As August is a vacation time for many, whether they’re staying in Montreal or headed to a cottage on its outskirts, the city’s pace slows down somewhat – the festival frenzy of the Jazz Fest and Just for Laughs is replaced by more even-keeled cultural events at the Quartier des Spectacles and plenty of free entertainment outdoors in the parks and streets…
(downtown fashion) If you’re into fashion, music, art, design or models, the Montreal Fashion and Design Festival awaits, August 3–6, along Avenue McGill-College at Ste-Catherine Street. See what’s new in Canadian and Montreal-based fashion, as well as Jean Paul Gaultier’s 2011-2012 Fall/Winter collection, accompanied by music from Montreal DJs and bands, including the great Lunice on August 6. Check out the full schedule.
(pop in the park) For half the year, the parks of Montreal are mostly enjoyed by those on cross-country skis, snowshoes and in toboggans, whereas summer use requires much less equipment (and clothing) – plus there’s an abundance of entertainment in the parks. The weekend of August 4–5 sees music festival Pop Montreal host Pop LaFontaine, a two-day showcase of local music and film from Socalled on August 4 and Philémon Chante, United Steel Workers and Katie Moore on August 5, all at Parc Lafontaine’s Théâtre de Verdure.
(community pride) Montreal’s LGBTA community, friends and allies rally around Pride Montreal the week of August 9–14, as venues in the Village host art exhibitions, theatre, workshops, presentations and, of course, drag shows and parties. And on Sunday, August 14, the Grand Parade begins at 1 p.m., with decked-out floats from local sports teams, community groups and organizations rolling along René-Lévesque starting from Guy Street and travelling east to Sanguinet Street and Place Émilie-Gamelin, where a dance party and finale concert end the celebrations.
(the scottish play) Every summer, Repercussion Theatre dresses up and puts on a Shakespeare classic in parks across the city – this year it’s the tragedy Macbeth. Akin to how listening to the blues can make you feel better about your life’s circumstances, watching a play of such tragic proportions can really shed some light on your problems, even if you’re not Scottish royalty. I love this play. It’s on in the parks throughout August, including August 6 at Parc LaFontaine, August 7 in NDG Park, and August 20 and 21 at 8 p.m. in Westmount Park, just west of downtown Montreal.
(children’s fest) Jean-Drapeau Park, home to as much nature as culture (often in the form of big outdoor festivals), hosts the 13th Fête des Enfants de Montréal, August 13–14, a weekend full of free activities for the kids, from song and dance to music shows, arts and crafts, sports, games and all kinds of entertainment and edutainment, including sand castle building and giant marionnettes. Faces will be painted, hot dogs will be consumed, fun will be had. Montreal’s museums are also getting in on the act, with free activities at the Biodome, Botanical Gardens, Insectarium, Planetarium, Biosphere, Pointe-à-Callière and others on Saturday and Sunday.
(kitchen confidential) Aspiring and amateur chefs alike will enjoy Gereon Wetzel’s documentary, El Bulli- Cooking in Progress, about chef Ferran Adrià, screening August 5 at 9 p.m. as part of the SAT’s series of outdoor film screenings at Place de la Paix in the Quartiers des Spectacles. On August 12, Festival Spasm takes over the screening space under the stars, followed by Siggraph Montreal on August 19 and Dérapage on August 20. Free film screenings of the latest and greatest in Quebecois cinema will also be screened August 18–28 at Place des Arts every noon hour at Espace Culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme.
(home and native land) The Montreal First Peoples’ Festival, to August 9, not only sets up a 100-foot-tall teepee at Place des Festivals in the Quartier des Spectacles, but brings together artists and musicians from First Nations communities around the world. See shows like no other, hang around the bonfire, eat great food, browse the arts and crafts tables, see films at the longhouse. On August 5 at 8:30 p.m., see songstress Élisapie Isaac, and on August 6, watch the NUESTROAMERICANA Friendship Parade along Ste-Catherine, from 10 a.m.
(tell no lies) Whether you or your kids understand French or not, Théâtre La Roulotte’s rendition of Pinocchio defies the need for translation – with singing, dancing and a classic tale of truth and consequences, the play speaks to all. With free performances almost every night in August in parks across the city, including at Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Park on August 22 and at Laurier Park in the heart of the Plateau neighbourhood on August 23 at 7 p.m.
(freedom in art) An extension of the Jazz Festival, Québécois artist Armand Vaillancourt’s painting, silkscreen and sculpture exhibition, On n’a pas de printemps à perdre!, takes over the Galerie Lounge TD (305 Ste-Catherine W., 2nd Floor) with its passion for springtime and the creative drive. Oh, and for something completely different, check out Jackson Bollock, a robot arm built to human scale created by the digital artist Joël Proulx Bouffard – see the robot express its creative side at Place Émilie-Gamelin (1500 Berri), August 5–6 and August 20–22, 7 p.m.