As Canadian Thanksgiving weekend approaches, Montreal remains thankful for an abundance of autumnal activities and entertainment, along with rather summery temperatures even as the leaves change colour…
(food for feasting) What would Thanksgiving be without Thanksgiving dinner? Montreal’s diversity of restaurants satisfies the seasonal palate with classic and non-traditional dinners alike – among the many contenders, a few suggestions: Old Montreal’s cozy L’Orignal for a chalet-like experience; Lemeac for gourmet comforts; Les Deux Gamins for Parisian flair; and for that incredibly-full, post-Thanksgiving dinner feeling, Au Pied de Cochon, where succulent meaty meals, inventive side dishes, and calories go hand in hand. Or go DIY for dinner by visiting Jean Talon Market and the Atwater Market, both brimming with fresh, in-season fruit and vegetables, Quebec-raised turkeys, and all manner of apple, pumpkin and berry pies.
(fall for families) Pumpkins work double-duty as a symbol for both Thanksgiving and Halloween – true to plant-centric form, Montreal’s Botanical Garden, Insectarium and Biodôme celebrate the pumpkin and assorted autumnal squash, both decorative and edible, throughout the month of October during their Great Pumpkin Ball. After a walk through the changing foliage at the gardens, families can decorate pumpkins for the season, hear Esmeralda the witch tell stories, play games of skill, and learn more about harvest season, while over at the Biodôme, the wildlife feasts out of pumpkins filled with (animal-friendly) treats. Stay after sunset to see lanterns of all shapes and sizes at the Gardens of Light exhibition.
(walk in the park) A visit to one of Montreal’s larger parks is a must as the leaves change from green to yellow to red. Take a walk up the wide, easy trail to the top of Mont Royal Park to see a spectacular view of downtown and the city’s eastern side – even pack a picnic to eat in adjacent Jeanne-Mance Park, where families and friends gather for as long as the weather holds. Parc Lafontaine marks another natural destination – bike or walk around the park’s lake and along its many tree-lined paths. Or take a short metro ride or drive over to Parc Jean Drapeau, a sprawling park located along the St-Laurent River, home to numerous summer festivals but rather more quiet and calming this time of year. And for a more far-out perspective on how the seasons change, visit the Montreal Planetarium, where multimedia shows and interactive exhibitions illuminate the Earth’s place in the universe.
(autumnal art) While the trees provide their own colourful display this month, Montreal’s museums, galleries, stages and screens pop with bright offerings as well all season long. The blown-glass sculptures at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ Chihuly: Utterly Breathtaking exhibition, on until October 20, astound in a rainbow of colours and out-of-this-world shapes and sizes, while The Beatles in Montreal exhibition at Pointe-à-Callière turns a museum tour into a brightly psychedelic happening, the McCord Museum features colourful bracelet beading workshops every Sunday inspired by the museum’s First Peoples Collection, and Château Ramezay displays Quebec folk art indoors and pumpkins and seasonal squash in the Governor’s Garden. On stage, opulence delights as the dancers of Les Grands Ballets seem to float on air in Swedish choreographer Mats Ek’s modern version of Sleeping Beauty, and Broadway hit Ain’t Misbehavin’: The Fats Waller Musical Show lights up the stage at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts. And, throughout the weekend and beyond, the Festival du Nouveau Cinema illuminates screens around the city with hundreds of new features and short films, including free screenings of Jacques Demy’s Lola, on October 11, French avant-garde classic The Fall of the House of Usher on October 12, and The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly on October 13– all playing outdoors at the Quartier des Spectacles near Place des Arts.
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