10 ways to get in the Holiday spirit in Montréal

Isa Tousignant

Every year, Montréal's winter holiday season seems to get brighter and more festive. Here are 10 ways to get in the Holiday spirit in Montréal.

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1. Say cheers to Christmas bars

Nothing beats drinking eggnog and mulled wine in a place where it’s always Christmas—or at least from December 1 to 31! Bar Miracle in Montréal’s Quartier Latin promises to get you in the holiday spirit one sip at a time with its wintry décor, thematic cocktails and jingle-tastic soundtrack. Alternately you can head to Miracle Deluxe, on the rooftop terrasse at Hotel William Grey also until December 31. Munch on roasted chestnuts and gingerbread cookies as you party against the panoramic view and raise a glass for Santa!

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2. Marvel at the Ogilvy window display

Montrealers for generations have had fond memories of watching this automated scene unfold before them. Bunnies and monkeys and dancing ducks work hard at the Mill in the Forrest, right there in the window of one of Montréal’s most glittering department stores on Ste-Catherine Street. Magical for kids of all ages, from 8 am to midnight every day until January 1.

3. Take in some holiday concerts

Montréal’s renowned classical music scene turns it up to 11 for the holidays! The city’s two major symphony orchestras and dozens of local choirs awaken the yuletide spirit, as Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal perform The Nutcracker and the annual Andy Kim Christmas Concert rocks out to raise money for charity. Talking about hitting a high note…

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4. Shop at Christmas markets and villages

Get all the names crossed off your gift list at Montréal’s festive holiday markets. Whether they’re outdoor villages replete with little craft huts or indoor sales chock-a-block with one-of-a-kind makers, they’ve got goodies ranging from fashion to candles to soaps, jams and jewellery. Leave room in your luggage!

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5. Tour the city’s holiday secrets

Get to know a hidden side of Montréal on Guidatour’s Christmas Secrets of Old Montréal walking tour. Dress warm to visit landmarks and wander from Victoria Square to Bonsecours Market through the charming cobblestone streets of Montréal’s historic neighbourhood. All the while you’ll be discovering secrets of its Christmases past even some native Montrealers don’t know.

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6. Light up your nights

Montréal could give Paris a run for its money as the City of Lights, and not just during the winter festival Montréal en Lumière. There are countless light displays to visit at night, starting with the Jacques-Cartier Bridge (there’s a magnificent view from the Old Port), the Marche aux flambeaux down Mont-Royal avenue on December 9, the Aura light show at Notre-Dame Basilica, the Natrel Fire on Ice event on the Old Port skating rink, Luminothérapie in Quartier des Spectacles… for a start.

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7. Warm up at these public fireplaces

Montréal in the cold months is magical, wondrous, otherworldly… but it can get frosty! So, when your parka is seeming a little thin and you need a break from the sparkly white streets, duck into one of these hot spots. All these cozy cafés, restaurants and bars have one thing in common: hot, beautiful, roaring fires.

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8. Try your hand at holiday crafts

Put some extra love in your gifts this year by making them. There are countless craft and art workshops in Montréal: You can do intensive weekend classes in glassblowing or painting on glass at Espace Verre; at the Grand marché de Noël, L’atelier des lutins will get kids crafting; Artgang is hosting a holiday paper folding and wrapping workshop on December 9 with Miss Cloudy; and at Maison Pépin in Old Montréal, you can learn to make your own paper wreath.

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9. Soak up some Christmassy culture

The city has a few themed holiday exhibitions to offer, for a Santa-worthy family outing. At Stewart Museum, Santas Are Taking Over the Museum is on until January 7. The Sir George-Étienne Cartier National Historic Site presents an exhibition on Victorian Christmas until December 31, and the McCord has a crowd-pleaser up until March 18, 2018: The Topsy-Turvy Storyland. Think of it as Christmas shopping inspiration!

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10. Celebrate New Year’s Eve in a biiiiiig way

Montréal pulled out all the stops to celebrate its 375th anniversary throughout 2017, so it’s only fitting that the final day, New Year’s Eve, happen on just as grandiose a scale. From a public feast to fireworks to a midnight dance party under the stars, La Finale is going to be a party for the ages.

Isa Tousignant

Isa Tousignant, blogger

Isa Tousignant is an art and lifestyle writer based out of Montréal’s ecclectic Park Ex neighbourhood. She is Contributing Editor for Canadian Art magazine and freelances full-time for a wide variety of magazines and brands. She’s also a jewellery designer and passionate about animal costumes and their role in contemporary art.