The late-September arts-and-culture jamboree that is the province of Quebec’s Journées de la Culture, now in its 16th edition, offers just more proof of how fun and creative Montreal really is: thousands of free – yes, free! – activities happen this Friday through Sunday, September 28-30, at museums, galleries, performance venues and in the city streets…
Encountering outdoor events is also one the highlights of the weekend: go to the Quartier des Spectacles around Place des Festivals (Ste-Catherine at Jeanne-Mance) on Saturday at 1 p.m. to see the Marathon of Arts, featuring the opera, symphony and more performances, as well as installation art all the way down de Maisonneuve Boulevard to St-Denis, including a fully wrapped building by artist Dominique Pétrin, throughout the three days. Smaller events, like the International Interarts Festival, which launches its first edition with acrobatic dance performances outside Mont-Royal metro station on September 29 at 1 p.m., are great outdoor surprises too.
The city’s big museums are always a draw, with plenty of family-friendly activities and guided tours (some free, some at discounted prices). See the vast collections at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, including En Masse’s black-and-white mural-like art, as well as free screenings of films from the International Festival of Films on Art. The Musée d’art contemporain takes part in Saturday’s Marathon of Arts via a workshop called Souffle d’inspiration, and on Sunday tours and workshops related to the exhibition A Matter of Abstraction. Step into Montreal history at Pointe-à-Callière, and weave through the Urban Forest at the McCord Museum, where you might even get to know your satirical self at their Become an Editorial Cartoonist Workshop, September 29-30.
Performances – theatre, dance, opera, circus and other live acts of art – also pop up throughout the three days. The Opéra de Montréal offers activities for young people including a singing workshop on September 28 at Place des Arts at 11 a.m., a chance to dress-up in costume and have photos taken on September 29 at 1 p.m. as well as a presentation of the opera’s upcoming season throughout Saturday afternoon. The Tohu circus centre gives guided visits of the building on September 29 as well as peeks of the circus show Pfffffff, while the nearby National Circus School opens its doors all day, with students in training and instructors on hand for conversation. And the National Theatre School holds an action-packed open house on September 29, featuring performances, workshops, readings and more. There are even performances of mime, dance and more inside Berri-UQAM metro station.
Of course, visual art is in plentiful supply in every part of the city during Journées de la culture, as almost every small gallery, art collective and studio space opens its doors. The art-filled Belgo Building (372 Ste-Catherine) downtown is a good place to start gallery hopping, from Visual Voice Gallery, to Optica, Pangée, Pierre François Ouellette, Les Territoires, and many more. On September 29 at 1 p.m., see a presentation at SBC Gallery on their current exhibition Technical Temptations: The Films of Maria Lassnig, see performances at Joyce Yahouda Gallery starting at 2 p.m. with “electrokitsch” band Les Céline B. La Terreur, Nadège Grebmeier Forget and Moosy, and go to Studio 303 for their open house on September 28 with a artists Sonya Stéfan and Nébuleuse and free dance classes on September 30. In the Plateau neighbourhood, Agora de la Danse also holds free dance workshops on Sunday.
Over on St-Laurent at Ste-Catherine, music, food and art come together at the Society for Arts and Technology. On September 28 starting at 5 p.m., check out the outdoor night market, where local fresh food and gourmet treats are accompanied by performances by DJs Panton & Christopher Mac – and at 9 p.m. inside the 360-degree, dome-shaped Satosphere, see a free presentation of DJ Food’s immersive film-and-music experience The Search Engine. See more projection art made for the Satosphere throughout the afternoon on September 29-30, as well as Maurice Benayoun’s interactive art installation Tunnel sous l’Atlantique. The SAT also opens up its kitchen for a free autumnal cooking workshop at 5 p.m. on September 29, with chefs Michelle Marek and Seth Gabrielse.