Free Things to Do in Montreal During March 2018

Come March, Montreal has a plethora of free activities: a parade,  underground art, above ground art, an outdoor symphony, a free all-nighter, and a whole range of other free activity possibilities just in time for spring break.

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    Montréal en Lumière

    art_inthecity / Wikimedia Commons

    Montréal en Lumière used to be over and done by the time March rolled around, but the festivities run through March 12 in 2018, just in time for spring break. Check out the Festival of Lights events early in the month, and don't miss out on the freebies offered, which include curling, DJ sessions, and zip lining across Quartier des Spectacles.

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     art_inthecity/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    As part of Montreal's 375th-anniversary celebrations in 2017, a 3.6-kilometre outdoor route sprawling through Montreal entertainment district Quartier des Spectacles added 25 innovative light installations. In 2018, the Illuminart returns along this route until March 4, and part of it lands right in the middle of Montréal en Lumière's central hub.

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    Montreal's top outdoor skating rinks are a great way to enjoy the last of winter, and most of the rinks charge no admission. However, skate rentals will cost you if you don't bring your own. Take advantage of these outdoor rinks in the early part of the month as they're likely to close by late March.

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    Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

    Andrea Wright/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Spring break is the perfect time for events and activities geared toward families visiting Montreal in March. Freebies among these events include weekend art workshops at both the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Musée d'art Contemporain. For more spring break activity ideas, consult the Montreal Festivals March 2017 roundup.

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    McCord Museum

    McCord Museum

    Jeangagnon/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

    Everyone gets into the McCord Museum free from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays; bring the kids along for this family-friendly exhibit. Also consider dropping by the Redpath Museum nearby before heading to McCord, but make sure to get there before it closes at 5 p.m.

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    The Redpath Museum

     Idej Elixe/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

    One of the local favorite attractions in Montreal, the Redpath Museum, is one of the last of a dying breed: the free museum. However, donations are greatly appreciated as they help the museum afford to continue to provide the public with access to natural science education for free. The museum is open year-round but special spring events start up in March.

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    Montreal Underground Art

    Tony Hisgett/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0 

    It could take you two hours, if not longer, to discover all the art installations set up in Montreal's underground city through March 25, 2018. It's called Art Souterrain and it debuts during Nuit Blanche on February 22, 2018.

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    The Concordia University student-run arts festival Art Matters consistently features free events and activities in its annual programming. In 2018, Art Matters runs March 3 through 23 and features exhibitions including "(Disc)CONNECT," "Tender Teeth," "bookworks," and "The Art of Sinking."

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  • 09 of 18

    Perhaps Montreal's most original symphony of all, catch Pointe-à-Callière’s Port Symphonies on March 12, 2018, just outside of the history and archaeology museum at 1:30 p.m. Boats moored in the Old Port, the bells of Notre-Dame Basilica and other outdoor "urban" instruments conspire to create a song unlike anything you've heard in concert.

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    Winter sunrise at the Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal, Montreal, Canada

    Raphael Chapot/Getty Images

    This pilgrimage site for Catholics is one of Montreal's biggest historic attractions, offering blessings from a monk sainted by the Vatican. St. Joseph's Oratory offers free admission as long as you steer clear of the museum, which does charge a modest entry fee. Parking is also free on Sundays before 1 p.m.

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    Montreal Barbie Expo

    Librarygurl / WIkimedia Commons

    The Downtown Montreal shopping mall Les Cours Mont-Royal is permanent host to a Barbie exhibit featuring 1,000 ''entertainment industry Barbies, dressed by leading fashion houses.'' Housed on Cours Mont-Royal's second floor, the exhibit does not charge admission.

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    McGill University's Schulich School of Music hosts free classical and jazz performances most days in March, and they also host the Musical Chairs Chamber Music Festival during the first part of the month. Visit the school's website for up-to-date listings of the latest concerts and events as more are added each week.

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    Lachine Canal attractions include cross country skiing and snowshoeing.

    Matias Garabedian/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

    As long as you have your own equipment, this winter activity is free as a bird. And having your own slide means extending the season since most rentals stop operations by mid-month if not a week earlier, even though Montreal typically continues wintering for at least another two weeks, sometimes well into April.

    In 2016, the city of Montreal announced the creation of a new 3.7-mile- (6-kilometer-) long cross-country ski and snowshoeing trail along the Lachine Canal. So if you've got your own skis, go for it. It's free. Just keep in mind that maintenance will draw to a close by mid-month.

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    The annual street event running from March 22 to March 25, 2018, proposes traditional Quebec folk music, lumberjack-themed activities, games, and local restaurants and artisans selling their wares. The best part is that food sold on site feature maple products in some form or other, and there are plenty of free samples to go around. Officially called Cabane Panache et bois rond 2018, this event is free but buying goods will obviously cost you.

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    Earth Hour

    In London, they've sent out panda mascots to roam the streets and tease onlookers. In Mexico City, they sent out several actors in Spider-Man costumes. In Montreal? There might have been the stilts people (in the summer, they're everywhere). And in 2018, there's a stargazing event and a candlelit choir, all free this Earth Hour on March 24 at 8:30 p.m.

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    Head down to Église St. Denis on March 17 and 18,  2018, for the Salon du disque et des arts underground de Montréal, where independent music labels and zine publishers sell their merch and latest tracks. It's free admission and the records and zines will cost much less here than at record stores or comic book stores.

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  • 17 of 18
    Christ Church Cathedral, Montreal


    Chasseur de Couleurs/Getty Images

    Christ Church Cathedral, one of downtown Montreal's more noticeable cathedrals, proposes free Saturday afternoon classical music concerts at 4:30 p.m. The Church does, however, request donations in the $5 to $10 range. If you can spare a few, it would help to cover those exorbitant building maintenance costs. Given how popular the free concerts have been at Christ Church, St. Georges Church added on Sunday 2 p.m. concerts of their own. Classical, jazz, and popular tunes are performed by emerging artists.

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    St. Patrick's Day Parade

    Bagpipers at the 2018 Montreal St. Patrick's Day parade


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    It's moments like March 16, 2018, when you realize that some of the best things in life really are free. Montreal's St. Paddy's Parade features a full day of fun all around the city with free events and drink specials at many of the city's bars and clubs. Drink some green beer and enjoy free outdoor music and festivities all day long.