December in Montreal: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Place Jacques Cartier on a winter night in Old Montreal, Quebec, Canada

 Perry Mastrovito/Getty Images

Despite mostly freezing temperatures, Montreal is stunning to visit in December. This French-Canadian city is loaded with history, unique architecture, great food, and a jam-packed events calendar that can keep even the most active traveler busy.

Temperatures are chilly, with the weather rarely jumping above freezing on most days, but those who pack and dress appropriately will be rewarded with holiday lights galore, charming Christmas markets, ice skating, and other ways to ring in the season.

Montreal Weather in December

While summers in Montreal can be muggy and steamy, winters are the exact opposite. The humid-continental climate means that temperatures in December very rarely exceed freezing—nearly 20 days in December are below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius).

  • Average high: 28 degrees Fahrenheit (-2 degrees Celsius)
  • Average low: 16 degrees Fahrenheit (-8 degrees Celsius)

December can also be wet and snowy. It usually rains around eight days out of the month during December, and snowfall, which is at its heaviest in January and February, begins to pick up in December. The city receives around 23 inches of snow, and there is usually at least 10 inches on the ground by the end of the month. (Blizzards are always a possibility too.)

What to Pack

Since the weather in Montreal in December is extremely cold, pack accordingly. Your clothing should be warm, waterproof, and wind-resistant, but also keep in mind that many restaurants, museums, and shops are quite warm — you'll want layered clothing that you can shed easily lest you get too hot. A basic packing listing should include:

  • Sweaters
  • Long-sleeve base layers
  • A heavy winter coat
  • A quilted or down vest
  • A hat, scarf, and gloves
  • Moisture-wicking socks
  • Waterproof boots or shoes

December Events in Montreal

Montreal festivals are abundant in December because, after all, it's the holiday season. Artisan fairs, parades, carols, freebies, and sparkly decorations multiply as Christmas, Kwanzaa, Yule, Hanukkah and the New Year approach, each in due time, with a backdrop of first snow falls covering the city's nooks and crannies, and a canopy of ice crystals glimmering in the light. It's a beautiful month to be in Montreal. 

  • Montreal's best Christmas events include Place Ville-Marie's Christmas tree lighting, Christmas markets including the Place Jacques-Cartier market and the Jean-Talon Market, both great destinations for artisanal-quality gifts.
  • Le Grand Marché de Noël de Montréal (The Grand Christmas Market) is the official holiday shopping destination in Montreal. It moved to a new home in the heart of the Latin Quarter between De Maisonneuve and Ontario streets on St. Denis Street in 2018.
  • From mid-December through New Year's Eve, enjoy Pointe-à-Callière's annual event, "Who Is the Real Santa Claus" featuring holiday characters showing children how the holidays are celebrated in their respective homes.
  • The biggest craft fair in Quebec, the Salon des métiers d'Art, sets up in Place Bonaventure from December 6 to 16, 2018, and provides free access to hundreds of vendors, making it a great destination in Montreal for Christmas shopping.
  • Montreal's Luminothérapie provides relief from the dark. At the Place des Festivals, you'll find a vast playground with the installation "Impulse," a series of 30 interactive seesaws with light and sound. When the seesaws move, you'll see light and sound. Everyone loves playing on the seesaws and creating beautiful light displays.

    December Travel Tips