Montreal's Canada Day—also known as fête du Canada in French—would not be Canada Day without its parade, Old Port activities, the customary mega-cakes, and a huge firework show to cap off the evening. When it comes to the Old Port's festivities each year, you can always expect these traditions, but every once in a while, the city adds something new to the mix.
On July 1st, 2018, Montreal Canada Day organizers in charge of Old Port activities promise an assortment of free events and activities perfect for families and single travelers. Events start with the opening ceremony at 11 a.m., which includes a gun salute featuring a Canadian Forces brass brand, then continue along the waterfront in Old Port with kid-friendly sports, workshops, live music, and a cake large enough to feed at least 2,000 people. Festivities come to a close around 10:30 p.m. with a fireworks display lit off from the Jacques-Cartier Pier.
To reach Montreal's Old Port, get off at either Place d'Armes Metro or Champ-de-Mars Metro and follow the direction of the crowd (or uphill if you don't see a crowd). 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.
Highlights of Old Port's Celebration
The annual Canada Day Montreal celebration takes over the area of Old Port surrounding Jacques-Cartier Pier for a day of free events and activities, but with so many things to do and see, it can be overwhelming to visit if you don't know what to expect.
The biggest draw of the noon to 8 p.m. festival is the giant cake, which is served at the All United Tent starting at 2 p.m. Anywhere from 2,000 to 2,500 portions are served over the next 30 minutes and anyone in attendance is welcome to try a piece of this traditional Canada Day dessert.
Other events, activities, and attractions at Montreal Canada Day include a 21-gun salute, a traditional raising of the Canadian flag ceremony, face painting, street entertainment, and inflatable games for kids, live music, the fireworks display, and food trucks that will also be vending throughout the day.
Schedule of Events and Things to Do
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 dip in for the fireworks, knowing the schedule of events can help you plan your trip.
The day starts With a musical performance by Philippe Beaudin 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. and include juggling workshops, live painting by local tag artists, a collaborative mural, street hockey, dancing sessions, a photo booth, airbrush tattoos and face paint, nature walks for kids, and a virtual reality interactive workshop dedicated to Canadian peacekeeping missions domestically and abroad.
While you're in the area, consider visiting Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel and Notre-Dame Basilica for their stunning interiors, and drop by the Montreal Science Centre and Pointe-à-Callière archaeology museum for family-friendly science and history exhibits.
At 8:30 p.m., the Main Stage opens for "Canada Day's Closing Act," featuring local musicians and international stars like Les Petites Voix du Plateau choir, H'Sao, Bea Box (aka Joannie LaBelle), Geraldina Mendez, Nomad'Stones, and DJ ECP (Étienne Côté-Paluck). Immediately after the show, the fireworks will light up the sky overhead from 10 to approximately 10:30 p.m.