Free things to do this winter in Montréal

Robyn Fadden

Montréal embraces winter weather with free outdoor and indoor entertainment, seasonal activities, art events and more filling the calendar from January into March. 

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Winter wonders

Make music while playing on the brightly lit seesaws of this year’s Luminothérapie interactive-art playground at Place des Festivals, Nov. 30 to Jan. 28. In Old Montréal, watch for the historic tableaux projections of Cité Memoire. And every weekend Jan. 20 to Feb. 11, play in the snow, ice skate, go snow tubing, ride the ferris wheel and so much more at family-oriented Fête des Neiges, set for fun at Parc Jean-Drapeau. Dont forget to visit Montréal's major parksParc La Fontaine, Mount-Royal Park and Jarry Park – to go ice skating, snowshoeing, sledding or just for a snowy stroll.


Party town

The city's signature winter festival MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE makes February feel more than fine with gourmet food and wine, creative cocktails, fascinating art and live music at great venues and on outdoor stages – also check out the Ferris wheel, ice slides, light-up curling, the ILLUMINART projections and epic all-nighter Nuit Blanche that closes out the festival. Play video and board games for free in a fun atmosphere during Montréal Joue, Feb. 24 to March 11. And by mid-March, winter’s still in the air for the St-Patrick’s Day Parade – pull on a green toque and join the crowds downtown on March 18!


Museums & culture

Montréal celebrates Leonard Cohen with incredible murals of the legendary musician and writer on Crescent Street near the Sir Winston Churchill Pub and on Saint-Laurent Boulevard at Napoleon Street not far from Schwartz's, along with international exhibition Leonard Cohen – A Crack in Everything at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal – entry is free for kids 12 and under and half price on Wednesday evenings. Entry to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts' permanent collections is always free for people 30 and under. Many Montréal museums offer free entry to kids 12 and under, including at the Stewart Museum where Santas are taking over the museum to January 7 (entry is only $5 for anyone 13 and older) and at the McCord Museum's Topsy-Turvy Storyland and Illusions: The Art of Magic exhibitions. In late February, Pointe-à-Callière history and archaeology museum presents its annual outdoor Port Symphonies of boat, train and other unexpected instrumentation. Barbie fans can see her through the decades at the free Barbie Expo. Film festival Rendez-vous Cinema Quebecois starts in mid-February, and while you’ll need tickets for most screenings, free talks and parties are open to all. Throughout February, Black History Month presents art exhibitions, talks, performances and other events, some free of charge.


Art gallery afternoons

Dress for the weather and follow Art Public Montréal’s itineraries for art-focused walking tours. Indoors in February, follow the Art Souterrain route through the Underground City to see close to 100 contemporary art projects and activities. Make a visit to DHC/ART a priority when in Old Montréal – see the foundation's 10th anniversary multi-artist show The Gift and a solo exhibition of work by acclaimed artist Bill Viola. Discover more commercial galleries and artist-run centres throughout the city, including five floors of art in downtown’s Belgo Building (home to SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art, Galerie Donald Browne, SKOL, Galerie Dominique Bouffard, Projet Pangée, Les Territoires, Visual Voice and more), and at downtown's Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery and Fresh Paint Gallery, as well as at St-Henri’s Parisian Laundry, Griffintown's Arsenal and Division, Old Montréal's Galerie MX, Galerie Bloom, Matthew Namour Gallery, Darling Foundry (by donation) and L'Affichiste Vintage Poster Gallery, Mile End’s Galerie Simon Blais, Centre Clark, Optica and Monastiraki, and Little Italy/Mile-Ex’s Never Apart, Galerie Yves Laroche, Battat Contemporary and Eastern Bloc. Wherever you look, there’s something entertaining and easy on the wallet in Montréal.

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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