indie post-rockers The Boxer Rebellion bring their big sound to Petit Campus (57 Prince-Arthur E.), while The Shins get mildly happy, with openers Ra Ra Riot, at Metropolis.

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