THINGS TO DO IN MONTREAL: JUNE 8-14

Posted on June 8th, 2012 by .

Montreal revs its engines for summer, literally and metaphorically, this week with the Grand Prix race and related Formula One parties, a world-wide festival of French music at FrancoFolies, local and international performance at Festival TransAmériques and at the Montreal St-Ambroise Fringe Festival, art and music in the streets, and a somewhat calmer revving at Montreal’s first Yoga Festival.

(fast times) The Canadian Grand Prix returns to Montreal with a weekend of faster-than-fast F1 racing and the much-anticipated revelry that goes along with all that heated competition. And while the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve racetrack, downtown’s Crescent, and Saint-Laurent, from Sherbrooke to Pins, are where much of the mainstream party happens, clubs in Old Montreal get in on the action too, as does Little Italy, where cars, food, family-friendly fun and music, courtesy of Pop Montreal programmers, fills Saint-Laurent from Saint-Zotique to Jean-Talon, Friday to Sunday. And if the soccer (football!) fan in you emerges while in Little Italy, have no fear, Euro 2012 is sure to be shown on many a cafe and bar scene in the neighbourhood.

(stretch it out) You don’t have to be a yogini to take part in the first ever Yoga Festival Montreal, open to everyone and rolling out its mat this weekend, beginning Friday with a family-friendly participatory music evening called a Kirtan at 7 p.m. and continuing with mind-expanding workshops and yoga classes all day Saturday and Sunday at the Conservatoire de musique et d’art dramatique de Montréal (4750 Henri-Julien) in the Plateau neighbourhood – there’s even a Saturday evening Yoga Jam (yoga moves meet electro) at famed Stereo nightclub (858 Sainte-Catherine Est).

(performance works) While the multifarious Festival TransAmériques winds down with shows from choreographers Mélanie Demers and Daniel Léveillé, the dramatic tale of a Saskatchewan farmer vs. Monsanto, and a closing party on June 9, the smaller yet just as mighty Montreal St-Ambroise Fringe Festival starts to heat up – and stays hot until June 24. With hundreds of local and international theatrical and dance productions at small venues in the Plateau borough, the Fringe attracts a diverse crowd, from families to students to fellow thespians. This weekend: Slowdance Night at Mainline Theatre on June 8, Roller Derby with Fringe half-time show on June 9 at Arena St-Louis, and an outdoor event on June 10 at Terrasse St-Ambroise screening Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, complete with face painting, kid-friendly activities, improv and even dubstep.

(French tunes) During summer, a.k.a. Festival Season, the strip of Sainte-Catherine Street between Bleury and Saint-Laurent is closed to traffic and full of people – right now it, and the whole Place des Spectacles, is host to FrancoFolies, perhaps the biggest francophone music festival in North America, with hundreds of local and international acts playing free and ticketed shows on outdoor and indoor stages until June 16.

(street scenes) There’s something in the air here in Montreal that makes us love hanging out in the street in the summertime, so much so that we close streets to traffic and fill them with art and music and people instead. This weekend’s Nuit Blanche sur Tableau Noir sees Mont-Royal Avenue, in the heart of the Plateau, closed for 2.5 kilometres, giving neighbours and tourists alike a chance to mingle and relax in a block-party atmosphere, replete with street painting, music and, of course, food.

(art, then and now) Take some quiet time out at Montreal’s museums: the MMFA has put together a beautiful exhibition of the life’s work of American painter Tom Wesselmann – the museum’s vast permanent collection (entry is free) is also worth visiting. The new Vox space, shows intriguing video art by Melanie Gilligan and Czech film artist Jan Švankmajer. And the future is now at DHC-ART, where leading Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda takes over in all his immersive digital-art-and-music glory, starting June 14.

(music matters) Of course, as always, there’s plenty of music going on in Montreal. None other than Cee Lo Green kicks off the weekend at Arena on June 8. Meanwhile, the Suoni per Il Popolo festival begins its avant-garde reign with the William Parker Orchestra at La Sala Rossa, June 8-9, Omar Souleyman at Il Motore and Crass’s Penny Rimbaud at La Sala Rossa on June 10, Steve Roden on June 12, The Reigning Sound on June 14, and much more to June 23. The Pop Montreal festival pops off a little early with Spring Pop, outdoors (and free!) on the corner of St-Zotique and St-Laurent, from 5 p.m. Friday until Sunday night, plus kids programming at the park – and for lovers of crafts and fashion, hit up Puces Pop. On Sunday, June 10, Piknic Electronik welcomes British DJ Margaret Dygas. And at a special outdoor show on June 12, see L.A. band Foster The People plus Tokyo Police Club and Kimbra at the Lachine Canal.

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