All of the coolest Montréal activities
Pinning down the essence of “cool” can get a little bit complicated, and there are just about as many definitions to the word as there are people. That said, it’s undeniable that the streets of Montreal ooze a certain coolness, balancing the line between observing the latest trends and stepping into uncharted waters. The city of festivals is full of passionate musicians and artists ready to share their work, as well as laid-back spaces for those simply looking for a good time. We can’t tell you exactly what “cool” is, but we can guarantee that these Montreal spots and activities will inspire, delight, challenge and entertain you in ways you may have never experienced before.
To keep exploring the city’s wonderful offerings, check out these Super Exciting Things to Do in Montreal.
17. Aire Commune
Located in the heart of Mile End (the city’s most art-filled neighbourhood), Aire Commune is a new coworking space designed for networking and outdoor events. Open from May to September, it’s a neighbourhood hub that brings together local creators, entrepreneurs and neighbourhood influencers by transitioning seamlessly from work to play. Food and drink stands are always on standby, ready to fuel all of the all the action that takes place on this beautiful terrace. Between conferences, outdoor yoga, free wifi and live music, what’s not to love? Simply bring your laptop or grab a beer, and you’ll be well on your way to making the most of a Montreal summer.
Make sure you also check out their new project, Nouvelle Vague, which brings its own unique program of events and coworking opportunities to the Old Montreal waterfront.
16. The bars to dance at on Saint-Denis
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 favourite rock tunes that you never knew 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.
The newest addition to this vibrant list, Pow Pow is coming to us from the people also 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.
Finally, Quais des Brumes is yet another rocking venue in the area. Their lineup contains up-and-coming local artists and seasoned professionals that present music featuring a myriad of different sounds and flavours.
15. The Mile End Montreal Food Tour
There’s no better way to experience a city than to get to know its culinary heritage and local flavours on a more personal level. Ripe for exploring, Mile End is a 10-block playground of art, culture, history, and innovation located between Le Plateau du Mont-Royal and Little Italy.
Local Montreal Food Tours guides you and your palate through the vibrant community, 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 enjoying uniquely-Montreal treats like St. Viateur bagels and one family’s homemade gnocchi. Starting back up in the spring, you can take a tour of the bustling district in the evening as well!
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 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 Parc Jean Drapeau with multiple stages setting the scene for full day 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.
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 avant-garde art scene!
A full schedule of festival programming is what makes Montreal truly special. From the most spectacular showcases to underground concert series, Montrealers and visitors love to come together, let loose, be amazed and celebrate impressive talent from our own city, and beyond.
First of all, Suoni Per Il Popolo (June 4 – 23, 2019) 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, 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.
Next, Montreal Complètement Cirque (July 4 – 14, 2019) makes for a completely unique festival experience. For 11 days, the city’s streets, parks and venues become a circus, dazzling onlookers with high-flying performances and limit-defying acts. Get transported a surreal world as you enjoy the artistry of the top circus performers from around the globe.
For any lovers of genre films from around the globe, the Fantasia International Film Festival (July 11 – August 1, 2019) is your go-to destination this summer. The festival takes place downtown with screenings at Concordia University, and is the perfect opportunity to meet other film fans and brush elbows with industry professionals.
Finally, MUTEK (August 20 – 25, 2019) is the summer’s main event for electronic music and digital art. Exploring avant-garde corners of the creative field, this festival is all about immersing yourself in playful, surreal and enchanting sounds, building community on a human scale and, this year in particular, highlighting female artists’ contributions to the scene.
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.
This project ne from Guy Laliberté, the man behind Cirque du Soleil, and his new multimedia company Lune Rouge Entertainment, has harnessed Montreal’s creative fuel to create this immersive venue and multimedia show Through the Echoes. The experience is undoubtedly like nothing you’ve seen before. Open on June 1, 2019 the PY1 Pyramid combines the illusory power of laser projectors, moving set pieces, LED light fixtures, a massive screen and surround-sound speakers to center the audience within a story that spans the creation of the universe to the present, and beyond. The multi-media sensations experienced in this entirely immersive show will shape how you think of art, music and technology forever. py1.co
Have a quick look at our “Vlog” about Mile-End’s Best Restaurants and Things to do!
9. Village au Pied-du-Courant
Heading to the beach from Montreal can be quite the trek, but Village au Pied-du-Courant has made planting your toes in the sand that much easier. A pop-up community space that was designed by local architects, the Village showcases the work of local creatives and hosts events in its man-made beach space on the banks of the Saint Lawrence. Plus, they offer all of their dynamic 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 out on enjoying this little slice of beach bliss once the warm weather rolls around.
8. 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. This place is a definite must-try to experience Montreal’s vibrant Haitian culture.
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. Jean Talon
One of the best things about summer is the multitude of fresh, local produce available at Jean Talon, one of the city’s oldest public markets. Get lost wandering through aisles of colourful fruits and vegetables, stop by a myriad of small butchers, bakers, fishmongers and cheese shops, grab a delicious meal, pick out some plants for your garden or simply snack on free samples along the way. From weekly groceries to special souvenirs, Jean Talon Market is sure to have something that meets your tastes.
6. Even more contemporary art
You may have realized by now that Montreal is a city for the creative classes, so of course there’s a wide selection of contemporary art museums and galleries to explore. Get ready to have your horizons expanded.
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!
Located right in the centre of Old Montreal, The Fondation Phi pour l’art contemporain is the non-profit counterpart to the Phi Centre dedicated to showcasing contemporary art. Each year they stage two to three major exhibitions, a series of public events, and other collaborative projects that they make sure are always free of charge. On now until September 15, 2019 you can participate in The instructions of Yoko Ono and view The art of John and Yoko to dive into their world of activism and conceptual art.
5. Live Music Venues
Music practically flows through Montreal’s veins, with more live music venues in the city than you can count. 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.