Montreal's most epic winter events? This city is on fire in the dead of winter! From outdoor raves in subzero temperatures to restaurant week, to festivals honoring snow, lights, or whatever else organizers can pinpoint as a celebratory fixation, this is not the season to stay home and sulk. Au contraire.
Below are a series of sure bets, crowd-pleasing Montreal events that also happen to be affordable and more often than not, free!
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Montreal has a few restaurant weeks, notably Old Montreal's Le Happening Gourmand which functions in the same vein as New York Restaurant Week and Toronto's Winterlicious, but on a much smaller scale.
When: January, usually the last three weeks
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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.
When: January, usually the last three weekends
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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 though the festival's focus is on family. Admission is free as are several events, but equipment rentals are not.
When: End of January through beginning of February, usually three weekends
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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.
When: Usually the weekend before Valentine's Day
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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, and it's a blast.
When: Usually either the last Saturday in February or the first Saturday in March
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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