Get your nightlife on in Montréal
This article was updated on September 23, 2019.
Montréal may nap from time to time (usually after brunch) but it never sleeps – how could it, with all this going on? Whether you’re looking for quiet drinks with colleagues, a romantic night of dancing or a hot rager that lasts ‘til morning, here’s a guide to the wide range of good times in store once the sun sets.
Indie venues to hear live music
Want to catch the next Arcade Fire? Montréal is known for its show bars, where, for a few bucks (and often for free), you can hear indie acts any day of the week. There’s the famous Casa del Popolo and Sala Rossa in Mile End, Ritz P.D.B. in Mile-Ex and so many more. The Phi Centre is a cool offshoot in Old Montréal, with its next-level programming of both up-and-comers and huge stars of the indie scene.
Jazz clubs and lounges to stay low-key
The world famous Festival International de Jazz de Montréal isn’t the only time you can hear fantastic jazz and low-key music in the city. Whether you want to sip cocktails to the sound of someone tickling the ivories at Stash Café, or lose yourself to the jazzy rhythm at Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill, House of Jazz or one of the many others, you’re sure to find your bliss!
Classy hideaways to combine drinks and dinner
To take your sweet pea out on a tête-à-tête, to discuss a new project with business partners or to just take a load off after a packed day of shopping… sometimes what you need is a classy, muted chill-out zone to refuel. You’ll find that as well as delicious drinks and food at these great hotels.
Wine bars to raise a glass to
In a city whose heart belongs to France, it’s no surprise that there are fantastic wine bars peppered all over the downtown core: Philémon Bar, Accords le Bistro and Le Vin Papillon, just to name a few. If you’ve also got an appetite, pick one of these, as renowned for their eats and for their vintages.
Brewpubs to write home about
Craft brewing fans will find plenty to celebrate in La Belle Ville, with brewpubs producing impeccable, creative ales and lagers all over the city. Some you won’t want to miss include the stylish Brasserie Harricana, HELM microbrasserie sur Bernard and Station Ho.st, the cosy Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! and Le Cheval Blanc, and the lively BENELUX brewpub, Vices & Versa and Brutopia, brasseur artisan.
Sport bars to watch the game
Second only to the thrill of seeing the Canadiens, the Alouettes, the Montréal Impact, FIFA or Formula 1 live, watching sports live in a bar filled with co-revellers and deep-fried everything is its own type of awesome. Montréal has got great places to cheer on your team while drinking cheap pitchers, including Fabuleux Chez Serge, Champs, the La Cage Brasserie Sportive chain – and many more.
Great terrasses to bask in the heat
There’s one thing Montrealers never squander, and that’s warm days outdoors. Every spring, bars, restaurants and cafés city-wide as much as double their space by spreading out outside, on rooftops, sidewalks and backyard decks. The result: Montréal’s famous terrasses, all wondrous places to tipple the evening away.
Hot spots to catch world-class DJs
It’s the birthplace of MUTEK, the home of the SAT and the site of an annual city-wide celebration of digital culture: Montréal is definitely an international hot spot for EDM. From New City Gas to Stereo, there’s a slew of amazing places to dance to the beat at regular weekly DJ nights.
Caliente clubs to go dancing
Of course, you may dance to a different beat: salsa or tango, anyone? Let your twinkle-toes twirl at any one of these happening danceries, with or without partner. If you want to learn, you’re at the right place – you can dance, whatever your level, at clubs like Club 649 and Copacabana. And if you’re more of a wallflower who enjoys watching others as you chat and sip on the sidelines, feel free!
Supper clubs to get the full meal deal
Nothing says “date” like a place that combines dinner and a show and/or dance party in a single location. Montréal has quite a scene of supper clubs, thanks to venues like Time Supper Club and Balcon Cabaret Music-Hall. For real Vegas-style entertainment, look no further than the Casino de Montréal: in addition to the world-class restaurants and bars, there are shows and libations at the Cabaret, including burlesque, comedy and music.
Pubs and whiskey bars to clink pints
For a true classic pub atmosphere, complete with shiny brass knobs, dark wood stools and green-leather booths, look no further than Montréal’s downtown core. There are a number of Irish, British and Scottish-style pubs to choose from, including McKibbin’s Irish Pub and Ye Olde Orchard. For a whiskey bar not to be missed, hop over to the Quartier Latin for rare whiskey specialists L’Île Noire Pub.
Drag events to get snatched for
RuPaul who? Montréal has a vibrant drag scene that’s been cranking out legendary drag artists for decades. Dive in at Cabaret Mado, one of the busiest nightclubs in the Village and a great place to spot celebrities and drag queens. Bar Le Cocktail has nightly drag shows by many of the best drag performers in the city. The biggest gay club in Canada, Complexe Sky, presents its weekly FlashQueen! drag show on Thursday nights. A show bar since 1895, Café Cléopatra presents drag performances in its second-floor show bar. Montréal’s top burlesque nightclub, The Wiggle Room, hosts regular drag shows too, and other drag nights of note are Crystal Palace: Queens & Comedy and Les Jeudis 3D on Thursday nights at District Video Lounge.
Winter parties to warm up quick
The snowy season is just an excuse to get outdoors in this party town! Igloofest, the self-described “coldest music festival in the world,” draws tens of thousands to Montréal every winter to party under the stars to a line-up of international DJs spinning the best in electronic music. There’s even a coolest-snowsuit competition. MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE warms February up with world-class food and wine PLUS live music, outdoor performances and dazzling art and light installations right in the heart of downtown Montréal. Other winter festivals including the family-friendly BARBEGAZI and Fête des neiges de Montréal have outdoor live music too.
Isa Tousignant, blogger
Isa Tousignant is an art and lifestyle writer based out of Montréal’s eclectic Park Ex neighbourhood. She is Contributing Editor for Canadian Art magazine and freelances full-time for a wide variety of magazines and brands. She’s also a jewellery designer and passionate about animal costumes and their role in contemporary art.