If you're traveling to Montreal in the Québec province of Canada over the holiday season, it's important to know what will be open and closed during your visit. Christmas Day and New Year's Day are both federal statutory holidays, and many businesses and services are shut down. Restaurants and tourists attractions, on the other hand, often stay open. You will definitely want to call any place you plan to visit to confirm opening hours.
In addition to Christmas and New Year's, Boxing Day is also a widely celebrated holiday that falls on December 26. Boxing Day in Canada is similar to Black Friday in the U.S. and stores are packed with holiday shoppers. Outside of the retail world, many other offices and businesses are closed.
When Are the Holidays in Montreal
The holiday season is comprised of three of the biggest holidays in Canada, which are Christmas Day (December 25), Boxing Day (December 26), and New Year's Day (January 1). Boxing Day is not a federal statutory holiday as the other two are, but it is so widely celebrated that is considered a part of the holiday season. Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve are not official holidays, either, but many businesses adjust their hours on these days as well.
When any one of the three holidays falls on a weekend, the next working day is typically considered vacation. For example, if Christmas falls on a Saturday and Boxing Day falls on a Sunday, many Montrealers have the following Monday and Tuesday off of work.
One of the most important questions for Montreal visitors during the holidays: Where can I go out to eat? If you're going out to eat on Boxing Day, most restaurants are open with their usual business hours, but it never hurts to confirm.
Finding a restaurant that is open on Christmas Day or New Year's Day is not as easy, and likely requires a little bit of research. While many neighborhood restaurants close down for both holidays, there are also several restaurants that open and offer special holiday menus. It's a good idea to make reservations throughout the entire holiday season since many people are eating out, but it's essential to make reservations on December 25 or January 1. Otherwise, you may be left without options and forced to get your holiday meal from a dépanneur.
Dépanneurs are the Quebec equivalent of a convenience store or bodega, and since they are all independently owned, it's more or less a crapshoot whether or not they stay open. Thankfully, since these stores are located on just about every street corner, there's a good chance that if your nearest dépanneur is closed for the holiday, there's another one not far away that's open.
Some of the most popular attractions in Montreal, especially those around the Old Port, are open throughout the holiday season. You can always count on the Montreal Casino being open on both Christmas and New Year's Day. The main ice skating rinks, such as the Bonsecours Basin outdoor skating rink and Atrium le 1000 indoor skating rink, are also open on all major winter holidays.
Of the major museums, the Montreal Biodome, Montreal Botanical Garden, and Montreal Planetarium usually close December 24–25, but are open January 1. The Pointe-à-Callière Museum closes December 25 as well as January 1, but is open other days. Last but not least—and with perhaps the most kid appeal—is the Montreal Science Centre, which generally closes on both Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
All of Montreal's public markets that are open in the winter, including the Atwater Market, Marché Jean-Talon, and Marché Maisonneuve, close December 25–26 and January 1–2, with reduced hours on December 24 and December 31.
Montreal's public transit system is operational throughout the holiday season, with buses and metros running every day of the year. However, they do run on Sunday schedules on December 25 and January 1, with fewer buses running and longer intervals between trains. Expect service slowdowns also on December 26 and January 2.
As for commuter trains, the Agence métropolitaine de transport's commuter train lines adhere to a Sunday schedule on December 25–26 and January 1–2. Since no weekend service is offered on the Mont St. Hilaire, Mascouche, and Candiac lines in the first place, no train service will be offered for those same holiday dates. Call (514) 287-TRAM (8726) or visit the AMT website for train scheduling details.
SAQ Liquor Stores
The only place to buy alcohol in Montreal is at Société des Alcools du Québec (SAQ liquor stores), which are closed on Christmas and New Year's Day with varying schedules throughout the holiday season. All SAQs open at 1 p.m. on December 26 and January 2. Also, don't sleep on those boozy purchases on December 24 and December 31, as most SAQs close early at 5 p.m. with the exception of SAQ Express stores which close at 7 p.m. (much earlier than their usual 10 p.m. close time).
As a general rule, Montreal parks close on December 25 and January 1. "Closed" means that any ice skating rinks and ski or snowshoe rentals are unavailable, and basic services like bathroom access cannot be guaranteed either. However, many of them are not gated and are open for people to enter and take a holiday stroll.
Grocery stores larger than 375 square meters (4,037 square feet) in size are legally obliged to close on December 25 and January 1. However, smaller food markets can remain open at their discretion. Always call your smaller local grocer to make sure they're open before heading out.