The 8 best places to watch the fireworks in Montréal
by Alexandra Gauthier
From July 7 to August 8, Montréal hosts a month of explosive airborne entertainment. Running since 1985, the International Montréal Fireworks Festival (a.k.a., L’International des Feux Loto-Québec) is the biggest of its kind in the world. The skies above Île Sainte-Hélène light up with impressive pyrotechnical displays from competing countries. For the eight colourful nights you won’t want to miss, we’ve searched the skies and assembled five prime locations that offer a VIP view of the show.
Around, around and La Ronde we go
Experience Montréal’s fireworks as close to the launch pad as you can get. Get your fireworks fix straight from the source. Held at Montréal’s famed amusement park, La Ronde, there’s no getting closer to the action than taking the Métro over (well, under) the river to Île Sainte-Hélène. La Ronde offers waterfront stadium seating to the event with tickets starting at $55.99*, which include full-day access to the park and its rides. With a single admission to La Ronde costing $59.99 on any day of the week, this combo ticket is a steal. A significant portion of the fireworks display is only seen from the ground, and there’s nothing like experiencing the synchronized musical accompaniment first-hand. So secure yourself an evening spot on the grandstands and spend the sunshine hours battling Goliath.
An explosively swanky view
Take in the fireworks in style from a plush perch atop the Terrasse sur l’Auberge. Try this scenario on for size: You’re sitting on a stylish rooftop terrace located in Montréal’s historic Old Port, and as you overlook the St. Lawrence River, the skyline ignites with explosions of colour. Did we mention there would be wine? The Auberge du Vieux-Port certainly provides the classiest fireworks viewing party in the city. A $25 cover is charged per head on fireworks evenings, and no minimum food or beverage purchase is required. The show itself starts at 10 p.m., but aim to get there early. Reservations are only available to hotel guests, and the rooftop hits maximum capacity at about 100 people. The terrasse closes every night at 11 p.m., but there’s plenty of neighbouring nightlife in Old Montréal to explore.
Warning: Tourisme Montréal does not take responsibility for any spontaneous marriage proposals made in the heat of the moment.
A bridge over sparkling waters
Experience a local favourite with the ultimate birds-eye view over take-off point. Free, thrilling, and full of community spirit, the Jacques-Cartier Bridge is a local favourite for watching the fireworks. A short jaunt from the Papineau Métro station, the length of Canada’s 3rd busiest bridge transforms into a pedestrian-only viewing platform from 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on fireworks nights. Join the masses to dangle your legs over the river as you watch the awe-inspiring action erupt just above eye-level. And in celebration of Montréal’s 375th birthday celebrations, the bridge itself has become part of the show with a breathtaking lighting installation manipulated by your social media Montréal-related hashtag action making you part of the show. Pyrotechnics enthusiasts come equipped: We recommend bringing a sweater (it’s windy up there), something soft to sit on, and a radio tuned to Rythme 105.7 FM, so you can enjoy the music that goes along with the show.
Where there’s divas, there’s fireworks
Drag queens, hot tubs, and fireworks all come together on Complexe Sky Rooftop Terrace. A favourite summer rooftop any day of the week, Sky’s celestial terrace is especially noteworthy on nights during this festival. A fixture in Montréal’s Gay Village since its opening in 1994, the elevated platform of the three-floored party palace offers a clear view of the fireworks to the East. There’s no cover charge to access the terrace, which—barring inclement weather—is open seven nights a week until its 3 a.m. closing. And really, what pairs better with kaleidoscopic explosions than a drag show, a hot tub, and a mammoth-sized pitcher of sangria with friends?
When the clock strikes ka-boom
Watch the sparks fall with sand between your toes from Clock Tower Beach. While all these lofty locations are excellent choices, maybe you prefer to enjoy fireworks on terra firma—or semi-“firma” anyway, but that all depends on how you classify sand. Opened in 2012, the Clock Tower Beach in Montréal’s Old Port has quickly become a favoured fireworks spectating spot. Entrance to the beach costs $5 on fireworks nights, and boasts a bar on location (the beach is only 18+ starting at 8 pm). The caveat, of course, is that the space fills up quickly, so get there at least two hours before show time. Better still, you could spend a leisurely afternoon relaxing on the urban shoreline, and have front row seats come nightfall.
Montréal when it sizzles
Sparks fly when you add dinner, leisure cruise boats, and fireworks. If you’re looking for the ultimate fireworks romance, then take it to the water. AML Cruises’ lengthy St. Lawrence boat tours complete with dinner service – optional set courses or self-serve buffet-style – climaxing under the bright flaming arcs of the fireworks put you smack-dab beneath the action. And as those sparks hit the water, more than just the fireworks and food sizzle.
Fireworks from the lap of luxury
The Terrasse William Gray in the heart of Old Montréal offers views deluxe. Situated atop one of Montréal’s premiere boutique hotels, the Terrasse William Gray offers an unbroken view over the waters of the St. Lawrence and a unique crow’s nest style vantage point across the Old Port. Punctuate a fine dining experience with sumptuous desserts and cocktails timed perfectly for the first bursts of the fireworks.
Explosions in the sky … at eye-level!
Experience Montréal’s fireworks from the tallest vantage point in town. Montréal’s highest viewpoint atop Au Sommet Place Ville Marie gives you a fireworks experience unlike any other. Virtually at eye-level, it’s akin to a perfectly timed fight over the city while the rockets burst in mid-air. Au Sommet Place Ville Marie (as high as the fireworks)
And remember, the number one place to watch the 2015 Montréal Fireworks Festival is with the people you love!
Full fireworks schedule here
Alexandra Gauthier is a young Montrealer who loves to eat, drink and be merry with friends in neighbourhoods all over the city.
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