Snowy sights and festival fun
One of the many free things to do this winter, annual outdoor art event Luminothérapie brightens downtown all winter until late-February, featuring interactive illuminated art like giant seesaws, a field of “wheat” and a huge audiovisual whale installation, plus joyful new projection artwork Adventures of the Night on the façade of the Grande Bibliothèque.
In December, the city glows with holiday charm. Among the many activities, enjoy outdoor performances, activities, hot chocolate and more fun at the Village de Noël de Montréal outside Place des Arts. Every weekend from January 11 to February 11, dance in the snow at outdoor electronic music festival Igloofest, transforming Quay Jacques-Cartier in the Old Port of Montréal into a winter party zone.
From February 16 to March 5 comes winter festival MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE, an arts, culture and food event that spans restaurants, indoor stages and a sprawling outdoor site with food, drink, live music, a Ferris wheel, kids activity area and luminous artworks throughout the Quartier des spectacles. Epic all-nighter arts and culture event Nuit Blanche closes out the festival with an array of activities.
Mont Royal Avenue glitters this month too with the return of free holiday concerts and family activities along the avenue, also known as a great place to go gift shopping! In the Rosemont neighbourhood, visit Santa in his winter cabin and sip free hot chocolate and cider around a massive Christmas tree at Le Chalet du Père Noël sur la Promenade Masson on December 10 and 11 – and shop for locally made gifts (with a chance to win prizes!) along the promenade.
All season, walk (or drive or take the bus) to the summit of Mount Royal Park to see an iconic city view and discover the park while sledding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Visit the Montréal Botanical Garden for winter walks through the snowy grounds or a tropical greenhouse stroll.
Skate, ski, snowshoe – and eat!
Whether you’re in Montréal on a romantic winter holiday, visiting as an active family or on an adventurous solo winter trip, try ice skating to music next to the St. Lawrence River on the Old Port of Montréal ice skating rink, on the softly lit tree-lined pond in Parc La Fontaine and near the peak of Mount Royal Park at Beaver Lake, where you can also go cross-country skiing or on an expert-led snowshoeing tour along the park's trails. Bring your own skates or rent skates and other winter sports equipment on site. Or comfortably hit the ice indoors at fully-equipped Atrium Le 1000, next to a food court, malls and more downtown amenities.
Escape across the river to Parc Jean-Drapeau, where you can skate along a 500-metre ice trail, go sliding on the Espace 67 hill, explore the park’s cross-country ski and snowshoeing trails, and even try out fat biking – if you don’t have your own equipment, rent it on site!
If you have your own skis, go cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on the meandering trails of the city’s large parks, including Parc Maisonneuve, Parc Jean-Drapeau, Frédéric-Back Park, and Parc Angrignon. Take a day trip to go downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at Centre de villégiature Tremblant and other mountains in the Laurentians, the Eastern Townships, the Montérégie or in the Lanaudière region.
Whether you’re in the city or the countryside be sure to partake in a real Québécois tradition: the sugar shack (or cabane à sucre), where from late February to early April you can eat sausages, pancakes, tourtière and so much more until you’re full, and even go for a horse-drawn sled ride through the snowy maple woods.