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Photograph: Jean-François Bergeron

The 23 best things to do in Montreal this weekend: October 22 to 24, 2021

The best things to do this weekend in Montreal include a tour of cider houses, tacos and tattoos, a free movie festival, and more.

JP Karwacki
Written by
JP Karwacki
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Welcome to the best things to do this weekend in Montreal, a weekly roundup of attractions, pop-ups, events, and curiosities that get you out of the house to discover (hidden) gems in your city. Now that fall in Montreal is officially underway, we're looking at activities that don't involve beaches and rooftop bars, opting instead for sleek cocktail bars and snacks with the best new restaurants in Montreal, where to go hiking near Montreal to take in the explosions of colour throughout the countryside, seasonal fun like apple picking and pumpkin picking, corn mazes to get lost in, and looking forward to ghastly Halloween fun in 2021. The ice and snow isn't here yet! It's never been more important than now to get out there and enjoy the weather while it lasts.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Montreal

The best of the city under one roof

  • Time Out Market

Over at Time Out Market Montréal, you can expect DJ sets every week that feed on the caliente vibes of afrobeat and Caribbean Carnivale-influenced styles, some hot jazz to accompany some swanky dining options, and more.

We've also got pop-ups like our own retro arcade and new vendors incoming like all-day brunch from Le Passé Composé!

Whether you want to just stop in for a bite or stick around for the show, the Market's got more than enough to go around.

Here are the best things to do in Montreal this weekend

From October 22 to 24, just over a dozen different cider houses in Montérégie, the Eastern Townships, Chaudière-Appalaches, and the Laurentians are participating in Le Grande Presse, a new cider festival in Quebec. Each participating spot will host guided tours and tasting, workshops on making cider, apple pressing demos, exhibitions on different types of apples, and—you guessed it—drinking a lot of cider. A lot of cider houses are within only an hour or so's worth of driving from Montreal: Check out the full list of participating cider houses, as well as the activities each one has planned, right here.

Part of an ongoing series of events from MR-63 and the City of Montreal called F-MR Sundays, October 24 will see people gathering for snacks and ink at Sir-George-Étienne-Cartier Park on October 24: It's tacos served from food stalls will be on three-wheeled bikes while the Montreal alternative rap duo Kirouac & Kodakludo, Montreal DJ duo Kobal and GrandHuit, and composer Sambé play music. The admission is free, but the food ain't!

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From September 3 to October 31, every evening from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., the 2021 edition of Gardens of Light will be themed after 'An ode to the Moon'. Starting this weekend, ithe two month-long evening event will be spread out across the Montreal Botanical Garden's Japanese, First Nations, and Chinese Gardens. Hundreds of lanterns will be on display this year, and as many as 500 people can explore the space per half hour.

A free museum pop-up for Underworld, one of the city's longstanding sources for skateboarding and underground music, has opened for a limited time from October 15 to November 6 at Station 16 Editions in Ahuntsic, and it's full of decks, music, photography and more that gives a rare glimpse of Montreal subcultures in the 1990s.

"I created Underworld because I'm passionate about skateboarding and underground music. In Montreal, in the mid-90s, we had a big gap to fill," says owner Alex Bastide (and also the man behind the Montreal franchise L'Gros Luxe).

"It's a huge honor to be able to share my adventure and to exhibit my collection linked to the wonderful world of skateboarding, punk and hip-hop music... Expect lots of surprises, including performances from the Montreal punk scene."

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Fantasia has announced Fantasia en fête, a special screening series that will revisit "the most vital highlights from across the festival’s history... a retrospective series brings back the unforgettable experiences and award-winning, even paradigm-shifting cinematic moments that the festival is revered for."

One of, if not all of, the best parts of this announcement? It's all free, and the selections are perfect for Halloween in Montreal; they've got vampire flicks, kung fu movies, kaiju battles, straight-up horror, and more.The series is happening in two waves: The first will happen this month on October 22, 23, 24, and 26. All screenings will take place at the historic Cinéma Impérial, where the festival was born in 1996.

If you were ordering food during the worst of the lockdowns, you probably ate some Spicebros at one point. Lucky you: They'll be celebrating the grand opening of their sixth location by offering free butter chicken bro-bowls on October 23rd and 24th from noon to 5:00pm at their Sud-Ouest location (one per person). No strings attached, just make sure to practice safe social distancing while you're there!

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Downtown Montreal's Leaves House Café is continuing to host its Latte Plant Care workshop through to November, and another session is taking place this weekend. During the workshop, all attendees will receive a free drink of choice from a variety of plant-based drinks (lattes, matcha, iced lattes and teas, juices) while Leaves House Cafe will offer 15% off its plants and merchandise. They'll be propagating plants like the Hawaiian Golden pothos Epipremnum aureum, Monstera adansonii, Zamioculcas zamiifolia (ZZ), sansevieria, Tradescantia Nanouk, Scindapsus Exotica, and the Ficus elastica Tineke (sorry not sorry to anyone who isn't a plant nerd).

The Phi Centre's latest in-house exhibition at their headquarters in Old Montreal is We Live in an Ocean of Air, "an immersive multi-sensory installation that will reveal the invisible connections between you and the forest". How do they do it? Through VR, you see your breath animated and become one with the channels of carbon dioxide inflow and oxygen outflow in Sequoia National Park, the home of the Giant Sequoia trees. Lasting 20 minutes and accommodating two groups of 6 people simultaneously, visitors will use a unique combination of technologies: from untethered virtual reality, heart rate monitors, and breath sensors to body tracking.

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At the beginning of 2021, Montreal's Palais des congrès added three immersive rooms to its permanent facilities for OASIS Immersion. The first convention centre in the world to do so, OASIS forms Canada's largest indoor immersive experience across more than 2,000 square meters (or 21,500 square feet), and it now has a new 75-minute show: RECHARGER / Unwind. 105 laser projectors and 119 surround sound speakers work to make 360° projections on walls and floors of 10 works by digital artists from Quebec and abroad.

Originally founded in 2001, this year marks the 10th edition of the Phénomena Festival, devoted to theater, performances, cabarets, short films, poetic installations, and all kinds of other performative art—so long as it's really, really, really out there in terms of subject matter and presentation. Only a few events remain, but those that are going to shock you and break you out of your pandemic blues. This weekend, we recommend the 10 years of Phénomena photo exhibition.

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If you haven't already gone beyond the city limits to take in the autumn scenery and eat fresh menus from farms' kitchens at pumpkin patches for picking near Montreal, now is the perfect time to do so. We found a whopping 23 different places for you to travel to both near and far, and it's a great time to make it part of a Halloween-themed weekend by going for a scenic drive too.

Running until October 31, there's haunted houses, 'scare zones', shows, and rides to check out at La Ronde every weekend that's great for both brave adults and curious kids looking for a scare.

Fridays are 18+, with exclusive horror evenings in the park where everything becomes a scary playground to ride in the dark and visit all the haunted houses (Le Cirque diabolique 3D, Cauchemars, District 510 in the dark and the Cursed Farm). From 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., you'll have unlimited access to the thrill rides and all the haunted houses for $25 in you don't have a season pass ($20 if you do).

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Since September 28, Montreal artist Victor Pilon has moved the equivalent of 144 tonnes of sand from one mound to another over the course of more than 360,000 steps. Taking place 6 days a week, 7 hours a day, for 30 days until October 27, it's a free and public marathon performance happening now at Montreal's Olympic Stadium.

“The tragic death of my partner Sylvain led me to this project. We all have to mourn the fact that life is absurd in order to be able to arrive at a form of freedom, even happiness. As in the popular expression work work work, day after day, Sisyphus pushes his boulder to the top of a mountain, from where it always ends up coming down," Pilon writes.

"This project is an effort to understand the eternal restart, to grasp the absurdity of existence, a desire for clarity, a quest for the why that dwells in all of us.”

It's the first museum activity to be held within the walls of the Olympic Stadium in 45 years.

Once you've got your pumpkin spice latté in hand, you're wrapped in plaid and scarves and ready to explore what the fall season has to offer, it's time to get lost in a corn maze near Montreal. The corn harvest at farms is over, so it's a great way to follow up some apple picking or pumpkin picking near Montreal and picking up some freshly-baked pies, donuts and pastries (topped with locally-made jams and preserves) from the best suppliers found at the best farmers markets near Montreal.

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From October 14 to 30, 2021, a projection mapping piece entitled OUR COMMON HOME will be presented, a series of interactive experiences on four building façades in the Quartier des Spectacles from the media art studio Iregular. Presented in conjunction with the Festival du nouveau cinéma, it's a reflection on climate change told through a four-chapter experience exploring the human activities that contribute to climate change and how our individual decisions have a global impact: Creatures, shown on the side of the Wilder Building, is a metaphor for human influence on the animal kingdom; Products, on the façade of UQAM’s Pavillon Président-Kennedy, explores consumerism and the amount of garbage we produce; Icebergs, on the walls of buildings beside Saint-Laurent metro station, looks at the impact of our daily choices on the melting of the polar ice caps; and Telescopes, on the façade of the Grande Bibliothèque, illustrates our lack of interest in engaging in necessary conversations about climate change.

This city is full of amazing stuff to explore, but sometimes even the most diehard urbanite needs a break from the hustle and bustle. For those occasions, there are a number of gorgeous options for hiking near Montreal that will allow you to get back to nature and take a breather from it all. Use those muscles you’ve gained from stepping over construction holes and dodging traffic cones for one of our selected hikes, which can all be found within a three-hour drive of the city.

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Apple picking season is getting really close to ending, and that means that all the orchards from all over surrounding area are going to be more than happy to receive you to pick your own goods to make into pies, juice, and beyond while serving up some of their own seasonal delicacies. If you haven't been yet this year, there's some special about going just as the season closes, so go while you still can.

It looks like Montrealers' vote for their city's best neighbourhood last year, Verdun, has been beaten out by an all-new contender: Villeray, which has secured itself the #18 slot in this year's round-up of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world.

The result comes from the annual Time Out Index survey which polled a total of 27,000 city-dwellers from around the world about—among many things—what their favourite neighbourhood in their city was. Those results were brought to Time Out local city editors and contributors who then vetted that public vote against all-important criteria that ranged from sustainability to how strong the community vibes are in that area.

Never been? You should go.

Don't believe us? You should go.

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It's one thing to tour the company behind the world's largest rooftop garden right here in Montreal, but why not check out Lufa's Halloween-friendly pumpkin carving workshop? It'll be hosted at their Ahuntsic rooftop greenhouse - the first they built and the first of its kind. Their team will gather the pumpkins, the carving kits, and decorations so that kids and grownups alike can create spookalicious Halloween decorations. Plus, you’ll get to take the seeds home for roasting.

It's a big month over at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts: There's The World of Yousuf Karsh: A Private Essence running from September 22, 2021 to January 30, 2022, featuring 111 Karsh photographs donated to the museum: They include his famous images of political figures like Fidel Castro, Winston
Churchill, John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy, Nelson Mandela, Eleanor Roosevelt and Pierre Elliott Trudeau. There's also portraits of theatre and film stars as well as musicians, artists and writers like Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Ernest Hemingway, Vladimir Nabokov, Georgia O’Keeffe and Pablo Picasso in addition to scientists Albert Einstein, Jacques Cousteau and Carl Jung.

Then there's the exhibiton “How long does it take for one voice to reach another?” which explores the human voice not only as a sonic phenomenon, but also as a culturally constructed metaphor: A space in which words and ideas, communities and the relationships binding them together are made manifest and challenged through embodied practices. Spanning different periods and cultures, the works featured in it are mainly drawn from the MMFA’s permanent collection and several major loans from Canadian institutions and private lenders.

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A brand new art installation will be launched in Parc Extension on September 25, from 1 to 4p.m., and the organizers say it's unlike any other the city has ever seen. Created by Art Extension, a visual art collective based in Parc Extension, the event features 36 of the neighbourhood’s disused satellite dishes and turns them into vibrant canvases, as well as an outdoor exhibition that's featuring over 30 local artists. It will be available for the public to explore via an interactive virtual map.

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The Infinite, an hour-long experience that includes 35 minutes of free-roaming VR—where you can physically walk through the space with a VR headset on—spread out over 12,500 square feet of rooms is open in Montreal and it's excellent: Told through a combination of virtual reality, augmented reality and projections, the experience takes users on an immersive, hour-long trip aboard the International Space Station (ISS). It will run from July 21 to November 7 at Arsenal Contemporary Art in Griffintown (2020 William Street), but tickets are going fast.

 

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