Mid-September eases between summer and fall in Montréal – the sun keeps shining on open-air markets and outdoor performances while a major Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition and Opéra de Montréal’s AIDA wow and POP Montréal keeps Montréal nightlife wild.
Beautiful day and night, the Botanical Garden hosts its annual Gardens of Light lantern exhibition – walk through the Chinese and Japanese gardens after sunset in a soft glow. Montréal’s favourite terrasses stay open for meals, drinks and revelry – don’t miss the FoodLab terrasse at the SAT, where the Omnivore World Tour offers one-of-a-kind feasts, workshops and more, Sept. 16-19. You’ll also find excellent food, drink and entertainment at markets Jardins Gamelin and Village au Pied-du-Courant downtown, Marché des Éclusiers in the Old Port and Les Jardineries at Olympic Park. Take a cruise along the Saint-Lawrence River with Croisières AML for a laid-back brunch or gourmet dinner. For more activities, see our guide to Free things to do this fall in Montréal.
City-wide POP entertainment
The 15th edition of POP Montréal starts its engines on Wednesday night with dozens of music shows along with talks, art exhibitions, the professional-level Puces POP craft fair, film screenings, kids events and more until Sept. 25 – get the low-down in our Survival Guide to POP Montréal and check out our picks for 15 shows to see at POP. Among the Wednesday shows, hit up a BBQ and art openings at POP Headquarters, see rock stars The Kills, synth master Wally Badarou, Allah-Las, SNFU and the chamber-post-rock of Esmerine, while on Thursday there’s another BBQ, a free event with Orkestar Kriminal, and shows from John Cale, Groenland, Health, Holy F*ck, Kode 9 and many more artists.
Art and film
Focus: Perfection – Robert Mapplethorpe marks the first major North American retrospective of the photographer since 1988 – see his photos in all their glory at the Montreal Fine Arts Museum. Also at the MMFA, the Phi Centre co-presents MEMORY, a series of short films on Sept. 17. 150 striking photos capture powerful moments in international events at the World Press Photo exhibition at Marché Bonsecours. Discover Québecois art in retrospective show Edmund Alleyn. In my studio, I am many. at the Musée d’art contemporain and in the thought-provoking work of Yann Pocreau at Galerie de l’UQAM. Take a trip around the universe in new film We Are Stars on the 360° dome at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium at Montréal Space for Life. Delight in the short films and features at the Montréal Stop-Motion Animation Film Festival, Sept. 16-18. And see virtual reality exhibitions and short films curated by Red Bull Music Academy and the Phi Centre at the Centre d’histoire de Montréal.
Tragic love story AIDA captivates as the Opéra de Montréal illuminates Verdi’s classic Egypt-based drama at Place des Arts, Sept. 17-24. Festival Quartiers Danses adds contemporary dance to the downtown streets with free 12:30 pm and 5 pm performances at Place Émilie-Gamelin and Place des Festivals, plus brilliant indoor shows at Place des Arts and more venues. Get fired up for the Montréal Flamenco Festival’s incredible dance and music performances, to Sept. 17. And in theatre, follow the compelling story of a young artistic talent in a traditional religious family in play My Name Is Asher Lev, at the Segal Centre.
More live music
On Friday night, re-learn the essential teaches of Peaches at the Rialto Theatre, while Austin’s Okkervil River rocks Théâtre Fairmount, soulful British singer-songwriter Nao owns Le Belmont, and EDM main man Steve Aoki turns New City Gas into his own partyzone. Plus there’s a Britney Spears Dance Party at Bar Le Ritz P.D.B. Bringing the party to Saturday night: Wax Motif shakes the dancefloor at New City Gas and producer Tourist brings electronic pleasure to your ears at Le Belmont. Sunday afternoon’s Piknic Electronik at Parc Jean-Drapeau features the one-and-only DJ Harvey, Young Marco, Ohm Hourani and more – plus a Petit Piknic for kids. That night, post-rockers Explosions in the Sky get heavy with opener Julianna Barwick at Metropolis, South East London producer TroyBoi revs Théâtre Fairmount and Car Seat Headrest plays Bar Le Ritz P.D.B.
Montréal epic-post-rock legends and Constellation Records cornerstone Godspeed You! Black Emperor plays four life-affirming/shattering shows Sept. 19-22 at Théâtre Paradoxe. On Monday, sway to country-rockers Lake Street Dive and Katie Moore at Théâtre Corona or hear London alt-country/indie folk Bear’s Den at Café Campus. On Tuesday, Young The Giant tours new album Home of the Strange with openers Ra Ra Riot at Metropolis, hip hop artist SonReal and Clairmont the Second get deep at Théâtre Fairmount, and high-energy singer-songwriter Michael Bernard Fitzgerald plays Divan Orange. Against Me! packs Club Soda with punk on Wednesday. And on Thursday, Sept. 22, the Montréal Symphony Orchestra presents From Bach to to Reger: The German Organ, featuring organist Christian Schmitt, at Maison symphonique.
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