Free things to do this fall in Montréal

Robyn Fadden

Montréal in the fall is a beautiful sight – autumnal free stuff to do and see abounds! Good weather usually lasts through September and October, meaning outdoor activities are plentiful, but Montréal’s got even more no-cost entertainment in store right through November.

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Montréal celebrates

Join Montréal's 375th anniversary celebrations in the Quartier des Spectacles with the local artistry of interactive public art exhibition KM3, walk along Sherbrooke Street in the Golden Square Mile to see La Balade pour la Paix: An Open-Air Museum, see the historic tableaux projections of Cité Memoire in Old Montréal, stop into Notre-Dame Basilica to see multimedia wonder AURA, and see Montréal's churches in person or in photography exhibition Vivre ensemble : Patrimoine religieux at City Hall. Discover the Plateau neighbourhood through the comic art of Paul à Montréal. Visit the vibrant Viaduc 375 project in Mile End, October 2-9, to learn more about the area's history and culture. Walk with locals in La Grande Marche de Montréal on October 22, ending with live music at Place des Festivals – also where Halloween starts early with ghoulish shows and more October 27-29.

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Parks and markets

Discover some of Montréal's liveliest neighbourhoods through food, music and socializing at Les Jardins Gamelin downtown and Les Jardineries on the Olympic Stadium esplanade, as well as at Montréal’s public markets, including Jean Talon Market, Atwater Market and the Old Port's Marché des Éclusiers, where you'll in-season fruit and vegetables, meats and cheese and all manner of pies – if the weather's agreeable, go for a picnic in the park. Nature abounds in the city at Mount Royal Park – see all of downtown and the Saint Lawrence River from the lookout – as well as at 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. And if you’ve got your own bike, borrow a friend’s or rent one, check out our guide to bike paths, bicycle Rentals, Bixi and all things biking in Montréal.  

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Art inspires

Among Montréal's many must-see fall art exhibitions, multi-venue exhibition Momenta Biennale de l’image explores concepts of reality in photography, with art and events to October 15 at Galerie de l’UQAM, VOX, Artexte and other galleries without an entry fee, as well as ticketed shows at McCord Museum, Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal and the Montreal Museum of Fine-Arts – the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts main collections are free to anyone 30 and under and to everyone on the last Sunday of each month, the Musée d’art contemporain is free to kids 12 and under and half-price on Wednesday evenings, and the McCord is free for kids 12 and under and free to all on Wednesday evenings. If you're here during the 21st anniversary of Les journées de la culture, Sept. 29-30 and Oct. 1, the city’s galleries, museums and cultural spaces open their doors for free and offer activities for all ages, from workshops to concerts. DHC-ART in Old Montréal celebrates its 10th anniversary with multi-artist show L'OFFRE and presents  Path of Resilience, a public art project of work by Maria Hupfield, Nadia Myre and Skawennati along Promenade urbaine Fleuve-Montagne. Travel back in local time to Expo 67 in free exhibitions Expo 67: Place aux arts at Place des Arts and the photographs of Expo 67: The Place to Be along McGill College Avenue. Or see Barbie throughout the years in all her high-fashion glory at the free Barbie Expo.

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On-screen immersion

Try a high-tech VR headset on for size to explore the Virtual Reality Garden and Lucid Realities exhibitions at the Phi Centre. Urban art festival Chromatic presents Michel Gondry’s Home Movie Factory – free start-to-finish 3-hour film workshops open to anyone until October 15. And while the expertly curated film festivals Festival du nouveau cinéma (October 4-15), RIDM documentary festival (November 9-19) and Cinemania (November 2-12) focus on hundreds of film screenings from Canada and around the world, they also offers a selection of performances, talks and parties with free entry.

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Free music and more

Enjoy live music while eating delicious food during the First Fridays food truck event at Olympic Park on Oct. 6 – the final one of the year! The Canadian International Organ Competition features free concerts in October, while the Bach Festival, includes free concerts at Saint Joseph’s Oratory and historic churches, Nov. 17 to Dec. 3. Mid-November’s M for Montréal music festival often features free afternoon showcases and more pop, electro and hip hop shows and and events. The Arab World Festival of Montreal, Oct. 27-Nov. 12, showcases Arabic and Western culture and features several free events, from film and art to live music.

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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