Jingle Bells! Celebrating 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 24, 2023.

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 60th 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 14 to 30, at 2 pm and 7:30 PM.


A Québec yuletide tradition

Featuring a superb cast of singers – including Marie Carmen, Claudette Dion and Joël Legendre– Noël, Une Tradition en Chanson (75% French-language repertoire) returns to the Cabaret du Casino Montréal on December 6.


A classical Christmas

The Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal celebrates the holiday season with singer Bruno Pelletier and conductor Simon Leclerc to mark the 20th anniversary of the Christmas album Bruno Pelletier et l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, two concerts performed at Notre-Dame Basilica on November 29 and 30.

Then Grammy-winning maestro Kent Nagano and Fred Pellerin unite with the OSM to deliver the brand-new Christmas tale Le secret de Polichignon at the Maison symphonique de Montréal for five shows from December 14 to 17.

Under the baton of conductor Jean-Nicolas Trottier with musical arrangements by Antoine Gratton and vocals by Montreal jazz and soul legends Ranee Lee, Kim Richardson and Dawn Tyler Watson, the  Orchestre Metropolitain presents Holiday Melodies (December 9 and 10) at the Maison Symphonique.

Then Grammy-winning maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts the OM and an all-Canadian cast of soloists in Handel’s Messiah at Notre-Dame Basilica on December 19 and 20.

The Orchestre Classique de Montréal will perform Handel’s Messiah in the crypt of Saint Joseph’s Oratory on December 13 and 14. Get your tickets early, these OCM concerts always sell out.

Canadian operatic pop trio LYRICO headline the Maison Symphonique for their holiday concert A Very Operatic Christmas accompanied by the FILMharmonic Orchestra & Choir on December 21.


A Charlie Brown Christmas


Bourgie Hall presents the ninth edition of their highly-anticipated holiday classic A Charlie Brown Christmas featuring the Taurey Butler Trio. This three-concert series (December 20 and 21) will sell out, so get your tickets early.

Other holiday season shows at Bourgie Hall include Momo & Mari Kodama, pianos - The Nutcracker on Two Pianos (December 10), the world-renowned British vocal quartet Gothic Voices singing in Medieval Christmas (December 14), and the Arion Baroque Orchestra present Christmas in Paris (December 17).


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 on December 15 and 16. Click here for updates.


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 three concerts at Salle Pierre-Mercure, December 9 and 10.

Then soul legend Michelle Sweeney headlines Noël Gospel Experience with Michelle Sweeney & The Gospel Tribe at Le Balcon on December 28.


The Lyric Theatre Singers

Founded in 1990, The Lyric Theatre Singers presents Candlelight Christmas 2023 at Concordia University’s Loyola chapel for four concerts, from December 7 to 10. Under the direction of Bob Bachelor, the company’s 46 singers will perform their timeless holiday repertoire of classical songs to Broadway-style showstoppers.

Legendary pop stars

English soprano Sarah Brightman brings her Christmas Symphony Tour to Place Bell on November 21, and pop icon Mariah Carey brings her Merry Christmas One And All Tour to the Bell Centre on November 29.

The annual Andy Kim Christmas concert returns to the Beanfield Theatre (formerly The Corona) on December 9 with special guest 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.

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 A Not So Silent Night - A family Christmas with the Wainwrights / McGarrigles, headlining a holiday concert at the Olympia Theatre (December 2) with special guests Anna McGarrigle, Robert Charlebois and Ariane Moffatt among others, to benefit the Kate McGarrigle Fund and the Cystinosis Research Foundation.

Other Christmas concerts of note: Noël avec Joe Bocan (December 12) and Montreal crooner David Marino Christmas (December 22) at Salle Claude-Léveillée, and Parapapam headlines Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier with Patrick Bruel, Mario Pelchat, Vladimir Kornéev and soprano Marie-Josée Lord singing Christmas classics accompanied by the FILMharmonic Orchestra & Choir for five concerts, from December 8 to 10.


Christmas at the theatre

Children will love the French-language Nicolas Noël - Le cristal du temps at Théâtre Jean-Duceppe on December 27 and 28.

For its annual holiday pantomime, Hudson Village Theatre presents playwright Ben Crocker’s Puss In Boots directed by Steve Walters. With singing, dancing and silly jokes, the Hudson Village Theatre Panto is a hugely entertaining family theatre experience. Runs from December 15 to January 7.


Christmas at the Cinéma

A true holiday favorite, Home Alone in Concert screens the beloved Hollywood comedy Home Alone with a live symphony orchestra performing composer John Williams’ musical score live to picture, at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier on December 1 and 2.

Over at Théâtre St-Denis, The Grinch: Live with Orchestra screens another beloved holiday classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, directed by Ron Howard and starring Jim Carrey, with the the Orchestre Symphonique de Trois-Rivières performing James Horner’s musical score live to picture, on December 10.

Both films will be presented in their original English versions with French subtitles.


Santa Claus Parade

More than 400,000 people of all ages are expected to attend Montréal’s 71st Santa Claus Parade and its 13 magical floats – including Santa on his sleigh – on November 25 beginning at 11 am.

The parade has a new route this year: it will begin on René-Levesque Boulevard in front of Place Ville-Marie, turn north on Robert-Bourassa Avenue, then continue east on Saint Catherine Street to Place des Arts in the Quartier des Spectacles.

Click here for all directions and info.


Enchanted worlds

Over at the McCord Stewart Museum, relive the magic of Ogilvy’s mechanical Christmas window displays in the Holidays at the Museum installation from November 25 to January 7, 2024. 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 Montréal Christmas Village at Atwater Market (November 30 to December 24), the Marché de Noël de Jean Talon (dates TBA), and The Great Christmas Market (November 25 to December 30) located on the Esplanade de la Place des Arts in the Quartier des Spectacles are all back this holiday season.

The DDO Fine Arts and Crafts Holiday Market runs from November 11 to 12.


Blue Christmas

Back by popular demand, the legendary Martin Fontaine headlines Elvis Experience The Final Act: Blue Christmas for six final performances at Théâtre St-Denis from December 7 to 16. Accompanied by 24 musicians and eight backup singers, Fontaine portrays Elvis Presley at the peak of his career in the early 70s, recreating a concert given by the King at the Las Vegas Hilton.

Montréal burlesque legend Velma Candyass and her cast of Vaudeville-style entertainers headline her annual Candyass Cabaret Holidaze Show at the iconic Café Cléopatre on The Main on December 15. Click here for tickets.

Hosted by comedian Joëlle Prudhomme, the French-language Le Show Queer residency at Salle Claude-Léveillée hosts a special comic holiday edition on December 14 with guest LGBTQ entertainers Anne-Sarah Charbonneau, Andy St-Louis and Montréal drag legend Marla Deer.

The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Show starring RuPaul’s Drag Race superstars BenDeLaCreme and Jinkx Monsoon headlines the Olympia Theatre on November 23 and 24.

RuPaul’s Drag Race legend Alaska Thunderf**k 5000 stars in It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like ALASKA … A Christmas Show at Le National on December 12.

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.

Enjoy the best of Montréal

The Tourisme Montréal newsletter gives you the inside scoop on everything happening in the city.

Moments nearby