Montréal celebrates spring with in dozens of colourful ways this week: a Cirque du Soleil circus show; a massive art fair; butterflies at the Botanical Garden; literary luminaries at Blue Metropolis; international dance performances; and live music from orchestras to electro.
Spring in the city
Swing into spring for real at the musical mini-playground of 21 Swings outside Place des Arts in the Quartier des Spectacles, part of this year’s Digital Spring art-meets-tech explorations. See butterflies up close and in the hundreds at the Botanical Garden greenhouse’s Butterflies Go Free event, while on April 23 take a tour through the gardens with the Biodôme’s bird experts, part of the Montréal Space for Life‘s many activities. The Stewart Museum marks the 375th anniversary of Montreal and the 50th anniversary of Expo 67 with the EXPO 67: A World of Dreams exhibition, highlighting the world fair’s technological innovations, opening April 26. Attend readings, panel discussions, workshops, parties and more at the annual Blue Metropolis literary festival, April 24-30 – also featuring a wonderful Children’s Series. Also fun for kids: the Montréal Science Centre’s CSI: The Experience hands-on exhibition. Take a walk off the beaten path to discover welcoming and wonderful quirky spots in Montréal, from urban caves to arcade bars to Montréal’s best karaoke bars. And have fun for free with free things to do this Spring in Montréal.
Food and drink
Discover the city on Montréal’s best food tours, leading you directly to some of the city’s greatest and most creative food offerings. Catch the yearly end of a Québécois tradition: cabane à sucre sugar shack season – fill up on tourtière, sugar pie, sausages, maple syrup candy and so much more. Add more sweetness to your day at the city’s best candy shops. Explore the menus of new Montréal restaurants, relax with a cup of tea at Montréal’s tea houses, or try a signature cocktail at one of Montréal’s hidden bars. Treat yourself to fine dining in one of downtown’s most historic and decadent districts during Golden Square Mile Restaurant Week. Whether you’re a committed vegan or just trying it out, consult our ultimate guide to vegan eating in Montréal for great places to eat every meal, including dessert! And plan your next visit around Montréal’s fabulous food festivals!
Incredible acrobatics, daring feats and an inspiring tale make Cirque du Soleil’s VOLTA a must-see for all ages, under the big top in the Old Port of Montréal. Tiny fans of British cartoon Peppa Pig will squeal in delight at the live show, April 21 at Place des Arts. In theatre: at Centaur Theatre see Clybourne Park, a neighbourhood drama tracing racial tensions in Chicago, and hilarious and heartwarming Bed & Breakfast; The Segal Centre presents hit musical Million Dollar Quartet, inspired by the true rock ‘n’ roll story of Sam Phillips bringing together Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley for an historic recording session; plus family comedy-drama The Shadow Box at Mainline Theatre. As part of Montréal’s winter-spring dance program: Danse Danse presents the hybrid dance, martial arts and theatre of Shay Kuebler Radical System Art, at Place des Arts; the National Ballet of Ukraine performs The Marriage of Figaro at Place des Arts, opening April 26; dancer-choreographer Isabelle Van Grimde questions identity, the perception of the body and its evolution at Agora de la Danse; Danse Cité presents TIERRA by Netherlands choreographer Jens van Daele and O Vertigo’s Ginette Laurin, inspired by the invisible maelstrom of the universe, at Cinquième Salle; (MORE) Propositions for the Aids Museum merges music, images and movement in memory of the AIDS crisis, at La Chapelle; and O Vertigo Creation Centre celebrates National Dance Week with free performances at Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme the evening of April 26.
See the city, past and present, in photographs at Le Centre d’histoire de Montréal’s Ça c’est Montréal, walk up Saint-Laurent to see its bright building-sized murals, and head to Old Montréal at night to see Québéc history unfold in the beautifully bright tableaux projections of Cité Memoire. Photography project Aime comme Montréal celebrates diversity in an installation at Place des arts. Step into Notre-Dame Basilica, one of the city’s most stunning churches, to see not only its beauty but high-tech light show Aura. Or step into the 60s at the McCord Museum‘s Fashioning Expo 67, featuring artistic outfits and creative products created by Québec designers for Expo 67.
Art fairs and more
Browse or buy new art on paper, from Montréal’s many galleries and beyond at the Papier art fair, also featuring talks and guided tours, April 21-23 at Arsenal. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts presents CHAGALL: COLOUR AND MUSIC, featuring 340 pieces by the Russian-French artist with musical accompaniment. The Musée d’art contemporain shows work by foremost Mexican artist Teresa Margolles, as well as Québec artist Emanuel Licha’s Now Have a Look at This Machine documentary installation. Berlin-based British artist Ed Atkins poses questions on human bodies, digital creation and reality in video exhibition Modern Piano Music at DHC-ART. Never Apart launches its Spring Exhibition, featuring Two-Spirit Sur-Thrivance and the Art of Interrupting Narratives and more, plus a talk with writer-director-drag-queen Sky Gilbert on April 24. Aboriginal Spring of Art 3 presents Kahnawakeró:non (Kahnawá:ke) artists Carla Hemlock and Babe Hemlock’s Tehatikonhsatatie: For the Faces That Are Yet to Come at the Maison de la culture Frontenac in the HOMA neighbourhood, opening April 26. And Pointe-à-Callière archaeology and history museum presents the fascinating Amazonia: The Shaman and the Mind of the Forest.
Film festival Vues d’Afrique screens African and Créole films and hosts social events April 14-23 at the Cinémathèque québécoise – while there, also see portraits of 20 Québécois directors in 10 + 10 Visages du cinéma québécois. Virtual reality work by Felix & Paul Studios stuns at the Phi Centre‘s Virtual Reality Garden – the Phi Centre also screens Gyula Nemes’s comedy-drama Zero on April 27 at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. High-tech visuals and live piano performances by Roman Zavada entrance in Résonances Boréales, while the global Music Legacy Project immerse us in a many musical worlds, both at the Satosphere dome April 11-29. And see David Lynch – The Art Life as well as a Friday midnight screening of Videodrome at Cinéma du Parc.
The Orchestre Métropolitain takes listeners on a journey of the soul in Hadyn’s The Seven Last Words of Christ at Maison symphonique on April 21. Later on Friday night: Philémon Cimon plays Havana-esque pop songs from his new album at the Phi Centre; it’s a night of ska with The Planet Smashers and more at Club Soda, while Groove Nation hosts an album release party for reggae legends Kingston All Stars with DJs MOSSMAN, Andy Williams and more, Datcha hosts A Tribute to Prince with selections by A Rock, Kris Guilty, Scott C and Shaydakiss, and the Howl! Festival hosts a weekend of activist art and experimental music at Casa del Popolo. On Saturday: brilliant singer-songwriter Charlotte Day Wilson plays an intimate show at the Phi Centre; Aussie rockers Dune Rats drop by Turbo Haus; it’s a pop-punk good time with Courage My Love and The New Electric at Bar Le Ritz P.D.B.; Duchess Says and Frigs reopen L’Escogriffe Bar; and Dutch electro producer Don Diablo rules the dancefloor at New City Gas. Patrice Bélanger hosts a comical introduction to the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal on Sunday, April 23 at Maison symphonique, while later new wavers Generationals and Psychic Twin play Bar Le Ritz P.D.B., and L.A. Witch casts a rocked-out spell at L’Esco. On April 25, tenor Marc Hervieux sings with the McGill Chamber Orchestra directed by Boris Brott at Maison symphonique. Also on Tuesday night, see electronic artist Bonobo entrances with a live band at Metropolis, British electronic pop band Clean Bandits plays Le National, musician-composer Lydia Ainsworth performs at Bar Le Ritz P.D.B., and psych-rockers Moon Duo blow minds at La Sala Rossa. The Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal Chorus sings Mozart, Schubert and Schoenberg on April 26 at Maison Symphonique, Heavy Montreal presents Testament, Sepultura and Prong at Metropolis, Japanese orchestral-shoegaze group MONO stuns at the Phi Centre, and join local indie-folk-rock-country stars Brad Barr, Jordan Officer, Katie Moore, Plants and Animals and more in a benefit concert at the Rialto Theatre. And Thursday welcomes the heaviosity of Acid Mothers Temple to La Sala Rossa.