Things to Do in Montreal : May Festivals and Events

Piknic Electronik. May 18 2015. Photo Fernando Landin. Piknic Electronik. May 18 2015. Photo Fernando Landin.

Beautiful May with its sunny, long days is a perfect time to et out in the city and enjoy the many festivals that make our city the place you want to be. I’m keeping this intro short and sweet because there are over 20 different festivals this month. Stop reading and start going!



April 27 – May 11

Gin is having a renaissance and this is Montreal’s chance to showcase the beverage. Select venues will be featuring gin drinks. Those participating can get a card stamp and have a chance to win prizes like a trip to England. More info can be found HERE.

Montreal Printed Art Festival/ Festival des Arts Imprimés de Montréal (FAIMTL)

Papier 16. Photo Rachel Levien

April 28 – May 7

A festival is born, or um… pressed as edition 1/1. Montreal’s printmaking scene is most familiar from the posters for concerts and events that are found on posters throughout the city. However, more formal visual arts, t shirts, patches, books are some of the other media you can see our artists at work. The festival gives an opportunity to meet artists, attend lectures, and even try your hand at printmaking. Information HERE.

Montreal International Classical Guitar Festival and Competition

SAT Souk 2015. Photo Yolanda Marie Ruzilo

April 29 – May 1

Strum that six string folks. In conjunction with Concordia University’s Music Department, get ready for master classes, performances, lectures, and demonstrations. Oh, and if you’ve been hoping to buy a guitar… there is a room full of vendors and luthiers. Information HERE.

Concordia Film Festival

Film Reels. CinéBazar 2015. Photo Sinj Karan.

Film Reels. CinéBazar 2015. Photo Sinj Karan.

May 3-8, H-110 Auditorium at Henry Hall Building (de Maisonneuve W).

Student film can be some of the most exciting and challenging film experiences to be had. See what the up and coming generation are producing at the annual film festival. This marks their 43rd year! Details HERE.

La Grande Rencontre (Folk Fest)


May 4-7, Maison de la Culture Ahuntsic (10300 rue La Jeunesse)

A celebration of traditional music is in order. Bring your fiddle and your singing voice along and listen to bands like the Bombadils, Nicolas Pellerin et les Grands Hurleurs, and even Mic-Mac singer Robert Seven Crows Bourdon raise their voices. In addition, there are opportunities to watch traditional dance. For tickets, click HERE.

Montreal Sketch Comedy Festival

Les bunheads. Sketchfest 2015. Photo Rachel Levine.

Les bunheads. Sketchfest 2015. Photo Rachel Levine.

May 5-14, Theatre St. Catherine (264 St Catherine E) and the Montreal Improv Theatre

Ten days of mad comedic performances by sketch comedy groups. Most come from Montreal and Toronto, a few from further afield. Many repeat performers are back and the overall vibe is one of a massive family gathering of the funniest people from Canada’s major cities. Most shows are $12 a pop, but packages are available too. Check it out HERE.

Festival Anachronik

Festival Anachronik Ten Gutter Demons. Photo Andres Roget.

Festival Anachronik Ten Gutter Demons. Photo Andres Roget.

May 5-7

With a goal to showcase bands that have a retro feel but a contemporary rage, the Anachronik festival is perfect for those who love to dance and mosh alike. Headliners this year include The Black Lips, The Gruesomes, and The Seasons. Look forward to seeing other local favorites like Bloodshot Bill, Les Marinellis, Prieur&Landry, and The Brains. $35 for a full pass and single tickets to shows also available. For details, click HERE.

Accès Asie

Spring Gala

Spring Gala

May 5-29

Asian culture in Montreal is diverse and deep. While many people only have consciousness of the variety of Asian cultures here via our culinary scene, the Accès Asie festival makes it easy to sample all arts from Asia: theatre, music, comedy, literature, visual arts, dance, and film. Many events are free and are centered around Place des Arts. Click HERE to find out more.

SIDIM Design Show

May 5 – 7, Place Bonaventure (800 de la Gauchetière W)

Designers descend on Place Bonaventure in this annual fair to showcase the newest trends in interior, graphic, and industrial design, architecture, and fashion. Information HERE.

First Fridays Food Truck Fair

Taste of Monkland. Photo Rachel Levine

Pas de Couchon dans Ma Salon Food Truck . Taste of Monkland. Photo Rachel Levine

May 6 – Sept 2 on the first Friday of the month, 4 p.m. – 23 p.m., Esplanade at Parc Olympique

The food trucks gather to sell their offerings. If you want to find out who is new or try something you adore, this is a chance to find your truck in a convenient place. Info HERE.

Montreal Medieval Fair / Salon de la Passion Médiévale et Historique


May 6 – 8, Centre Pierre Charbonneau (3000 Viau)

Get your chain mail kit, sword, and shield here. The Montreal Medieval fair is a chance to stock up on all the costumes and equipment you need. Dance, music, re-enactment are all part of this event. LARPers have both a tournament and a fashion show to attend. There’s also a masquerade party. This one is a not miss. One day tickets $13, three day tickets are $25. Click here for info and tickets.

24 Hours of Science

May 6 – 7

Somehow, I think this actually goes a little longer than 24 hours, but no matter. In unexpected venues, science comes to the public. If you’re hoping to push your kids into STEM careers or just want to learn for yourself, over 300 different activities are taking place around Quebec. Information HERE.

Jane’s walks

May 6-8

Montreal’s Urban Ecology group is taking up the message of Canadian’s urbanization spiritual leader, Jane Jacobs. On May 6-8 volunteers will lead interested people on guided tours of the city. So far, Cote des Neiges, NDG, the Plateau, Le Sud Ouest, and Ville Marie are offering walks. Find out more about this unusual event HERE.

NDG Porchfest

Emma June. NDG Porch Fest. Photo Evelyn Richardson-Haughey

Emma June. NDG Porch Fest. Photo Evelyn Richardson-Haughey

May 7-8

The front porches of NDG homes and businesses provide the make-shift stages for the musicians of NDG. This neighbourhood is thick with talent. Get taken on tour or just wander around. Some people to watch out for: Sarah Segal-Lazar, Stephanie Flowers and the Sticky Finger String Band, Osmosis Unlimited, Kim Adams and the Housecats, Po Lazarus, Martin Goyette, and many more. Schedule of performers and where to find them can be found HERE.

Invasion Cocktail

lemon is the sky. bar le lab. cocktail

lemon is the sky. bar le lab. cocktail

May 10 – 16

Get your mixology on at this festival. Pick up your drink passport and try out 200 original cocktail creations in 26 different bars and restaurants. Opening party is at the Phi centre and the closer is at the Rialto Theatre. What you try in between is up to you. Information HERE.

Distortion Festival

UUBBUURRUU - TAVERNE NORMAND, Taverne Tour 2016. Mt Royal. Plateau. Photo Lily Huynh

UUBBUURRUU – TAVERNE NORMAND, Taverne Tour 2016. Mt Royal. Plateau. Photo Lily Huynh

May 12-15

The louder, the fuzzier, the weirder, the better. Distortion 2016 is four days of psychedelic music, featuring many local bands that have been working stages in the city and further abroad. Pawa Up First, Atsuko Chiba, and UUBBUURRUU are among the many playing at L’Esco or the Matahari Loft. We also get a late night Canadian premiere screening of Adam Green’s Aladdin (who you might know from the Moldy Peaches or the Juno soundtrack). For information click HERE. $20 for a weekend pass.

Turkish Film festival

May 13-15

Thank goodness for the Cinema du Parc. It continues to showcase festivals of film that we might not otherwise see in the city. The 8th annual festival of Turkish film screens some of the most interesting films from this Euro-Asian country. Check out All About Love and more. Details HERE.


May 19-22, Old Port Hangar 16

Part art, part digital party, the Chromatic festival brings art from another city to Montreal. This time, Toronto is our good friend. The Phi Centre is home to this major event, but it takes place in other parts of the city as well. Information HERE.

Montreal International Anarchist Theatre Festival

May 17-20, Sala Rosa (4848 St. Laurent)

Theatre can get very radical. This festival presents seven different shows that are meant to challenge and expose. There is no government or corporate support ( and the creators come from around the world. The closing party takes place at Casa del Popolo. For more information, check it out HERE.

Montreal Underground Film Festival

May 19-May 22

They put the call out, now the question is what will show. Hang tight for more details on this unusual film festival in the city. Check HERE.

Montreal Salsa Convention

May 19-23

For Victoria Day weekend, get your party shoes out and join the salsa festival. Watch greats or dance yourself. Check out the competition, watch nightly shows, or take workshops. Partners not required. For those interested, click HERE.

Pouzza Festival

Pouzzafest 2015. Photo Melissa Martella.

Pouzzafest 2015. Photo Melissa Martella.

May 20 – 22

Rage like your punk heart has always wanted to. The Pouzza festival is all about the loud, the screechy, the noisy, the rebellious, the fun. Pouzza festival has grown bigger every year and this year Less than Jake, Sick of it All, The Sainte Catherines, The Suicide Machines, The Planet Smashers, and more. There’s a comedy event and a brunch as well. Tickets for all are HERE.

Lobster Clam Jam

May 22, Esplanade du Centenaire du Canal Lachine (Rue Pitt and St. Patrick), 12 p.m. – 9 p.m.

When you see food, do you eat it? Or is that sea-food? Either way, if you like lobster and clams, this outdoor culinary event raises money for Starlight Children’s Foundation. Come down, enjoy a mojito and food from 40 different restaurants. Tickets and information available HERE.

Piknic Electronik

Piknic Electronik. May 24. Photo Daniel Wooden.

Piknic Electronik. May 24. Photo Daniel Wooden.

May 22-September 18

Everyone’s favorite outdoor dance party rages on at Parc Jean Drapeau every Sunday. The lineup will be announced on May 10 for the year, but in the past, international DJs have graced the stage. Information HERE.

Montreal International Musical Competition

May 22 – June 2, Salle Bourgie, Place des Arts

Classical musical competition this year has violinists compete before an international jury that includes respected musical directors and professors. Winner takes home a fairly respectable $30,000 prize, but there are others to be won. The Montreal symphony orchestra accompanies the competitors during the final round and the winners during the gala concert. All info can be found HERE.

C2 Montreal

May 24-26, Arsenal (2020 Rue William)

I think of this as the advertising festival + would-be TED talks. It’s a huge event that supposedly brings together commerce and creativity. It’s a massive networking opportunity. This year, Suroosh Alvi (co founder of VICE Media), Chad Dickerson (Etsy), Martha Stewart, David Suzuki, Guy Lapage are around. It will only cost you a mere $3295 to go. For info, click HERE.

FTA (Festival TransAmériques)

May 26-June 8

Dance, theatre, opera, and performing arts from around the world come to Montreal along with a few art exhibitions and musical pieces. Most pieces only show for a few days, but are usually high quality and thought-provoking. Louise Lecavalier’s Mille baitailles, Reality, and The Black Piece look especially promising. Tickets HERE.

BD Festival


May 27-29

Montreal’s talented graphic novelists and comic book writers are at the fore of the BD festival. Mostly francophone, but with a few anglophones, this celebration of the “ninth art” includes (of course) a book fair, but also workshops, theatrical performances, and a chance to meet some of your favorite writers. This year, some of those participating include Julie Delporte, Seth, and Pascal Girard and so many more. Information HERE.

Anarchist Book Fair


Anarchist bookfair 2015. Photo Rachel Levine

Anarchist bookfair 2015. Photo Rachel Levine

May 28-29, Georges Vanier Cultural Center (2450 rue Workman)

Celebrating something in the triad between proper anarchy, libertarianism, and social justice the anarchist book fair fills the Georges Vanier Cultural Center in St. Henri with vendors and activists. Workshops, panels, films, and artwork are also part of this event. It’s well attended and often a great place to learn about social justice issues both home and around the world. Free. Information HERE.

African Days

May 28-29, Écomusée du fier monde (2050 Amherst)

Centre Afrika invites artists, artisans, and speakers to showcase the diversity of Montreal’s African communities. Listen to Zal Sissoklo, Sipho Ndlela, and Adama Daou, and then check out art at Espace Mushagalusa gallery. Information HERE.

Montreal Museums Day

Randolph S. Hewton (1888-1960), “Mlle Mary Macintosh, ” 1924 ou avant. Photo David Barbour.

May 29

The museums of the city open their doors to let you see their collections and it is all free. Free free free. This also means that the museums are crowded. Crowded crowded crowded. Information HERE.

Festival Go Vélo Montreal


May 29-June 5

Montrealers are dedicated bikers. Other than the fact there are a few wonky paint jobs this year, our bike paths are well maintained and ever more numerous. We are the home of the bixi. Go Velo encourages people to get out on their bikes and ride like the wind. The highlight for many is the Tour de l’Ile, when the goal is to bike the whole island (or part of it) along a specified route with many others. It’s like a biking marathon. The Tour La Nuit does something similar, but at night. Information for events HERE.

Festival des Arts Vivants (OFFTA)

May 30-June 8

While the FTA (Festival Transameriques) takes place, the OFFTA showcases local works. More information to come.

Festival de Poesie de Montréal


May 31-June 5

200 poets promote their art in the city during this literary event. Anyone passing by the Mt. Royal metro will recognize the tent with its public readings. Of course there are special visitors, round tables, panels, and even walks through the city related to poetry. Check it out HERE.

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