You might think Montreal fall events are in short supply after barely recovering from the summer blitz that puts this city on the map every year, but we don't call Montreal a city of festivals for nothing. Celebrating god-knows-what is a year-round commitment in these parts and falling leaves is just another excuse to get out there and enjoy life and its charming, little perks.
Montreal Fall Holidays
Show me a nine-to-fiver and I'll show you someone counting the days until the next long weekend. Enter your fall holiday guides. And the ones I put together is without a doubt the most exhaustive you have ever found on the subject, complete with information on what's open, what's closed and what's happening on each statutory holiday affecting the Greater Montreal Area come autumn.
When: September through November
An annual tradition at the gardens come fall, for many years Gardens of Light was called “The Magic of Lanterns” and featured handmade silk lanterns specially constructed every year in Montreal's sister city of Shanghai under the guise of a different annual theme, lighting up the Chinese Garden to onlooker delight. More recently, the Montreal Botanical Garden expanded the event to include pleasing, if simpler lighting schemes in the Japanese Garden.
When: early September through Halloween
POP Montreal is a music festival, a visual art exhibit, a film appreciation society and a flea market. It's also a series of free art workshops just for kids. But POP Montreal is above all a celebration of creativity that keeps growing in size and popularity since its first edition in 2002. Attracting roughly 10,000 people to each five-day edition, part of POP Montreal's beauty is how it dares to combine fiercely independent acts with commercial success stories, though in its first years, it was almost completely indie.
usually the last week of September
What started out as a relatively small cultural event in the province of Quebec circa 1997 has grown exponentially over the years and turned into a movement of cultural democratization featuring hundreds of free activities over the course of three days across Canada. In Montreal, those three "Culture Days" cover over 500 activities, everything from free dance classes to glass blowing demonstrations.
the last Friday, Saturday and Sunday of September
Featuring samples and inventory surplus 50% to 80% off retail price—womenswear, menswear, accessories, jewelry—the Braderie is a unique sale in Montreal for the simple reason that all featured brands are the brainchildren of local designers. So don't expect a sea of dollar bins, but do anticipate scoring mid to high end label finds at the some of the best prices on the market.
When: early October
The Montreal Zombie Walk started out as a small, grass roots, almost flash mob gathering of people in 2008. By 2011, the walk was huge, becoming an undeniable highlight of Halloween in Montreal. And anyone can join in. Even you.
When: mid to late October
Ever go on a ghost walk? Or a ghost hunt?
When: all the way through late October
After years of living in the shadows of New York Restaurant Week or even Toronto's Winterlicious, Montreal Restaurant Week finally became a full-blown reality in 2012. I say full-blown because the Antonopoulos Group, a well-known family business that owns a handful of restaurants and boutique hotels in Old Montreal got a head start on the concept in 2008 and ran with it via Le Happening Gourmand, an annual event that shares the same format as Taste MTL though on a much smaller scale. Then another family business copied their format. So, you could say we've got two or three-ish Montreal Restaurant Weeks. But for a city that boasts more restaurants per capita than any other metropolitan area in North America, that's hardly surprising.
When: first two weeks of November
Not to be confused with the now defunct Montreal Wine and Spirits Show, La Grande Dégustation is the juggernaut of Montreal wine events which first debuted in October 2011 with 1,500 wines, beers and spirits from 20 countries on offer for tasting and purchasing purposes under the same roof. It's the ultimate place to taste (and buy) that one-of-a-kind private import you just can't find in Quebec SAQ stores.
When: early to mid November
M for Montreal
If you want a bird's eye view of who's who in Montreal's music scene, then M for Montreal should do the trick. Scouting local acts since 2006, M for Montreal offers a series of outdoor concerts, large venue attractions and nightclub events every year, with its biggest annual series of showcases happening over a smattering of days every November.
When: mid November
An annual tradition since 1925 minus a few skipped years, the Montreal Santa Claus Parade, better known as the Défilé du Père Noël, likes to get a head start on the holiday season and dazzle thousands of delighted kids with a glimpse of Santa while it's still fall in the city. This is the largest parade of its kind in the city, drawing in crowds of up to 300,000 people.
mid to late November
These events were hand-picked by About.com Montreal's Evelyn Reid. Any opinions expressed in this profile are independent and non-advertorial, i.e., free of public relations and promotional bias, and serve to direct readers as honestly and as helpfully as possible. Note that not one event in this editorial piece was charged a fee nor was any other business listed on About.com Montreal charged a fee for its inclusion on the network. To fail to conspicuously disclose that a business offered a product/service gratuity for review purposes and to fail to disclose that a business paid and/or exchanged favors to be featured on a website, blog or other medium are violations of public trust which are not tolerated on About.com Montreal. About.com's experts are subject to a strict ethics and full disclosure policy, a cornerstone of the network's credibility.