Halloween tricks and treats in Montréal!
Perhaps it’s Montréal’s close connection to the past, the streets of the old city crowded with ghosts, or just the city’s love of a good themed party. Either way, Montréal celebrates Halloween like few other cities. From family activities including the littlest of ghouls to thrills and chills of a more grown-up sort, Montréal truly comes alive – or is it undead? – on Halloween.
La Trouble-Fête for Montréal’s 375th
Montréal’s 375th anniversary takes a spooky turn on the weekend of October 27 to 29. Check out what's in store for you at Place des Festivals for this major Halloween happening here.
Creepy and Kooky Family Adventures
Montréal’s Botanical Gardens (at the mammoth Space for Life, alongside the Biôdome, Insectarium and Planetarium) plays host to the good witch Esmerelda, a specialist in squash and pumpkins who will teach little ones all about the wonders of the gourd family. This pumpkin patch runs daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. right up to Halloween night.
After a round of colouring, pumpkin-decorating, and potion-making, don’t forget to set your little monsters free on the Little Monsters Courtyard playground, then ooh-and-aah together at the family-friendly Gardens of Light. Transforming the Botanical Gardens with an eye-popping symphony of lanterns from Chinese, Japanese, and First Nations cultures, it’s an annual local favourite. For those after more a more visceral scare, the Insectarium gets in on the fun with Tricky Spiders, putting you up close with a bevy of eight-legged friends.
The underground archaeological twists and turns of the Pointe-à-Callière historical museum hold many of Montréal’s secrets, and on October 21-22 and 28-29 the apparition of Irishman stuck in purgatory Jack O’Lantern will tour kiddies of all ages through the history of Halloween.
The Stewart Museum presents Where are the Intruders?, shrouding its History and Memory exhibition in darkness and inviting families in costume to explore the nooks and crannies by flashlight in search of Halloween creatures. Storyteller Renée Robitaille will also be on hand to tell tales for the bravehearted, with treats on hand to soothe the nerves. Get ready for this ultimate game of hide and seek on October 28 and 29, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Depending on your countenance, wax museums might always be a bit scary. But this Halloween season Musée Grévin Montréal is amping up the heebie-jeebies with special daytime entertainment throughout the museum on October 27-29. The nights of October 28-29 get even scarier as evening hours extend until 11 p.m. And did we mention it’s lights out from 7 p.m. onwards? Brrrr.
Montréal’s railway museum Exporail offers the light-hearted Railway Ghosts October 13-29, featuring their trains and transport vehicles decorated in Halloween flavours. Watch out for ghosts, scarecrows, and other creepy-crawlies!
The trio of tours offered by Haunted Montréal Ghost Tours get even scarier on All Hallow’s Eve. Take a walk with experienced guides and ghost researchers as you explore the Haunted Mountain, Haunted Griffintown, or Haunted Downtown. Who knows what awaits you around the next corner?
Meet some more local phantoms and learn the history of Old Montréal by following the trail of Cité Mémoire, an interactive series of light shows and projections that’s suitably ghostly for Halloween season. Rumours abound that the Château Ramezay itself is haunted, so keep your eyes sharp when passing by one of the city’s most historic locales.
Mysterious and Spooky Grown-up Fun
If towering heights strikes fear in your heart, grab a mask and take the elevator to the uppermost floor to Au Sommet Place Ville-Marie’s Masked Ball on October 28. Dance the night away atop Montréal’s highest viewpoint without getting too close to the windows. Tickets and info available here. (For those who want a bit of speed with their heights, the MTL Zipline flies over the Old Port until October 15).
La Ronde’s annual Fright Fest extravaganza runs select days September 30 to October 29 (schedule here), with a full-on horror infestation takeover of the park. Besides old favourites Le Vampire, Le Démon, and Le Monstre (the world’s tallest two-track wooden rollercoaster), specially constructed haunted houses and Scare Zones ensure no inch of the park is safe. Take a run through Zombie Camp or hope for the best warding off Maison Rouge’s troupe of twisted clowns. And if those aren’t bad enough, keep your ears alert for the Chainsaw Guys – once you hear them, it’s best to run at top speed in the opposite direction.
If you’d rather be a zombie than just run away from them, join the over 10,000 undead on the annual Montréal Zombie Walk taking place on October 28. Shuffle and groan your way through the Quartier des Spectacles, and perfect your looks with special makeup artists on-hand to assist with those last minute beyond the grave touches.
Fans of The Rocky Horror Picture Show will love the yearly Rocky Horror Halloween Ball at the gorgeous vaudeville theatre The Imperial. Go as your favourite characters and interact along with the beloved film.
The Malefycia Festival returns for its third incarnation of altering local spaces into houses of horror, this year at Clinik Angus. Prepare for a gory night where nothing is sacred. This 18+ experience features 23 actors and a terrifying real-world clinic setting, and comes with a highly advised suggestion to wear comfortable clothes that won’t hinder one’s way through the space. You never know when you’ll need to run out screaming.
Old Montréal’s gourmet La Champagnerie mutates into a frightful Halloween Circus on October 28, featuring a cast of big top characters, sound installations, and performances from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. A specially brewed cocktail rimmed with confetti will be on offer, along with those beloved circus treats candied apples and cotton candy.
The three floors of Sir Winston Churchill Pub Complex will play host to a costume party with $5,000 in prizes. With a trio of bars to suit any taste, it’s an easy walk up or down when you want a change of scene.
Secret Montréal’s series of Hidden History of the Red Light tours expand throughout October with Ghosts of the Red Light District. Twisting through the back alleys, theatrical backstages, and crime scenes from the Quartier des spectacles’ past life as Montréal’s very own Sin City, a night of horror awaits.
Dive into Old Montréal’s darkest past as murderers, witches, and sordid characters await you throughout the cobblestone streets. A ghost tour unlike any other, Montréal Ghosts brings you face-to-face with pieces of history impossible to forget.
And for those who like things a little more devilish, Cirque de Boudoir takes over the Paradoxe Theatre on October 28 with Crucifixion. One of the year’s hottest nights on the calendar for Montréal’s kink community, there’s few SFW words to describe the Halloween treats that await inside.
Mark Hamilton, blogger, Queer MTL community manager
Male, mid-to-late 30s, tall and bearded. Likes romantic walks on Mont Royal, long-distance cycling, beard oil products and antique travel guides. Has a bad habit of falling in love with men in vintage photographs who are certainly long dead. If he could be anything, he’d live his life as a professional flâneur. Until then, he spends his time writing, making music, and wandering.