Free Things to Do This July 2018 in Montreal
July in Montreal is ridiculous in the best possible sense of the term. There isn't just one free thing to do every day. Or even two. Or three. Instead, there are dozens of free events, activities, concerts, performances, and workshops happening every single day throughout July 2018 in Montreal. We're talking hundreds if not thousands of freebies in the span of one month.
So somebody had to narrow down the insanity to these 50+ best bets. Naturally, free is a bit of a misnomer because taxpayers indirectly pay for the brunt of them. So if you're a law-abiding tax-paying local, by all means, get out there and enjoy the madness. After all, you paid for it. As for first-timers to Montreal, be prepared to experience an ambiance unlike anywhere else in North America. Your dream vacation (or staycation) starts now.
Full Disclosure: no one paid their way onto this editorial list compiled by Evelyn Reid. TripSavvy experts are subject to a strict ethics and full disclosure policy, a cornerstone of the network's credibility.
Folks never tire of Montreal's numerous sidewalk sales, street fairs that pop up all over town as soon as the weather heats up.
Celebrate the birth of a nation this July 1, 2018, via a slew of free Canada Day activities in Montreal, from parades to fireworks.
Don't miss the Montreal Gay Village's annual open-air art gallery running June 27 through July 1, 2018.
First Fridays, Montreal's chief food truck gathering held at Olympic Park every spring and summer month, is on July 6, 2018. Count on street eats and big crowds as of noon. Live music is part of the package. Free admission. Food costs extra.
Have a bike? Do travel. It doesn't cost a thing if you have your own. Check out these Montreal cycling destinations.
Campbell Concert Series
Catch Plaza St. Hubert's "Atmosph'Air on the Plaza" July 4 through July 8, 2018.
From July 5 to July 15, 2018, runs Montréal Complètement Cirque, a circus festival that features several days of free performances across the city. Jardins Gamelin and Rue St. Denis between Stainte Catherine Street and Sherbrooke have something during every day of the fest. Complexe Desjardins also features free shows.
Festival of India
The Festival of India ran in Jeanne-Mance Park on the edge of Mount Royal Park last year and repeats again this year on July 7–8. Dance, theatrical performances, live music, exhibits, activities for kids, yoga workshops, and a free vegetarian meal are part of the festivities.
Anyone and everyone is welcome at the Tam Tams, Montreal's weekly drum circle in the park. Sprawl out on Parc Mont-Royal's surrounding park space and have a picnic or join in the drum circle, whether dancer or drummer.
Find out how you can dance your summer away free of charge.
Darling Foundry has free art performances every summer in its Place Publique. Dates and details for the 2018 season can be found on its website.
The Biggest Street Fair
July 13–July 15, 2018, sees Montreal hosting what organizers have been claiming for years is Canada's "biggest street fair" with more than 300 merchants and restaurants selling their wares, dozens of performers entertainers amusing the crowd, and 300,000 people taking it in.
This year, the Ste. Catherine street fair extends its annual event to three days.
Like muscle cars? Vintage gems? Modified rides? Then you're gonna love the Orange Julep on Wednesday evenings.
The Laughs Festival
Running July 18–29, 2018, is Bouffons Montréal, an "open-air gastronomy village." It has free admission to get in and some food and drink samples might be free, but you'll have a hard time not spending money on the food being served up, from poutine to foie gras sandwiches to beaver tails and vegan fare. Bouffons Montreal's temporary boardwalk will be at De Bluery and Ste. Catherine Street and has been around since 2016.
Nuits d'Afrique unites some of the African's continent's finest musicians under one festival banner, hosting 13 days of indoor and outdoor concerts, with the festival's free concerts roster usually running the third week of July (this year set for July 10–22) at the Parterre du Quartier des Spectacles, right by Place des Festivals.
Montreal Chinatown always has a July sidewalk sale. Dates for summer 2018 will be announced as we close in on July.
Insider tip: Pick up these buns while you're there.
The Twins Parade
Only the Just for Laughs comedy festival could think of parading a bunch of twins for public amusement in the downtown core. Just head down to Place des Festivals on July 21, 2018, at 4 p.m. You couldn't miss The Twins Parade if you tried. Twin-related activities start as early as noon.
Are you a twin? A triplet? A quadruplet? Sign up to join the parade here.
From a handful of dinosaur fossil replicas to Ancient Egyptian mummies, the Redpath Museum might be small, but its natural science collection is mighty. Drop in for free for an entertaining and educational time.
Tip: Doing some downtown shopping? Consider tacking on a visit to the Redpath. It's barely a five-minute walk from both Place Montréal Trust and the Eaton Centre.
Every summer since 2016, Marché des Possibles' open-air market in the Mile End neighborhood has had a beer garden, a farmer's market, artisanal crafts, food truck and pop-up restaurant fare, free film screenings, and family-friendly musical performances and activities for kids. Organized by POP Montreal. Open weekends only, June 22–July 29.
The Free Terrace
The problem with Montreal's best terraces (like the one in the above photo) is you can't exactly linger on them without buying something. There is one exception to that rule, however. Jardins Gamelin is free for all, a public square ripe with free performances and events as well as a charming patio setup.
Reminder: Attention Smokers
Sticking around Montreal for the mid- to long term and need a job? Have you tried the movie extra route? It's not as glamorous as it looks, but there are worse ways to make a buck. And it doesn't cost anything to look into it.
L’Oasis Musicale is the name of Christchurch Cathedral's free Saturday afternoon classical music concerts. Shows start at 4:30 p.m. Sandwiched between downtown Montreal's malls, the cathedral is a five-minute walk from Place des Festivals and an even shorter stroll from a favorite pizza joint in Montreal.
And on Sundays, fellow downtown Anglican church St. George's hosts Sunday afternoon Oasis Musicale concerts at 2 p.m. See here for details.
Mount Royal is one of Montreal's top tourist attractions for a reason. Free admission doesn't hurt.
A celebration of Haitian culture, Haïti en Folie traditionally features free outdoor fun as part of its annual programming. In 2018, Haïti en Folie will run from July 25–29. In 2017, there were several free events and activities held in Jardins Gamelin and Parc La Fontaine.
Dates for the 2018 edition of Haïti en Folie were to be revealed June 5.
Since 2016, Montreal's public bike service has hosted Free BIXI Sundays, a chance to try out Montreal's public bike service free of charge the last Sunday of every summer month. Read more details here.
Learn how to social dance for free at the Verdun Greenhouses nearly every day of summer.
The site of thousands of alleged miracles, it's always free to visit the St. Joseph's Oratory. Usually open every day, even on statutory holidays.
The Kid Swim
Seniors get free access to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts' permanent exhibits every Thursday. As for everyone else, the last Sunday of the month is the permanent exhibits' official free admission day, which in the case of this month is July 29, 2018. Just keep in mind that you'll still have to pay to see temporary exhibits.
The Lachine Canal is one of Montreal's free crowning jewels to visit.
Yoga in the Park
Yoga in the park summer sessions in Montreal include weekday sessions downtown, near the Gay Village and Sunday sessions on the Plateau. Bring your mats.
Mary Queen of the World is a Montreal cathedral replica of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. And it's free to check it out.
McCord Museum has Wednesday noon concerts in its adjacent outdoor Urban Forest every Wednesday through the end of August. This year they are running in conjunction with the exhibition "Shalom Montreal: Stories and Contributions of the Jewish Community."
The Centre for Architecture
The Canadian Centre for Architecture opens its doors to the public free of charge every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Assorted talks and screenings are often scheduled.
Every Tuesday all summer as of sundown Lesbian Movie Nights have taken place in the Montreal Gay Village for at least two summers now. Organizers will confirm if the tradition continues in 2018 as we close in on the summer season.
Gambling, food, and alcoholic drinks aren't exactly free, but admission to Casino de Montréal sure is.
Look for the self-serve drink area on every floor, usually near the penny slot machines where free juices, coffee, tea, milk, and soda is available. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you could technically spend the afternoon (or the middle of the night) observing locals betting the farm. Or find the casino dance floor and bust a few moves. No payment required.
Featuring free entertainment all summer long, Montreal boardwalk Village au Pied-du-Courant is a local favorite, a grassroots experiment that quickly became a choice summer destination.
Movies in the Park
One family-oriented outdoor movie night is hosted by Promenades Hochelaga-Maisonneuve on Fridays from June 29 to August 17, 2018. Screenings include free popcorn and a dangerously close proximity to Dairy Queen's hot and frozen treats given the movie-viewing site is in the DQ parking lot. All screenings are in French. Bring a lawn chair if you can, or get there early to score a complimentary seat.