Jingle Bells! Celebrate the holidays in Montréal!

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

This article was updated on November 22, 2022.

No city celebrates Christmas quite like Montréal, which welcomes the holiday season with countless musical concerts and special events, from the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal to Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal’s famed adaptation of The Nutcracker.


The Nutcracker

Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal’s timeless adaptation of La Casse-Noisette (a.k.a. The Nutcracker) by Quebec choreographer Fernand Nault returns to Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier for its 59th year. This two-act ballet based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic tale is set to the music of Tchaikovsky and brings together more than 60 dancers and 100 extras, plus the Orchestre des Grands ballets Canadiens de Montréal. If you have never seen it, this famed production is a must. The Nutcracker runs from December 9 to 30.


A Québec yuletide tradition

Featuring a superb cast of singers – including Johanne Blouin, Joe Bocan, Luce Dufault, and Martine St-Clair – Noël, Une Tradition en Chanson returns to the Cabaret du Casino Montréal for two shows on December 6.

Other holiday-themed Cabaret du Casino shows include Christmas with Generation Crooners (November 29) and Jeunesse d'hier et d'aujourd’hui fêtent Noël! stars two beloved Quebec entertainers, Joël Denis and Christine Chartrand, for five shows (November 30, December 1-8-14-15).



A classical Christmas

The Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal celebrates the holiday season the three-concert series Christmas Songs with Rafael Payare (December 14-15) featuring the OSM and their maestro performing symphonic works composed for the festive period. They are joined by the OSM Chorus and Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal.

Argentinian conductor Leonardo García Alarcón leads the OSM with a performance of three sections from the timeless Christmas Oratorio by Johann Sebastian Bach (December 21-22).

Under the baton of their Grammy-winning maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Orchestre Metropolitain’s three concert series Holiday Melodies (December 2-3) features the powerful voices of Mélissa Bédard and soul queen Kim Richardson.

All above shows are at the Maison Symphonique.

Conductor Simon Rivard will lead a stellar quartet of renowned soloists and the Montréal choirs Les filles de l’île and Les chantres musiciens for the Orchestre Classique de Montréal’s annual Handel’s Messiah concert at Saint Joseph’s Oratory on December 13.

Over at Notre-Dame Basilica, their organist and two singers will perform a Christmas repertoire at Notre-Dame’s Take a Seat at the Casavant Organ for the Holiday Season concert (December 27 to 30).



A Charlie Brown Christmas

Bourgie Hall marks its 12th season with more than 100 concerts, including the highly-anticipated holiday classic A Charlie Brown Christmas featuring the Taurey Butler Trio. This three-concert series (December 15-16) will sell out, so get your tickets early.

Other holiday season shows at Bourgie Hall include the Ensemble ALKEMIA - Un monde pour Noël concert for kids (December 4), the horn-driven Buzz Cuivres Celebrates Christmas! (December 9), Ensemble Clematis - A German Baroque Christmas Oratorio (December 11), and The Tallis Scholars - Hymns to the Virgin (December 13).

Gospel Music

If you’re a gospel music fan, NOËL GOSPEL features more than 70 singers backed by a live band when the Jireh Gospel Choir and Montréal Gospel Choir directed by Carol Bernard, headlining two concerts at Salle Pierre-Mercure, December 10 at 3 pm and 8 pm.

Legendary pop stars

The annual Andy Kim Christmas concert returns to the Corona Theatre on December 10 with a collection of iconic performers with all proceeds donated to Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada. Andy Kim was born and raised in Montréal, and his mega-hits include Rock Me Gently and the iconic Sugar, Sugar for The Archies. Full lineup of special musical guests TBA.

Euro-disco group BONEY M featuring original lead singer Liz Mitchell headlines their Holiday Favourites and Classic Hits Tour at the Olympia de Montréal on December 14. In addition to their disco anthems Daddy Cool, Rivers of Babylon and Rasputin, the band’s 1981 Christmas Album featured such timeless holiday fare as Feliz Navidad, Mary’s Boy Child/Oh My Lord and Little Drummer Boy.

Rufus Wainwright and Martha Wainwright’s Christmas show has been a family tradition since 2005 when Kate and Anna McGarrigle released their classic album The McGarrigle Christmas Hour. Montréal’s famed McGarrigle clan is back with Étoiles et Toi avec Rufus et Martha Wainwright: Ensemble en Famille, headlining a holiday concert at the Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste (December 3) to benefit the Kate McGarrigle Fund.


Christmas at the theatre

The family-friendly musical Décembre presented by the Québec Issime troup tells the story of a small town whose characters come alive beneath a Christmas tree. The crowd-pleasing French-language production features some 30 performers and musicians in its 20th year at Théatre Maisonneuve from December 8 to 29.

Children will love the French-language Nicolas Noël - Les livres des enfants du monde at Théâtre Jean-Duceppe from December 27 to 30.



Enchanted worlds

Over at the McCord Stewart Museum, relive the magic of Ogilvy’s mechanical Christmas window displays in the Enchanted Worlds installation from November 25 to January 8, 2023. Visitors of all ages will see The Mill in the Forest outdoors on Victoria Street and The Enchanted Village inside the Museum. These dazzling displays – a holiday tradition that goes back to 1947 and among the last of their kind in North America – feature handmade animals that come to life in a Bavarian setting.



Christmas markets

The Le Village de Noël de Montréal at Atwater Market (November 24 to December 18), the Marché de Noël de Jean Talon (November 26 to December 18), and The Great Christmas Market (November 19 to December 31) located on the Esplanade de la Place des Arts in the Quartier des Spectacles are all back this holiday season.



Carols by Candlelight

The glorious and historic Church of St. Andrew and St.Paul – whose Gothic Revival architecture looks like it comes straight out of Robin Hood – have scheduled their hugely popular Carols by Candlelight concerts with the A&P Choir under the direction of Jean-Sébastien Vallée on December 17 and 18. Click here for updates.

Over at Loyola Chapel in the West End, the Lyric Theatre Singers make their much-anticipated return for their first in-person concert since 2019 with Candlelight Christmas 2022, featuring an impressive vocal ensemble of 45 voices, for four performances, December 8 to 11.

Santa Claus Parade

The biggest holiday-season event in Québec, the Montréal Santa Claus Parade is expected to draw more than 400,000 spectators to its 70th edition on its usual route along Saint-Catherine Street West between Guy Street and Place des Festivals, on Saturday, November 19 starting at 11 am. For the first time in its history, the parade will be 100 percent electric. Over 15 floats and 500 artists – including performers from the Cirque du Soleil show Corteo and the Québec Issime show Décembre, plus marching bands from all over the country – will transform downtown Montréal into a winter wonderland.

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

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