So many can’t-miss Montréal sports events in 2020
Sports fans in Montréal will be treated to a massive year when it comes to the wealth of can’t-miss sporting events that are coming up in 2020. Whether it’s Olympics-qualifying track and field, triathlons, judo, speed skating, Rogers Cup tennis and extreme sports, or the city’s beloved pro sports teams like the Montréal Canadiens, Alouettes and Impact, Montréal’s sports calendar is jam-packed in 2020 — let the following be your guide.
Let’s start with the biggest game in town: the city’s much-adored professional hockey team the Montréal Canadiens (or “Habs,” from the French word “habitants,” as we call them in these here parts). The Canadiens open the second half of what’s been an exciting, action-packed regular season so far with a home game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Bell Centre, January 2.
Montréal will play host to the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Judo Pan-American Championships at the state-of-the-art, multi-sports complex Centre Pierre-Charbonneau, in the Olympic Park, on January 11. Judo is gaining popularity each year amongst visually impaired athletes, and the major Montréal event will also be part of the Paralympic selection process with athletes earning points for a chance to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.
The International Skating Union (ISU), in cooperation with Speed Skating Canada, is inviting all speed skating aficionados to join them at the first-ever ISU Four Continents Short Track Skating Championships, January 10 to 12, at Aréna Maurice-Richard, also in the Olympic Park. (It’s worth noting that Montréal is a historic hotbed for the sport and has been home to many of its Olympic stars.) The championships will gather the best short track speed skaters from four continents: the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania.
Organizers say all the big names of the sword world will be in Montréal for the International Fencing Federation’s Sabre Grand Prix 2020. It’s Canada’s first-ever Sabre Grand Prix, and about 350 fencing athletes from more than 40 international delegations are expected to be in Montréal to either protect or attempt to obtain one of the few places left for competing at the Tokyo Olympics. All the swordplay takes place at the Stade IGA in Parc Jarry, January 10 to 12.
The FINA Diving World Series 2020 is a high-profile competition that offers an annual meeting opportunity for the world’s brightest diving stars, predominantly medallists from previous Olympics, World Championships and World Cups. Montréal will be the first of four stops in this year’s series, which has 10 events on the programme: men’s 3 m springboard and 10 m platform, men’s synchronized 3 m springboard and 10 m platform, women’s 3 m springboard and 10 m platform, women’s synchronised 3 m springboard and 10 m platform, and two mixed events (3 m and 10 m). Dive into the action at the Sports Centre in the Olympic Park, February 28 to March 1.
The Montréal Impact — the city’s professional, Major League Soccer team — draws more than 20,000 fans on average to boisterous home games on the striking outdoor, natural-grass pitch of Stade Saputo. However, due to expected cold winter weather conditions, the Montréal Impact will play its 2020 home opener against the New England Revolution at the right-next-door (and heated) Olympic Stadium on February 29.
Taking its title from mythical gnome-like creatures with long beards that reside in the French and Swiss Alps, the all-ages BARBEGAZI takes place March 7 and 8 from noon until 4 pm. The annual fest, which features wild winter sports like fat bike racing, snowskating, go-karting, snow yoga and much more, happens against the dramatic backdrop of Montréal’s Olympic Stadium on the Esplanade of the Olympic Park.
Judo takes hold of Montréal once again as the Senior Pan American Judo Championship rolls into Centre Pierre-Charbonneau, April 16 to 19. This major event on the international judo calendar will see over 250 athletes from 25 countries competing for points and possible selection for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. And it looks promising for Canadian competitors: the last time Canada hosted the Senior Pan American Championship (in Edmonton in 2015), Canada came third on the medal scoreboard with two gold and five bronze medals.
With 700 km of bike paths in Montréal (named one of the most bike-friendly cities in North America), cycling is a big deal. It’s only fitting that, in a festival city, it has its own celebration, the Go Bike Montréal Festival, which encompasses several major cycling events from May 31 to June 7. It kicks off with the Metropolitan Challenge (which features 50, 75, 100, 125 and 150 km routes) and follows with the popular Tour la Nuit (an all-ages, festive Friday night bike ride through the heart of the city) and the enormous Tour de l'Île (which sees thousands of riders winding through city streets).
Celebrating a number of firsts in 2019 (including a wild 24-point comeback against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the largest in team history), the Canadian Football League Montreal Alouettes will build on that excitement this year with another run at the Grey Cup when their regular season starts at the beginning of June (exact date TBD). Fans will continue to enjoy primo home game seats in the scenic Percival Molson Memorial Stadium, a diamond set on the southern slope of Mount Royal overlooking downtown Montréal.
The Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada roars back into Montréal’s Parc Jean-Drapeau from June 12 to 14, bringing with it a high-octane programme of activities and events both on and off the track. Tens of thousands of elite racing fans converge on the city for the 70-lap competition covering the 4,361-metre length of the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, named in honour of the iconic Québec race driver and winner of Montréal’s first Grand Prix in 1978.
The nation’s high jumpers, sprinters, wheelchair basketball players, long jumpers, javelin throwers, goalballers, shot putters and more will bring their very best to Montréal this summer for the highly anticipated 2020 Canadian Track and Field Championships, which will determine which athletes represent Canada at the Tokyo Olympics. All the on-field action unfolds at the world-class Complexe sportif Claude-Robillard (home to several elite-level sports associations), June 25 to 28.
For no less than the 27th time, and the first time since 2009, the Montréal Canadiens will host the National Hockey League (NHL) Draft, one of the most important dates in a hockey fan’s calendar year. It’s the most times the draft has been held in any city, which is fitting given that the original NHL draft took place at a small gathering in a Montréal hotel room in 1963. The 2020 NHL Draft will be held over two days — June 26 (Round 1) and June 27 (Rounds 2-7) — at the Bell Centre with hundreds of media members and thousands of fans in attendance, eager to see the future stars of the league.
The amazing year for sports in Montréal continues, this time for triathletes and their fans. Triathlon Canada will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the sport’s inclusion in the Olympic Summer Games by holding the 2020 ITU World Triathlon Series Montreal in conjunction with the Groupe Copley World Triathlon Montréal, in the streets (and waters) of our fair city, June 27 and 28. Additionally, the week will kick off with the final Paralympic qualification race for the world’s best paratriathletes, who will line up in the ITU World Paratriathlon Series, June 24.
Steeped in history, and powered by pure speed, the annual Régates de Valleyfield will celebrate their 82nd edition (!) this year with three days of action-packed hydroplane racing. Competing at speeds of up to 225 km/hr, this major international event draws upwards of 130,000 spectators each year to the picturesque city of Salaberry-de-Valleyfield (the regatta takes place in Baie St-François, adjacent to the city’s downtown), located immediately southwest of the island of Montréal.
The very best in women’s tennis return for the Rogers Cup presented by National Bank in Montréal this summer, one of the most anticipated events on the city’s professional sports calendar (attendance in the past has topped 200,000). One of the five WTA Premier 5 tournaments (the highest level after the grand slams), expectations are high that the greats will be out in force again this year when all the action gets served up at IGA Stadium, August 7 to 16.
Named for the mythical part jackrabbit/part antelope creature of lore, JACKALOPE — Canada’s largest action sports festival — is an adrenaline junkie’s dream. A variety of sports (skateboarding, bouldering, fixed gear racing, base jumping and more), exhilarating activities, food trucks and live music will thrill audiences and participants alike at Olympic Park, August 14 to 16.
The Psicobloc Open Series is an extreme free-climbing competition performed on a 55-foot wall without a rope or a net over a pool, and accompanied by many, many fun activities for everyone. Montréal will host the third edition of the Psicobloc Open Series competition in Canada at the Aquatic Complex at parc Jean-Drapeau at the end of August, dates to be announced.
Once a year, for five muscle-burning, perspiration-pouring hours, many of the world’s elite cyclists – competitors in the Tour de France, the Summer Olympics and the like – bring peak athletic performance to the peak of Mount Royal for the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal. In 2020, it rolls out September 13.
The popular Oasis International Marathon & 1/2 Marathon de Montréal see thousands upon thousands of runners pounding the pavement through the streets of Montréal to the beat of live music, culminating in a special post-race headlining concert and celebration. It all goes down September 19 and 20.
Dynamic, urban and multicultural, Montréal is a perfect fit for the world’s top 3x3 touring basketball series, the FIBA 3x3 Basketball World Tour. The second edition of the MTL tournament — which features the world’s top 3x3 players going head-to-head in open-air courts and accompanied by a wide range of entertaining cultural programming — goes down in September over three days, exact dates yet to be announced.
The beginning of October is when hockey hungry Habs fans satiate a summer-long fast with the puck-drop on the Montréal Canadiens season. The official start date of the 2020-’21 regular season has yet to be announced, but if you’re anything like us Montrealers, you’re already looking forward to it.
Jamie O’Meara, blogger
Jamie O’Meara is a writer for The Montreal Gazette, C2 Montréal, Moment Factory and more. He also manages the PR Team at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival and is the former Editor-in-Chief of alt-weekly newspaper HOUR Magazine.