Get outside and play in Montréal this winter

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.

This article was updated on February 17, 2021.

When winter hits, Montréal doesn't stop throwing big street festivals and open-air events. From action sports and ice skating to outdoor activities electronic dance partiesthe city keeps playing all winter long.

Note: Due to current public health directives, some businesses and attractions may be temporarily closed or may have reduced hours or services. We recommend that you call or visit their websites to get the most up-to-date information. For more details on the current situation in Montréal, click here.

 

Snowy sights

One of the many free things to do this winter, annual outdoor art event Luminothérapie brightens downtown all winter until March 14: this year see 10 different artworks throughout the Quartier des spectacles, including the return of Loop, bright interactive zoetrope pods by Montréal designers Olivier Girouard, Jonathan Villeneuve and Ottoblix, and the inflatable shadow-theatre spheres of Lucion's Nouvelle Lune. From March 4 to March 28 comes winter festival MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE

Watch for new ways to have winter fun this season too, from creative “winter stations” in neighbourhoods to a historic snowshoeing trail in Parc Jean-Drapeau.

Skate, ski, snowshoe – and eat!

Ice skate 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.  Explore the sprawling wintery grounds of the Montréal Botanical Garden and try out the cross-country ski paths of Parc Maisonneuve next door. Escape across the river to Parc Jean-Drapeau, hosting a special program of winter activities this year, including new ice skating rink Patinoire Radio-Canada OHdio, cross-country ski trails, a historic snow shoeing trail and winding fat biking trails – if you don’t have your own equipment, rent it on site!

If you have your own equipment, go cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on the meandering trails of Parc Maisonneuve and Parc Jean-Drapeau. Take a day trip out of town 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.

Cold-weather party zone

We'll have to wait until winter 2022 to zip up your parka and dance outdoors at electronic music festival Igloofest on the Old Port's Jacques-Cartier pier – but this February and March, Igloofest goes virtual with party tunes from international and local producers, DJs, hip hop artists and more. Or try a new poutine created for Poutine Week, in early February.

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.

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