Montreal Festivals 2018: March Events

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    What's Happening and What to Do This Spring

    Montreal festivals in March 2017 you don't want to miss include the St. Patrick's Day Parade, Port Symphonies and more.
    ••• See that dome on the right? It's a replica of Rome's St. Peter's Basilica located in downtown Montreal. Neil Howard / Getty Images

    Spring in Montreal starts in mid-March, and as the weather finally begins to warm up, the city comes alive with a number of annual events, seasonal activities, and special free concerts. There are also some last-minute opportunities to enjoy a number of nearby winter sports before all the snow melts.

    The first half of the month is typically dedicated to winter, so head out to Montreal's best outdoor skating rinks and winter sports trails before they shut down activities until the next cold season. The only exception to that rule is downhill skiing—with any luck, Quebec ski season rages on until early May.

    As for the second half of March, anything can happen. A sudden warm spell could open up some of Montreal's best dining terraces or even entice people out for a relaxing day in the park. However, cold spells can send residents and tourists alike indoors no matter what's happening—with one exception: Montreal's St. Patrick's Day Parade on Saint Catherine Street.

    No...MORE matter what time of the month you visit, there are also a number of free things to do in Montreal this March, so you're certain to find something to do on your vacation to this Canadian city.

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    Spring Forward on March 11

    Montreal festivals in March 2017 include honoring Daylight Saving Time and springing forward.
    ••• American Stock Archive / Contributor / Getty Images

    If you're traveling on March 11, 2018, be sure to remember that Daylight Saving goes into effect in Montreal this day, meaning you have to set your clocks one hour forward at 2 a.m. However, if you plan ahead to get more rest before the time sets forward, you should be able to avoid any jetlag from the lost hour of sleep.

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    Catch the Last of Winter Activities

    Montreal festivals in March 2017 include these amazing winter activities.
    ••• Above: a snowy winter's day at Parc La Fontaine. Photo by Flickr user Claude Robillard (CC BY 2.0)

    Although snow remains on the peak of Mount Royal that towers over Montreal until at least May, Montreal winter activities begin to wind down by the end of March. That means this will be your last chance for the season to enjoy local favorite activities like ice skating, dog sledding, snow tubing, and cross-country skiing. 

    Alternatively, Alpine ski and snowboarding season in Quebec is still in full swing throughout the entire month, so take advantage of the peak Alpine snow conditions and smaller crowds while you can. You can also go night skiing near Montreal if you really want to avoid the throngs of tourists who flock to the mountains around the city. 

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    Forest Treks

    Montreal festivals in March 2016 events include Forest Treks Under the Stars. On snowshoes.
    ••• Photo courtesy of Les amis de la montagne

    If you're looking for a truly unique way to see the nature around the city, book a reservation on a guided Montreal winter evening forest trek at one of the nearby national parks—though these annual winter adventures typically end by March 10.

    Bois-de-Liesse hosts a guided evening trek through the wilderness for the last time of the season on March 3, and Cap Saint Jacques, Montreal's largest park, has 36 miles of trails to explore on guided tours March 3 and March 10.

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    Musical Concerts

    Montreal festivals in March 2017 include these must-see concerts.
    ••• Above: Ariana Grande performs onstage during Z100's Jingle Ball 2016 at Madison Square Garden on December 9, 2016 in New York City. Ariana Grande heads to the Montreal Bell Centre March 6, 2017. D Dipasupil / FilmMagic / Getty Images

    Each March, you can catch a number of concerts in Montreal at one of the city's many music venues like the Montreal Belle Center, the Metropolis, L'Astral, Club Soda, or Bar le Ritz PDB. Concerts coming in March 2018 include FRIGS, the Not Your Babe Fest 2018, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Dashboard Confessional, MGMT, Demi Lovato, and Nelly.

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    Spring Break Events for Families

    Montreal festivals in March 2017 include spring break activities for the whole family.
    ••• Above: kids playing atop Mont Royal at the Kondiaronk lookout. Thierry Monasse / Getty Images

    March is spring break season, so many families seize the week off from school to enjoy a vacation to Montreal. Fortunately, the city offers plenty of family-friendly events, attractions, and activities for kids sure to please an all-ages crew. Museums and Learning Centers like the Montreal Science Center and the Montreal Insectarium often host seasonal spring events in March.

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    "Disney on Ice: Dare to Dream"

    Montreal festivals in March 2017 include Disney on Ice.
    ••• Image courtesy of Disney

    Every spring break season in Montreal also welcomes "Disney on Ice" back to perform a new hit show at the Centre Bell. In 2018, Disney on Ice presents "Dare to Dream," which features Moana from "Moana," Elsa from "Frozen," and Belle from "Beauty and the Beast" in performances from March 7 through 12.

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    Montreal National Home Show

    Montreal festivals in March 2017 include the National Home Show.
    ••• Photo courtesy of the Montreal National Home Show

    Held at Place Bonaventure from March 9 to March 18, 2018, the Montreal National Home Show offers visitors a chance to discover the latest trends in home decorating. With a chance to talk with experts in the field, witness state-of-the-art interior designs, and even special performances by the Artists District, this annual event is a great way to network in the field or just admire superb design for a relatively low ticket price.

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    La Cuvée

    Montreal festivals in March 2017 include La Cuvée.
    ••• Photo courtesy of La Cuvée

    Held at Salon 1861, La Cuvée invites guests to step back into the 1950s swing era to enjoy a sampling of over 200 different microbrewed beers and privately-distilled whiskeys as well as local cuisines while listening to live rockabilly music March 1 through 3, 2018. This dancing, drinking, and tasting event requires a fee for admission and for you to purchase tokens at $1 to exchange for participating in different tastings around the venue. 

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    Mondial des Cidres

    Montreal festivals in March 2017 include Le Mondial des Cidres.
    ••• WIN-Initiative / Getty Images

    Le Mondial des Cidres features 20 cider producers sharing a variety of samples, from bubbly to ice cider, from March 2 through March 4, 2018. Each night features a different theme, with Friday night hosting the cider and mixology competition and DJ Elleven, Saturday hosting the wine tastings and "The White Night" musical concert by Eric Speed and DJ Yro, and Sunday hosting the Chiefs space where a team of student chefs prepares a full meal in front of you then join you to enjoy it.

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  • 11 of 26

    Nuit Blanche and Montreal en Lumiere Festival

    Montreal festivals in March 2017 include Nuit Blanche.
    ••• Photo courtesy of Montréal en Lumière © Frédérique Ménard-Aubin

    Nuit Blanche on March 3, 2018, is a highlight of the 19th Annual Montreal en Lumiere Festival and offers a nighttime arts festival for one night only where over 200 artists gather to showcase their crafts. Nuit Blanche draws the biggest crowd for a single-day event in Montreal each year, with over 300,000 people in attendance.

    Combining culinary events cooked up by guest chefs from around the world, performance art, live music, and days of freebies on end, Montréal en Lumière runs from February 22 through March 4, 2018.

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    Pay Your Age

    Montreal festivals in March 2017 include pay your age.
    ••• Photo courtesy of Ikanos

    From March 6 to March 11, 2018, families who want to enjoy fine dining can benefit from a fun little promo: pay your age. This annual event takes place as part of Montreal en Lumiere Festival and features 11 upscale Montreal restaurants including Europea and Auberge St. Gabriel that offer gourmet meals to kids 16 and under for the price of their current age. If you've got a younger child who really wants to try gourmet meals, you can get one for as cheap as $3!

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    Rendez-vous du Cinéma Québécois

    Montreal festivals in March 2017 include Les Rendez-Vous du Cinéma Québécois.
    ••• Above: the classic Quebec film Jésus de Montréal (1989) by Denys Arcand screens at the 2017 edition of Les Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois. Film still of Jésus de Montréal courtesy of Max Films Productions, Gérard Mital Productions, and the National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

    The 36th annual Les Rendez-Vous du Cinéma Québécois, a celebration of films made in Quebec, takes place from February 21 through March 3, 2018. Working knowledge of French is essential for screenings as they are usually, pending exceptions, not subtitled or in English. Admission varies by event and screening, but you can catch nearly 300 films during this multi-week event.

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    Salon de la Course à pied de Montréal

    Montreal festivals in March 2017 include running show Le Salon de la course à pied.
    ••• Above: joggers spotted in Mount Royal Park. Nino H. Photography / Getty Images

    Assorted runners, joggers, and marathoners converge at Palais des congrès for the Salon de la course à pied de Montréal, with events on both March 16 and March 18, 2018. Everything from gear to diet to things to know about jogging while traveling is covered for a low admission price, and you'll get the chance to meet locals who are just as enthusiastic about cardio exercise and running as you.

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    Study and Go Abroad Fair

    Montreal festivals in March 2016 include the study abroad fair at Palais des congrès.
    ••• Above: New College, the University of Edinburgh's School of Divinity. See that statue on the left? It depicts John Knox, the famous protestant reformer. The University of Edinburgh is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful college campuses in the world. John Lawson, Belhaven / Getty Images

    If you're interested in traveling while you learn, find out how you can pair your studies with a new temporary home in another country courtesy of the Study and Go Abroad Fair held March 3, 2018, at Palais des congrès. Offering free admission to students of all ages, this annual event connections students with exchange and study abroad programs in Montreal and throughout Canada.

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    Art Souterrain

    Montreal festivals in March 2017 include Art Souterrain.
    ••• Above: art. Photo by Flickr user Retis (CC BY 2.0)

    Montreal's underground city is a deeply confusing mess. Add to that maze over a hundred or so art exhibits and you've got yourself the makings of Art Souterrain, one of the best events of the year. Opening night is when this underground festival is teeming with performance artists, and In 2018, it runs March 3 through March 25 celebrating the theme of "Labor improbus omnia vincit," which means "Steadfast toil overcomes all things."

    As part of this series, Salon du disque et des arts underground de Montréal unites independent music labels, zine publishers, and underground music merch in the basement of Saint Denis Church in Montreal on March 17 and 18, 2018.

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    Art Matters

    Montreal festivals in March 2017 include Art Matters.
    ••• Photo courtesy of Art Matters

    Throughout most of March is the annual Art Matters festival put on by the students of Concordia University featuring vernissages, talks, workshops, and nightlife events. Events in 2018 run from March 3 through March 23 and provide spaces for students of all skill levels to converse about why art truly matters and share in the knowledge of the craft.

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    Montreal International Children's Film Festival

    Montreal festivals in March 2017 include the Montreal International Children's Film Festival.
    ••• Animation still courtesy of FIFEM

    Not one to let the Disneys and Pixars of the world get all the glory, the Montreal International Children's Film Festival runs March 3 through March 11, 2018, with a film lineup featuring a who's who on the international scene, most notably in animation. Films are predominantly screened in French, but there are a few English movies in the showcase, too.

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    Port Symphonies

    Montreal festivals in March 2017 include Pointe-à-Callière's Port Symphonies.
    ••• Photo courtesy of Pointe-à-Callière

    Pointe-à-Callière’s Port Symphonies are among the more unusual outdoor concerts in the city, uniting the sounds of trains, boats moored in the Old Port, the bells of Notre-Dame Basilica, and other ''urban'' instruments to create a cacophonic symphony. Admission is free, and you can catch the last edition of the year on March 12, 2018, at 1:30 p.m.

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    International Festival of Films on Art

    Montreal festivals in March 2017 include the International Festival of Films on Art.
    ••• Above: Madonna and her Blonde Ambition Tour crew. Subjects of the award-winning documentary Strike a Pose, these dancers recount their experiences openly expressing their sexual orientation on stage 15 years ago, inviting both controversy and elation. The film screens at the 2017 edition of the International Festival of Films on Art. Courtesy of Miramax Films

    Examining art from every field and format, the International Festival of Films on Art runs March 8 through March 18, 2018, proposing films on subjects as creatively varied as photography, architecture, and theatre. Meet and greet with producers, directors, writers, and actors from around the world at this niche film festival.

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    Expo Manger Santé

    Montreal festivals in March 2017 include health food show Expo Manger Santé.
    ••• Rocky89 / Getty Images

    This healthy eating show held every March at Palais des congrès offers enough free food samples, from chocolate to cheese to blueberry juice, that the admission price feels worth it in the end. Many of the products featured in the expo are sold at a discount on site. In 2018, Expo Manger Santé runs March 23 through March 25 and costs just $15 for regular admission, $12 for students and seniors, and free for kids under 16 years old. Also consider dropping by Montreal's Chinatown just outside the Palais des congrès for brunch, lunch, or takeout buns for another tasty local treat.

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    Sugar Shacking

    Montreal festivals in March 2016 include eating a sugar shack meal.
    ••• Buzz Productions / Getty Images

    Sugar Shacks have been used throughout Canada's history to boil down sugar maple sap into maple syrup, and now people can visit one of many commercial sugar shacks around Montreal to see how this famous Canadian staple is made and sample fresh batches of the sticky sweet syrup. The menu at Sugar Shack restaurants also features French meat pies call tourtière, maple-flavored pork links, and cretons. Whatever you order, just make sure you don't 

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    Maple Syrup Fest

    Montreal festivals in March 2017 include maple syrup street fest Cabane Panache et bois rond.
    ••• Photo courtesy of Promenade Wellington © Aline Dubois

    From March 22 to March 25, 2018, Promenade Wellington hosts a three-day maple syrup fest known as Cabane Panache et bois rond where all the food sold on-site features maple products in some form or other. Traditional Quebec folk music, square dancing, lumberjack style games like log-throwing and two-man saws, local crafts for sale, and other attractions are on the annual agenda. You can also make your own maple taffy, but just make sure you don't mess up the hot taffy on the snow!

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    St. Patrick's Day Parade

    Montreal festivals in March 2017 include the St. Patrick's Day Parade.
    ••• Robin Cerutti / Getty Images

    Although the city isn't known to have a huge Irish population, Montreal's legendary St. Patrick's Day Parade rolls through town and almost everyone in town comes out in green attire to celebrate the day's festivities. The 195th St. Patrick's Day Parade will take place on March 18, 2018, and will leave from the corner of du Fort Street at noon, eventually heading east as far as Phillips Square along Saint Catherine Street in downtown Montreal.

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    Butterflies Go Free

    Montreal festivals in March 2017 include the Botanical Garden's Butterflies Go Free.
    ••• Above: inside the Montreal Botanical Garden's Butterflies Go Free exhibit. Nino H. Photography / Getty Images

    Every March, the Montreal Botanical Garden invites guests to witness a stunning display of colors as thousands of butterflies are set free inside the climate-controlled greenhouses for the duration of February 22 through April 29, 2018. This event, called Butterflies Go Free, allows people to interact with these beautiful creatures in their natural habitats. The gardens emphasize education on environmental conservation efforts in tandem with an exploration of the flora of the greenhouses.

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    Earth Hour

    Montreal festivals in March 2017 include Earth Hour.
    ••• Above: Michelin star chef Raymond Blanc OBE dining by candlelight with the World Wildlife Federation's panda mascot in London, England in honor of Earth Hour. Incidentally, that's how I'd like to spend my Earth Hour. Stuart C. Wilson / Getty Images

    Earth Hour in Montreal is like Earth Hour in the rest of the world. It's lights out on Saturday, March 24, 2018, from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The difference here relates to its associated events. In Montreal, that includes a free candlelit concert with five choirs and a stargazing act, which are both free.