Sarah's Weekend List, September 3-6
Let's start our weekend near the Big O... 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.
Nearby, the First First Friday of the year has arrived!!! Organizers are bringing back the food trucks to the Big O esplanade, with over 40 restaurants serving up the good grub. Besides the food trucks, there will be separate, themed terrasses (à la Mexicain, Vietnamien, Japonais) and two beer gardens! Of course, DJs will provide the soundtrack. Until Sunday. (Vaccine passport is required.)
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.
Soak up that last bit of summer! It is the final weekend to check out the Clock Tower Beach in the Old Port and Jean Doré Beach at Parc Jean-Drapeau. Both require you to buy your ticket in advance. Also at Jean Doré beach: Lido Pimienta performs Friday night at the Contre-Courant show. The series sets up artists performing outdoors, often on or near bodies of water. Indie rocker Dan Mangan takes the reins Saturday.
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.
Theatre artist Émilie Monnet performs her solo show Okinum in English, French and Anishnaabemowin. Okinum means 'dam' in Anishnaabemowin, and is a reference to Monnet's recurring dream of a beaver and her own journey to uncover her true self and connect with her heritage. A rave hit when she first performed it at a French theatre in 2018, this is the show's 'English premiere' at The Centaur as part of its Brave New Looks series in conjunction with Imago Theatre and ONNN. Until September 10.
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 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!
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.
Also in the Old Port: live circus! Les 7 Doigts presents Brume, with a troupe clearing through the fog, ready to push the boundaries of circus in front of a live audience! Friday, 5pm to 8pm, Saturday, 11am to 7:30pm and Sunday, 11am to 5pm, until Sunday.
The 5th edition of Festival des arts du ruelle (FAR) presents over 200 artists performing small, live 5 à 7 shows in eight boroughs. Until September 12.
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.
And burlesque, or rather boylesque: Diablos Boylesque is a special, folksy show riffing on the Québécois Chasse-Galerie legend. Performers include Miami Minx, Tristan Ginger, Salty Margarita Cherry Topp, El Castro and Petro. Selma Gahd is the high priestess (and mistress of ceremonies). Sunday, 8pm at Bar le Cocktail.