Montreal is home to some epic winter events. There is so much to do, and to celebrate, during winter in Montreal. From outdoor raves in sub-zero temperatures to restaurant week to festivals honoring snow, lights, or anything else winter related.
Here are some crowd-pleasing Montreal events that also happen to be affordable and sometimes even free during winter 2018-2019.
Christmas in Montreal—Noël in French—is a magical, busy season. There are two Christmas parades. The city's annual Santa Claus Parade, a tradition since 1925, better known as the Défilé du Père Noël, Santa Claus with about 20 floats proceeding along the downtown artery and top shopping destination, Ste. Catherine Street, from Fort to St. Urbain. Usually the parade takes place in mid November.
A low key alternative is Montreal's second largest Christmas parade, the Défilé des rêves, held a week after the popular downtown Santa Claus parade. It takes place at the Plaza St. Hubert.
Attending Christmas Mass in Montreal, in one of the beautiful cathedrals is a memorable experience.
When: November and December
This annual show and sale of semi-precious gems, jewelry, sculptures, pearls, beads, fossils, and minerals is educational and perfect for finding unique holiday gifts.
More than 100 local and out-of-province dealers will take part, selling minerals and crystals from locations around the world, including famous mines in Afghanistan, Africa, Brazil, and North America.
The show is held at Place Bonaventure.
When: Usually in November.
A new tradition was forged in the Old Port in Montreal in 2007, courtesy of the boys behind Piknic Electronik. It's called Igloofest and it's the most anticipated outdoor rave of the season, attracting thousands of electronic music fans every night.
From January 17th to February 2nd, 2019, Igloofest, billed as the coldest music festival in the world, will bring warmly-dressed music lovers to Montreal.
When: January, usually the last three weekends
Every late January to early February, Montreal's Parc Jean-Drapeau turns into a winter wonderland, a childhood delight that features activities to entertain kids as well as adults although the festival's focus is on the family. Admission is free as are several events, but equipment rentals are not.
The event takes place this upcoming year from January 19 to February 10, 2019, on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
When: End of January through the beginning of February, usually three weekends
Montreal chocolate show Je t'aime en chocolat, which first debuted at Old Montreal's Marché Bonsecours in winter 2012, is the largest event in Quebec devoted entirely to chocolate, attracting in the upwards of 10,000 visitors over the course of its annual three-day run.
The 2019 edition of Je t'aime en chocolat runs February 8, 9, and 10 at Marché Bonsecours, after skipping a year in 2018 for the first time in the event's history.
When: Usually the weekend before Valentine's Day
Three-course dinners discounted at a handful of restaurants for six weeks in the dead of winter is par for the course with Le Chop, an annual Montreal restaurant event featuring a handful of generally downtown locales.
Please check the restaurant group website for 2019 information.
When: January through February
Every year since 2000, Montréal en Lumière lights up Montreal with free outdoor events, culinary delights, beautiful light shows, and displays throughout the city.
In 2019, the event takes place February 21 to March 3.
When: February, usually the last two weeks
Sure, Montreal stays up 'til the wee hours of the morning all the time, but only one night a year features close to 200 mostly free cultural, musical, culinary, and sports-oriented activities available to the public starting in the afternoon and evening all the way through to 6 a.m. It's called Montreal Nuit Blanche, it's the Montreal High Lights Festival finale.
In 2019, the Montréal en Lumière event takes place from February 21 to March 3.
When: Usually either the last Saturday in February or the first Saturday in March
Montreal has a few restaurant weeks, notably Old Montreal's Le Happening Gourmand which is similar to New York Restaurant Week and Toronto's Winterlicious, but on a much smaller scale.
Le Happening Gourmand offers visitors the chance to experience select Montreal restaurants with menu prices reduced 30 to 40 percent.
When: January, usually the last three weeks
By foot, snowshoe, or cross country skis, Montreal forest treks are an affordable activity for families, solo nature enthusiasts, or even for couples looking for a dose of outdoor romance.
Some treks are offered in city parks, and the trek is often led by a naturalist who helps participants spot wildlife.
When: January through March
The oldest St. Patrick's Day parade in Canada, the Montreal St. Patrick's Day Parade has been held every single year since 1824, and no circumstance, from snowstorms to wartime to economic depression, has stopped the parade from marching on.
When: March, either the Sunday before or the Sunday after March 17. The parade website will have 2019 details.