As temperatures quickly rise to pre-summer levels in Montreal, outdoor activities and entertainment liven up the downtown core along with Mother’s Day decadence, city-wide nightly live music, theatre, dance, hockey, circus and more…
(warm up outside) Spend some time in the Quartier des Spectacles, where not only does the 21 Swings interactive installation invite everyone to swing and make music along President-Kennedy Avenue, but Sainte-Catherine Street (between Bleury and Saint-Laurent) becomes a pedestrian-only zone, featuring lunchtime and late-afternoon mini-concerts every weekday from May 8 to June 1, while on the weekend street-art troupes perform family-friendly shows outside Place des Arts. At night, look up to see large-screen video projections of Wall-to-Wall projected on the facades of buildings throughout the Quartier. Find nature within the city limits at Space For Life, Canada’s largest natural science museum complex, home to the Biodôme, Botanical Garden, Planetarium and Insectarium, or walk up Mount-Royal. And food-and-drink lovers welcome the start of terrasse season, including the SAT Foodlab’s terrace opening party on May 12, featuring a Greek menu, BBQ, wine pairing and music. For more outdoor eats, follow Montreal’s food trucks, back all summer at 15 sites around Montreal.
(Mother’s Day Delights) Make Mother’s Day sparkle this year in Montreal with a trip to the best circus show in the world: Cirque du Soleil’s newest show, Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities is colourful, gravity-defying romp through time, lighting up the blue-and-yellow-striped big top in the Old Port of Montreal. The Montreal Chamber Music Festival jazzes up Friday night with Grammy-winner Kurt Elling’s must-hear 1619 Broadway – The Brill Building Project, a musical homage to New York. And the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne celebrates its 25th anniversary with renditions of Solaris, Claude Vivier’s Bouchara and pieces from Alban Berg’s opera Wozzeck, at the Maison Symphonique on May 9. If mom is a hockey fan, don’t miss the Canadiens play the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Second Round Series, live May 12 at the Bell Centre and on television screens city-wide – find a new favourite sports spot with our guide to the playoffs. Before all the excitement, relax at one of the city’s best spas, and entertain mom’s sweet tooth with decadent Montreal-made pastries.
(theatre & dance) Montreal’s Les Grands Ballets hosts the world premier of Belgian choreographer Stijn Celis’s much-anticipated Transfigured Night, a two-part mythical and passionate tale of Orpheus and Eurydice and a mortal couple in the throes of complicated love – performances May 15-24 at Place des Arts. Rollicking and dramatic musical 2 Pianos 4 Hands continues its comeback at Centaur Theatre to May 25, while contemporary British play Top Girls celebrates the accomplishments of women today and throughout history, at the stage at the Segal Centre, to May 18. See the 15th new opera from Montreal’s Chants Libres, modern fable Le rêve de Grégoire (Gregor’s Dream) by Pierre Michaud, on May 15-17 at the Monument-National. Geordie Productions turns Homer’s epic tale The Odyssey (May 9-18) into an all-ages spectacle. Contemporary dance hits another high in Dance Roads, featuring five choreographers from Canada and Europe, to May 10, while Marie Béland’s Révélations and Adam Kinner’s The Weather In Times Square provoke thought on the body’s abilities to communicate so much, May 15-17, all at Studio Hydro-Québec du Monument-National. And purveyors of innovative dance, Danse Danse hold a unique benefit show on May 15: MEKANIC, conceived by RUBBERBANDance Group choreographer Victor Quijada.
(electronic art) Montreal’s 2nd International Digital Arts Biennial continues to June 19 at 30 Montreal art venues, exploring contemporary digital arts and coinciding with the first edition of Montreal Digital Spring: among the many exhibitions, see Japanese artist and musician Ryoji Ikeda’s C4I at the Musee d’art Contemporain, 30 years of the work of Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the video art of Ælab at the Phi Centre, One-Way Interaction Sculpture at the Goethe-Institut, and more. At SBC gallery see new work in Dublin-based artist Sarah Pierce’s film and sculpture series Lost Illusions. British artists Jake and Dinos Chapman stir up art-world controversy in their exhibition Come and See at DHC/ART. And the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts celebrates the sunny days with Dale Chihuly’s large-scale glass sculpture The Sun, outside the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion.
(live music) On Friday night, Canadian violin and vocal sensation Owen Pallett debuts songs from a new album, with openers Doldrums, at Sala Rossa, while legendary Canadian rocker Kim Mitchell returns, playing songs old and new at Club Soda, and cover band The Smiffs plays The Smiths at Il Motore. On Saturday, party with Nightlife magazine at their annual L’estival, starting with an exhibition of creative work by Montreal designers at the SAT. Groove along with the sweet sounds of Wye Oak and Braids at Il Motore, and dance ‘til you can’t dance any more as Jamaican dancehall queens Sister Nancy and Sister Carol meet Ina Foundation Soundsystem Style, sharing the stage at Cabaret du Mile-End. Also on Saturday night, get into the true Quebecois indie-folk-rock spirit with legends Cowboys Fringants, Louis-José Houde, Les Trois Accords and Patrick Groulx, all at the Bell Centre, while The King Khan & BBQ Show gets garage-rock crazy at Petit Campus. On Sunday, famed Scottish ambient-noise stalwarts Mogwai play Metropolis, while Haïtian-born pianist and singer-songwriter Henri-Pierre Noel, Vox Sambou and more music-makers bring the good times to at La Sala Rossa. And hear new sounds from Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner and Sam Brown of Divine Fits and New Bomb Turks as they collaborate in new band Operators at Il Motore. Tuesday night brings beloved indie artist Chad Vangaalen to Cabaret Du Mile-End, while Avenged Sevenfold rocks the Bell Centre and American pop-rockers Augustana play La Sala Rossa, plus the Chamber Music Festl launches its Great Canadian Pianists Series with André Laplante playing Ravel and Liszt. Wednesday sees L.A.-based indie-rock-electro pop duo Uh Huh Her thrill fans at La Sala Rossa, and Thursday’s hot with Bob Marley’s The Original Wailers at Café Campus, and the One Man Band Festival kicks off with the Blues, Rockabilly & Americana One Man Band Show and the OMBF Bizzaro Virtuoso One-Man Show, at Casa del Popolo and Club Balattou.