In August, the Canadian city of Montreal comes to life with plenty of free events, activities, and summer celebrations. Throughout the city, you can plan a night out around an outdoor concert or keep yourself busy with some window shopping at one of the city's summertime sidewalk sales. At the end of the summer, free festivals tend to pop up all over the city, so you don't have to spend much to keep busy in Montreal.
In 2020, the government of Quebec officially suspended festivals until August 31, so many of these events and gatherings have been canceled or moved online for this year. Be sure to check the organizer's website for the latest information.
There are no public events scheduled for August in the park this year.
Located just north of downtown Montreal in the borough of Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, Parc La Fontaine typically hosts several free cultural activities throughout the summer. Free events last through late August or early September and usually include "Brazilian Tuesdays" and "Sunday Brunch in Music" at the Espace La Fontaine Chalet-Restaurant Bistro, as well as many cultural performances in the open-air Théâtre de Verdure.
Shakespeare-in-the-Park's 2020 season has been canceled.
The Repercussion Theatre of Montreal typically brings Shakespeare-in-the-Park plays to all ages in various parks across the city every year. This professional production company usually performs in Westmount Park and Mont Royal Cemetery and admission to each show is free, but performances may also be canceled or moved indoors in the event of rain.
The festival has not been rescheduled for 2020.
For several days in early August, the Montreal First Peoples Festival typically hosts a series of local and international film screenings, concert performances, cultural events, and seminars as well as showcases of traditional crafts and visual and media arts. This celebration includes aboriginal art, history, and culture. There's no cost for admission, but some special events and activities do require a small fee.
This event has been postponed for 2020.
Known as "Les Premiers Vendredis" in French, First Fridays is the food truck gathering held at the Olympic Park on the first Friday of the spring and summer months. Here, you'll find the city's best food trucks all in one place and accompanied by live music from local artists. The event is free to attend, but you will have to pay for food and drink.
This event will be held virtually in 2020 with online programming.
For 10 days in August, La Petite Patrie's Little Italy and other boroughs in Montreal and Laval typically host the annual Montreal Italian Week, which celebrates all things Italian include: classical and popular music concerts, a car exhibit, an outdoor opera, a fashion show, Italian film screenings, and more. The event attracts people from all kinds of cultures to enjoy the festivities and fill up on delicious Italian cuisines.
The market is open but has instituted new health and safety protocols for 2020.
The ambiance in the Jean-Talon Market in Montreal's Little Italy neighborhood is unbeatable this time of year. Numerous fresh fruit and vegetable vendors converge on this indoor-outdoor market, so it's a great place to pick up your groceries, or if it's especially hot, you can grab a handmade ice cream Havre-aux-Glaces.
This year's Archaeology Month events will be held virtually.
The entire month of August is dedicated to archaeology in the province of Quebec, and almost 50 places in the city of Montreal typically host over 80 free events to celebrate this field of science. The month-long schedule usually includes archaeological digs, conferences, exhibits, guided tours, animations, and much more.
In 2020, these impromptu gatherings are still happening, but it has been reported that the local police could start handing out more fines for those that attend.
Every week, drummers, dancers, musicians, and free-spirited folks of all ages and ethnicities gather at Parc Mont-Royal for the drum circle known as the Montreal Tam-Tams. Everyone is encouraged to join in on the fun, whether as a dancer or drummer, or you can watch from the sidelines. The surrounding park is also a great place to have a picnic with a great view of the city. The Tam-Tams typically meet on Fletcher’s Field around the George-Étienne Cartier Monument in Parc Mont-Royal on Sundays.
This event has been postponed for 2020.
Les Jardin Gamelin (Gamelin Gardens) returns to the Quartier des Spectacles, Montreal's principal cultural district, from May through September, with a special lineup of community-driven cultural activities, events, and workshops. Free events from live jazz to meditation and yoga take place daily at Place Émilie-Gamelin.
The orchestra's 2020 season has been canceled.
Orcheste Symphonique de Montréal Le Virée Classique Festival (Classic Spree) is an annual gathering of musical performances that runs in early August, including a large opening concert of Verdi’s Requiem at the esplanade of the Olympic Park, performed by maestro Kent Nagano, four soloists, and a chorus and orchestra. The festival also includes several free performances in Complexe Desjardins and outside Place des Arts, like the Montréal Video Game Orchestra and the Classical Spree Symphony.
Gatherings at TOHU have been suspended for 2020.
If you're in the mood for a fiery circus act, the best place in town is TOHU, a performance center located at the Cité des arts du Cirque. This creative performance and circus space will feature live world music, clown acts, stunts, and a variety of activities for the whole family during the annual FALLA Saint-Michel celebration, which goes for two days in August. The event's big finale is the burning of an enormous sculpture built collectively over several weeks by a team of young artists.
The festival has been canceled for 2020.
The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Montreal's annual Matsuri Japon Festival in early August features martial arts demonstrations, dance performances, Taiko drummers, and Japanese cuisine. Kids will enjoy taking part in traditional Japanese activities like yo-yo fishing, origami, sumo wrestling, and doll-making. Meanwhile, adults can learn more about and participate in Japanese archery, drumming, and dance classes.
The 2020 festival has not been canceled but will largely be livestreamed performances and events.
For over 20 years, artists from around the globe have gathered in Montreal to celebrate the annual Under Pressure International Graffiti Convention. The event takes place in August and is run by volunteers devoted to hip-hop music and culture. Dozens of organizers, street artists, DJs, emcees, and dancers gather every year to create and celebrate for four full days of events.
In 2020, the festival will be held virtually.
Montreal's LGBTQ community typically celebrates Pride Week in August. Known as Fierté Montreal, Montreal Gay Pride takes place outdoors at the Parc des Faubourgs in the Village, where many talented local artists perform and parties take place. You also won't want to miss the official Montreal Pride Parade, which starts at Metcalfe Street and ending on Alexandre-DeSève Street, or the L March, which is one of the largest political demonstrations in the country for women of the sexual and gender diverse communities.
These events will be held virtually in 2020.
The Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (NDG) Arts Week is back, running several days in late August with lots of free events and activities including live opera, tango, and comedy spread out across various parks and landmarks in the NDG neighborhood. Founded in 2009, this annual event is a celebration of the thriving arts, music, and creative community of NDG, with over 10,000 participants expected each year.
The festival has been canceled for 2020.
For six days in August, the Montreal Fashion and Design Festival typically features outdoor catwalks at Place des Festivals, an adjacent shopping and exhibitor section, urban art, music, dancing, and special conferences. The event, with top international labels and famed designers, draws huge crowds each year.