Spring has arrived in Montreal! And while the city keeps winter bright and busy with colourful light installations, arts and culture festivals and an array of winter sports, there’s nothing like the exuberance of spring and Montreal’s many and varied April and May activities…
(outdoor traditions) Until the end of April, indulge in one of Quebec’s sweetest traditions: the sugar shack, where the maple syrup flows and the plates are piled high with ham, pancakes, omelettes, sausages, baked beans, tortière and more, depending on whether you visit a sugar shack dedicated to comfort foods or a gourmet outfit. The country-style sugar shack experience often includes forest walks, sleigh rides and other family-oriented activities. Experience nature outside and indoors at Montreal’s Space For Life, Canada’s largest natural science museum complex, home to the Biodôme, Botanical Garden, Planetarium and Insectarium, where the butterflies fly free until April 27. And if you’re looking for an urban hike with great views, walk up Mount-Royal as the park becomes green once more – go all the way to the top to see downtown and the ice floes melting on the St-Lawrence River beyond.
(fresh festivals) While fests make their mark throughout the year in Montreal, the city’s action-packed “festival season” officially begins in the spring, with all things literary and bookish blooming anew at Blue Metropolis, April 29 to May 4, New Francophone talents in theatre, dance and music show themselves at the 19th edition of Festival Vue sur la Relève, April 2-12, African and Creole film hits the screens at Vues d’Afriques, April 25 to May 4, the Montreal Chamber Music Festival highlights incredible international and local classical and jazz musicians, May 8-31, while at the end of the month new avant-garde theatre and dance performance from Quebec, Canada and around the world comes to Festival TransAmérique, May 22 to June 7, and the latest sounds and greatest legends in electronic music and digital arts make appearances as the Mutek and Elektra festivals combine their 15th anniversaries at EM15, May 28 to June 1.
(spring on stage) The Houston Ballet comes to Montreal with their version of Stanton Welch’s Marie-Antoinette, April 9-12, while Les Grands Ballet also presents the world premier of Stijn Celis’s newest creation Transfigured Night, May 15-24. Cirque du Soleil’s brand new show Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities transports us to an intriguing, antique-filled world where railroads and the telegraph still reign – opening April 24 under the big top circus tent at the Old Port of Montreal. Montreal dancer and choreographer Peter Trosztmer blends dance and moving images in an homage to filmmaker Norman McLaren, to April 12. Also presented by Danse Danse at Place des Arts, the Dietrich Group and choreographer-artist D.A. Hoskins’s challenging, joyous melange of dance, theatre and music The Land of F*ck (A Fable), April 14-19. And in early May, France’s Compagnie Oliver Dubois bares all in powerful contemporary work for 18 dancers, Tragédie.
Dance of a different sort comes to La Tohu May 2-3: Bust a Move is Canada’s biggest street dance competition, starring dancers from all over the world – this year also marks the debut of the Kids Battle, for children ages 8-12. And at the end of the month at La Tohu, graduates of the National Circus School show their skills in two all-new shows. In theatre, Amy Herzog’s family comedy-drama 4000 Miles tells a story of growing up and growing old, to April 20 at Centaur Theatre, while now-classic musical-drama 2 Pianos 4 Hands returns to Centaur April 29 to May 25. Contemporary British play Top Girls, about a woman newly appointed to executive status and the celebratory dinner party she throws, strangely attended by historical female figures, lights the stage at the Segal Centre, April 27 to May 18. And Geordie Productions makes Homer’s epic tales The Iliad (April 4-13) and The Odyssey (May 9-18) accessible for all ages.
(art comes alive) This spring, the MMFA welcomes art lovers to see the colourful paintings of Scottish artist Peter Doig to May 4, and presents a retrospective exhibition of innovative performances by multidisciplinary artists Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon. Until the end of April, the MAC continues its fascinating exhibition of Albanian-born, Milan-based artist Adrian Paci’s film, painting, sculpture and installation work, and multi-artist exhibition Collages. The 2nd International Digital Arts Biennial, May 1 to June 19 at 30 Montreal art venues, explores the current state of contemporary digital arts. Meanwhile, the first edition of Montreal Digital Spring coincides with the Biennial, running until June 21 and bringing together over 70 artistic activities at venues in the city under a common umbrella of interactive media art, performances, round-table discussions, and more. Beginning April 4, DHC/ART welcomes the provocative, confrontational work of British artists Jake and Dinos Chapman – Come and See is the duo’s first major exhibition in North America.
(live music) Big names in rock and pop visit Montreal this spring too, beginning with headline-maker Miley Cyrus on March 29 at the Bell Centre and legendary electronic music makers Kraftwerk, whose live 3-D concert fills Metropolis with sound and light on March 30. World-renowned singer Nana Mouskouri stops at Place des Arts, April 5, while another legend, this time in blues history, Buddy Guy returns that same night to Metropolis, and masters of heaviness Black Sabbath are back, at the Bell Centre on April 7. Indie-rockers The Black Lips comes to Theatre Corona on April 21, James Blunt croons to fans’ content on April 23 at Metropolis, followed by Swedish electronic music duo The Knife on April 26. None other than Cher herself marks the advent of sunny days on April 27 at the Bell Centre, while electronic duo Moderat play live at Metropolis. Lana del Ray entices on May 3 at the Bell Centre and one of France’s biggest rock legends, Johnny Hallyday plays Place des Arts. M.I.A. may or may not incite controversy May 4 at Metropolis, followed by Scottish ambient music makers Mogwai on May 11. In the meantime, songstress Neko Case captivates at Theatre Corona on May 8. Rock out with George Thorogood and the Destroyers on May 17 at Metropolis, tap your toes to solo acts at the One Man Band Festival May 15-17. The operatic pop vocal group Il Divo roll into town on May 28 at Place des Arts, and Corey Hart brings us back to the ‘80s but doesn’t leave us there, playing songs old and new on May 31 at the Bell Centre.
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