Free things to do this spring in Montréal

Leisure activities Spring The city
Robyn Fadden

Robyn Fadden

There’s always something going on in Montréal in the spring, whether on a cool April day or a warm June night. With incredible art and culture, outdoor fun and so much more, we’ve got you covered for free things to do in Montréal – with friends, the kids or on your own – from the first day of spring to the last.

Free outdoor activities

Go for a scenic walk along the Old Port of Montréal boardwalk next to the St. Lawrence River with views of the city, the iconic Habitat 67 and the Biosphère. Continue on through Old Montréal, where you can peruse a map or restaurant reviews online via the free MTLWiFi network and see some of Montréal's many works of public art. By night starting at dusk, Fridays and Saturdays, look for the history-illuminating tableaux video projections of Cité Mémoire. You can take a leisurely stroll through Chinatown's narrow streets, which are lined with stores and steeped in history.

In the Quartier des Spectacles in the heart of downtown, there are well over 100 free activities, exhibitions and experiences planned for the spring months. From immersive VR classical music experience, to compelling photo exhibits, revealing audio tours, interactive art installations, mesmerizing video projections, innovative theatre and dance, and a whole range of live music offerings ranging from roving buskers up to grandiose concert hall performances, the Quartier des Spectacles has something for everyone… and then some. Check out the schedule.

A stroll up Saint-Laurent Boulevard at any time is colourful, but even more so in mid-June. At the MURAL Urban Art Festival, from June 6 to 16, you can watch artists paint new works on buildings’ walls and catch live music on outdoor stages. Downtown gets into the Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada mood with free events and live music and DJs from June 7 to 9.

And don't miss Montréal's towering murals of Leonard Cohen on Crescent Street near the Sir Winston Churchill Pub Complex and on Saint-Laurent Boulevard at Napoleon Street around the corner from the famous Schwartz's deli. Go to the top of Mount Royal for spectacular views of the city, stroll around the fountain and picnickers in Parc La Fontaine, and escape the city entirely in beautiful Parc Jean-Drapeau, where cyclists can ride around the pro Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve race track, home of the F1 Grand Prix, at no cost.


MU, Ville-Marie, ElMac Gene Pendon, 2017
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Free museums and more

And throughout the month of May, visit as many museums as you can during Montréal Museums Month. The city’s museums feature free activities like museum tours and workshops for all ages. Among the museums to visit this spring, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts offers access to all exhibitions and collections free on the first Sunday of the month, and is always free for people 20 years and under (people between 21 and 30 receive a special rate of admission).

Entry is free for kids 12 and under at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (currently at Place Ville Marie), the McCord Stewart Museum of Montréal social history, the Canadian Centre for Architecture and more. Be sure to book your tickets in advance!

The Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival returns with a full schedule of readings, workshops, discussions, children’s programming and more from April 25 to 28, including several free events in person and online. The Eureka! Festival celebrates science in all its forms, and families can take part in all kinds of science and environmental activities from May 24 to 26 at Parc Jean-Drapeau. 


Free performances

Starting in mid-May, watch for live performances, music, karaoke, yoga and more entertainment, plus great food and drink, at the Jardins Gamelin outside Berri-UQAM metro station downtown. See world-class dance and theatre at the Festival TransAmériques, in theatres and at outdoor performances from May 22 to June 5, while even more boundary-pushing emerging artists perform at the OFFTA, from May 24 to June 2.

Also in early June, take in all kinds of DIY theatre, dance, comedy, magic and circus shows at the Montréal Fringe Festival, May 27 to June 16, including several free performances with live music and drag queens at the Fringe Park on Saint-Laurent Boulevard.


Jardins Gamelin
Art Souterrain -

Free music

Look for a diversity of free music festival events this spring as well. Festival Accès Asie features several free performances and events exploring the cultural richness of Canadians of Asian origins, annually in May. Japanese cultural festival Japan Week, from May 6 to 12, and street food festival YATAI MTL, from June 6 to 9, return with restaurant and boutique specialties as well as art and free performances. Check out classical music and jazz recitals for free as the school year winds down at McGill’s Schulich School of Music.

One of the world's biggest Francophone music festivals, Francos de Montréal, celebrates French song with over 250 shows on several stages in Place des Festivals from June 14 to 22. The Montréal Chamber Music Festival presents an array of chamber music and jazz performances, including some free lunchtime concerts from June 13 to 23 – be sure to book tickets in advance. And spread out a picnic blanket along the historic Lachine Canal while talented local and visiting musicians play folk, rock, pop and more live outdoors in the sun at the Festival on the Canal from June 14 to 16.


Free art

Put a spring in your step by following Art Public Montréal’s itineraries for art-focused walking tours, from larger-than-life sculptures in Old Montréal to multi-storey murals. In April, follow the Art Souterrain Festival route through the Underground City to see new artwork by over 50 artists from around the world. Explore the walkways and tunnels on your own, or take a guided tour. Until April 7.

New art from across Canada comes to the Plural Contemporary Art Fair on the  Grand Quai du Port de Montréal from April 12 to 14.  Tickets are required, but if you’re bringing kids 12 and under, their tickets are free! Experience art experiments, culinary activities, social activism and more at Cuisine ta Ville in Place des Festivals annually in May. And the Montréal Comic Arts Festival brings Québec artists and their art to Saint-Denis Street between Gilford and Roy, with free activities for all ages, from May 24 to 26.


Fonderie Darling

Free galleries

Make a visit to the PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art a priority when in Old Montréal to see expertly curated solo and group exhibitions of contemporary art by acclaimed international and local artists. Nearby, step into new worlds of creative art and virtual reality at the Phi Centre to see multi-artist exhibitions. For both, book your visit in advance. Discover more galleries and artist-run centres by gallery-hopping throughout the city, including five floors of art in downtown’s Belgo building (home to the SBC Gallery of Contemporary ArtGalerie Hugues CharbonneauSKOL and more.)

Visit downtown’s Leonard & Bina Ellen Art GalleryGalerie de l'UQAM and VOX, as well as Saint-Henri’s Bradley Ertaskiran, Griffintown's Arsenal and Blouin-Division, Old Montréal's Galerie MXFonderie Darling (by donation) and L'Affichiste. In the Plateau and Mile End, go to OboroGalerie Simon BlaisCentre ClarkDazibao and Optica, and Little Italy/Mile-Ex’s Never ApartGalerie Yves Laroche, and Eastern Bloc. And discover even more while antiquing in the city.

Robyn Fadden

Robyn Fadden

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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