As the first official day of summer approaches, Montreal’s outdoor spaces call loud and clear, from the tree-lined paths of the Botanical Gardens to all sorts of entertainment on the outdoor stages of Les Francofolies music festival, the Folk Fest on the Lachine Canal, the Fringe Festival Park and more…
(nature in the city) With all the urban activity and entertainment that Montreal offers in the summer, a walk through Montreal’s Mount Royal Park on a sunny afternoon (or morning, if you’re so inclined) can be a refreshing break. In fact, it’s fairly easy in Montreal to find yourself surrounded by trees, chirping birds and other urban wildlife, whether at a park like Mont Royal or Lafontaine or at the Botanical Garden, where a new arboretum interpretation trail opens this weekend. Dedicated to ecology and education, the 40-hectare arboretum is to 7000 trees, so be sure to breathe in all the fresh air they’re making as you wander through. Return to explore the urban outdoors right downtown at Place Émilie-Gamelin (at the corner of Berri and Ste-Catherine), home all summer to food trucks, DJs, performances, art installations, a fruit market and giant chessboards, every day until 6 p.m.
(art in the street) See art in action along a 2-kilometre car-free stretch of Saint-Laurent Boulevard, from Sherbrooke to Mont Royal, any time from June 13 to 16: Mural Fest welcomes 35 local and international artists, such as Jason Botkin, Omen, Labrona and other, to create 20 murals in any and all colours along Saint-Laurent. Meanwhile, as artists work on their murals, other activities go on around the city: get dancing at a free outdoor concert on Saturday night on Saint-Laurent, make art with collective En Masse, known for their black-and-white live painting installations; attend an opening night of art at Station 16 gallery, see film projections on St-Laurent, turn cast-away furniture and other objects into art; paint with your feet; build a kite; go on an art-centric bike tour.
(free folk music) Montreal’s 6th annual Folk Fest on the Canal welcomes one and all this weekend to hear music in a beautiful outdoor setting next to the tree-lined Lachine Canal waterway. The music starts on Saturday, June 15 at 1pm with Maxime Lefebvre, Lakes of Canada, Black Twig Pickers, Claytones, Will Driving West, Old Man Luedecke, and, leaving the night on a high note, The Sadies. On Sunday, hear the Americana of Dylan Perron et Élixir de Gumbo followed by The Franklin Electric, The Once, Ladies of the Canyon, and Quebec’s Catherine Durand. And stop by the Lhasa de Sela stage too to hear music from young and up-and-coming talent.
(french and fabulous) Walk along Sainte-Catherine Street in the Quartier des Spectacles June 13-22 and hear French-language music of all kinds, from Quebec and around the world: Les FrancoFolies fills several outdoor stages with entertainment throughout the day and evening and takes over many downtown venues. The festival kicks off with a free evening show on June 13 by popular Quebecoise singer-songwriter Ariane Moffatt. On Friday, June 14, popular Quebec pop-rock star Marc Dupré is at Metropolis, Dumas, Les Trois Accords and Fanny Bloom play outdoors for free, or see rap group Loco Locass play Club Soda, followed on Saturday night by the charismatic genre-spanning, pop-inspired Karim Ouellet, while on June 20 see electronic-pop musician Peter Peter, whose North American audience keeps growing since he visited SXSW in Texas. Hip hop fans won’t want to miss one of the ‘90s best, regardless of language, French rapper IAM.
(indie theatre, music & more) Comedy, drama, dance and music all comes to the 23rd edition of Montreal’s St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival at venues in the Plateau neighbourhood, June 4-24. Not only do all shows cost under $12, but most of the entertainment at the Fringe Park (and beer tent) on the corner of Rachel and St-Laurent is free, including an afternoon of electronic music courtesy of Piknic Electronik, on June 15.
(community spirit) Join Montrealers in a good time for a good cause: user-review website Yelp gathers musical guests Mia Verko, Ronley Tepper, Ben Hermann and Saxsyndrum to play benefit concert and party, Yelp Helps on June 18 at 6 p.m. Head over to Parc des Ameriques, also home to the Fringe Park (corner of Rachel and St-Laurent), to connect with local non-profit organizations such as Pop Montreal, Bouge d’Ici, AfrikaWaly, the Canadian Liver Foundation and 14 others while enjoying free drinks from McAuslan brewery, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Barefoot Wines and Café Vito and free food from Café Boris, Tourtière Australienne, Mr Puffs, Le Pourvoyeur and Patisserie Almond Butterfly. RSVP on the Yelp Helps website.
(live music) Friday night starts a little differently with The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of The Goddesses, a four-movement symphonic work inspired directly by the video game of the same name, at Place des Arts. The Suoni per il Popolo music festival continues with the latest in experimental rock and jazz: see Saltland, Eric Chenaux and Radwan Ghazi Moumneh on Friday night at Sala Rossa and Nü Sensae and Panopticon Eyelids Saturday night at the same venue, while San Francisco-based post-punk-noise band The Soft Moon play the SAT, and on Monday night hear the strange, spectacular sounds of Rhys Chatham and Oneida at Sala Rossa. But back to the weekend, on Saturday night, Belgian pop singer Selah Sue is at Theatre Corona and Scottish electropop-rock band Chvrches and Still Corners play Le National. And on a different note, catch a free outdoor chamber music concert by the Orchestre Métropolitain, who play in the Old Port at Place Jacques-Cartier, 11 a.m. on June 15–16. Later in the week, on June 20, make a name for yourself or just watch others perfect the art form at Hip Hop Karaoke – exactly what it sounds like – at Le Belmont.