For more things to in Montreal this Summer, have a look at our newest article “Things to do in Montreal this summer 2019”
A List of Ultra Cool Things to Do in Montreal
When did cool get so complicated? “Cool” used to be as easy as Fonz working the juke box. Now the word has multiple meanings and attributes. Sometimes cool means being updated on the ltest trends, and sometimes it means stepping into uncharted waters. What’s certain is that the streets of Montreal ooze a definitive coolness. The city of festivals is full of passianate musicians and artists ready to share their work, as well as laid-back spaces for those simply looking for a good time. Here are all the spots you need to know to stay in-the-know…
[Disclaimer] The “aura of cool” can be fleeting. Therefore we cannot guarantee these spots will stay chill in the future.
17. Aire Commune Mile End
Located in the heart of the Mile End (the city’s artiest neighbourhood), Aire Commune is a new workspace designed for networking and outdoor events. Opening in May and lasting until September, Aire Commune is partially a conference space by day, and venue by night. Food and drink stands are always on standby, ready to fuel all of the all the action that takes place on this beautiful terrace. The main idea is to bring together local creators, entrepreneurs and neighbourhood influencers in a relaxed setting. They will also offer yoga classes and outdoor physical training every week– perfect to burn off all the calories from Happy Hour! With free wifi, live music and a pet-friendly policy, what’s not to love?
16. Bars along Saint-Denis
Photo credit: Bruno Guérin/Nightlife.ca
If you’re looking for a fun place to spend your night letting loose and dancing along with some of the coolest people in the city, heading over to Saint Denis is always a good idea.
First off, Rockette is a lively upstairs bar with a packed dance floor and also space to sit and relax. You’ll hear an eclectic mix of your faourite rock tunes that you never knoew could be so much fun to dance to.
L’Esco Bar is just nearby and a good place to catch an underground show. It’s a go-to destination for any lover of eclectic sounds, especially blasts from the past and rock n’ roll. This cozy venue will keep the drinks flowing and your feet swinging all night long.
Quais des Brumes
Meanwhile, Quais des Brumes is yet another rocking venue in the area. The lineup contains up-and-coming local artists and seasoned professionals that present music featuring a myriad of different sounds and flavours.
Finally, the newest addition to this vibrant list is Pow Pow coming to us from the people behind L’Esco. This venture, however, spins music concocted by today’s beautiful minds. Come here to get lost in the beat of techno, house, acid and other funky electronic dance music that’s sure to get you grooving.
15. Take the Mile End Montreal Food Tour
There’s no better way to experience a city than to taste its culinary heritage. The Mile End is a 10-block playground of art, culture, history, and innovation. Located between Le Plateau du Mont-Royal and Little Italy, it’s known as one of the most artsy neighbourhoods in North America. Local Montreal Food Tours guides you and your palate through the vibrant district, stopping at half a dozen tasting locations and historical landmarks. It’s a great way to spend the day, mingling with tourists and locals while noshing on uniquely-Montreal treats like St. Viateur bagels and homemade gnocchi. Starting back up in the spring, you can take an evening tour of the bustling community as well! Click here for more information on the Mile End Food Tour.
14. Piknic Électronik
This summer, every Sunday should be a picnic in the park… but not just any picnic. Piknic Électronik is an electronic music experience, that brings music lovers together for a day to immerse themselves in the sounds of house, dubstep, techno music and so much more. Every week the festival takes over Plaine des jeux in Jean Drapeau. The two stages are the perfect set up for a day full of electronic music programming, and all of the antics that take place to its beat. Some of the best DJs and musicians from around the world are lined up and ready to make Montreal move this summer. With fresh music and a welcoming environment, Piknic Électronik is a movement that’s even spreading around the globe to cities like Barcelona, Melbourne and Dubai.
13. The Phi Centre
Just a short walk from the Place d’Armes metro station in Old Montreal, the Phi Centre is a multipurpose arts & culture venue featuring concerts, film screenings, theatre productions and interactive exhibits. Their eclectic programming aims to bring global ideas to Montreal and showcase Montreal ideas to the world. With affordable admission fees, the Phi Centre is a great place to immerse yourself in the city’s avant-garde art scene!
12. Enjoy a Festival
Francs de Montreal
With nearly a million festival-goers every year, Francos de Montreal is always an exciting kickoff to the summer. Over 250 shows including 180 free outdoor concerts make this the biggest music festival in the French-speaking world. This year, festival runs from June 14th to 22nd, and takes place in the heart of the Quartier Des Spectacles. The arts and entertainment district in the downtown core is home to many of Montreal’s cultural events and festivals year-round. Featuring over 1,000 French-language performers from all over the world, the Francos de Montreal festival highlights a wide variety of genres such as rock, pop, hip-hop, folk, punk, and many others.
Suoni Per Il Popolo
Suoni Per Il Popolo is an experimental music festival showcasing the greatest indie artists you’ve never heard of. Held in some of the coolest venues in the city like La Sala Rossa and Casa del Popolo (both joints are resto-bars that offer great bites too, see below for more info), the festival is the perfect way to discover new music. Plus, tickets starting at just $10, making it an affordable way to get experience the Montreal festival scene.
International Jazz Festival
As soon as the sun comes out and the snow melts, Montreal becomes a jazz-lover’s paradise. The 39th edition of the Jazz Fest will take place a few weeks after Francofolies from June 27 to July 6, hosting a huge range of artists from popular veterans to budding musicians. A major part of Montreal’s downtown core is closed to traffic for ten days, perfect to explore the city and take advantage of the tons of free outdoor shows that are open to the public from noon until midnight. Performances are held in a number of different historic venues, from cozy jazz clubs to the large concert halls of Place des Arts. Simply put, the Jazz Fest is truly one of the best ways immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of the city.
Just for Laughs
Each summer, Montreal hosts the largest international comedy festival in the world. Founded in 1983, the Just For Laughs lineup always showcases the who’s who of stand-up. While tickets to the major galas can be more expensive, there are many affordable shows like The Ethnic Show (which pokes fun at Montreal’s multiculturalism), and the Nasty Show (which probably isn’t the best show to take your mother-in-law). While the lineup for this year’s festival has yet to be released, here are some of the headliners from last year to give you an idea of what’s in store: Jim Carrey, Kevin Hart, Trevor Noah, and Jerry Seinfeld, just to name a few.
Osheaga Music and Arts Festival
You can’t talk about festivals in Montreal without talking about Osheaga. The massive three-day music festival is held at Parc Jean-Drapeau on Île Sainte-Hélène every summer. Having hosted some of the biggest names in music like Coldplay, Lorde, Eminem, and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Osheaga has become a go-t0 favourite for tourists and locals alike. In fact, it’s become somewhat of a tradition among Montreal natives to try to sneak into the festival, carrying plastic water bottles filled with anything but water inside them. This year you can join the craziness from August 2 to 4.
11. Alexandraplatz Bar
This spacious outdoor hangout is nestled into the heart of Mile Ex, a hip neighbourhood between Little Italy and the Mile End. It’s only open in the summer, but by offering one of the coolest terraces in the city, Alexandraplatz certainly makes the most out the brief sunny months! Inspired by the “biergartens” of Germany, this popular watering hole boasts a nice selection of craft beers, wines, and cocktails. Situated in an old industrial building with cafeteria-style tables and a garage-door entrance, Alexandraplatz is like a chill backyard party every day of the week. There’s also a taco stand outside and food trucks across the street, making it the perfect spot to blow off some steam after a long day.
10. Village au Pied-du-Courant
Heading to the beach can be quite the trek in Montreal (Oka is about an hour drive outside the city). But Village au Pied-du-Courant has made planting your toes in the sand that much easier. Plus, this man-made beach space on the banks of the Saint Lawrence offers all of their programming for free! With live music, food trucks, tropical-themed cocktails, and a slew of other season-long features, you won’t want to miss this little slice of beachy bliss once the warm weather rolls around.
9. Agrikol Restaurant
This Haitian bar and restaurant, named for the style of rum distilled from cane juice in the French Caribbean, is located in the heart of the Gay Village– yet you’d think you’re in Port-au-Prince. Co-owned by Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, Agrikol‘s atmosphere oozes Haitian cool. Its art-covered walls, stained glass windows, disco ball congas, and French Quarter-style bannisters are all set to the backdrop of classic kompa tunes. You don’t need to order food to drink at the bar, but food must accompany alcoholic beverages elsewhere in the restaurant, so be sure to arrive no later than 5:45 PM before the line up is too crazy. This place is a definite must-try to experience Montreal’s vibrant Haitian culture.
8. African Beat at Ti-Agrikol
After your meal, be sure to head to Ti-Agrikol right next door for some late-night fun! Every weekend you can tear it up on the dance floor with live music and sip on some tropical cocktails. A night out at Ti-Agrikol is a great way to end the week, beyond the usual bars and clubs around the city.
7. Check out the MAC
For more than fifty years, the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal (MAC) has celebrated local and international artists along with their avant-garde works. The museum, located in the heart of the Quartier des Spectacles, is Canada’s only cultural complex devoted to both contemporary performing and visual arts. Admission fees are very affordable and children ages 12 and under can access the museum for free. With a collection that includes over 7,000 works of art by more than 1,500 artists, the MAC is certainly a can’t-miss for art lovers!
6. Discover something new at DHC/ART
Located right in the centre of Old Montreal, DHC/ART is a non-profit organization dedicated to showcasing contemporary art. Each year they offer two to three major exhibitions, a series of public events, and other collaborative projects that are always free of charge. For example, on now until March 3, 2019 you can view Jasmina Cibic’s exhibition Everything That You Desire and Nothing That You Fear. Explore the architecture and immerse yourself in international politics surrounding Montreal’s Expo 67.
5. Catch a Show
Montreal has more music venues than you can count: one underground venue is shut down, and another is always ready to take its place down the street. It’s only fair, Montreal is home to so many talented musicians, and is a favourite stop for any touring band. It can be overwhelming, though, to pick just one show on a particular night. Blues Skies Turn Black can help with that–they book and promote some of the best local and international acts, including a lot of up-and-coming bands.
These are some more of the best venues in the Plateau and Mile Ex., good for sound quality, decor, and decent drink prices.
Firstly, The Plateau is home to the ever-thriving, red velvety curtain, Sala Rosa. The paella at their first-floor Spanish restaurant is some of the best in town and across the street is also Sala’s sister, Casa del Popolo. There, half of the space is a cozy, plant-filled bar and the other side, down a psychedelic hallway, is the intimate music venue. Shows for both Casa, Sala Rosa and more can be found here.
Another option is to head up to Bar le Ritz in Mile Ex where you can catch some similarly awesome bands, as well as DJs that’ll leave you sweaty from dancing – guaranteed.
4. The Satosphere
The Satosphere was launched in October 2011 at the Societe des Arts and Technologies. Since then it has been putting on amazing 360° creative experiences. The eighteen meter spherical dome is dedicated to showcasing the talents of visual artists. Events like the SAT Fest display visual creations for the audience to delight in as they lie in beds and gaze up. For those with a little more energy, they also host a dance party under the dome with a live DJ and visuals to accompany the music. While you’re there, be sure to also check out their beautiful terrace for a quick bite. The sheer scale of the Satosphere guarantees that you’ll be drawn right in to the images swimming above your head. Prepare to feel like a very small human being with a newly expanded perception.
3. Mile End Vintage Shops
If you’re looking to get some quality vintage clothing in Montreal, it’s well within your reach. Annex Vintage in the Mile End has got you covered from a few angles. First off they have tons of pins, patches and other goods made by local artists, as well as a selection of hand picked 90s vintage. Their sister stores Empire Exhange and Local 23 are within a two block radius, and stock even more fabulous fashions. At Empire Exchange you can even trade in your old clothes for store credit! Citizen Vintage is another great spot to find both unique vintage pieces, as well as locally and sustainably made vintage-inspired designs. To round off a proper shopping spree, look no further than LNF Shop for some familiar labels at secondhand prices.
2. Montreal Brewpub Experience
Montrealers certainly love their beer, so there’s plenty of watering holes around. If you want to dive right in, there’s no better way to explore all the craft breweries that the city has to offer than going on a tour. Montreal Craft Beer Tours offers a walking excursion of the unique brewpubs found within Montreal, along with a historical and cultural guide of the neighbourhood. The tour features one-of-a-kind beer tastings, paired with equally delectable food samples. You’ll get to taste mouthwatering bites such as a Belgium beer poutine, a charcuterie platter (including slices of beef gravlax and cheese), and decadent dulce de leche truffles. This tour is a must-try for beer-lovers from Montreal, and beyond!
1. Drogheria Fine + Kem Coba
For some of the best pasta in town, head to Drogheria Fine on Fairmount street in the Mile End. The tiny Italian storefront serves only homemade gnocchi in a delicious and freshly prepared tomato sauce. The best part? A box to-go is only $5. The recipe was brought over from southern Italy by the store owner’s mother and uses only the simplest of ingredients–tomatoes, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper (but don’t try to replicate it at home, you won’t even come close). Enjoy every bite of the piping hot gnocchi, then make your way to one of the city’s best ice cream shops for dessert.
Located just a few doors down, Kem Coba‘s artisanal soft ice cream is truly one-of-a-kind. Made without any artificial flavours or preservatives, their roster of unique flavours is always rotating. Whether you want to experiment or stick with the classics, Kem Coba is a perfect dessert to eat as you explore the Mile End.