Montreal’s leafy, green spaces teem with entertainment all summer, whether you’re just people watching – impromptu music jams and tightrope walking does happen – or in the park to see a scheduled music, dance, theatre or circle show…
(peak park performance) Théâtre de Verdure in Parc Lafontaine begins its 32 nights of free summer entertainment with a cultural picnic on June 26 at 7 p.m. and the premier children’s theatre production Hansel & Gretel. More mature fare comes along with Katya Montaignac et le Groupe O.D.N.I on July 11, 18 and 25 and August 8 at 7:30 p.m. as they perform contemporary dance work Corps Anonymes, while on July 11 at 9 p.m., see many talented Montrealers perform Danse Lhasa Dance, an homage in song and dance to musician Lhasa de Sela, and on July 18, see choreographer Deborah Dunn’s interpretation of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, and on July 26-27 at 9 p.m., BJM – Les Ballets Jazz De Montréal, perform a triple program. On July 28 at 8 p.m., music festival Osheaga presents Montreal bands Forêt and Timber Timbre, and on August 8 at 8:30 p.m., poetic musician Klô Pelgag takes the outdoor stage. And August 2-3, Haiti en Folie presents music from bands Black Parents, Toussaint and Chay Nam.
(daytime classical) Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain heads outdoors this summer, testing nature’s acoustics against those of the orchestra’s usual home at the gorgeous the Maison Symphonique downtown. On July 6 at 7:30 p.m. at Théâtre de Verdure in Parc La Fontaine, the orchestra takes us on a voyage in their De la Russie vers la Bohème program, featuring music from Glinka, Grieg, Sielius and Dvořák , and on July 19 at 7:30 p.m., opera singers join the orchestra for Un Gala d’Opéra. Along with the park concerts, a series of chamber music concerts entertain during lunchtime at Place Jacques-Cartier, June 22-24, 29-30 and July 1, 6-7, 20-21. More classical music is in store on August 16 and 17 during the Montreal Symphony Orchestra’s second edition of A Cool Classical Journey, a fast-paced ride through classical music with 30 free 45-minutes concerts at four venues at downtown’s Place des Arts.
(island life) Parc Jean-Drapeau, a picturesque, tree-filled park on an island in the middle of the St-Laurent River, is also home to arts, cultural, music and sporting events all summer, such as Osheaga, Piknic Electronik, and the incredibly fun, family-friendly, free Week-ends du Monde, July 6-7 and 13-14, where Montrealers of many cultural backgrounds, from Jamaica to Brazil to Poland and beyond, come to the park to share and celebrate with music, dance and plenty of delicious food.
(outside with the Bard) For 25 years, Repercussion Theatre has been entertaining audiences in parks around Montreal every summer with Shakespeare in the Park – this year, see romantic, fantastical comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream, July 7 to August 4. Dates to watch in parks in central Montreal: July 17-19 and 27-28 in Westmount Park; July 21 at Théâtre de Verdure in Parc Lafontaine; July 23 at NDG Park; and join in on one of summer’s highlights too, the 25th anniversary party A Starry Night Celebration, followed by a performance of the play at the top of Mount Royal, right behind the Chalet at 6:30 p.m. on July 11.
(pop outdoors) Music festival Pop Montreal doesn’t happen until September, but, since summer’s too good to miss out on, they’re putting on a few events anyway, including two shows at Théâtre de Verdure in Parc Lafontaine: on July 12, see inventive Montreal bands Pawa Up First and Syngja and on July 13, the great, genre-bending Orkestar Kriminal corrals its many members for an unforgettable time. Later in the summer, on August 17, bike (or walk) on down to the Film Pop Annual Bike-In Fundraiser at the McAuslan brewery terrace, located right on the Lachine Canal in the neighbourhood of St-Henri. They’ll be screening Richard Linklater’s film Dazed and Confused – now 20 years old! – with actor Wiley Wiggins on hand for a Q&A. DJs and a barbeque start at 4:30 p.m. and the film follows at 9 p.m.
(urban excursion) Every day throughout the summer, until September 1, music, performances, art and food fill Place Émilie-Gamelin, a public square located at the corner of Berri and Ste-Catherine in downtown Montreal. Go for an afternoon show – anything from circus acts to electronic music – and a bite to eat – several of Montreal’s gourmet food trucks are parked and ready to serve tacos, poutine, pulled pork, crepes, sandwiches, ice cream, and more. On August 1, environmental organization Équiterre collaborates with La Tablée des chefs and Ateliers Cinq épices for food demonstrations and product tasting as well as arts and crafts workshops for kids, while bicycle-entertainment group Espace Forain performs. On August 8, music festival M for Montreal hosts showcases with local bands, while on August 22, swing dancers and an accompanying band take us back to the 50s and 60s, and on August 29, see an surprising performance by street artists’ groupe Regroupement des Artistes de la Rue.