Music and performance festivals, a ticket-free Museums Day, fascinating outdoor entertainment, world-class opera and dance, glorious urban gardens and fabulous food make this week another uniquely Montréal way to celebrate spring.
Art, music and more entertainment fills the streets this week, from the 20 poetic and playful tableaux of Cité Mémoire projected on the walls, trees and alleyways of Old Montréal and the Old Port. The annual Mont-Royal Avenue street fair, June 2-5 in the Plateau neighbourhood, closes part of bustling Mont-Royal Avenue to traffic and fills the street with music, art, food, pop-up shopping, mini golf, a giant slide and more. There’s also plenty to see, eat and do downtown at the redesigned Jardins Gamelin near Berri-UQAM metro station. Over 80 exhibitors show off their green thumbs, plants and garden accessories at the 19th Great Gardening Weekend, May 27 to 29 at the Montréal Botanical Garden. Celebrate the 140th anniversary of Mount Royal Park at the dance night on Mount Royal event, with traditional folk dancing and an electro-trad performance on Saturday, May 28 outside Beaver Lake Pavilion. Outside Place des Arts in the Quartier des Spectacles, as part of Festival TransAmériques, Montréal-based artist 2Fik reconstructs the legendary Chasse-galerie (The Flying Canoe) in photography, performance art and video every day May 28 to 30, adding costumes and artwork and answering audience questions throughout the day. Electronic music and arts festival MUTEK, June 1-5 kicks off its free outdoor show series on June 2 with DJ sets by Blue Hawaii, Frits Wentink and more artists outside Place des Arts starting at 5 pm. Go on a guided walking tour of the Quartier des Spectacles, and see even more of the city at a leisurely pace on a guided bike tour.
Walk into three dozen of the city’s many museums for free on May 29: Montréal Museums Day celebrates its 30th anniversary this year by not only opening the doors to history, art and culture but adding a family fun spot (featuring a group mural, facepainting and other kids’ activities), more shuttle buses between venues (an excellent way to discover areas of the city beyond downtown and Old Montréal), free BIXI bike rentals, and live music at the promenade des Artistes outside Place des Arts. Among the many museum special events: meet Egyptian mummy Hetep-Bastet and her sarcophagus at the Galerie de l’UQAM; see work from one of the world’s largest private circus-art collections at circus centre TOHU; step into the ancient city of Pompeii Montréal Fine Arts Museum; take a historic fashion lesson at Eleganza: Italian Fashion From 1945 to Today at the McCord Museum; and so much more. For more free stuff for the family, read our free things to do in Montréal guide.
Food and festivities
Osheaga music festival presents the Lancement des terrasses St-Denis event May 27-28, with food and drink, a mini putt created by MassivArt, the Atmosphère outdoor climbing tower and a game zone, plus live music until 11 pm. RestoMontreal presents an outdoor foodie event La Fête des Restos at Terrasses Bonsecours in the Old Port on Monday night, showcasing local culinary culture from over 10 restaurants and raising funds for the Food Banks of Québec network. Find more of the best local eats in our Guide to living in the lap of luxury in Montréal. In the Mile Ex neighbourhood, artisans, DJs and food trucks converge for Marché de Nuit outside Alexandraplatz bar in Mile Ex on Saturday afternoon until 9 pm. And the McCord Museum Urban Forest turns a downtown street into an oasis once again, with brightly hued fixtures and furniture, a public piano, food trucks, a café bistro serving light lunch and all kinds of entertainment every day until October – the forest opens at noon on Museums Day.
Inspiring and boundary-pushing dance, theatre and artistic performance from around the world come to Festival TransAmériques this week and until June 8, including free dance-meets-architecture show Corps secret / Corps public at Place des Arts’ Espace culturel George-Émile-Lapalme, Trajal Harrell’s Twenty Looks of Paris is Burning at the Judson Church (M2M), Québec dance icon Louise Lecavalier’s Mille batailles, Ann Van den Broek’s film noir choreography The Black Prince, and much more. Opéra de Montréal unveils the world premiere of Québec playwright Michel Marc Bouchard and Australian composer Kevin March’s intense drama Les Feluettes (Lilies) at Place des Arts, to May 28. Les Grands Ballets Canadiens presents surrealistic and emotional contemporary ballet Dream Away (Rêve) by choreographer Stephan Thoss, at Place des Arts May 26 to June 4. Classic comedy-music I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change plays for laughs and love at the Segal Centre to May 29. And coming-of-age, uncover-feminist film Dirty Dancing comes to the stage in a new musical form at Place des Arts, May 31 to June 5 – no Mr. Swayze but vivid renditions of songs “Hungry Eyes,” “Hey Baby,” and, of course, “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” might make up for that. And the ELEKTRA festival of digital art unveils new multimedia performances and installations, from robotics to biological ooze, June 1-5.
Friday night starts the weekend right with music for all: incredible jazz pianist Brad Mehldau plays a solo show at Maison symphonique at Place des Arts; electronic music and pop fuse into something uplifting and danceable as London-Hamburg duo Digitalism takes the stage at L’Astral; musician and performing artist Mykki Blanco defies convention at Théâtre Fairmount; Art Department gets the floor hopping at New City Gas. Fans of no-nonsense rock tinged with indie-folk, country and plenty of heart flock to Canadian double-bill The Besnard Lakes and Wintersleep this Saturday night at Théâtre Fairmount. Meanwhile, electronic beats hit the dancefloor with Monkey Safari at Newspeak and Quintino at New City Gas. On Sunday, dance outdoors at Piknic Electronik with sunny electronic beats by Len Faki, Okin, Audio Sin, Alexa Jurjan, Vilify and more. Music festival Osheaga presents the clever and catchy music of Austrailian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett at Métropolis on May 29. Discover the world’s finest violinists at the Concours musical international de Montréal Montréal International Musical Competition, in their final round concerts May 30 and 31 and at the Gala Concert on June 2 with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal conducted by Maestro Giancarlo Guerreroat the Maison symphonique at Place des Arts. Swedish indie pop band Miike Snow show off their newfound high-pop prowess at Métropolis on May 30. American indie-RB singer-songwriter and producer JMSN does his thing at Théâtre Fairmount on May 31, while Australian guitarist C.W. Stoneking truly impresses with his old-school take on the blues at Bar Le Ritz P.D.B. And electronic music and arts festival MUTEK kicks off on Wednesday, June 1 with live shows by Aïsha Devi, Lee Gamble and more international and local artists, free shows outside Place des Arts on the evening of Thursday, June 2, followed by music and audio visual performances at the Musée d’art contemporain from Tim Hecker, Peder Mannerfelt, Kara-Lis Coverdale, Herman Kolgen and many more artists.
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