Even in the midst of a snow storm, the idea of spring is on the minds of Montrealers by late March – one of the sure signs of the season is the city’s huge St. Patrick’s Day parade, joined this week by sugar shack season, a Pink Floyd opera, the vivid colours of Chagall, butterflies at the Botanical Garden, and plenty more.
St. Patrick’s Day party
Montréal may be one of the biggest French speaking cities in the world, but its varied history wouldn’t be quite as colourful without its long-standingn Irish contingent. That’s why Montréal boasts the longest consecutive running St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world – see what it’s all about on March 19 as the parade dances and drums for all ages along Sainte-Catherine Street downtown. Add to the annual tradition by raising a glass at the city’s best Irish pubs – our guide to 10 things you didn’t know about the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Montréal makes for great bar fodder.
Snowstorms rival sunny days in March, so if you’re here on Spring Break, keep your plans flexible: our guide to restaurants, bars and parties for spring break in Montréal has plenty of ideas for letting loose, while our guide to things to do for families during spring break engages kids and adults alike in fun activities. Indoors: take a walk through the underground city to see Art Souterrain‘s miles of art installations; frolic among the butterflies indoors at the Botanical Garden’s wonderful Butterflies Go Free event, part of the Montréal Space for Life‘s many activities; or see the characters of classic comic Astérix step off the page at Grévin Montréal wax museum’s exhibition. And on the ice, the Montréal Canadiens take on the Senators on March 19, Red Wings on March 21 and the Hurricanes on March 23, at the Bell Centre.
Food and drink
With spring on the horizon, it’s officially sugaring off season in Québec – that means the maple syrup’s flowing and the tables are stacked with tortiere, sugar pie, sausages and so much more – indulge in a Québecois sugar shack meal in the country or the city. Learn – and eat – more in a free Sugar Shack Workshop with Urban Bonfire on March 20. Or dig into lunch at the Casino de Montréal’s tropical-themed Copacabanashak Buffet. Explore the menus of new Montréal restaurants to find original dishes and welcoming ambience. Warm up with a cup of tea at Montréal’s tea houses, a big bowl of pho or Japanese authentic ramen, a signature winter cocktail at one of Montréal’s Hidden Bars, or a relaxed evening next to Montréal’s coziest fireplaces. Follow it all up with a trip to the candy shop. And for true food enthusiasts, hear esteemed Swedish chef Magnus Nilsson in conversation on the topic of Nordic cuisines, at the Phi Centre on March 20.
Montréal’s 375th anniversary celebrations shines the spotlight on composer Julien Bilodeau’s Another Brick in the Wall, an operatic version of Roger Waters’ The Wall, making its world premier at Place des Arts March 11-27. Montréal’s winter-spring dance program includes the not-to-be-missed Akram Khan Company’s Until the Lions, March 17-25 on an amazing circular stage set by Tim Yip at La Tohu and Les Grands Ballets‘ contemporary dance presentation of Ohad Naharin’s Minus One, March 23 to April 1. In theatre: follow the lives of a Korean-Canadian family in Ins Choi’s hit comedy Kim’s Convenience at Segal Centre to March 19; Centaur Theatre presents thoughtful, humorous family drama You Will Remember Me; Black Theatre Workshop and Tableau D’Hôte co-present Angélique, based on Marie-Joseph Angélique, a slave executed for allegedly set fire to Montréal in 1734, at the Segal Centre to April 2; and Battlefield brings ancient text The Mahabharata to the stage, directed by Peter Brook, at Place des Arts. For kids, there’s the excellent children’s theatre of Geordie Theatre Fest, March 21-26. And for adults, local and international queens of burlesque make Monde Osé’s Royal Burlesque Ball an extravagant, sexy, sparkling affair on Saturday, March 18 at the Rialto Theatre.
Step into the Virtual Reality Garden installation at the Phi Centre, where you can also see selected independent films from the Venice International Film Festival starting March 21 with Heartstone. The Cinémathèque québécoise‘s free installation Détectives de la Pataphysique showcases the awe-inspiring films of Clyde Henry Productions’ Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski (known for animated short Madame Tutli-Putli among other eclectic work.) Immerse yourself in high-tech films Inertia and Morphogenesis in the Satosphere surround-sound dome. The wonderful International Festival of Films on Art screens features and shorts focused on art, music, dance, film and more, March 23 to April 2. And see if you can name the city sights in these movies filmed in Montréal.
Museums and galleries
The beautiful world of CHAGALL: COLOUR AND MUSIC awaits at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, featuring 340 pieces by the Russian-French artist accompanied by music. The Musée d’art contemporain shows moving work by foremost Mexican artist Teresa Margolles, as well as Québec artist Emanuel Licha’s Now Have a Look at This Machine documentary installation. Galerie de l’UQAM presents noted Scottish artist Graham Fagen‘s video and music-based installation The Slave’s Lament. Part of the 375th programming, kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) artist Skawennati’s solo exhibition Tomorrow People explores time and identity in analog and digital forms at Oboro. DHC-ART‘s excellent solo show of Belgian artist Wim Delvoye closes on March 19. Never Apart’s winter exhibition celebrates Black heritage, Indigenous women and more. Take a look back in time at the McCord Museum‘s Fashioning Expo 67, featuring over 60 outfits and products made for the Expo 67 world’s fair by Quebec designers. And find art and architecture in the city’s most stunning churches and other sacred sites.
Friday night’s a big one with British rockers Bring Me The Horizon with Underøath and Beartooth at Uniprix Stadium, father-and-son Canadian folk-rock stars Bill and Joel Plaskett at L’Astral, indie-rockers The Zolas and Louise Burns at La Sala Rossa and Ancient Future presenting a live set by Jacques with opener Xarah Dion at Theatre Fairmount. Sing along on Saturday with The Lumineers at the Bell Centre or Matthew Good and Craig Stickland at Théâtre Corona, it’s a night of wacky mischief at the ShazamFest Awards music-and-burlesque show at Matahari Loft, and Dutch producer Oliver Heldens brings the house down at New City Gas. Scottish heavy metal band Alestorm and Aether Realm get heavy at Théâtre Corona on Monday night. On Tuesday, it’s a good time all around with L.A.’s Allah-Las at Théâtre Rialto. On Wednesday, pop-punk fans come out in full force for Green Day and Against Me! at the Bell Centre, while Danish electronic producer and musician Trentemøller plays Théâtre Corona and Great Lake Swimmers entertain at La Sala Rossa. Kent Nagano conducts the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal in a tribute to Olivier Messiaen, at Place des Arts March 21-22. And Jakarta Records artist Norwegian MC Ivan Ave grooves at the Phi Centre on March 23.