As the days warm up, Montrealers start to mingle more, brushing shoulders outdoors and during all kinds of no-cost activities around town. Whether you’re into music, dancing or saving the environment, you’re sure to find some social (and intellectual) action at one of many free and fabulous events this April.
(Writing life) Writers from Canada and around the world share their inspiration and a few trade secrets at the 13th Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival, April 27 to May 1. Each day is packed with seminars, workshops and readings – some with a modest ticket price, but some absolutely free! On April 28 at 2 p.m., the 6th Quebec Roots book launch shares how Quebec students see their province, at the McCord Museum, 2 p.m. Governor General’s award-winning novelist Kate Pullinger debates The Future of Fiction: Historical to Digital, at McGill University’s Leacock Building, Room 232, at 5:30 p.m. And on April 29, the controversial author and activist Gore Vidal talks about American and international media, at McGill University’s Leacock 132, 6:30 p.m.
(Paper hearts) If you love art but can’t muster the cash for the paintings of your dreams (yet), the Papier11 contemporary art fair, April 14–17 at Quartier des Spectacles, offers an affordable alternative. Dedicated to art on paper – drawings, engravings, photographs, collages, installations and more – the fair showcases over 1000 works from 38 Montreal galleries and 400 artists. If all that sounds a bit overwhelming, Papier11’s daily guided tours, education guide and a round table on art collecting are open to all.
(Dig the Earth) Our planet is nothing less than astounding, when you think about it – all this rock, dirt, magma and water supporting an infinite variety of plant and animal life, rotating like clockwork in an almost incomprehensibly vast universe? That’s something to celebrate. Get in on the free Earth Day activities at the Biosphere in Parc Jean Drapeau on April 22, featuring a screening of the documentary Earth Keepers (which offers concrete solutions to environmental problems) followed by a discussion with the directors. And access to the Biosphere’s exhibitions is also free! See the Ecological Solar House, the Planet Bucky, Water Wonders and ONE: Outfits from a New Era, an exhibition featuring 16 outfits made out of items most of us consider waste, from batteries to bullets, car parts to batteries. Take the metro to Jean Drapeau station and walk past Tightly Knit 2010: Year of Biodiversity, an outdoor exhibit of giant nature photos on the way to the Biosphere.
(Dance off) Find your rhythm at Le Bal du Dimanche, at Place des Arts’ Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme, a free dance class for everyone who loves to meet new people by bumping into them while trying out tango or charging into the cha-cha-cha. Singles, couples and families can swing and skip with dancer and choreograper Chantal Dauphinais, who can teach those with even the leftist of feet, while the live music of Swing’abago sets all toes to tapping, on Sunday, April 10, 2–5 p.m.
(Street beats) The Vue sur la Relève festival showcases the daring and divine music, dance, theatre and art being made by some of the best young (under 35) artists in the province. Now in its 16th year, the festival keeps rockin’ the cultural scene from April 5–23. Drop by Divan Orange at no charge to see local musicians like Klô Pelgag, Thierry Bruyère and Héliotrope play their hearts out, or take an inexpensive chance on dance performances at the Rialto Theatre.
(Material tales) What can a simple shoe tell us about how Montreal came to be the city is it today? According to the McCord Museum’s new exhibition, 90 Treasures, 90 Stories, 90 Years, quite a lot. With free admission every Wednesday, 5–9 p.m., the museum puts the city’s varied cultural and industrial past into perspective through first-person accounts, photos, fashion and other rare objects – yes, apparently hockey jerseys have always been always been in style in this town.
Photo Credit: Monteal skyline from Parc Jean-Drapeau- Denis Labine; Papier 11- PatWhite.com; Chantal Dauphinais- Marie-Eve Alarie