Every February, something special happens in Montreal: a festival of cheeses. Free, made-in-Quebec, coagulated milk protein that makes the masses go "yum!" The kind of fermented food product that compels even the lactose intolerant to reach for another piece. We're talking cheese that is just that good.
After all, Quebec is known for its award-winning cheeses. More than 700 different kinds (and more than 32,000 tons) of cheese are produced in the province, including varieties made with raw milk, a completely legal and safe undertaking in the eyes of regional government as long as proper precautions are met. You can taste a few for yourself at the Festival of Our Cheeses, which is part of the Montréal en Lumière Festival.
Running over Feb. 20-22, Fête des Fromages offers the public the chance to try roughly 83 different Quebec cheeses made by 20 different producers, free of charge, on-site. Cheeses can also be bought on location.
How to Get There
The cheese festival is held at Complexe Desjardins Grand-Place at 150 Ste. Catherine St. One of the easiest ways to get there is taking the metro's green line to the Place des Arts stop in the heart of downtown. Festival goers arriving on foot from the East or West should walk Ste. Catherine St. all the way to De Bleury or Jeanne-Mance Streets. Bikes are not permitted on-site. The festival is open from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20 and Friday, Feb. 21, 2020 as well as from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020.
Admission and cheese samples are free. You will find an information kiosk on the Place des Festivals, at the corner of Jeanne-Mance Street and Ste-Catherine Street. There are also a few items you cannot bring within the festival, including alcoholic beverages, glass and aluminum products, bikes and skateboards, and drones.
What Else to Do at Montréal en Lumière
Now on its 21st anniversary, the Montréal en Lumière festival runs from Feb. 20 to March 1, 2020. Beyond the cheese festival, you'll want to check out the other fine-dining offerings as well. There is a gourmet program that brings in renowned chefs, wine producers, and speakers for culinary activities. Expect a lineup of cooking workshops, talks, and tastings. For the 21st anniversary, there will be a new event called Nuit Gourmande (Feb. 20, 2020), which features special meals served at the Air France Finest Tables (think: heated outdoor terraces with views) throughout Montreal.
You'll also want to see the lasers, light shows, and interactive installations as part of Illuminart. All of these events culminate in Nuit Blanche, an all-night party where around 200 mostly free cultural, musical, culinary, and sports activities are available from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.