With spring comes new delights in Montréal: step back 50 years in exhibitions about Expo 67, conduct an orchestra of fountains downtown, marvel at a Cirque du Soleil show, new theatre and illuminating visual art, listen to live music of all kinds, and explore the city.
It’s time to play in the heart of downtown: hop on a colourful, music-making swing at the 21 Swings installation and conduct your own virtual orchestra connected to a system of high-powered water jets in Maëstro – both outside Place des Arts in the Quartier des Spectacles, part of this year’s Digital Spring art-meets-tech creations. Walk through the Botanical Garden‘s blooming grounds and tropical greenhouse and take a tour with avian experts during Bird Fest at the Biodôme at the Montréal Space for Life. Also fun for kids: solving forensic mysteries at the Montréal Science Centre’s CSI: The Experience in the Old Port. Walk up Saint-Laurent to see bright building-sized murals or take a walk off the beaten path to discover welcoming and wonderful quirky spots in Montréal. Find out more about free things to do this Spring in Montréal and the city’s secret corners in this spring’s Grande Tournée events.
Food and fashion
See the city sights and eat well in the process on Montréal’s best food tours. Explore the menus of new Montréal restaurants, relax with a cup of tea at Montréal’s tea houses, try a signature cocktail at one of Montréal’s hidden bars or indulge your sweet tooth at the city’s best candy shops. Whether you’re a committed vegan or simply love a high-quality animal-free meal, read our ultimate guide to vegan eating in Montréal. As the weather warms to al fresco dining temperatures, keep an eye out for Montréal’s food trucks and street food. In fashion, check out the Phi Centre’s Luxury Rubbish art-meets-boutique, and pick up something new and stylish at Puces Pop, a designer craft fair full of Montréal-made art, housewares, clothing, accessories and more, at L’Église Saint-Denis (5075 Rivard) in Mile End, May 5-7.
Expo 67 and beyond
Montréal celebrates the 50th anniversary of Expo 67 with entertaining and history-rich exhibitions: see colourful outfits and products created by Québec designers at the McCord Museum’s Fashioning Expo 67; photographs tell the tale in The Sixties in Montréal: Archives de Montréal at City Hall; marvel (and maybe laugh a little) at the technological innovations of EXPO 67: A World of Dreams at the Stewart Museum and Écho 67 at the nearby Buckminster Fuller designed Biosphère; baby boomer youth culture is a blast in Explosion 67 – Youth and Their World at the Centre d’histoire de Montréal, and it’s all about ’60s artistic expression in the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts’s Révolution: “You say you want a revolution” and the Musée d’art contemporain’s In Search of Expo 67. Photography exhibition Aime comme Montréal celebrates the city’s diversity in an installation at Place des arts. Old Montréal landmark Notre-Dame Basilica, one the city’s most stunning churches and historical landmarks, lights up with beautiful high-tech spectacle Aura, while the surrounding streets are illuminated by the historic tableaux projections of mobile-app project Cité Memoire.
Incredible acrobats, dancers, parkour experts and motor bike athletes awe in the millennial-era story of Cirque du Soleil’s VOLTA, under the big top in the Old Port of Montréal. A visual and musical spectacle, Russian performance artist Slava Polunin’s Slava’s Snowshow wows at Theâtre St-Denis May 2-14. Inspired by painter Frida Kahlo, Jean Piché and Yan Muckle’s opera Yo soy la desintegración comes to life at Cinquième Salle, May 5-7. 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 gathering Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley for an historic recording session; and Aboriginal Spring of Art THREE presents Productions Ondinnok’s dance/theatre performance El buen vestir-Tlakentli May 10–12 at Monument-National. As part of Montréal’s winter-spring dance program: Danse Danse presents Flemish choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s Rain at Place des Arts May 4-6; Agora de la Danse presents free outdoor show 15 X LA NUIT every night at 9 p.m. in Place des Festivals; and Mykalle Bielinski’s immersive multimedia opera Gloria wows at La Chapelle May 2-6.
Art and film
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts special exhibition CHAGALL: COLOUR AND MUSIC brings vivid colour into your springtime with 340 pieces by the Russian-French artist with musical accompaniment. Over at the Musée d’art contemporain see work by foremost Mexican artist Teresa Margolles and Québec artist Emanuel Licha’s Now Have a Look at This Machine documentary installation, while Galerie de l’UQAM presents Mexican artist Gilberto Esparza’s biotechnical art exhibition Plantas autofotosintéticas. The eclectic and multidisciplinary Festival Accès Asie coincides with Canada’s Asian Heritage Month – this week featuring a recital by Japanese pianist Kimihiro Yasaka on May 6, exhibition Smile of Afghanistan by Iranian photographer Hamed Tabein at the Gesù, the Afghanistan & Culture Shock talk on May 7, and flamenco and Persian Music performance Kimia on May 11. British artist Ed Atkins poses questions on human bodies, digital creation and reality in video exhibition Modern Piano Music at DHC-ART. Never Apart‘s Spring Exhibition features Two-Spirit Sur-Thrivance and the Art of Interrupting Narratives. Pointe-à-Callière archaeology and history museum presents the fascinating Amazonia: The Shaman and the Mind of the Forest. Travel through virtual worlds in films by Felix & Paul Studios at the Phi Centre‘s Virtual Reality Garden and see short films for free in the Not Sure on Talent showcase. Get immersed in new space-exploration double feature KYMA – Power of Waves and Edge of Darkness at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, or in electroacoustic A/V performance Électro-Acrylique and the high-tech 360° visuals of Orbits at the Satosphere surround-sound dome May 4-13.
On Friday night, American country duo Florida Georgia Line whoops it up at the Bell Centre, alt-rock royalty Redd Kross plays Bar Le Ritz P.D.B., Around the World in 80 Raves provides hours of dancing at New City Gas and Kilter and JNTHN STEIN let us dance or happily chill at Newspeak. Saturday brings international entertainment icon Engelbert Humperdinck and his hits to Place des Arts, while the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal presents Organ and Space: Gaze up to the Heavens featuring celestial symphonies by Dvořák and Holst and reflections by astronaut David Saint-Jacques at the Maison symphonique. Also on Saturday night: British shoegaze luminaries Slowdive play L’Olympia, Montréal indie-rockers We Are Munroe kick up a good, loud time at Théâtre Fairmount, and Dutch production duo Bassjackers take over the dance floor at New City Gas. And on Sunday: pop singer-songwriter Jojo with opener Craig Stickland at Théâtre Corona.
Tuesday night comes alive with punk-garage rockers The Black Lips and Surfbort at Le National. Discover the world’s finest young pianists at the Concours musical international de Montréal, in gala concerts May 9-10 at Place des Arts. Beloved weirdo singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Mac DeMarco plays May 10-11 at Metropolis. Also on Wednesday: metalcore band I Prevail and Starset at Théâtre Corona, hip hop artist Ab-Soul with British rapper Little Simz and Nick Grant at Théâtre Fairmount, and Bare Noize and Lo Key at Newspeak. Thursday shines with legendary French electronic composer and producer Jean-Michel Jarre at the Bell Centre, The M Machine at Théâtre Fairmount, Hessle Audio Showcase with Heatwave, Ben UFO, Pearson Sound and Pangea at Newspeak, rockers Hollerado and PS I Love You at La Sala Rossa, and the Afro-Caribbean jazz-pop sounds of Prince Ali-X and his Ambassadors at Rialto Hall.