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 and festivals honoring snow and lights, here are some crowd-pleasing Montreal events–some of which happen to be free!
Christmas in Montreal, or Noël in French, is a magical and busy season. There are two Christmas parades. The city's annual Santa Claus Parade has a tradition since 1925, better known as the Défilé du Père Noël, which features about 20 floats proceeding along Ste. Catherine Street to St. Urbain. The parade typically 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. If you're feeling paraded out, attending a Christmas Mass in one of Montreal's beautiful cathedrals is another way to have a memorable experience.
This annual show and sale of semi-precious gems, jewelry, sculptures, pearls, beads, fossils, and minerals is an educational experience, 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 usually at the end of November.
A new tradition was forged in the Old Port in Montreal in 2007, courtesy of the boys behind Piknic Electronik. Igloofest is the most anticipated outdoor rave of the season, attracting thousands of electronic music fans every night.
During the weekends from January 16 to February 8, 2020, Igloofest, billed as the coldest music festival in the world, will bring warmly-dressed music lovers to Montreal.
Every late January to early February, Montreal's Parc Jean-Drapeau turns into a winter wonderland. Fête des Neige is 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 18 to February 9, 2020, on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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. After a cancellation in 2019, the show is set to return in February 2020.
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. As the 2020 event approaches, you can refer to the restaurant group website for the latest menus as they are announced.
Every year since 2000, Montréal en Lumière lights up Montreal with free outdoor events, culinary delights, beautiful light shows, and displays throughout the city. There will also zip lines, sides, and a ferris wheel. For Montrealers, it's one of the most exciting nights of the year attracting thousands of visitors every year. In 2020, the event takes place February 20 to March 1.
Sure, Montreal stays up until 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. Montreal Nuit Blanche is part of the Montréal en Lumière festival and will take place on February 29, 2020.
Montreal has a few restaurant weeks, but the most notable 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. In 2020, restaurants will be putting out special menus from January 15 to February 9.
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. The parade takes place every year on March 17, St. Patrick's Day.