Ordinarily, Montreal's Canada Day—also known as fête du Canada in French— is a scene of supersized cakes and huge fireworks. However, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the celebrations will be held virtually in 2020. Instead, live performances from Charlotte Cardin, Patrick Watson, Elisapie, Hubert Lenoir, and Martha and Rufus Wainwright will be streamed from Olympic Park on the event's website and Facebook page.
The annual Canada Day Montreal celebration normally takes over the area of Old Port surrounding Jacques-Cartier Pier for a day of free events and activities. With so many things to do and see, you can keep busy all day—just make sure you don't miss these highlights:
- The day officially begins with a 21-gun salute and traditional raising of the Canadian flag ceremony.
- The biggest draw of the festival is the giant cake, which is served at the All United Tent. Anywhere from 2,000 to 2,500 portions will be served over a period of 30 minutes and anyone in attendance is welcome to try a piece of this traditional Canada Day dessert.
- Don't go home before the fireworks display over the pier, which tops off the day.
While there are sure to be other parties and celebrations throughout Montreal, the official Canada Day events are the most popular amongst tourists and locals alike. Whether you're in the mood for a full day of celebrating Canadian culture or you just want to stop by for the fireworks, knowing the general timeline of events can help you plan your trip:
- The day usually starts with a musical performance at the Canada Day Site from 11:30 to 11:55 a.m., followed immediately after by a 21-cannon salute by the Canadian Armed Services, which signals the opening of thematic tents, sports activities, inflatable games, and the food truck services.
- Activities at the Canada Day site near the pier take place from noon to 8 p.m. In the past, these have included juggling workshops, live painting by local artists, the creation of a collaborative mural, street hockey, dancing sessions, a photo booth, airbrush tattoos, face painting, nature walks for kids, and a virtual reality workshop.
- At 8:30 p.m., the Main Stage opens for entertainment featuring local musicians and international stars. Immediately after the show, the fireworks will light up the sky overhead from 10 to 10:30 p.m.
Getting to the Old Port
To reach Montreal's Old Port, take the Metro and get off at either Place d'Armes Metro or Champ-de-Mars Metro and follow the direction of the crowd. If you don't see a crowd, just start walking uphill. You'll recognize Old Montreal's cobblestone roads before arriving at the Old Port's waterfront—which is where most of the events take place. While you're in the area, you may consider visiting Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel and Notre-Dame Basilica to see the stunning interiors or drop by the Montreal Science Centre and Pointe-à-Callière archaeology museum for family-friendly science and history exhibits.