18+ Exciting Things to Do in Montreal this Spring and Summer 2018
By Ana Bilokin on April 11th, 2018
Here we are, summer has finally come. Here is our top 18 activities and things to do in Montreal summer 2018! Few secrets, activities, places to eat, new restaurants, hidden gems and pop-up events!
Mile End – Montreal’s #1 Food Tour Neighbourhood
Here’s 18+ Things to do in Montreal as the temperature rises this summer!
You’ve started checking the humidity index instead of the windchill factor. Your favourite part of the day is hopping on your bike. You’ve invested in some super-low ankle socks. You’ve even attended a BBQ or two… only one thing is possible: IT’S SUMMER!! Montrealers are a little bonkers for their 3 months of sun, which means the schedule is full of so many festivals, events, and activities. Where do you even begin? Whether you’re a local or a visitor, you’ll want to take advantage of this summer madness. Check out our list of the best things to do in Montreal this summer!
18. Chill out at the one of the cool new pop-up spaces around the city
Village au Pied-du-Courant:
The boardwalk style “village” is a creatively designed mashup of all things Montrealers love: performance, art, food and drink, and most importantly, community. A collaborative effort to reinvent the public space, the village will be open on June 1st on the bank of the St. Lawrence and feature a local artisan market, live music, and so much more – for free. Instead of reading about it, make your way over there on Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday as of June 1st, 2018! aupiedducourant.ca
Aire Commune invites people into the vibrant Mile End area to work together, and play together, in the fresh air. In the pop-up space, you can network, drink beer, eat, connect and make the most of the summer. The programming includes everything from yoga to parties to conferences, blending work and play with effortlessly cool style and decor. Aire Commune is open weekdays as of May 2018. airecommune.com
17. Check out Little Italy’s wine bar scene
Wine bars are exploding all over Montreal this year, these are our favourites. While you’re up in the area, take a look around using our Guide to Little Italy.
First of all, a brand new venture from the team behind Joe Beef, but without the attitude. The menu is modest and focuses on flavour instead of presentation, but the wine list, full of delicious natural wines, is really what has people’s hearts. vinmonlapin.com
Femme à la Fontaine:
Definitely the most sensual wine bar you will ever go to, bathed in red light and decorated in various painted and sculpted female nudes, the restaurant lives up to its name. What they do best, is keep their selection of natural wines flowing. facebook.com/femmealafontaine
A wine bar is the heart of the Plateau, Montreal’s most party-friendly area, serving a wide selection of wines (even some on tap), beer and cocktails, as well as delicious food, so there’s something for everyone at the vibrant joint. rougegorge.ca
Don’t miss out on the latest and greatest this summer. Alma is another wine bar, opening this May in Outremont, among much anticipation. Serving expertly selected Catalonian wines and bistro fare, Alma’s terrace will surely be a hot spot. instagram.com/alma.mtl
16. Discover the city and amuse your tastebuds on a food tour
Food tours are an increasingly popular way to get to know a city, and no one’s wondering why. In only 3 hours, a food tour goes all out, taking you to a variety of food stops and many historical landmarks, satisfying not only the foodies in your group but also the culture buffs. Discover the iconic neighbourhoods of Mile End, Old Montreal, and the Plateau in the most delicious way while you meet new people, food tours make a great day out in the summer for locals and tourists alike.
Summer in Montreal is not complete without a nice cold beer on a terrace. These are our top picks for summer 2018!
La SAT Terrasse:
La Société des Arts Technologiques is always hosting innovative and exciting events and workshops on art and technology. Their in-house restaurant Foodlab also boasts unique food, great music and a rooftop terrace near the Quartier des Specacles. sat.qc.ca
A great place if you like craft beer and good food, they import a wide selection of bottled beers that you can’t find anywhere else in the city that you can order from their incredibly extensive Beer Bible, or pick from one of the 40+ beers they have on tap. saintbock.com
This place is a classic! The rooftop terrace offers the best view of the Old Montreal, putting you eye-to-eye with architectural icons such as the Notre-Dame Basilica as well as some delicious summery drinks and dishes. terrassenelligan.com
For the younger crowd who enjoy “off the beaten path” venues, Alexandraplatz is a summer exclusive: a backyard beer garden in Mile-Ex, named after a Berlin experiment in socialist urban aesthetics – that’s all you need to know. alexandraplatzbar.com
14. Participate in one of the many exciting festivals
There’s always some kind of festival going on in Montreal, but during the summer, Montreal becomes a hub for outdoor entertainment – and not just music! Here’s just a few of the amazing festivals that grace the streets and venues of the city…
Fantasia International Film Festival:(July 12th – August 1st, 2018)
Every summer, the long lines that surround Concordia University’s Hall building are for Fantasia, a leader in the genre film scene. You can catch movies that wouldn’t normally be screened at your average movie theatre, including international flicks from Asia, Europe and the Americas that are harder to find. You’ll be greeted by a buzzing crowd of excited film buffs all meowing at the screen (a tradition that started after a screening of a short film called “Sam the Cat.”) The crowd loves to react along to the drama on-screen. If this sounds like your cup of tea, then be sure to check out this summer festival! fantasiafestival.com/home/en
Shakespeare-in-the-Park:(Various parks July 5th – August 8th, 2018)
Thespians rejoice! This one’s not really a festival, but you should definitely catch one of their shows if you’re into classic theatre! Repercussion Theatre hosts their yearly Shakespeare-in-the-Park event where they choose a Shakespearean play to perform throughout Montreal’s various parks. This year, to commemorate their 30th anniversary, the selection is Romeo and Juliet. Bring your own snacks and lawn chairs, and settle-in for a romantic evening with the Bard!repercussiontheatre.com/shakespeare-in-the-park
Zoofest / OFF- JFL: (July 15th – 30th, 2018)
This bilingual festival is a cocktail of all the funnest parts of the arts. Zoofest and OFF-JFL (the English version of the festival) runs the gamut, putting on shows featuring actors, comedians, musicians, magicians and any other talented performers! If you’re looking to be gloriously entertained or to keel over laughing, Zoofest is the festival for you! zoofest.com
Mutek: (August 22nd – 26th, 2018)
For a few excitement-packed days each summer, Mutek is an international festival that puts on shows featuring innovative electronic music and imaginative visual art. If the digital art world inspires you and the beat of an analog synth gets you moving, come out and see how Mutek turns the city into an audiovisual playground! mutek.org/en
Just for Laughs:(July 11th – 29th, 2018)
Montreal’s ever popular Just for Laughs Festival always boasts an impressive list of local and international comedians. Some of the biggest names in comedy pass through Montreal, much to the delight of locals who spend an evening gasping for air in laughter. They also host a free outdoor festival in the Place-des-Arts entertainment district. The outdoor festival has bilingual acts, activities and food for families to enjoy, as well as some later comedy shows to catch after dinner. hahaha.com/en/montreal-festival
St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival:(June 7th – June 17th, 2018)
If you enjoy spending a leisurely day at the theatre, Montreal’s Fringe Festival puts on a variety of cool shows, from off-broadway plays to dance and drag queen performances. Their mission is to create an environment of inclusion and diversity, all within the wonderful world of theatrical arts. They take over Parc des Ameriques on Saint-Laurent boulevard and turn it into a performance space that’ll keep you entertained for hours! montrealfringe.ca
14. Celebrate your Sunday morning with brunch
Sure, you can brunch during winter. But can you head to the park after to spend your food coma in the grass? Can you request a seat on the terrace? Nope and nope. Enjoy your summer Sundays brunching with your favourite people at one (or all?) of these brunch spots.
Everyone is raving about the brewpub, restaurant, and hot weekend brunch spot, all in one. You can chill on their patio, or escape the busy streets in their newly renovated interior, while sampling some delicious creations. reservoirbrasseur.com
Local, Organic, Vegetarian (delicious) brunch. The name says it all, not only are they committed to health and sustainability, this restaurant makes food that you’ll love to eat too. We invite you to start your Saturday or Sunday off right. lov.com
A classic British tavern nestled right in the Eastern part of the Plateau, you might be surprised to find out that it is a project by Derek Dammann, an ex-chef from one of celebrity chef Jaime Oliver’s restaurants. Come savour the greasy, meaty classics in all their glory on Saturday and Sunday. maisonpublique.com
13. See the world in a new way at Montreal’s art galleries
Montreal is known for it’s vibrant arts scene, so these internationally renowned museums at the top of their game are a true feast for the eyes.
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts:
Not only does this museum have a stunning permanent collection of classic and modern visual art that’s free for everyone under 30, they also have a few amazing temporary exhibitions at a time. The one not to miss this summer, open as of May 12, 2018, is From Africa to the Americas: Face-to-face Picasso, Past and Present, a juxtaposition of Picasso’s work with those of non-Western artists, contextualizing the Western icon through a post-colonial lens. mbam.qc.ca/en
Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal:
Montreal’s biggest contemporary art museum, the MAC, has quite the reputation for engaging and exciting work from today’s artists, which involves many interactive and immersive exhibits. This summer, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’sUnstable Presence is no exception. Open May 5, 2018, the artist’s work uses technology and light to involve the audience. Check out this exhibition and you will become art yourself! macm.org/en
12. Discover Rosemont, Montreal’s Mecca of craft beer
What better way to get to know a neighbourhood and taste the city’s amazing brews, than to take a beer tour? You’ll get to try a selection of some of the most creative and delicious beers out there, learn about the brewing process, and laugh heartily with both old friends and new acquaintances. The brewpub scene has recently taken over Rosemont, a hip and trendy area where Montreal residents love to live and relax. Let the tour be your guide to the ins and outs of local beer on a walking tour of the area. If that’s not enough, you can also take a tour of the Quartier Latin’s best brews, which you’ll discover is much more fun than it is Latin.
11. Grab lunch at the new Crew Café inside a former 1920’s bank
When Crew was looking for a new office space, they probably didn’t plan on A) opening up one of the city’s most stunning cafés, and B) taking over an old 1920’s bank. But they did, and Old Montreal now has a force to be reckoned with. Not only is its design haunting and antique, but the minds behind the menu are ex-Pied de Cochon chefs, making for some seriously delicious nosh. Come take advantage of this freelancer’s haven (coffee, wifi, and outlets) or make it your next impress-a-date-spot. Pro tip: meeting rooms and various seating options are available with a coworking space membership. crewcollectivecafe.com
10. Tourist it up at these outdoor attractions
Being a tourist might not be the coolest thing, but there’s a reason visitors flock to these destinations, so whether you’re really a visitor doing a “best-of” tour of the city, a local trying to get out of your bubble, or looking for a fun summer activity for the whole family, these spots won’t let you down. For more recommendations here’s 20+ Amazing Montreal Tourist Attractions that Aren’t Just for Tourists!
Montreal Botanical Garden:
Besides the mountain, which you should definitely climb for a stunning view over the city, the Botanical Garden is one of the biggest parks on the island, full of specialty gardens and greenhouses. Make sure you don’t miss the enchanting Bonsai garden and come face-to-face with some creepy-crawlies at the Insectarium. espacepourlavie.ca/jardin-botanique
This is so much more than a park – spanning two islands it’s packed full of adventure at every turn. Jean-Drapeau is home to La Ronde amusement park, an abundance of water sports, a large aquatic complex and swimming pool, the Biosphere (not to be confused with the Biodome), and Montreal’s notorious Osheaga music festival, which runs from Aug 3rd to 5th this summer. parcjeandrapeau.com
9. Grab a bite at Montreal’s hip new Asian eateries
You’re going to have those evenings where the question where should we eat will become a central discussion. The phrase “I heard of this great new place” is always an easy sell, so let us help you and give you a few. For more ideas check out these 23 New Places to Eat in Montreal.
Otto Yakitori Izakaya:
This new kid on the block is an Izakaya to be reckoned with. Montreal’s first Yakitori (an Izakaya that specializes in chicken skewers), features all kinds of roastable meat like chicken thigh, wings, tongue.. yum! A great pick for reasonably priced, delicious late eats. facebook.com/ottoyakitori
Rejoice! Épicerie Hao has come to rescue the Plateau from its steamed bun shaped void! Yep, right on Rachel street. The small eatery mimics the classic small spots found in big cities in Asia with its intimate and takeout friendly setup. Pork shoulder buns for meat lovers, organic tofu, mushroom and sauteed pepper buns for the veggies – come taste these babies and you’ll be hooked. epiceriehao.com
8. Rock out to some local musical talent
The indie music scene in this city is insane! From college kids experimenting with their sound to established artists with an international reputation, from jazz to punk, you’ll be sure to find some new local talent to fall in love with at these venues any night of the week.
Bar Le “Ritz” PDB:
PDB stands for “punks don’t bend,” and they don’t settle for sub par venues either. After taking over from another business, the space was re-done a few years back and is now a go-to venue for both local and visiting acts of all genres. Although there’s almost always a show at the Mile-Ex romp, if there isn’t one it functions as a regular bar any night of the week. barleritzpdb.com
Casa del Popolo:
A cafe, gallery, bar and venue all in one. With the front room dedicated to chilling and drinking, a door in the back takes you through a wavy black and white striped hallway to the concert space, equipped with it own bar. It features some of the coolest bands Montreal has to offer along with its sister venues La Salla Rossa and La Vitrola. casadelpopolo.com/en
This venue might be more comfortable for both older and younger crowds though its tin foil covered walls make it look like its from the future. The free live acts that perform every night span many genres from jazz to hip-hop to folk to groove, so you might just find yourself swing dancing on the floor. Oh, and it’s also a delicious vegetarian restaurant. lescalier-montreal.com/restaurant-bar
7. Get moving on a bike ride along the canal
With Bixi bike stands all over the city, it’s never been easier to tour the city on two wheels. Montreal has a good network of bike lanes running through downtown and plenty of cyclists to use them. A favourite route for a casual cycle, away from cars, is down by the Lachine Canal on the boardwalk along the water, running from Old Port to the Atwater Market, passing some of the city’s iconic industrial architecture.
6. Make the most of the Jardins Gamelin events
From May 17th to September, 2018, Jardins Gamelin takes over Place Émilie-Gamelin, packing a lot of activities into a small place! Coming back in full swing this summer, this festival/garden/performance space/restaurant hosts a variety of activities from dance lessons to all kinds of musical performances. See the website below for a list of their upcoming events. quartierdesspectacles.com/en/event/137/jardins-gamelin/
5. Battle it out at the other side of Tam-Tams
The free drumming festival that pops up every Sunday at Jeanne-Mance park has become a bit of a Montreal cliche. It makes for a nice sunny day spent in the grass, but if you really want to see something new, check out the Medieval (foam) sword fighting going on in the forest just behind the pasture. Some of the role-players have been coming out for over a decade in full medieval dress. All you need to join in, though, is an open open mind and a foam sword. Can you come out victorious?
4. Savour some Ice Cream
You’ll recognize Kem CoBa by the long lineup that wraps around Fairmont and St-Laurent. Trust me and pencil in an extra 15 minutes to your ice cream excursion – it will be worth the trip to this artisanal ice cream shop. You can the sit and indulge on the colourful benches right in front, along with other ice cream lovers. Flavours are chosen seasonally, making for the freshest flavours and ingredients. Yum. Kem Coba is also famous for their flavour combinations, twisting sorbet and soft serve into divine concoctions. kemcoba.com
Ever wanted to dip your ice cream in some melted baileys-flavoured chocolate? Choose from over 40 different kinds of chocolate dips and toppings for your soft ice cream and throw a party for your palate! There are a few Diperies around Montreal, so be sure to check one out! facebook.com/ladiperie
For an ice cream shop in the heart of the Saint-Laurent action, Ripples is a great stop to refuel after some shopping or to bring a cone to Mount-Royal! This place is a Montreal classic.montrealicecream.com/ripples
3. Explore all the culture of Mile-Ex
Everyone’s been talking about the growth of Mile-Ex, what could’ve been a casualty of urban sprawl, is now a creative hub. It’s just sprouting with fun new experiences…Depanneur le Pick Up doubles as a restaurant and a modern but cozy fine food experience awaits at Le Mile Ex Restaurant (which the area is named after). In addition, there’s always fun at backyard-party style ‘biergarten’Alexandraplatz, and something for third wave coffee fanatics at Dispatch Coffee. Full of artists that were priced out of mile end, even the streets are something to behold, and the area is speckled with hidden treasures behind garage doors. Take a look at our article on the neighbourhood to find out why a walk around the Mile Ex is a surefire way to impress a date, a new friend, or a someone from out of town.
2. Get giddy at these new Montreal bars
There’s no shortage of new bars to try out in Montreal. These three are particularly exciting for their awesome decor, great drink menus, and overall je-ne-sais-quoi vibe!
This cafe/bar has been packed since its Spring 2017 opening. Maybe it’s the steampunk/industrial decor that’s got a Los Angeles vibe, maybe it’s all the craft beer and cider they’ve got on tap. Whatever the reason, it’s an exciting hangout at any hour of the day or night. facebook.com/BarCafeDarling
La Taverne du Pélican:
The team behind Old Montreal’s Le Club Chasse et Pêche has opened up a new low-key bar in Mile-End, though it might not be quite a dive, it’s trying to be. Sporting events and funny flicks being played nightly on their tv screens are sure to make you feel at home. instagram.com/latavernedupelican
This hugely popular Sherbrooke microbrewery has finally graced Montreal’s Saint-Laurent street! Beer amateurs and experts alike now have another drinkery to delight their craft beer-loving palate.siboire.ca
1. Take the Mile End Evening Tour
Montreal’s Mile End becomes a magical place in the evening. The locals are out, enjoying a summer evening with ice cream in hand or biting into a fresh Montreal-made bagel. The Evening Mile End tour invites participants to explore the neighbourhood’s vibrant scene by learning about the multicultural history of the area and digging into the best food it has to offer. Try all the area’s culinary staples: an iconic Saint-Viateur bagel dipped in cream cheese, some authentic Italian tomato sauce on some yummy gnocchi from La Drogheria Fine, and Montreal’s best soft-serve ice cream, all in one fantastic tour!