One of the reasons Montreal is so much fun in the summer is that May and June are basically a frenzied celebration of the fact that we made it through winter. And so, May is full of free activities to get everyone out in the city’s public spaces – a free museum day, dance classes and even a festival dedicated to the great outdoors…
(spicy salsa) Step lively into Sunday afternoon with hot new moves – no matter what your age or dance expertise (you’ll never know unless you try…and try and try again)- and show your salsa dancing stuff off at Bal du Dimanche, with dancer, choreographer and dance teacher Chantal Dauphinais and live band Grupo Habana Café, on May 8. Dance lesson starts at 2 p.m. and dancing goes until 4:30 p.m. at l’Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme at Place des Arts.
(museums for all) It’s not until the end of May, but Montreal Museums Day is worth the wait. Immerse yourself in all kinds of free-for-all culture, old, new and in-between, on Sunday, May 29. Now in its 25th year, Montreal Museums Day is organized by the Board of Montreal Museum Directors (BMMD) and it’s anything but dusty and drab. Not only do the doors of the Biodome, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the McCord Museum and many others fling wide open to all, but special activities, tours and presentations happen all day long. With 7 free shuttle buses to 32 locations, Museums Day is also a good way to discover more of the city – head off the beaten track to the Lachine Museum for guided tours of the history of beer brewing or portage over to the National Fur Trade Museum.
(hammin’ around) Michel Campeau’s The Little Piglet Lovers Project lets everyone, locals and tourists alike, take part in a Montreal institution, of sorts. For years, at restaurant Au Lutin Qui Bouffe (753 St-Grégoire), patrons had their pictures taken with the restaurant’s prize pig, feeding the little guy with a bottle, jokingly pulling on his curly tail, generally mugging for the camera as the pig stood by, a pro with the paparazzi. Campeau turns years of photographs by Jean-Paul Cuerrier into a film that explores not only the theatricality and ritual of posing with a pig but part of the popular history of photography. Presented by photo-focused Dazibao gallery, the film will be screened in a loop, with the artist in attendance, free admission, at Salle Fernand-Seguin at the Cinémathèque Québécoise, May 7 & 8, 1–6 p.m. While there, check out the Elektra Festival’s free video screenings on May 6.
(outdoor adventure) Get equipped, literally, for the long-awaited (for Montrealers anyway) summer at the Outdoor and Travel Festival, May 13-15 at Parc Jean-Drapeau. Outdoor companies and community organizations showcase the latest in camping, climbing, biking, kayaking and basically anything and everything related to the great outdoors, as the festival packs the park with activities running throughout the day. Hone your rock climbing skills, walk a slackline, watch outdoor adventure films – plus mini-workshops and other special activities – see demos of new equipment, learn how to tune up your bike, pick up a tips on becoming a pro bird watcher, nature photographer or outdoor chef extraordinaire…
(calm city centre) How does art inspire Montrealers to build active, creative communities? Artists and arts organizations, along with the Accès culture network, show us how with Cultural Mediation, running to the end of July, featuring action-oriented projects that bring artists and non-artists closer together, creating new experiences that illuminate the essential role of art and culture in our everyday lives, whether we’re aware of it or not. The new-art-packed Montreal Biennale does a similar thing in a different way all month at two locations: the Fondation Guido Molinari (3290 Ste-Catherine E.) and on all four floors of the old Ecole des Beaux-arts at 3450 St-Urbain (which has a $2 entry fee, but that’s almost free!). And, as it would seem that getting art into the public sphere is the It-Thing these days: multi-media artist-designers Mouna Andraos and Melissa Mongiat, invite everyone down to the Promenade des Artistes at Quartier des Spectacles, to take part in cooperative musical experience 21 Balançoires, to May 23.
Photo Credit: Parc Jean-Drapeau- © Andre Pichette; Au Lutin Qui Bouffe- © Le présent du passé Montréal