Although the weather can fluctuate throughout April, the first signs of spring in Montreal bring with it a plethora of great events and attractions that are completely free to see.
Montreal warms up in April, and as the snow starts to melt, a number of museums and galleries change out their exhibits and invite the public to see them free of charge. Additionally, many Earth Day and Easter events—as well as job and art fairs—are free to attend.
No matter what you're budget, you're sure to find something fun to do on your trip to Montreal. However, these free events and attractions should help you save on your budget so can you afford to see more of the city on your trip. Just be sure to check each venue's website for hours of operation and special fee days—and don't forget to leave a donation if you enjoy your time!
The Canadian Centre for Architecture
In addition to granting free access to its exhibits as of 5:30 p.m. every Thursday, free film screenings and gallery talks are often scheduled at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) the same evening. This popular attraction is also free for students, children, and members of the CCA's "Friends of the CCA" program.
For access to the Canadian Centre for Architecture's extensive collection, though, you'll have to schedule an appointment Monday through Friday during regular museum hours. The regular cost of admission is $10 if you can't manage to fit Thursday evening into your itinerary, and it's certainly worth the cost.
Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's
Ben & Jerry's Free Cone Day, is when you can go into any location in Montreal (there are three) and get a free scoop of your favorite flavors between noon and 8 p.m.
Ben & Jerry's has long been an American favorite, and this fair trade company celebrates each year by giving out their tasty treats for free! Unlike an alarming chunk of chocolate products purchased in North America today, Ben & Jerry's has ethical business practices and ethically sources the sugar, vanilla, coffee beans, and bananas used in its ice creams.
Don't miss your chance to score free premium ice cream and support ethical business practices in one scoop. Just make sure to check if your local Ben and Jerry's is participating. as not all of them are.
Career and Job Fairs
You can experience five career fairs under one roof for free at Montreal's National Career Event at the Palais des congrès de Montréal (Montreal Convention Center). There are 180 exhibitors and over 3,000 jobs available during this two-day job fair, which happens on April 11 and 12, 2018.
The National Career Event's exhibits are divided between the two days, with the health and social services event taking place on April 11 and the information technology and engineering fair takes place on April 12.
Admission and services are free of charge, and there will also be many conferences during the two-day event with topics including resumé writing, successful interview tips, and the Quebec job market. The conferences happen every hour and are free to the public.
Mary Queen of the World Cathedral
If you've never seen Montreal's replica of the Vatican's iconic St. Peter's Basilica up close, it's completely free to check out during open hours. The Mary Queen of the World Cathedral is located in the heart of downtown Montreal, making it a great stop during your tour of the city.
Construction on Mary Queen of the World began in 1870, but the Cathedral wasn't completed until 1894. This almost-exact replica of St. Peter's Basilica was scaled down somewhere between a fourth to a third of the size of the original and has become one of the most popular attractions in Montreal.
Mary Queen of the World hosts several Catholic mass services daily, but they are all conducted in French and the schedule is subject to change without notice. If you're not planning on attending Mass, you can also take a tour of the entire minutes within an hour—free of charge.
Free Concerts at Christ Church Cathedral
Another great stop on a downtown tour of Montreal is the Christ Church Cathedral, a non-judgmental Anglican house of worship which offers Saturday afternoon classical music concerts at 4:30 p.m. Known as L'Oasis Musicale, these weekly concerts are free of charge, but the Church does accept donations "to support the concert series, the artists and the mission of the cathedral.''
Given how popular these free concerts have become at Christ Church, St. George's Church added concerts of their own on Sunday at 2 p.m. where classical, jazz, and popular tunes are performed by emerging artists.
The Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel
Erected in 1771 over the original stone ruins of the oldest chapel ever built in Montreal, the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel is one of the city's most beautiful churches. You can visit both the chapel its Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum free of charge during regular business hours.
Like at other churches in the area, you are allowed to attend daily and Sunday Mass services at Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel free of charge, but the church also accepts donations to help with the upkeep of the facilities and its events.
Free Performances at the Schulich School of Music
McGill University's Schulich School of Music has free classical and jazz performances most days of the month. With school typically in full swing all of April, there's no shortage of opportunities to catch young, emerging artists performing everything from piano ensembles to chamber music.
Located in downtown Montreal, the Schulich School offers over 45 undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs and presents hundreds of public events annually. Performances typically take place at 8 p.m. daily; however, you should sure to check the full schedule of events for hours and location information.
Become a Movie Extra
While many Americans often forget about the film industry in Montreal, it's home to several fantastic Canadian production studios. Although it's not nearly as big of a movie city as Los Angeles, filmmakers in Montreal produce hundreds of movies a year.
If you've ever wanted to work on a movie set or even be in a film, there are plenty of opportunities to apply to be an extra in Montreal during the city's moviemaking high season when the snow starts to melt. Barring the occasional registration free, auditioning to be an extra in one of Montreal's movies is free—and a fun way to spend the day!
The Promenade des Artistes
Situated between the University of Quebec at Montreal's Complexe des sciences Pierre-Dansereau and Place des Arts, the Promenade des artistes features 11 structures called "event vitrines" that house temporary art installations throughout the year.
Meant to serve as a pedestrian walkway between the Place des Festivals and La Parterre, the promenade is a great place to experience local and international art for free while strolling through the city.
The Barbie Exhibit at Les Cours Mont-Royal
Since February 2016, downtown Montreal shopping mall Les Cours Mont-Royal is the permanent host to a Barbie exhibit featuring 1,000 ''entertainment industry Barbies." Whether you're a fan of fashion or are looking for a fun and free mother-daughter activity, checking out the Barbie exhibit is a great way to spend the afternoon.
The emphasis of the Barbie Expo is haute couture, featuring the miniature creations of some of the world's most elite fashion designers including Christian Dior, Oscar de la Renta, Vera Wang, and Ralph Laurent.
The Redpath Museum
Displaying the extensive collection of natural scientist Sir William Dawson in Canada's oldest museum building, the Redpath Museum has over three million objects including artifacts of natural sciences, paleontology, geology, zoology, ethnology, and mineralogy.
The McCord Museum
Known as the Montreal Social History Museum, the McCord Museum offers free admission every Wednesday after 5 p.m. However, temporary exhibits still cost extra—even during these free evenings.
The museum features permanent exhibits like "Wearing Our Identity," which explores the fashion and clothing of the first peoples of Canada as well as special exhibits like "The Art World in Montreal, 1960 to 1980," which is on display until April 29, 2018.
Papier, the Art Gallery and Fair
Papier is French for “paper,” the chief medium spotlighted at the open-air gallery and art fair called Papier, which happens from April 19 to 22, 2018. Hosted at the Arsenal Contemporary Art Montreal, Papier features works on paper from over 35 Canadian galleries.
Papier is the largest art fair in Quebec and one of the first of its kind—exclusively dedicated to the medium of paper—in the world. If you'd like to familiarize yourself with the burgeoning contemporary art scene in Montreal, this is the place to do it.
Earth Day Events
From free beer to free trees, my Montreal Earth Day activity recommendations run either on or around Earth Day, which is April 22, 2018.
Events this year include the Earth Day Theatre's presentation of "Arbre" at Pointe-Claire Culture Centre in Stewart Hill and making eco-friendly crafts at the Kirkland Library. Additionally, there will be several community events centered around cleaning up pollution, improving neighborhoods, and socializing with other eco-conscious people.
Record Store Day
Record Store Day isn't just a United States tradition—it's a global celebration! Taking place around the world on April 21 in 2018, Record Store Day is a "holiday" honoring everything these shops are known for.
The nine indie record stores in Montreal will celebrate the day by offering specials and deals as well as hosting several free live concerts, so be sure to stop in your favorite shop before April 21 to see who's going to be performing.
Blue Metropolis, the Multilingual Literary Festival
Blue Metropolis is a multilingual international literary festival that takes place on April 20 to 29, 2018 at Hotel 10 in Montreal. While some events are in French, others are in English and other different languages including Italian and Arabic.
Your admission to the festival includes access to free conferences, talks, roundtables, art workshops for kids (like puppet-making), story time for kids, nursery rhymes for babies, and more. However, some events with limited seating do require advanced reservations. Get your tickets online to immerse yourself in the literary culture of Montreal.
Photo Exhibits at Galerie Got
You can catch a free photo exhibit of the works of Harry Benson at Old Montreal's Galerie Got throughout the month of April. Benson is an iconic photographer perhaps best known for his work from the 60s, capturing everyone from Queen Elizabeth and John F. Kennedy to Muhammad Ali, Andy Warhol, The Beatles, Mia Farrow, and Alfred Hitchcock.
Hike Mount Royal Park
Put on a light jacket (and carry some layers in case you're out late), and head out to Mount Royal Park for a crisp walk through the spring air. Mount Royal park also offers one of the best views of the entire city, so be sure to stick around for sunset.
Make Some Maple Syrup Taffy
Although the taffy at Montreal's famed sugar shacks isn't free, you can make this Canadian treat pretty easily at home with some maple syrup, butter, and ice sitting around the house.
However, if you don't mind spending a few Canadian dollars, you can head out on a day-trip from the city to one of the many sugar shacks near Montreal. March and April are peak season for maple sap harvesting and processing, and if you can't make it out of the city, you can experience a full syrup-making experience right in Montreal at one of its urban sugar shacks.