Summer is officially here in Montreal and with it comes all kinds of outdoor entertainment in the streets and in the parks: visit the Botanical Garden’s massive plant sculptures, see world-class fireworks displays, hear music – from baroque to rock – on open-air stages, and more…
At this time of year, Montreal’s Botanical Garden is in full bloom, with plants and trees from around the world around every turn – but starting June 22, something even more spectacular – and perhaps a little strange – is happening at the Botanical Gardens. Mosaïcultures Internationales Montréal is a prestigious horticultural sculpture competition featuring massive art works created entirely out of sculpting living plants and trees. The 40 sculptures, made by experts from around the world using over three million plants, take over two kilometres of the garden, highlighting themes of ecology and harmony with the natural world.
(nights in nature) Watch the sky during the end of June and throughout July to see some of best fireworks displays the world has to offer, courtesy of the International des Feux Loto-Québec. On Saturday night, experts from Australia put on a 30-minute spectacle set to music – see the show up close and in seated comfort at La Ronde amusement park at Parc Jean-Drapeau. In the Plateau neighbourhood, Théâtre de Verdure in Parc Lafontaine opens its summer season of outdoor entertainment on June 26 with a cultural picnic starting at 7 p.m. and the premier of family-friendly Hansel & Gretel, produced by Théâtre La Roulotte.
(new old worlds) The Montreal Baroque Music Festival, June 21-24, embraces a theme of new worlds and new ideas this year, beginning with an already sold-out Vivaldi opera, a Van Eyck Marathon played on recorder by amateur and pro musicians on the steps of Theatre St-James in Old Montreal, and a free concert on June 22 by world-renowned, south American tenor Rodrigo del Pozo singing South American and European baroque music, at Casa de Mateo. Also see baroque music, ballet and circus melded together in Jean-Féry Rebel’s Creation, the east-meets-west sounds of ensemble Constantinople, Brazilian recorder player Cléa Galhano, fabulous baroque-meets-pop-music-meets-fashion show Party Like It’s 1699, the Los Americas Parade on June 22 in the streets of Old Montreal, and more.
(art stars) Brooklyn based artist Cory Arcangel opens the first major Canadian exhibition of his work at DHC/Art this Friday, exploring open-source computer culture, the possibilities of social networks, technological obsolescence, and avant-garde electronic music. Learn more about the artist and his work when Arcangel gives an artist talk on June 21 at noon. Meanwhile, a block over at the Phi Centre on June 23, hip hop artist and Wu Tang Clan founding member RZA presents his first feature film, The Man with the Iron Fists. And Josh Dolgin’s inventive comedy-musical, Tales From Odessa, blends the Montreal artist’s Yiddish hip hop with contemporary and traditional Yiddish musical styles at the Segal Centre.
(theatre going) Get in on some of the great, affordable theatre and dance shows this weekend at the Montreal St-Ambroise Fringe Fest – recommendations include Holy Tranity: A Dirty Love Song to the Gay ‘80s, Little Orange Man, Angel’s Share, Love in the Time of Time Machines, stand-up comedienne DeAnne Smith and musician Leighland Beckman’s Horrible Things, Josiane Fortin Danse, and many others – talk to anyone at the Fringe Park and you’ll get the scoop. As well, there’s all kinds of free music and entertainment in store at the Fringe Park and beer tent at the corner of St-Laurent and Rachel: June 23 is a day of entertainment and activities just for kids; Cult#MTL takes the reigns on June 20 with The Damn Truth and other locals, and music festival Pop Montreal adds Sea Oleena, Carpet, and Maica Mia on June 22, and more to the fun on June 23. For the full schedule of shows, see the Fringe website. During the week, see innovative contemporary dance in an odd location: an empty swimming pool. Piss in the Pool runs June 26-29 at Bain St-Michel.
(quebec-style fete) The summer holiday spirit truly begins here in Montreal on June 24 as the whole province celebrates Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, also known as Fête Nationale du Québec, marking Quebec’s 179th birthday. Everywhere you turn, there are BBQs, neighbourhood parties and events at bars and clubs, as well as Le Grand Spectacle, a huge outdoor concert with top Quebec bands, comedians, circus acts and more at Parc Maisonneuve next to Olympic Stadium — Parc Olympic also hosts free, family-friendly events all day on the Esplanade on June 23. Over at Parc Jean-Drapeau, electronic music dance party Piknic Electronik throws a two-day party: on June 23, Piknic pays homage to ‘90s afterhours Montreal club culture and on June 24, Montreal’s Turbo Recordings celebrates 15 years with sets by Thomas Von Party, Bordello and Tiga.
(live music) Speaking of Wu-Tang Clan, American hip-hop duo and Def Jam recording artists Method Man and Redman return to Montreal this Friday, bringing the real deal to L’Olympia. Also on June 21, hear classic compositions from the history of video games as played by the Orchestre de Jeux Vidéo de Montréal, at Place des Arts, while indie-rockers Nude Beach play Il Motore. Join the happy crowds outdoors at the Lachine Canal to hear one of Canada’s most beloved rock bands, The Tragically Hip, along with openers Sam Roberts Band and Rural Alberta Advantage, part of Osheaga’s pre-festival shows. French-language music festival Les Francofolies wraps up this week too: among the many, see Louis-Jean Cormier, Oxmo Puccino and Yann Perreau as well as free outdoor shows at Place des Festivals. The last weekend of experimental rock and jazz festival Suoni per il Popolo features shows from dark-drone Aun, the Joe Morris Trio with William Parker, Tyvek, Atomic, Scout Niblet, and a super fun dance-music night with The Goods. Walk through the Old Port at lunchtime June 22-24 and hear chamber music courtesy of the Orchestre Métropolitain. On June 25, in a pre-Jazz Festival concert, pianist and singer-songwriter Patrick Watson plays the intimate Gesù theatre. And folksy country meets blues-rock in Indiana-bred Houndmouth, with opener Landon A.R. Coleman at Divan Orange, on June 27.