Travel Blog

23 May

Things to do in Montréal: May 20 to 26

Outdoor life in Montréal heats up this week with the arrival of festivals and more activities – many of them free! – from multimedia projections on Old Montréal buildings to urban art by the river and live music and dance downtown.

Sunny days, bright nights

A new urban multimedia experience awaits visitors in Old Montréal and the Old Port: the 20 poetic and playful tableaux of Cité Mémoire are projected on the walls, in the alleys, on the ground and in the trees of the historic quarter, featuring images, dialogue and music that reveal some of the city’s most fascinating history. Also in the Old Port, the must-see Chromatic festival of urban art and music rocks under the high ceilings of Hangar 16, May 20-22, with free art exhibitions, interactive installations and live music during the day – the space transforms into a club at night. Under the big top nearby, Cirque du Soleil’s newest artistic and acrobatic LUZIA, inspired by the culture of Mexico, thrills to July 17. In Griffintown/Little Burgundy, one-of-a-kind creative business event C2 Montréal takes over the Arsenal gallery space May 24-26. Over in the Quartier des Spectacles, go on a guided walking tour of public art and historical sites, interactive musical art installation 21 Swings and Maëstro (conduct a fountain with a baton!) outside Place des Arts, and the park-like Jardins Gamelin, offering delicious food (some from gourmet food trucks) and free entertainment in the heart of downtown – see music and dance in Festival Accès Asie’s event Wind of Asia, Friday to Sunday afternoons. Join the Great Urban Picnic outside 50 Ste-Catherine W. on May 20. Local food and drink also delights at the city’s public markets. And see even more of the city at a leisurely pace on a guided bike tour.

chromaticFor families

Explore Old Montréal on foot to discover plenty of history in museums and churches and along the cobblestone streets – as well as family and kid-friendly restaurants, hotels for families, and shops suited to everyone. Kids can dance, paint, collage and make music at Chromatic Junior, free at Hanger 16, May 21-22. 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. Pick up lightly used books, maps and more at the Grande Bibliotheque’s annual alleyway sale downtown, Friday to Sunday. Find wonders of nature at the Space for Life near the Olympic Stadium – walk around the blooming Botanical Garden, see the stars at the Planetarium, and glimpse animals of all kinds at the Biodôme and Insectarium. 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

Our guide to living in the lap of luxury in Montréal leads the way to relaxation, shopping, hotels big and small, spas, restaurants and more. Go from trending grilled cheese to legendary fare at Montréal’s oldest restaurants , tap into the values of food humanism with culinary demos, talks and dinners by Theater of Life and Italian chef Massimo Bottura May 25-28 at the Phi Centre, and on May 21, Restaurant Day Montréal turns front yards and street corners into mini restaurants serving up cuisine of all kinds. Find the latest trends and classic styles at WANT Apothecary and the Montréal headquarters of men’s retailer Frank Oak – and at this weekend’s open house at Ateliers Capitol, featuring local fashion, food and more, May 20 to 21 in Mile End. Fashion meets the city’s nightlife scene at Never Apart’s Wiggle event, featuring a wearable art performance extravaganza featuring Joey Arias and more fabulous performers and music to dance to on May 21. Whether you’re here for a bachelor and bachelorette party or just letting loose, have a blast in style at one of the city’s hottest new restaurants, the Casino for cards and a show, at outdoor club Terrasses Bonsecours, or out on the town for a night of live music and dancing.

Art, film and stage

Dramatic intensity rules the stage as Opéra de Montréal unveils the world premiere of Québec playwright Michel Marc Bouchard and Australian composer Kevin March’s Les Feluettes (Lilies) at Place des Arts, May 21-28. Les Grands Ballets Canadiens presents surrealistic and emotional contemporary ballet Dream Away by choreographer Stephan Thoss, at Place des Arts May 26 to June 4. Incredible performances from around the world come to Festival TransAmériques, starting May 26 with free dance-meets-architecture show Corps secret / Corps public at Place des Arts’ Espace culturel George-Émile-Lapalme at 7 pm. Chants Libres presents The Trials of Patricia Isasa featuring six soloists and a chorus along with musicians, conducted by Cristian Gort, at Monument National to May 21. Comedy-musical Last Night at the Gayety illuminates Montréal’s jazzy nightlife history as “Sin City” at Centaur Theatre to May 22, while classic comedy-music I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change plays for laughs and love at the Segal Centre to May 29. 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 other locales. Extended until May 22 at the Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal, see fascinating and musical work by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson, who blends song into durational performance on video, featuring music by The National. DHC/ART hosts a must-see retrospective spanning five decades of work by American multi-media artist Joan Jonas. The Cinémathèque québécoise presents several English-language movies in film marathon Fête du cinéma, May 20-21. And local filmmakers show their stuff at Double Negative Collective’s One Take Super 8 Event, featuring 30 films in their original format, May 24 at La Sala Rossa, and at the Montréal Underground Film Festival all weekend.

Live music

Start Friday night with a mix of art and music at the Musée art contemporain’s Friday Nocturne event, keeping the gallery open late with DJs adding a soundtrack to the soirée. Meanwhile, Moderat (the astounding electronic production duo of Modeselektor and Apparat) is at Métropolis, alt-pop artist and songwriter Vérité wows at Divan Orange, and legendary Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds play that psych-punk sound that’s all their own with opener The Adam Brown at at Bar Le Ritz P.D.B.. Sick of It All, The Sainte Catherines, The Fleshtones, The Planet Smashers and dozens of other bands play punk-rock-pop music festival Pouzza Fest, May 20-22, with free shows on an outdoor stage and plenty more indoors at Katacombes, Foufounes and other venues nearby, plus hardcore brunches and bbqs, yoga for punks and more. Les Violons du Roy teams up with Baroque conductor Leonardo García Alarcón and soprano Joélle Harvey in a celebration of Handel’s Water Music, May 21 at Place des Arts’ Maison symphonique. London-based electronic producer Rival Consoles plays live atmospheric music on Saturday at the Phi Centre, while Marea Stamper AKA The Black Madonna rules at Newspeak. Piknic Electronik is back! The annual summer Sunday outdoor dance party starts May 22 – and continues on the holiday Monday, May 23! – at Parc Jean-Drapeau, with music from KiNK, Project Pablo, Four Tet and Ben UFO. Also on May 22, jangly, fun and smart N.Y.-based indie pop quartet Adult Mom play Divan Orange. On May 24, celebrating the 75th birthday of a music legend at the All-Star Tribute to Bob Dylan, at Club Soda, while pop artists Emblem3 come to Théâtre Corona on their Waking Up tour, and airy electro meets jungle, grime and hip hop as The Range and Rome Fortune play Newspeak. The Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, alongside three vocal soloists and the OSM Chorus, conducted by Kent Nagano, plays Britten’s War Requiem at Place des Arts’ Maison Symphonique on May 25. Pop star Selena Gomez sings up a youthful storm for fans at the Bell Centre on May 26, while beloved local electro-pop-rock partymakers The World Provider release a new EP with a night of dancing and carousing at Bar Le Ritz P.D.B., and dynamic musician and artist Petra Glynt takes the La Sala Rossa stage with powerful local openers Così e Così, Pascale Project and Esther Splett.

Up next: Your 2016 Montréal summer festival guide


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