When summer tourist crowds disappear and the weather begins to cool, the southern Quebec city of Montreal comes to life with plenty of fun activities, festivals, and traditions to celebrate the fall season.
If you're planning a trip to Montreal this time of year, be sure to check out all the fun fall attractions and events coming to the city. From the brilliant Gardens of Light display at the Montreal Botanic Gardens to the city's biannual Restaurant Week, there's plenty to do in Montreal this fall.
Each year from early September through Halloween, the Montreal Botanical Gardens stays open late so visitors can wander through the "Gardens of Light" displays throughout the grounds. Originally named "The Magic of Lanterns" for the handmake silk lanterns hung throughout the gardens that are specially constructed every year in Montreal's sister city of Shanghai, the Gardens of Light has become a local favorite event for fall, especially for Montreal's large Chinese and Japanese communities.
Coinciding with the Moon Festival in China, the Gardens of Light event is open daily from September 6 to October 31, 2019, but best viewed from sunset to close. During the event, three of the gardens are fully decorated in lights: the Chinese Garden with traditional lanterns; the Japanese Garden with illuminated paths inspired by the seasons; and the First Nations Garden with intense multimedia experiences that let guests "feel the beating heart of the Cycle of Life." Admission to the Garden of Light event is included with admission to the Montreal Botanic Garden.
POP Montreal is a music festival, a visual art exhibit, a film appreciation society, an open-air flea market, and even a series of free art workshops for kids. Above all, though, the POP Montreal International Music Festival is a celebration of creativity that has only grown in size since its first event in 2002.
Attracting roughly 10,000 people to each day of the five-day event, part of POP Montreal's beauty is how it dares to combine fiercely independent acts with commercial success stories. Headliners for this year's event—which takes place from September 25 to 29, 2019—include Laurie Anderson, Colin Stetson, Rebecca Foon, Mavis Staples, Clerel, Hanorah, Tirzah, Jon Bap, Yamantaka, Sonic Titan, Jerry Paper, and Shonen Knife.
The arrival of fall in Quebec means that it's harvest season for the numerous apple orchards near Montreal. If you're visiting the city from mid-September through October, plan a daytime outing to one of the nearby apple orchards for a chance to pick these delicious fruits straight from the source.
Some of the most popular orchards within an hour's drive of the city include Au Paradis des Fruits and Domaine du Dunham in Dunham; Au Coeur de la Pomme in Frelighsburg; and Cidrerie et Vergers Léo Boutin, Vergers et Cidrerie Denis Charbonneau, and Verger de la Montagne in Mont St. Grégoire.
What started out as a relatively small cultural event in the province of Quebec in 1997 has grown exponentially over the years into a movement of cultural democratization featuring hundreds of free activities over the course of three days across Canada.
In Montreal, those "Culture Days"—known in French as "Journées de la culture"—take place over the last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in September and include over 3,000 free activities for participants of all ages, including everything from free dance classes to glass-blowing demonstrations.
In 2019, the annual theme for the event "The Meeting: Weaving Links, Building Bridges," a celebration of the way arts and culture create meaning and lend themselves to dialogue between cultures, genres, and artistic mediums. Journées de la culture takes place at venues across the city (and the province of Quebec, for that matter) from September 27 through 29, 2019.
Much like American Thanksgiving but with much less fanfare, Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated across the country on the second Monday of October each year to commemorate the colonization of Canada. However, Thanksgiving is known as "action de grâce" in Canada and is much more of a quiet holiday than it is in the United States—though it is also centered around family gatherings and turkey dinners.
If you're visiting Montreal over Thanksgiving weekend this year, you'll find plenty of the city's many restaurants offer traditional holiday meals for lunch and dinner. However, you won't find any Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales in Canada since the country doesn't participate in these American Thanksgiving traditions.
Known locally as La Grande Braderie de Mode Québécoise, the Big Fashion Sale by Quebec Designers is a biannual event featuring samples and inventory surplus sales of clothing and accessories made by local name-brand designers. In Montreal, Braderie de Mode takes place over four days in the fall—October 17 to 20, 2019—at Marché Bonsecours, which is close to the Champ-de-Mars metro station.
Shop for women and menswear, accessories, and jewelry at anywhere from 50 to 80 percent off the retail price during this event. However, don't expect to find many dollar bins or extremely cheap goods. Since all the featured brands are products of local designers, you'll still have to pay a percentage of high-end label prices.
Club Soda, located in the heart of the Quartier des Spectacles on Saint Laurent Boulevard, hosts a prestigious festival each fall dedicated to glamour, humor, and the art of burlesque. Known as the Montréal Burlesque Festival, this two-night event features exceptional cabaret and burlesque performances at Club Soda presented by male, female, intersex, and non-binary artists alike.
The Montréal Burlesque Festival takes place on October 18 and 19, 2019, starting at 8 p.m. both nights.
Montreal's first and largest storytelling celebration, Festival Interculturel Du Conte de Montreal, takes place each year in mid-October and features dozens of events over 10 days at venues across the city. The rich and varied program of the Intercultural Storytelling Festival offers audiences everything from traditional tales, myths, and legends to autobiographical stories and contemporary creations about modern life.
The 15th Annual Intercultural Storytelling Festival of Montreal takes place from October 18 to 27, 2019. Artists and storytellers headlining this year's event include Rachid Bouali, Olivier de Robert, Catherine Gaillard, Aïni Iften, Tamar Ilana, Catherine Pierloz, Bruce Sinclair, and Marta Singh.
Not to be confused with the now-defunct Montreal Wine and Spirits Show, La Grande Dégustation is the largest wine event in Montreal, featuring over 200 wine producers, distillers, and brewers at a three-day expo of everything alcoholic. With more than 1,5000 wines, beers, and spirits from over 20 countries—which you can't usually find in Quebec's SAQ stores—La Grande Dégustation is the perfect place to get the local friend or relative you're visiting a gift.
La Grande Dégustation takes place at Place Bonaventure in Old Montreal from October 31 to November 2, 2019. Tickets are required to attend the event, and separate tasting coupons must be purchased to imbibe on-site. Drinks vary in prices and can only be purchased with these coupons.
Halloween is the biggest holiday of the fall season, and there's no shortage of great events and activities to put you in the holiday spirit. Whether join in the famous Montreal Zombie Walk or you opt to take a spooky guided tour of some of the city's most haunted places, you're sure to enjoy the Halloween season in Montreal.
Throughout October, you'll have opportunities to party, dress up, play, get scared, and take part in community events around Montreal for Halloween. Popular events include the Club La Voûte Halloween Ball on Halloween night, the Spasm Film Festival in mid-October, ghost tours of Montreal throughout the month, and the Malefycia Haunted House.
The Montreal Zombie Walk started out as a small, grassroots gathering of people in 2008, but by 2011, the walk had become an undeniable highlight of the Halloween season in Montreal. During the event, which is scheduled for October 26, 2019, hundreds of participants dressed up as the undead meet at the Place du Canada near the Bonaventure metro station then march along Sainte-Catherine Street West between Peel and Jeanne-Mance streets.
As a city that boasts more restaurants per capita than any other metropolitan area in North America, Montreal is a great place to eat out while you're traveling. This is especially true during the biannual Montreal Restaurant Week event—known as MTLàTABLE—when you can score three-course brunches and dinners at over 150 participating restaurants across the city.
Montreal Restaurant Week takes place the first two weeks of November each year and features dinner menus at reasonable prices ($23, $33, or $43) as well as a $17 brunch in some restaurants. From French bistros to vegan eateries that encourage bringing your own bottle of wine, there are near-infinite possibilities for cheap meals both weeks of the event. While reservations are not required at most establishments to get these deals, they are recommended at more popular restaurants.
An annual tradition since 1925, the Montreal Santa Claus Parade, better known as the Défilé du Père Noël, is one of the last big events of the fall and the first event of the Christmas season each year. The largest parade of its kind in Montreal, the Santa Claus Parade attracts up to 300,000 spectators to witness more than 20 floats of entertainment including dancers, singers, stiltwalkers, and acrobats.
The Santa Claus Parade takes place in downtown Montreal on Saturday, November 17, 2019, starting at 11 a.m. The parade route runs along Sainte-Catherine Street West from the Rue Du Fort to St. Urbain, turning the entire street into one giant festival of holiday cheer.
Scouting local and international buzz-worthy acts since 2006, M for Montreal is both a music festival for fans and a music conference for producers to meet artists. Showcasing over 100 artists and breakout bands from around the world in over 15 venues across Montreal, this festival is one of the biggest music events of the year in the city.
M for Montreal returns from November 20 to 23, 2019, with a series of outdoor concerts, large venue attractions, and nightclub events all four days of the festival. Tickets are required to attend each show, but you can also purchase a badge that gets you into all shows or one that also grants you access to panels, workshops, networking activities, cocktail receptions, and other exclusive events.
When Juliette et Chocolat first opened in Montreal in 2003, it was the only chocolate bar in the city. Since then, it's become known as the go-to place to grab a tasty dessert that kids and adults alike can enjoy any time of year. During the fall, though, nothing quite beats stopping by the Juliette et Chocolate flagship bar on St. Denis Street or its newer location on St. Laurent Boulevard and ordering a mug of hot chocolate.
With six different types of hot chocolate on the menu—including "Grandma's Style," vegan Aztec chocolate, Viennese chocolate, and smoked campfire hot chocolate—you're sure to find a variety to satisfy your taste buds and warm your body on a cool autumn afternoon.
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