Free things to do this fall in Montréal

Montréal in the fall is a beautiful sight no matter what your budget – free stuff to do abounds! Good weather lasts through September and October, meaning outdoor activities are plentiful, while indoor no-cost entertainment continues through November and right into winter.

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Montréal sights and sounds

With city views, leafy forest paths and fresh air, a visit to Mount Royal is a must – stop by  Café suspendu du mont Royal every weekend throughout September and October for refreshing beverages and free activities including yoga and live music. Take the beautiful Promenade Fleuve-Montagne path, from the Mountain to the St. Lawrence River, featuring monuments, art installations and more along the way. Take a break in Montréal's parks and green spaces, including beautiful Parc La Fontaine in the Plateau and Parc Jean-Drapeau on Île Sainte-Hélène, where you'll also find the Stewart Museum, free for kids 12 and under, and Biosphère, Environment Museum, free for youth 17 and under. Peace and quiet also awaits in Montréal's many churches and sacred sites, from Old Montréal churches to Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal in Côte-des-Neiges. Or get loud as you cheer on the thousands of runners in the Oasis International Marathon de Montréal, from September 21 to 23, with headquarters in downtown's Quartier des spectacles, starting with a free Health and Fitness Expo and ending with a major outdoor concert.  And on the afternoon of October 27, get into the Halloween spirit with thousands of zombies at the annual Montréal Zombie Walk! Find all this and more at your fingertips with the free My Official Montréal City Guide, a travel app that lets you experience the city like a Montrealer.

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Market entertainment

Discover some of Montréal's liveliest neighbourhoods through live music, activities, food and drink throughout September and into October at ephemeral open-air market spaces Jardins Gamelin near the Village, the Old Port's Marché des Éclusiers and Les Jardineries on the Esplanade Financière Sun Life at Olympic Park. Montréal’s public markets, including Jean-Talon Market and Atwater Market, always make for colourful browsing – if the weather's agreeable, pick up something seasonal to eat and go for a picnic in the park. Get there and everywhere on transit, by foot or by bike – check out our guide to bike paths, bicycle rentals, Bixi and all things biking in Montréal.  

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Free music, dance and more

Alongside its ticketed shows, POP Montréal features all kinds of free programming, including outdoor shows, BBQs, panel discussions and Q&As with artists and music industry pros, activities for kids and more, September 26 to 30. Enjoy live music while eating delicious food during the First Fridays food truck event at Olympic Park on October 5 – the final one of the year! The Canadian International Organ Competition features free concerts on Sundays at Saint Joseph’s Oratory and the Grand Séminaire from October 7 to 30. The Montreal Bach Festival includes free concerts at Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal from November 4 to December 7. Mid-November’s M for Montréal music festival often features free afternoon showcases and more pop, electro and hip hop shows and events. World music festival and conference Mundial Montréal invites everyone to free afternoon shows too, November 13 to 16. The Arab World Festival of Montreal, from October 26 to November 11, showcases Arabic and Western culture and features several free events, from dance, film and art to live music. And expertly curated international film festivals Festival du nouveau cinéma (new films and cult classics, October 3 to 14), Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM) (documentary features and shorts, November 8 to 18) and CINEMANIA Francophone Film Festival (with English subtitles, November 1 to 11) bring hundreds of films along with directors and actors to Montréal and also offer a selection of performances, talks and parties with free entry.

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Outdoor art

Outdoor art lines the streets of Montréal in September and October. See the historic multimedia tableaux projections of Montréal en Histoires - Cité Memoire in Old Montréal. Check out pop-up outdoor exhibition Artch in downtown's Square Dorchester from September 27 to 30, featuring art by 21 emerging contemporary artists. Surfaces, l'expo d'art urbain features brilliant and colourful pieces by 16 artists on the Promenade des Artistes outside Place des Arts up to October 28. Artist Étienne Paquette's 28-foot-high Wind Instrument installation lets us create symphonic sounds outside Saint-Laurent metro station up to October 8. And see the McCord Museum's Montréal Storefronts photography exhibition along McGill College Avenue while the museum's Urban Forest hosts music and events next to the museum on Victoria Street (a visit of the museum itself is free for kids 12 and under). And spot Montréal's murals of Leonard Cohen on Crescent Street near the Sir Winston Churchill Pub and on Saint-Laurent Boulevard at Napoleon Street not far from Schwartz's.

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Galleries and museums

During Les Journées de la culture, from September 28 to 30, most of the city’s galleries, major museums and cultural spaces open their doors for free and offer activities for all ages, from workshops to concerts. Place des Arts's exhibition space hosts Arnait by Karine Giboulo, a tribute to the diversity and lifeforce of Inuit women. Galerie de l'UQAM and Cinémathèque québécoise co-launch cross-disciplinary exhibition and film program Uprisings, exploring themes of rebellion, revolt and revolution. The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts’ main collections are free to anyone 30 and under, as are weekend art workshops for families: see Resplendent Illuminations: Books of Hours from the 13th to the 16th Century in Quebec Collections and more this fall. The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal is free for kids 12 and under and half-price on Wednesday evenings – see German artist Julian Rosefeldt's 13-channel video installation Manifesto. Contemporary art foundation DHC/ART, in Old Montréal, presents Jasmina Cibic: Everything That You Desire and Nothing That You Fear, opening on October 25, a critical and immersive look at the production of national culture, drawing on the planning stages of Montréal's Expo 67. Explore fashion history in Barbie form at the free Barbie Expo. And go gallery hopping around the city: drop by the many galleries along the cobblestone streets of Old Montréal, such as Galerie Hugues Charbonneau and SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art and, and in the Belgo Building on Sainte-Catherine Street, and check out Parisian Laundry in Saint-Henri, Arsenal near Griffintown, Mile End galleries Centre CLARK, Dazibao and more, and Never Apart in Mile Ex.

Robyn Fadden

Robyn Fadden, blogger

Robyn Fadden is a Montréal-based writer and editor who searches out city secrets, new bands, life-changing art and things to do with her perpetually active kid. Robyn has covered major events for HOUR, MUTEK, ARTINFO, CKUT 90.3FM and more.

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