Montreal's Easter weekend isn't only for kids—or Christians for that matter. From listening to classical concerts in a beautiful historic setting to gorging on a sugar shack meal, there are a few secular Easter customs and traditions unique to Montreal that happen this time of year.
In 2019, Easter falls on Sunday, April 21, and whether you celebrate the holiday or not, there are plenty of attractions and activities available all weekend long, including on Good Friday. Though many local establishments will be closed in observation of the holiday, some restaurants, free events, and shops will be open.
Whether you want to have a traditional Easter brunch or just want to relax at a spa, there's plenty to do on your spring trip to Montreal. Visit each location's website to check for holiday hours of operation, admission prices, and travel details.
With or without family, Easter Sunday brunch has its mouth-watering perks, and Montreal has several restaurants featuring special holiday menus. Maison Boulud, a French restaurant in the Golden Square Mile neighborhood of Montreal, serves a three-course shared meal, including a selection of shared appetizers, individual main dishes, and shared desserts. Alternatively, Le Restaurant Sinclair in the Old Montreal neighborhood features a cheaper Easter buffet all day.
For those who don't want a traditional (or expensive) Easter brunch, Montreal's sugar shack season comes to a close just after the holiday, so it might be your last chance to enjoy a cabane à sucre meal. Sugar shacks are where maple sap is processed into maple syrup, one of Quebec's biggest exports, and the traditional meals served here are Canada's version of comfort food. While you can stay in Montreal and visit some urban recreation sugar shacks, the real deal can only be found a little bit outside the city.
Although an Easter vacation to Montreal can get rather expensive, there are a few things you can do in the city for free. On Easter weekend, you can wander around the historic buildings like Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel or check out the sculptures and street art throughout the city. Also, there are a number of free concerts happening for Easter—if you don't mind a little bit of religion in your entertainment.
You can go ice skating year-round at Atrium le 1000, and the rink is also open throughout the long weekend of April 19-21, 2019. While there are also a number of outdoor rinks that might still be open in late March, going to the Atrium le 1000 is a safe bet no matter when you visit. Also, as a fun Easter treat for guests every year, the employees at the rink hide eggs with chocolates, toys, and stickers in one out of every four lockers.
Although most Quebec malls close for Easter Sunday, some of your favorite Montreal shopping centers will have extended hours during the holiday weekend. Lots of businesses and commercial storefronts close Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday, but there are exceptions to the rule. Public markets like Atwater Market, Marché Jean-Talon, and Marché Maisonneuve will remain open during the holidays.
An annual tradition, catch Le Grand concert du Vendredi Saint at the Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste as part of the Voice Festival (March 16-31, 2019). In past years the Société philharmonique de Montréal interpreted Rossini's "Stabat Mater" symphony. A total of 400 performers took the stage, including soprano Eilana Lappalainen of New York, mezzo-soprano Chantal Parent, tenor Steeve Michaud, bass Marcel Beaulieu, the UQAM choir, the École Joseph-François-Perrault choir, and the orchestra itself.
Thousands of butterflies are set free in the Montreal Botanical Garden's climate-controlled greenhouses every year during Easter, including on Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday. This year, the Botanical Garden will also host a variety of events for the Easter weekend as well, so be sure to check the official website for more information on special hours of operation and admission to the exhibit.
Montreal's movie theatres are always open, even on statutory holidays, which makes for a great rainy day activity if you're looking for something to do that doesn't require much effort. Since Easter falls on April 21, 2019, many of the early summer blockbusters will already be in theaters by the time you make your Easter trip to Montreal. For a special treat, consider heading to one of Montreal's eat-in theaters for dinner and a movie.
Montreal's residents know how to beat the last of the cold season—from indoor sports to spending the day getting pampered at one of the many day spas in Montreal. For a luxury spa treatment, head to the Place d'Armes Hôtel for one of Old Montreal's highest-rated hotel spas, the Rainspa. For more of an authentic Nordic spa, head to Strøm Spa Nordique on Nuns' Island on the edge of Lac des Battures.