Get outside and play in Montréal this winter

Mount Royal Park - Kondiaronk lookout
Robyn Fadden

Robyn Fadden

This article was updated on March 1st, 2024.

When winter hits, Montréal doesn't stop offering amazing outdoor activities and entertainment. From ice skating and sledding to cultural festivals and interactive art, the city keeps playing all winter long.

M.A.D. collectif (Sensation Mode) - Cercle Polaire

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 early March, featuring interactive illuminated art in Place des Festivals and along Saint-Catherine Street downtown, including the flowering 33-foot-high Astera and futuristic video projection artwork Gravitation. Meanwhile at Esplanade Tranquille, ice skate by night among the lights of Au Bord du Lac Tranquille, an interactive experience that lets you paint a trail of colourful light behind you as you skate. Come experience an awe-inducing art installation at the foot of the Place Ville Marie Ring that spotlights the Polar Circle, an art installation, made in collaboration with Cree artist Jason Carter and M.A.D. collective, that is inspired by the aesthetics of the First Nations.

In December, the city glows with holiday charm. Among the many activities, enjoy outdoor performances, activities, hot chocolate and more fun at The Great Christmas Market outside Place des Arts. Enjoy live music, festive lights, hot chocolate and more at Christmas in the Park at Jardins Gamelin downtown and in Parc des Compagnons and Parc Lahaie in the Plateau neighbourhood.

After the holidays, every weekend from January 18 to February 10, 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 22 to March 10, 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 that happens near the end of the festival has an array of activities.

Mont Royal Avenue glitters this month too with the return of free holiday events 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 16 and 17 – 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. 

And at winter’s end in March, experience an authentic Québécois winter lumberjack village in the middle of the city with the music, food and fun of Cabane Panache et Bois Rond.


Old Port of Montréal ice skating rink

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 MaisonneuveParc Jean-DrapeauFrédéric-Back Park, and Parc AngrignonTake a day trip to go downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at Station touristique 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. 



Renting winter equipment has never been this easy!

If you're visiting Montréal and don't have the necessary equipment to enjoy winter sports, fear not! LOCAPAQ is an agency that specializes in outdoor and winter sports equipment rental. They also organize winter camping trips throughout the year, ranging from day trips to 5-day excursions, to help adventurers discover the treasures of Québec.

Poubelle du Ski is another great option for renting equipment, offering a wide range of new and used sports equipment and services, including cross-country ski gear, ice skates, hockey gear for men and women, helmets, gloves, snowboards, and more. They also offer equipment rental options for children that can be exchanged as they grow throughout the year.

Tuque et Bicycles Experiences provides a delivery service, allowing you to receive your clothing directly in Montréal or other destinations in Québec. Avoid cluttering your luggage with bulky clothing and be sure to be properly equipped to face the Montréal cold!

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.

See articles by Robyn