Warm weather means an explosion of outdoor entertainment in Montréal this week: step back in time to celebrate the city’s 375th anniversary and 50 years since Expo 67, walk with giants downtown, party in the parks and bagel shops, see award-winning performances and rock out to live music.
Celebrate 375 years of Montréal
Keep your eyes open for a truly larger than life event this weekend: The Giants – Royal de Luxe street theatre’s building-sized figures roaming the streets of downtown and Old Montréal. See the city’s history unfold on the Saint Lawrence River in the Old Port in spectacular – and free! – multimedia show Montréal Avudo every night. From the Old Port you’ll also see the high-tech light show on the Jacques-Cartier Bridge. Meanwhile, 17th and 18th century local history comes to life with performers, music, food and more at the New France Market outside the Pointe-à-Callière Museum, May 19-22. Another major 375th project: La Grand Tournée weekend events, presented by innovative circus company Cirque Éloize, runs throughout the summer and in every neighbourhood, from group picnics in the park and green alleyway tours to circus shows and cinema under the stars. And take a tour of ship HMCS Montréal, stationed in the Old Port later this week.
Urban green space, outdoor eatery and bar in the heart of downtown, Les Jardins Gamelin holds its grand opening on the evening of May 19, featuring DJ Speakeasy Electro Swing, dance lessons by Salsafolie, kompa funk tunes by pianist Henri-Pierre Noël, R&B duo Skinny Bros followed by the high-energy sounds of Poirier. Join the good times at punk rock festival Pouzza Fest‘s outdoor stage in the Quartier des Spectacles May 19-20 – including music for kids, bouncy castles and more family fun on Saturday morning. While downtown, grab a bite from one of Montréal’s great food trucks or pop by the Marché des Éclusiers market in the Old Port for a meal, a drink, local produce and other creations. On Saturday evening, dance under the stars to traditional and electro music, outside Beaver Lake Pavilion in Mount Royal Park. Legendary Mile End bagel makers St-Viateur Bagel hosts a 60th anniversary block party all day on Sunday, May 21 with entertainment, a kids’ zone, BBQ, drinks and more. And Sunday afternoon marks the first Piknic Electronik massive outdoor dance party of the season, featuring music from Maus, Mightykat and more – followed on Monday (a holiday!) by Tiga and Jacques Greene, all in beautiful Parc Jean-Drapeau. Find more outdoor activities in our guide to free things to do this Spring in Montréal.
Expo 67’s future vision
Montréal celebrates the 50th anniversary of Expo 67 with entertaining and history-rich exhibitions: see colourful outfits and products created by Québec designers at the McCord Museum’s Fashioning Expo 67; photographs tell the tale in The Sixties in Montréal: Archives de Montréal at City Hall; marvel (and maybe laugh a little) at the technological innovations of EXPO 67: A World of Dreams at the Stewart Museum and Écho 67 at the nearby Buckminster Fuller designed Biosphère; baby boomer youth culture is a blast in Explosion 67 – Youth and Their World at the Centre d’histoire de Montréal; it’s all about ’60s artistic expression in the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts’s Révolution: “You say you want a revolution” and the Musée d’art contemporain’s In Search of Expo 67; and Arcmtl presents Expo 67: Avant Garde! – forward-looking, boundary-breaking art of the ’60s at the Cinémathèque Québecoise. Photography exhibition Aime comme Montréal celebrates the city’s diversity in an installation at Place des arts. Old Montréal landmark Notre-Dame Basilica, one of the city’s most stunning churches, lights up with beautiful high-tech spectacle Aura, while the surrounding streets are illuminated by the historic tableaux projections of Cité Memoire.
Something fun and a little wild is afoot under the big top in the Old Port of Montréal: Cirque du Soleil’s VOLTA, featuring acrobats, dancers, parkour experts, motor bike athletes and many more incredible performers in a story about being true to oneself. Opéra de Montréal presents Giacomo Puccini’s masterpiece La bohème, May 20-27 at Place des Arts. Les Grands Ballets presents the contemporary dance of Jiří Kylián’s Falling Angels and Evening Songs in a triple bill with Stephan Thoss’s Searching for Home, at Place des Arts May 25-June 3. Expect extraordinary, boundary-pushing performances in dance, theatre and art at the international FTA – Festival TransAmériques, opening May 25 with documentary and participative theatre piece 100% Montréal by Berlin-based experimental Rimini Protokoll collective. The eclectic and multidisciplinary Festival Accès Asie features a Middle-East dance competition on May 20, Perles d’ailleurs Indian dance performances May 25-28, and Balinese ensemble Giri Kedaton and Bollywood Blast dance troupe on May 25-26 at Jardins Gamelin. Gallery Never Apart and The House of Venus present Wiggle, a Wearable Art and Performance Extravaganza on May 20, with guest star hostess NYC’s Candis Cayne. At Centaur Theatre see the hilarious and heartwarming Bed & Breakfast. Meanwhile, The Segal Centre presents true family story How to Disappear Completely and hit musical Million Dollar Quartet, the true rock ‘n’ roll story of Sam Phillips, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley (moving over to Place des Arts May 17-21 for an extended run). And the performers of Passion Burlesque and I am still here theatre shimmy and strut “con mucha passion” in Latino-burlesque show Passion Tropical on May 20 at Café Cléopâtre.
Art and film
Discover how colour and music converge in CHAGALL: COLOUR AND MUSIC at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, see Hajra Waheed’s The Video Installation Project 1–10 and collections-based Pictures for an Exhibition at the Musée d’art contemporain and Mexican artist Gilberto Esparza’s biotechnical art exhibition Plantas autofotosintéticas at Galerie de l’UQAM. British artist Ed Atkins poses questions on human bodies, digital creation and reality in video exhibition Modern Piano Music at DHC-ART. Pointe-à-Callière archaeology and history museum presents the fascinating Amazonia: The Shaman and the Mind of the Forest. And Parisian Laundry gallery presents intuitive experimental new work by collective BGL. Travel through virtual worlds in Felix & Paul Studios Virtual Reality Garden at the Phi Centre, also presenting docuementary I Am Heath Ledger on May 19 and BMX Bandits on May 23. Explore space in new double feature KYMA – Power of Waves and Edge of Darkness at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. Immerse yourself in wild A/V performances / IS //// IS ////// and Plateaux to May 19 at the Satosphere surround-sound dome followed by the audiovisually-enhanced dance work CORE, May 23-26. And two major, out-of-the-ordinary creative conferences happen this week: C2 Montréal, an ideas-packed hands-on exploration of creativity in business (with great parties too), May 24-26, and Chromatic Pro, opening the Chromatic Festival, a celebration of Montréal’s diverse art scenes, May 24-25.
On Friday night, see what Detroit’s electronic experimenters Adult are up to at Newspeak, while Pouzza Fest opens with a free outdoor punk rock show in the Quartier des Spectacles, late-night shows at Foufounes and Katacombes, comedy, BBQs and more all weekend long – including Lagwagon on the outdoor stage on Sunday night. Blues-punk heavy hitters Boss Hog jam at Bar Le Ritz P.D.B. on Saturday night, while audiovisual wonders add to the electro joys of the Sub-strate party at the Satosphere, and rapper-producer PartyNextDoor gets the dancefloor hopping at New City Gas – followed by a Sunday-night DSTRKT party with Mark Knight. Festival Vue sur la releve wraps up with music by Lydia Képinski, Jérôme St-Kant, Cédrik St-Onge, SHYRE and more at Monument-National May 19-20. Famed Chinese soprano Li-rong Dong performs Chinese traditional folk music and more accompanied by Orchestre Nouvelle Génération and choir at Maison symphonique May 21. On May 23, catch Chicago rockers The Orwells and The Walters at Bar Le Ritz P.D.B. Kent Nagano conducts the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal in Shostakovitch’s Final Symphony and Beethoven’s last piano concerto at Maison symphonique May 24-25. Legendary British punks The Damned rock hard with The BellRays at Club Soda on May 25 while Grammy-winning Chance the Rapper is at the Bell Centre and soulful singer-songwriter JMSN blends R&B.