Go for gold at Montréal's Olympic Park
Since its construction for the 1976 Summer Olympic Games, Montréal's Olympic Park has transformed from a historical site into an international hub for major sports and cultural events – not to mention its 80-kilometre views in every direction.
360° city views
One of Montréal's most famous icons and one of the best places to see Montréal from above, the Montréal Tower stretches 165 metres (541 feet) towards the sky at a 45-degree angle, making it the world's tallest inclined tower. Ride the glass elevator – big enough to be called a “funicular,” in fact – to the Observatory at the top to see incredible panoramic views of the city, Mount Royal and the Saint Lawrence River. Glimpse local history while there too: the Since 1976 exhibition features artefacts, photos, video archives and interactive digital content about how the stadium and tower were designed and built and how they forever changed the landscape of the city.
Designed by French architect Roger Taillibert as the Summer Olympic's main venue, the Olympic Stadium was made to be spectacularly massive. Known by locals as “The Big O” – named for both the Olympics and the circular shape of its bright white roof – the stadium and the adjacent Olympic Park Sports Centre host major events, from Toronto Blue Jays MLB games and spring training, FINA World Diving Series and special Montréal Impact Major League Soccer games to trade shows, rock concerts and monster truck rallies. The Sports Centre also features brightly lit, regulation-sized Olympic pools open daily to the public. Save on your entrance to the Tower and guided stadium tours with Passeport MTL, which also includes entrance to the nearby Space for Life's Botanical Garden, Insectarium and Planetarium.
Season to season
Outside the stadium's doors, you'll find the Esplanade Financière Sun Life, a huge outdoor space that hosted the medal ceremonies at the Olympics. Now it's a hotbed of year-round activities. On the first Friday of every month from May through October, eat great food in the open air at First Fridays, featuring 50 of the city's gourmet food trucks, music and family-frindly activities on the colourful Esplanade terrace. From June to October, explore the eco-responsible flower and vegetable gardens of Les Jardineries, enjoy a woodfire pizza and a drink, see a band and even learn to salsa every Sunday night at Fiesta Olympica on the illuminated terrace. And on August 29 at 8 p.m., go on an epic orchestral adventure as Kent Nagano and l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal perform a free concert of Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, accompanied by the acrobatic circus acts of Cirque Éloize.
Outdoor sports action
If you're into action sports, JACKALOPE has you covered in mid-August, with competitions by star athletes, demos and lessons in skateboarding, base jumping, rock climbing, fixed gear cycling, slackline and more for all ages – a bonus: kids 10 years and under get in to Jackalope for free. Its winter equivalent happens in January with Barbegazi, featuring snowskating, a fatbike contest, a winter obstacle race and more.
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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