Montreal is packed full of fun and entertaining ways to spend the day in July. Almost every day of the month, there are dozens of free events, activities, concerts, performances, and workshops happening across the city.
From celebrating Canada Day with a parade and listening to music at the Montreal Jazz Festival to watching the International Fireworks Competition from anywhere in the city, Montreal is teeming with free entertainment in July. Whether you're a first-time visitor or a long-time resident, you're sure to find something to enjoy this time of year.
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Folks never tire of Montreal's numerous sidewalk sales and street fairs that pop up all over town as soon as the weather heats up. From the "Atmosph'Air on the Plaza" event at Plaza St. Hubert over the first weekend of July to Chinatown street sales featuring sweet Chinese buns, there are plenty of great events happening all month long.
- Promenade Fleuve-Montagne: This 2.3 mile (3.8 km) walkway is lined with public art and select attractions starting from the edge of Parc Mont-Royal and ending at the Old Port.
- Village au Pied-du-Courant: Montreal's boardwalk is a local favorite, a grassroots experiment that quickly became a choice summer destination for street shopping and art fairs.
- Montreal's Gay Village: This thriving neighborhood offers street fairs, sidewalk sales, and art events and is closed to vehicular traffic throughout the summer.
- Marché des Possibles: This open-air market organized by POP Montreal in the Mile End neighborhood is open on weekends in July. The event typically has a beer garden, a farmer's market, artisanal crafts, food trucks, pop-up restaurant fare, free film screenings, family-friendly musical performances, and activities for kids.
- Sainte Catherine Street Fair: Celebrated as the biggest street fair in Canada, this event usually takes place over a weekend in mid-July and has more than 300 merchants and restaurants selling their wares as well as dozens of performers and entertainers amusing the crowds.
The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal holds the 2004 Guinness World Record for being the largest festival of its kind and has a tradition of featuring free shows every day of the event. Held annually at the Place des Festivals over the last week of June and the first week of July, this celebration of jazz is a perfect addition to your free itinerary in Montreal.
Canada Day is celebrated on July 1 each year to commemorate the signing of the Canadian Constitution Act of 1867, which united three separate parts of the country into one nation. Like the Fourth of July in the United States, Canada Day is celebrated with a slew of free events, activities, and entertainment including a fireworks show and a parade.
Every Wednesday and Saturday night in July, you can catch the world's largest pyrotechnics competition from almost anywhere in the city at the Montreal International Fireworks Competition. A tradition since 1985, this annual event has become one of the city's top summer attractions.
The shows typically begin around 10 p.m. While the best viewing spot at La Ronde requires paid tickets, there are a number of spots where you can see the lights for free—including rooftop terraces across the city and mountain overlooks from Mont Royal.
Attend Free Concerts Across the City
Parks, churches, and even government buildings throughout Montreal host a variety of free concerts and performances every summer. From classical arrangements performed by string bands to the region's biggest musical acts, you have plenty of chances to listen to music for free this July in Montreal.
- Concerts Campbell: Over 20 free concerts are scheduled in city parks throughout the summer by this non-profit group, which is dedicated to a famous Montreal lawyer and music lover named Charles-Sandwith-Campbell. Free events in 2019 include the Orchestre Métropolitain performance at Mount Royal on July 25 at 8 p.m.
- L’Oasis Musicale: Christchurch Cathedral's free Saturday afternoon classical music concerts start at 4:30 p.m. every Saturday in July. 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.
- Oasis Musicale: Every Sunday at 2 p.m., the Anglican church St. George in downtown Montreal hosts afternoon gospel concerts.
- Théâtre de Verdure: This public theater in Parc La Fontaine hosts a slew of cultural events and activities from June through August including music, dance, theatre, and film screenings.
- Wednesday Noon Concerts: In the adjacent outdoor Urban Forest every Wednesday through the end of August, the McCord Museum hosts free concerts starting at noon.
Each July, the Montreal Circus Arts Festival (Montréal Complètement Cirque) features several days of free performances across the city, including in Jardins Gamelin and Complexe Desjardins and on Rue St. Denis between Stainte Catherine Street and Sherbrooke.
The Montreal Circus Arts Festival will take place from July 4 to July 14 in 2019. While many events for this annual festival are free, some require reservations to attend and a few require an admission fee. You can view a full schedule of free and ticketed performances on the official website.
On Saturday, July 6, 2019, Montreal's version of the Caribbean Carnivale returns to the city for a full day of celebrations. Known as Carifête in French, this annual event centers around an extravagant parade down Ste. Catherine Street followed by a street carnival.
The Carifiesta parade kicks off at noon, lasts around two hours, and attracts over 500,000 spectators each year. After the parade, Ste. Catherine Street transforms into a street fiesta in honor of the Caribbean community of Montreal.
The Festival of India (also known as Ratha-Yatra) returns to Montreal over the first weekend in July this year. Starting with the Indian Chariot Parade down boulevard Saint-Laurent, the two-day festival continues in Jeanne-Mance Park with a variety of dance and theatrical performances, live music, exhibits, activities for kids, yoga workshops, and free vegetarian meals throughout the weekend.
Part of the Dragon Boat Canada Race Series, the Montreal Challenge is one of the best dragon boat events in North America, featuring over 150 teams from across Canada and the United States.
The Montreal Challenge and Chinese Cultural Festival will take place from July 6 to 7, 2019, in Parc Jean Drapeau, which is home to the city's Olympic basin. Both days of the event feature a variety of dragon boat races, traditional food vendors, and performances by artists from China and Montreal.
Each July, Parc Jean Drapeau sets the stage for Les Weekends du Monde, a two-weekend multicultural event featuring family-friendly entertainment and activities. Events take place on July 6, 7, 13, and 14, 2019, from 1 to 11 p.m. and are free to attend.
Each day celebrates a different culture of the city, and in 2019, themes include Tunisian Jasmine Festival (Festival du Jasmin Tunisien), Salvadoran Festival (Festival Salvadorien), My Mexican Roots (Mes Racines Mexicaines), and the Peruvian Festival of Montreal (Festival Péruvien de Montréal).
Each year, the Repercussion Theatre of Montreal puts on a series of performances of a Shakespearean play in parks across the city. The 2019 season of Shakespeare in the Park returns from July 11 to August 11 with performances of the dark comedy "Measure for Measure."
Featuring a cast of 10 of the Repercussion Theatre's best actors, this 400-year-old play tells the story of power, corruption, and fighting for morality and justice in Shakespearean times. However, this funny and provocative show is highly relatable to the modern world of politics and power.
Anyone and everyone are welcome at the Tam Tams, Montreal's weekly drum circle in Parc Mont-Royal. Held every Sunday atop Mount Royal, this free event welcomes drummers and dancers of all ages to watch or participate in the circle. Guests can sprawl out on the surrounding park space to have a picnic or join in the drum circle themselves.
Attend Performances of the Darling Foundry
Darling Foundry has free art performances throughout the summer in its Place Publique, located on Ottawa Street in the Griffintown neighborhood.
Dates and details for the 2019 season can be found on the Place Publique website and include four performances in 2019: "Possible Awakenings" parts 1 and 2 on June 27 and July 4; "Make Space for a Surprise to Arise" from Concordia University on July 11; and "Possible Awakenings" parts 3 and 4 on July 18 and 25.
On Wednesday evenings throughout the summer, vintage and classic car enthusiasts converge at the "Big Orange" on Decarie Boulevard in Montreal for the Orange Julep Gibeau Car Show. Named in honor of the founder of the orange restaurant, Hermas Gibeau, the car show has been a tradition in the city since the 1950s.
If you stop by the Orange Julep, made famous for its signature recipe for the tasty beverage of the same name, from 7 to 10 p.m. on Wednesday nights in July, you can pay to sample the neon-orange drink and snack on some poutine or fries, or you can browse through dozens of classic cars that will be parked along Decarie Boulevard and enjoy the festive ambiance for free.
Head to Quartier des Spectacles the last two weeks of July where the Just for Laughs comedy festival presents a plethora of free pranks, weird costumed people, performances, activities, and comedy gigs on the streets of Montreal.
The main attraction of Just for Laughs is the special parade dedicated to twins called La Parade des Jumeaux, which marches around the Quartier des Spectacles on July 28, 2019, starting at Place des Festivals at 4 p.m.
Nuits d'Afrique unites some of the African continent's finest musicians under one festival banner for 13 days of indoor and outdoor concerts, which takes place from July 11 to 23, 2019, at the Parterre du Quartier des Spectacles.
Headliners for 2019 include Djely Tapa, Imarhan, Jah9, Salif Keita, Songhoy Blues, and Soiree Urban Africa with Banlieuz Art, Degg J Force 3, King Alasko, and Tamsir. While many of the concerts do require an admission fee to attend, the festival's free concerts roster usually runs the third week of the event.
Tour the Redpath Museum for Free
From a handful of dinosaur fossil replicas to Ancient Egyptian mummies, there's plenty to discover at the Redpath Museum, which offers free admission on select days throughout the summer.
While the Redpath may be small, its natural science collection is rather large, and it also hosts a variety of free entertainment and educational events throughout the month. Additionally, the Redpath is a great stop while you're doing some downtown shopping since it's just a short walk away from both Place Montréal Trust and the Eaton Centre.
Located on the second floor of the upscale Cours Mont-Royal shopping center, Barbie Expo is a free permanent Barbie exhibit composed of 1,000 ''entertainment industry" Barbies, ''movie character'' Barbies, and Barbies ''dressed by leading fashion houses.'' Open daily starting at 10 p.m. (closing time varies), this permanent exhibit is the largest of its kind in the world.
While most visitors wouldn't think of Montreal as a beach town, it's home to a number of public beaches that are open all summer long. Relax at Plage Doré du Parc Jean-Drapeau on Île Notre-Dame, a manmade island easily accessible by train from downtown Montreal, or spend the day at Cap St. Jacques, which is located about 45 minutes from the city and known as Montreal's largest park.
A celebration of Haitian culture, Haïti en Folie traditionally features free outdoor fun as part of its annual programming. In 2019, Haïti en Folie will run from July 22 to 28 and be held in Jardins Gamelin and Parc La Fontaine. Free events include a variety of traditional Haitian musical performances as well as other cultural activities.
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. In 2019, the event series kicks off on May 26 and continues on June 23, July 28, August 25, September 29 and October 27 from 12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.
Explore Art at the Museum of Fine Arts
Seniors get free access to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts' permanent exhibits every Thursday of the year. As for everyone else, the last Sunday of the month is the permanent exhibits' official free admission day. Just keep in mind that you'll still have to pay to see temporary exhibits.
Practicing yoga has become a popular pastime across North America, and the city of Montreal is home to a plethora of free yoga classes every summer, many of which take place in city pars. Yoga in the Park summer sessions in Montreal include weekday events downtown near the Gay Village and Sunday sessions on the Plateau. While these classes may be free to attend, some do require advanced registration and often fill up fast in the busy summer months.
Gambling, food, and alcoholic drinks aren't exactly free, but you can certainly enjoy free admission to the Casino de Montréal. Also, 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 is required for either activity.