Sarah's Weekend List, September 10-12

Brand-new lanterns depicting the mythological creator Pangu and a phoenix light up the Chinese Pavilion at the Botanical Gardens. PHOTO: Claude Lafond
Sarah Deshaies produces the Andrew Carter Morning Show. Every Friday at 8:20am, she tells you about the big, quirky and off-the-beaten-path events happening in Montreal. Here is this week's list, with links for more information so you can get out and enjoy the city! Submit your event to

The FrancoFolies music festival kicks off a series of postponed, truncated summer music festivals, displaced to the fall, with a wide range of free, indoor and outdoor performances to Place des festivals. At 5:15pm today, see newbie Robert Robert perform (Hubert Lenoir co-produce his debut, Silicone Villeray). Quebec rap is big this year, with rapper Raccoon performing Saturday, 5:15pm and Ahuntsic's own Tizzo performing with his pals at L'Astral, 11pm Friday. Our pop queen Marie-Mai closes out the fun, Sunday at 9:45pm. Don't forget to register for your seat in advance! Many of the shows are 'sold out', but there are interviews and capsule shows to take in online. 

Hudson Porchfest puts 65 musical acts across 15 porches in the quiet hamlet, ranging from The Better Half, a trio that covers hits from the 50s to today, to Scarlet Wives, a 'girl-led badass rock band'. Check out the lineup here or consult a custom map. Saturday, 12 to 7pm. 

The wandering West Island Blues Fest closes out its extended summer season with eight shows on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, at Edgewater and Grande-Anse Parks in Pointe-Claire. Dwayne Dixon, Chris Briere and Dan Livingston headline; be sure to register in advance to ensure you are seeing the musician you want at the desired park and time.  

And over in Outremont, the fifth edition of Grandes Oreilles presents free music shows and workshops for kids and families, in and around St Viateur Park. 

Over 275 organizations across Quebec are throwing open their doors to celebrate culture, faith and architecture for the Religious Heritage Days this weekend. Visit St Patrick's Basilica downtown, the storied Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue in Westmount, or the St Maurice de Duvernay church in Laval, designed by Roger d'Astous, who studied with Prairie school founder Frank Lloyd Wright. 

You have a few more weeks to check out the divine Dior show at the McCord Museum. Meet Christian Dior, who founded his house in 1947, fueling the post-war haute couture revival. And learn the difference between daytime and night wear, and gaze at jaw-dropping gowns designed for actual Canadians. 

Festival Stop Motion Montreal is mostly online this edition, but hosts a free outdoor screening to kickstart the fun: check out Stop Motion in the Moonlight, Saturday at 8pm, 2320 des Carrières, where titles include Catcalls, Grandma's Pancakes and . Gunter Falls in Love Otherwise, there is a lot to see online: pick up a VIP pass to access 13 hours of film, including feature length pieces and shorts, and a special Indigenous program. Or rent individual shorts for $10 a pop. Until September 19. 

Le Burger Week celebrates a decade of burger gastronomy by expanding to two weeks. Restaurants all over town try to compete for the best, sometimes weirdest burger offering, and you vote for your fave! Try the Yack Burger Caribou Gourmand in the Plateau, sourced from Bolton’s Yakiti Yack Farm, or The Samson at St Henri's Bucky Rooster, which sandwiches a beef patty in a potato bun. In Old Montreal, Seasalt is serving up the Sea burger: a crab cake with a lobster tail, with fried calamari. Until September 14.

Final weekend to enjoy two outdoor arts festival: the 10th edition for Festival Marionettes Plein la rue is putting on a variety of small, outdoor shows along the pedestrianized 1.3 km of Promenade Wellington in Verdun. The schedule is not public, due to pandemic concerns, which makes it harder to plan, but more of an ephermeral experience!  And the fifth edition of Festival des arts du ruelle (FAR) presents over 200 artists performing small, live 5 à 7 shows in eight boroughs.

If you want to see a bunch of dudes toddling around in red pumps for a good cause, including my own father, Normand, please make your way to NDG's Monkland and Girouard for the annual Walk a Mile Montreal in Her Shoes fundraiser. Royal LePage Village's brokers and supporters raise money each year for a local women's shelter. Come for the good cause, stay for the anxiety-inducing wobbles! Sunday, 10am. 

Another good cause with some physical exertion: cheer on the paddlers at FL Fuller Landau Cedars CanSupport Dragon Boat Race. This Sunday, 9am to 2pm, at the Promenade Père-Marquette in Lachine. 


The Jardin botanique have brought back the popular, after-dusk Gardens of Light show after a one-year hiatus. First up, kids will love the Halloween-themed tour followed by an Ode to the Moon, an installation which allows you to 'howl' at the night sky (be warned: there is a lot of wailing.) The walking tour is different from past years, starting with the Japanese pavilion, through a spectacularly atmospheric First Nations garden, ending with the Chinese pavilion, where brand-new lanterns pay homage to Pangu, the world creator from Chinese mythology, who is accompanied by a slew of creatures. Entry has been timed since 2019 (since before it was cool!) allowing 500 visitors to enter every half-hour. 

While you're in the area, the Îlots 76 play area near the Saputo stadium offers a series of sports-themed bouncy castles, including a small replica of the Big O. Let the kids tire themselves out while you sip a coffee; $9 gives you an hour of bouncy time, no reservations required. Open 10am to 6pm. 

Travel, in a way, to Italy, thanks to the Phi Centre's Venice VR Expanded show. A curation of virtual reality stories presented at the 78th Biennale di Venezia is on display for the second year in a row at the Old Montreal gallery. You grab a headset for a two-hour block, sit down on a stool and select from a library of 30 works from 21 countries. Many of the works are interactive, like the charming British piece Glimpse, featuring an artsy, heartsick panda (Taron Egerton). In Le Bal de Paris de Bianca Li, you are invited to a glamorous, fantastical party - but first you have to select an avatar and Chanel outfit! But take note: you'll need repeat visits to take in the full library. And how's this for bragging rights: Montreal is the exclusive Canadian stop on Venice VR's global tour. Until September 19.

The Marché Asiatique de Montréal offers a magical spot to grab a bite to eat and unwind at the corner of St Laurent and René-Lévesque. An initiative by local merchants to boost the neighbourhood amid the pandemic and a rise in anti-Asian racism, the thoughtfully-arranged space (inspired by Asian and Buddhist design principles) houses two concentric circles, lined with vendors. Grab some noodles, barbecued octopus, fried chicken and some ice cream and chill out under the Tree of Wishes. Thursday to Sundays, until October. 

The Biosphère on Ile Ste Helene has finally reopened, joining the Space of Life constellation that also includes the Biodome. With the recent "red alert" climate report from the UN, the Biosphère's mission is as urgent as ever: to educate Montrealers about the environment and how best to care for it. 

Want to go to space, for a fraction of the cost and without any air sickness or g-force? The Phi Centre presents The Infinite at the Arsenal gallery in Griffintown. Would-be astronauts strap on virtual reality headsets, then walk into a cavernous room. But what your eyes see is a slightly smaller version of the International Space Station. Stepping aboard, you reach out to activate capsules that bring you elbow-to-elbow with actual astronauts, like Quebec's own David Saint-Jacques. In these 360-degree capsules, the space travellers explain how they work, eat and exercise 400 kilometres from home. Since it's the Phi Centre, the VR show is then complemented by two immersive art projects inspired by the themes at hand. It's a vivid, thrilling and educational adventure - no spacesuit required - brought to you by a collaboration with NASA, the ISS National Lab, Time Studios and Montreal outfit Felix & Paul Studios. Appropriate for ages 8 and up. 

It was a hot week! Cool off at Below the Ice with Mario Cyr, a new immersive walk-through exhibit by Cirque Éloize. You will journey north to follow Cyr, a documentary filmmaker, to nearly inaccessible spots in the Canadian Arctic. Marvel at the polar bears and narwhals and walruses, and learn more about what a precarious position their environment is in. At the Éloize Studios In Old Montreal, at 417 Berri.