Montreal in August is a sea of orange cones, as construction season drags on. But behind the dust and detours lies a pot of cultural gold. You may not find a rainbow at the end of the roadworks, but you will find a full spectrum of Pride events.
There's also Orientalys, a melting pot of diverse flavours to tease your palate, and the Scottish Highland Games, with kilts and caber tosses. And let's not forget the epic Italian heritage celebration, taking you through the heart of the Mediterranean without leaving the city.
So while your GPS may be working overtime with all the reroutes, your calendar is about to get a serious workout too. Here are some of the most exciting events of the month:
When: August 10 to 13
Where: Clock Tower Quay, Old Port
Reason To Go: A cultural festival that celebrates countries from the Middle East to Japan, and all across Asia with music, dancing, and traditional costume parades in Montreal’s Old Port. The event hosts workshops teaching everything from how to cook cultural cuisines to writing calligraphy and dancing.
When: Monday to Sunday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Where: Place William Dow, 1101, rue Ottawa
Cost: $5 to $18
Reason To Go: As a unique monument to Montreal’s Metro history, MR-63 will be a must-see landmark for any visitor to Griffintown. The location will feature old Metro cars suspended within three floors of steel girders and glass, offering stalls and kiosks for food and merchandise. Terrasse MR is the first phase of this project, serving lattes and cocktails, offering snacks and smoothies in the location of the future development offering a taste of what’s to come for Griffintown.
Saint-Jean's Hot Air Balloon Fest
When: August 11 to 13 and August 17 to 20
Where: 5, chemin de l'Aéroport, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu
Cost: $43-46 for a one-day ticket; $115 for a seven-day pass
Reason To Go: A festival of balloons will take to the skies of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu’s skies (yes, a group of balloons is actually called a festival). You can take in the spectacle while Cee-lo Green and Bebe Rexha serenade you from the main stage. Other activities include giant chess, ping-pong and spike ball, along with other beach classics.
Jardin En Blanc
When: August 25, 2023
Where: 8187 rue Royden, Montreal, QC (near Metro de la Savane)
Reason To Go: Jardin Royalmount is throwing its final public event ever with an all-white attire party. Get lost in the good vibes with Toddy Flores and a special surprise guest who will be performing classic old-school tunes and club anthems.
First Fridays Latin Fiesta
When: August 4 to 6
Where: Quai de l'Horloge – Old Port
Cost: Entry is $7 plus tax (does not include food)
Reason To Go: First Fridays is changing things up this weekend by turning up the heat. The food festival will be moving from the Olympic Stadium to the Old Port for the month of August offering up a spicy-filled three-day weekend. The spotlight is on Latin America this time around so you can enjoy cuisine from various countries all while taking in different sights and live performances.
When: August 11 to 13
Where: Palais des congrès, 1001, pl. Jean-Paul-Riopelle
Cost: $60 for Saturday, or $70 for all three days.
Reason To Go: Otakuthon is the younger anime-centric sibling of Montreal Comiccon, hosting fans and artists from around the globe. The three-day-long event features a J-Rock band, a video game orchestra, V-Tubers, animation directors, anime voice actors, anime artists, and indie video game developers and much more! The winners of the Canadian preliminaries for the World Cosplay Summit will go on to represent Canada in Japan next year at the world's largest cosplay event.
Montreal Pride Festival & Parade
When: August 3 to 13; Parade at 1 p.m. on August 13
Where: Various venues, Parade on Boulevard René-Lévesque
Reason To Go: Montreal’s Pride month is featuring a spectrum of activities to celebrate and support 2SLGBTQIA+ communities, bringing visibility and de-stigmatizing under-represented groups. Most notable is the Pride Parade, which is making a long-awaited return after the last-minute cancellation last year. Both the opening and closing ceremonies will be located at the Olympic Park featuring global stars like Mya and local legends like Rita Baga.
When: August 11, 7 p.m.
Where: Cafe La Ligne Verte (Frontenac Metro)
Cost: $4 to $25
Reason To Go: While Pride is in full swing, Cafe La Ligne Verte is hosting an inclusive, queer-friendly open mic in their spacious cafe. Near Frontenac metro, they're offering delicious food and drinks to enjoy in an open and friendly, musical atmosphere.
Montreal Highland Games
When: August 6
Where: Douglas Hospital Grounds
Cost: $20 per person, free for kids 14 and under
Reason To Go: The Montreal Highland Games will feature athletes from all over Canada competing in traditional Scottish athletic events. Witness pure strength as logs, weights, hammers and stones are hurled as far as humanly possible. Scottish music this year will feature The Hallions and Mariner’s Curse, and medieval armed combat with participants armed with historical weapons for duels and group combat. This year’s Tug of War will raise funds for the Douglas Hospital, so join a team, sponsor one, or just sit back and watch.
When: August 23 to 27
Where: 16, rue Quai de l'Horloge
Reason To Go: Grey Goose is hosting Jardin Pétanque in Old Montreal from August 23 to 27, a fun-filled event fusing the classic French game with vodka. Participants can enjoy some boules in teams of two, four, or six, before a turn in the Clubhouse with a refreshing Grey Goose spritz or soda and French crêpes to indulge in après-boules.
Salvador Dalí Art Exhibit
When: July 19 to September 4, 2023
Where: Arsenal Contemporary Art, 2020, rue William
Cost: $38 general admission; $32 student rate
Reasons To Go: This brand new immersive exhibition, INSIDE DALÍ, lets you walk among projections of the famed artist's melting visuals.
Ital Fest Mtl 2023
When: August 4 to 20
Where: Little Italy & Quartier des Spectacles
Cost: Free (Prices per venue and food may vary)
Reason To Go: It’s time to say "Buongiorno" in celebration of Italian culture and heritage in Montreal. Ital Fest MTL has everything from dessert tastings and Italian music to a Bocce tournament. With venues spanning different corners of the city, Montreal’s Italian Week is now nearly a month long.
International First Peoples Festival
When: August 8 to 17
Where: Place des Festivals, and various venues
Reason To Go: Take in the flavours, sights, and sounds celebrating Indigenous culture in Montreal. You can pick from film screenings, giant puppet shows, sculpture tourss, and scrumptious food. Inspired by ancestral histories, the festival offers inclusive and artistic expression in films covering Aboriginal stories from across the globe.
SAT Dome Parties
When: August 22 to 26
Where: Société des arts technologiques, 1201, boul. St-Laurent, Montreal, QC
Cost: $33.50 for general admission
Reason To Go: Treat your senses to a massive dome party full of state-of-the-art projections animated by eight projectors to visualize surround sound with an array of over 150 speakers. As a part of MUTEK Festival which features dozens of artists performing, the SAT will offer hi-fi sound and visuals well beyond your standard club show.
Montreal Summer Salsa Fest
When: August 4 to 6
Where: Théâtre Rialto, 5723, avenue du Parc
Cost: $35 to $55 for evening tickets
Reason To Go: Spice up your weekend with tickets to Montreal Summer Salsa Fest — a dance competition featuring internationally acclaimed performers and upcoming stars. Featuring showcases of Salsa, Bachata, Cha Cha, and more, there are sure to be more than a few performances that leave you feeling "piquanté."
When: August 4 to 6
Where: Park Jean Drapeau
Reason To Go: Top artists are flocking to one of Montreal's biggest music festivals and will bring giant stages to life with world-class performances. The lineup features tons of artists you hear daily on the radio, and probably a bunch you haven’t yet but will soon.
Take the REM
When: Open as of July 31
Where: Gare Centrale
Cost: $9 for a round trip
Reason To Go: The newly inaugurated REM offers up a spectacular view of Montreal’s skyline and a reason to visit the South Shore. There are a ton of activities now within reach, just a few minutes from downtown.
Symphonie des fleurs
When: August 4
Where: Montée des Pionniers, intersection of Highways 40 and 640, Terrebonne
Reason To Go: Half a million lights in 100,000 flowers are planted across a field that illuminates along with a musical soundtrack. There's a terrasse serving food and drinks on-site before the show starts. The experience takes place after dark and offers you a chance to walk in the glowing field afterward.
Jackalope Skate Fest
When: August 25 to 27
Where: 4545, ave Pierre-de-Coubertin
Reason To Go: Montreal has an extreme sports festival, featuring a skateboard competition, competitive bouldering and live entertainment. There will be an alternative atmosphere complete with merch booths, activities, local artists, and food trucks galore.
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