Things to Do in Montreal : May Festivals and Events for 2018

PIknic Electronik. June 18. Sebastian Mora. PIknic Electronik. June 18. Sebastian Mora.

There will be sun. We promise. Now that winter is retreating and the flowers are out and patio season is full on, time to explore. Gotta keep this short. There’s over 20 festivals and events in May. Stop reading and start going!

21 Balçoires (21 Swings)

April 9 -May 27, 2018

Promenade des Artistes

Sit and swing to a bit of carnavalesque music. This public art installation is an annual delight. Details HERE.

Montreal Digital Spring/Printemps Numérique

March 21 – June 21, 2018

Montreal celebrates all things that beep, bop, light up, and involve bits, bytes, and digital whateverness. It’s an umbrella event that covers many smaller ones. Conferences, exhibitions, and installations are at the fore. Details HERE.

The Gay Village Pedestrian Street Opens

April – September

St. Catherine Street

The Gay Village closes to cars and opens to foot traffic this weekend. Terraces open, and free art exhibits, street sales, and street performers arrive.

Accès Asie

Spring Gala

Spring Gala

May 1-27 2018

Asian culture in Montreal is diverse. The Accès Asie festival makes it easy to sample all arts from all of Asia: theatre, music, comedy, literature, visual arts, dance, and film. Many events are free and happen around Place des Arts. Click HERE to find out more.

Concordia Film Festival

May 3-6, 2018

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 44th year! Details HERE.

Montreal Sketch Comedy Festival

Sketchfest 2017. Opening night. Photo Rachel Levine

The Comedy Conch. Sketchfest 2017. Opening night. Photo Rachel Levine

May 3-12, 2018

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.

La Virée des Ateliers

May 3-6, 2018

La Grover (2065 Parthenais) and Le Chat des Artistes (2205 rue Parthenais)

Over 90 local artists vend their wares. Check out one of a kind engravings, prints, sculptures, and more. To find out who is selling, check out HERE.

First Fridays Food Truck Fair

Lunch Beat Montreal. Photo Rachel Levine

O Soeur Volante Food Truck. Lunch Beat Montreal. Photo Rachel Levine

May 4 – Oct 5, 2018, the first Friday of the month, 4 p.m. – 11 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.

Jane’s walks

May 4-6, 2018

Montreal’s Urban Ecology group is taking up the message of Canadian’s urbanization spiritual leader, Jane Jacobs. Volunteers 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.

Montreal Medieval Fair / Salon de la Passion Médiévale et Historique

May 4-6, 2018

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 $13.50, three day tickets are $25. Click here for info and tickets.

Festival Jamais Lu

May 4 – 12, 2018

This festival looks at new, fresh works in French. Community projects and special events are included. Details HERE.


February 19 – May 7 2018

Only one can be the best, but over the next few months let your ears decide which of these artists deserves to advance to the next round. At Club Lion D’Or. Info HERE.

Festival Vue Sur La Relève

May 8 – May 19

Through creativity and expression, this festival celebrates both Canadian and European French works. It focuses especially on young artists who are under 35 years old. Details HERE. 

Distortion Psychfest

May 9-13, 2018
Eglise Saint Enfant Jésus

Check out these sound bending bands in a festival of noise and glory. Among those playing this year are The Besnard Lakes, Red Mass, Yonatan Gat and many more. For more info, click HERE.

24 Hours of Science

May 11-12, 2018

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

ICPRAI 2018 — International Conference on Pattern Recognition and Artificial Intelligence

May 13- May 17, 2018

Concordia University

Montreal is the centre of all kinds of AI. You already knew. The Matrix. Info HERE.

Invasion Cocktail

lemon is the sky. bar le lab. cocktail

lemon is the sky. bar le lab. cocktail

May 14-20, 2018

Get your mixology on at this festival. Pick up your drink passport and try out 200 original cocktail creations in 35 different bars and restaurants. Opening party is at Ateliers & Saveurs on May 15. Information HERE.

Jardins Gamelin

May 17 – Sept. 30, 2018

Under the design of Pepiniere & Co’s space, outdoor events including music and performers draw everyone to gather round and enjoy the sun. Info HERE. 

The Montreal Anarchist Film Festival

May 17-20, 2018

Coop Les Recoltes (1681 St. Denis)

Stop oppression now! Of all kinds, everywhere. Watch the best radical, feminist, anti-colonial, anti-capitalist films from around the world. More info can be found HERE.

 Santa Thérèse Festival

May 18 -20 2018

If you can get off island, you can check out a rather outstanding line up: Feist, Nick Murphy (Chet Faker), Vlooper, Lil Uzi, Milk & Bone, Wolf Parade, Stars, Tommy Kruz. For info, click HERE.


Montreal International Anarchist Theatre Festival

May 22-23, 2018

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. Check out works by Trees that talk, Theatre du Sable, Gwenael Kivijer, and the Trashlaga Puppet Crew. For more information, check it out HERE.

Montreal Underground Film Festival

May 18-20, 2018

They put the call out, now the question is what will show. Low budget, boundary challenging, and guerrilla filmmakers find a home here. Hang tight for more details on this unusual film festival in the city. Check HERE.

Montreal Salsa Convention

May 17-21, 2018

Get your party shoes out and join the salsa festival. Watch both Canadian and international greats or learn to salsa for 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 18-20., 2018

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. The outdoor shows are free, but you can check out Reel Big Fish, Face to Face, Anti Flag, Dead Fucking Last, and Frankie Stubbs. Tickets for all are HERE.

NDG Porchfest

Porch Fest 2016. Photo Rachel Levine

Porch Fest 2016. Photo Rachel Levine

May 19-20, 2018


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. Schedule of performers and where to find them can be found HERE.


May 26 – June 2, 2018, Arsenal and Studio L’Eloi

Part art, part digital party, the Chromatic festival celebrates the art of Montreal. Information HERE.

Lobster Clam Jam

May 27, 2018, 12 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Esplanade du Centenaire du Canal Lachine (Rue Pitt and St. Patrick), 

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. June 18. Sebastian Mora.

Nic Falardeau. PIknic Electronik. June 18. Sebastian Mora.

May 20 – Sept 30, 2018

Parc Jean Drapeau

Everyone’s favorite outdoor dance party rages on at Parc Jean Drapeau every Sunday. Enjoy local and international DJs mixing beats on stage. Information HERE.

Montreal International Musical Competition

May 29 – June 7, 2018

Salle Bourgie, Place des Arts

Classical musical competition this year has young pianists from around the world 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

C2. Photo Laura Dumitriu

C2. Photo Laura Dumitriu

May 23-25, 2018

Arsenal (2020 Rue William)

I think of this as the advertising festival + TED talks. It’s a huge event that supposedly brings together commerce and creativity. It’s a massive networking opportunity. This year’s theme is Ecosystems and speakers include Snoop Dogg, Sakchin Bessette, Alex Bodman, Jean Francois Gagne, Jim Coulter, and Stephanie Carullo . It will only cost you a mere $2,995 to go. For info, click HERE.

Tattoo Nouvelle Ere

May 25-27, 2018

Ink it up. What’ll it be? The new trend seems to be small, symbolic, black and white images, but there’s always something new. Figure out what you’ll beautify yourself with next. Details HERE. 

FTA (Festival TransAmériques)

May 23 – June 7, 2018

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.  Tickets HERE.

Mouvements Libres

May 25, 2018, 6:30 p.m.

Jardins Gamelin

A large gathering of cyclists depart from Place Emilie Gamelin for a 20 minute ride that will be used to make political art using AgitPOV. Be part of the event. Info HERE. 

BD Festival

May 25-27, 2018

Espace La Fontaine

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 Meags Fitzgerald. Information HERE.

Anarchist Book Fair

May 26-27, 2018

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 26-27, 2018

Écomusée du fier monde (2050 Amherst)

Centre Afrika invites artists, artisans, and speakers to showcase the diversity of Montreal’s African communities. Programming tba. Information HERE.

Montreal Museums Day

May 27,. 2018

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 27 – June 3, 2018

Montrealers are dedicated bikers. Our bike paths are well maintained and ever more numerous. We are the proud 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 25 – June 3, 2018

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

Festival de Poesie de Montréal


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.


Turkish Film festival

May tbd

Thank goodness for the Cinema du Parc. It continues to showcase festivals of film that we might not otherwise see in the city. The festival screens Turkish films. Details tba.


Ongoing at the Museums

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

1380 Sherbrooke Ouest

Napoléon. Art and Court Life in the Imperial Palace

Feb 3 – May 6, 2018

400 unique works including many never on display before are here to give a new perspective on the Emperor who asserted the legitimacy of the Bonaparte dynasty at the head of France.

Nadia Myre. Scattered Remains

November 15-May 27, 2018
Algonquin First Nation of Kitigan Zibi Anishnabeg artist, Nadia Myre revisits the history of Indigenous peoples in her symbolic works.

Mnemosyne. When Contemporary Art and the Art of the Past Meet

until May 20, 2018
Works by 14 contemporary Quebec and Canadian artists are on display at the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace.

De Main de Maître II: De Parmesan à Matisse

until August 12, 2018

A private collector is sharing a second exhibition of drawings from the 16th century to the 20th century. Among the works on display are those by Parmigianino, Giorgio Vasari, Géricault, Whistler, Matisse, and more.

From Africa to the Americas: Face to Face Picasso Past and Present

May 12 to Sept 16, 2018

Picasso and other artists took an interest in African works as a way to explore their own abilities. This exhibition looks at the connection between the West and what is often called “primitive” works.


MAC/Musée d’Art Contemporain

185 St Catherine Ouest

That’s How the Light Gets In

December 12, 2018 – August 19, 2018
Quebec and Canadian artists explore the theme of how light comes into their work, inspired by Leonard Cohen’s phrase “There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”


Montreal Science Centre

2 rue de la Commune Ouest


McCord Museum

Michel Campeau: Life Before Digital

February 16 – May 6, 2018

Montreal photographer Michel Campeau shows us the world through his pictures taken back when cameras used film and Kodak still existed. Get inspired by the 50s.


Wearing Our Identity. The First Peoples Collection


The heritage of the First Peoples of Canada is on display through this exhibition of different types of dress. Ritual outfits as well as clothing made to match the environment showcase diversity and ingenuity among the different nations.

Pointe à Callière

350 Place Royale

Queens of Egypt

April 10 – November 4, 2018
The little archaeology museum that could, PAC, is bringing in 350 prestigious objects related to ancient Egyptian queens. Some even ruled as kings (Hatshepsut, I’m looking at you!). Details Here.

CCA / Canadian Centre for Architecture

1920 Rue Baile

Lab Cult: An Unorthodox History of Interchanges between science and architecture

March 22 – September 2, 2018

Science and architecture work hand in hand. These are a series of case studies from the 19-20th centuries that showcase how these two fields come together.

Where’s Class?

until August 5, 2018

This exhibition examines the idea of distance education and how we learn “offline” through spaces that are designed for collective learning experiences.


Announced and Upcoming


ST. Ambroise Fringe Festival 2017

June 7 – June 17, 2018

Fans of indie theatre, dance, comedy, improv, and general madness come out to occupy venues all over the Plateau. This annual festival is full of gems and great talent, and has launched the careers of many stars of the stage. Find out more HERE.


August 9-11, 2018

Details: HERE

About Rachel Levine

Rachel Levine is the big cheese around here. Contact: Website | More Posts