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

Montreal iceskating rink
Montréal en Lumière festival. RENAULT Philippe / / Getty Images

March is an unpredictable month in Montreal, at least in terms of the weather. You may get lucky and experience some early spring days with sunshine, but snowstorms and subzero temperatures are just as likely—if not more so. Despite the frigid weather, there are also a lot of perks to visiting in March. It's considered the low-season for tourism so hotel deals are plentiful and you shouldn't have trouble getting into restaurants or other attractions. There's also a lot going on, from the massive Montréal en Lumière festival to spring skiing at nearby resorts.

Montreal Weather in March

Don't get excited about spring weather just yet. The average temperatures in March still hover around freezing and once you add in the windchill factor, it often feels even colder than what the thermometer says. However, temperatures do rise quickly throughout the month and a visit at the end of March is likely to be significantly warmer than a visit at the beginning of the month.

  • Average High Temperature: 36 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius)
  • Average Low Temperature: 23 degrees Celsius (-5 degrees Celsius)

The chance of a snowstorm is still high in March as well, especially during the first two weeks. You're likely to experience some type of precipitation regardless, whether it's snow, rain, or sleet. While the weather is intense, it's definitely an improvement from February when the daily high usually stays below freezing.

What to Pack

March in Montreal definitely feels more like winter than spring, so don't underestimate the cold when you're preparing your suitcase. As long as you pack correctly, you can fully enjoy everything the city has to offer despite the icy weather. Since March can be unpredictable, the most important thing is to pack layers: a heavy winter coat, long-sleeve sweaters, and skin-tight thermal wear is all necessary in case of a snowstorm. Other winter accessories like a beanie, scarf, and gloves will all come in handy.

If there's snow in the forecast, pack a pair of boots or something water-resistant for walking around. Snow is usually cleared off of walkways pretty quickly, but trekking through snow in sneakers is never very comfortable. You may even want to carry around an extra pair of socks, just in case your feet do get wet.

March Events in Montreal

Montrealers don't let the cold weather keep them inside. Winter is long in the city, so locals have learned to make the most of it with all kinds of events to stay entertained.

  • During Montréal en Lumière, the entire city is decorated with elaborate structures made of lights during a month-long festival that also features musical performances, art events, and special tastings at local restaurants. Montréal en Lumière usually starts in mid-February and continues through March, but the 2021 version takes place from March 4–28.
  • The International Festival of Films on Art features nearly 200 films from 40 countries in this annual film festival. For the 2021 version—which begins March 16 and lasts until March 28—all of the films are premiering online, so you can watch them from wherever you happen to be.
  • Les Rendez-Vous du Cinéma Québécois is a celebration of films made in Quebec. It typically runs from late February through early March and features several hundred different titles, but the 2021 festival was postponed to the end of April.
  • Montreal's Saint Patrick’s Day Parade is the oldest in Canada, dating back to 1824. It's one of the city's most popular celebrations and always takes place on the Sunday before March 17.

March Travel Tips

  • Public schools throughout Canada have a mid-winter break (also called March Break) that falls sometime in March. The exact week varies by province and changes each year, but it's worth seeing if your vacation falls during the Quebec vacation.
  • One big draw to Quebec in March is that it is sugar shack season when the maple trees begin to release their sap which is then turned into maple syrup. This sweet and sticky condiment can be sampled in restaurants all over Montreal, but try visiting a farm outside of the city to experience the real deal.
  • March is one of the best months of the year for skiing in Quebec, when fresh snow is still abundant but the violent storms of winter have mostly passed. You don't have to travel far from Montreal since several ski resorts are within easy driving distance from the city.
  • Daylight saving time begins in Canada on the second Sunday in March, the same day as in the U.S.

To find out more about when to plan your Montreal vacation, read about the best time to visit Montreal.