How to Spend a (Summer) Long Weekend in Montréal
While each season in Montréal has impressive offerings, there’s something special about visiting the city in summertime. Montrealers love being outside, and their typically-friendly dispositions are extra warm. You might say there is “un petit quelque chose” (a little something) in the air.
Make the most of Montréal's sunny days and warm nights with a gamut of outdoor concerts, high-flying circus performances, spectacular firework displays, parades of pride, fashion fiestas and many more free activities. Enjoy!
Join the Festivities
Montréal is a city of festivals. The roster of these celebrations unfolds throughout the year, but at no point is the calendar more packed than summer. Literally every weekend has something to offer.
MURAL. A public art festival that celebrates the democratization of urban art. Local and international artists unite their talents in the most creative manners. Sides of buildings become large-scale canvases. Mid June.
Festival International de Jazz de Montréal. An event that, for over 35 years, has transformed the city into an international gathering place for lovers of all music: 1000 concerts at 15 indoor and some 10 outdoor venues. Late June – mid July.
MONTRÉAL COMPLÈTEMENT CiRQUE. For anyone who has dreamed of running away to join the circus. The festival welcomes little ones or grown-ups in search of surprises and whimsicality. Early July.
Just for Laughs. The world’s best comedy festival. That’s right, we said it. Most of July.
Osheaga. Hipsters unite and be hip! Dedicated to music and the visual arts, the festival is designed to showcase local and national emerging talents alongside some of the biggest names in the industry. Early August.
Montréal Pride. Our colourful annual celebration of sexual diversity. Like a sweet kiss, but with a dash of French — hon hon hon! Mid August.
Fashion & Design Festival. A fashion celebration that includes runway shows, live creative sessions, design showcasing and musical performances. Nearly too sexy for this list. Late August.
L'International des Feux Loto-Québec. What’s great about this festival (apart from the technicolor explosions in the sky) is that it takes place each Wednesday and Saturday throughout the summer. So, no matter which summer dates you choose, you’re likely to be able to enjoy the fireworks!
Grab a Cool Cocktail
When a pint seems too basic and a bottle of wine lacks that inventive flair, Montréal’s cocktail bars hit the perfect note. From classics harkening to the Rat Pack to avant-garde mixology magic that reinvents the craft, we’ve got it all! All that’s left to do is choose your spot.
Fill Your Belly
Montréal loves its street food, and the largest gathering of food trucks in Canada takes place the first Friday of each summer month. Nothing says summer more than eating frozen desserts, and Montréal has no shortage of delicious ice cream options. To step back into days of yesteryear, check out these classic Montréal restaurants. Finally, get thyself to a public market to sample all the local flavours of the Québec region.
Shows, Shows, and More Shows
The best place to start to see live music, theatre and other entertainment? The unparalleled Vitrine, the cultural hub right in Montréal’s downtown core, where all the shows and happenings are listed and tickets can be purchased. It’s right next to the Place des Arts, home to the city’s ballet scene, opera, classical music performances and more, as well as the Musée d’art contemporain and outdoor performances on the Place des Festivals year round.
The best way to remember Montréal is through the makings of its artists and artisans, which you’ll find in spades at these cool (no, really) souvenir shops. Otherwise, fashion mavens will find their bliss in Old Montréal, in Mile End, on the Plateau and on Laurier West, while big-brand lovers will love the downtown core. Rainy day? The Underground City is a great option to stay dry while still seeing many local landmarks.
Hit New Highs
Get a stunning view of the city from the freshly inaugurated landmark to end all landmarks: the Grande Roue de Montréal, a giant Ferris wheel in the heart of the Old Port. Ready your cameras. For the best lighting, go shortly before the sun sets. Tip: If you wish to skip the line, treat yourself to the Fast Pass option.
Two iconic Montréal events take place each Sunday. At the base of Mount Royal, Tam-tams is a weekly rhythmic gathering: drummers, dancers, vendors and a few thousand people relaxing on blankets. The vibe is chill. Be sure to check out the LARP’ers (live action role play) who use large foam swords to re-enact medieval-style battles. It’s oddly charming.
Located in an urban park just 10 minutes from downtown, Montréal’s weekly electronic music party, Piknic Électronik, offers the perfect opportunity to shake your groove thang while enjoying the great outdoors. Enjoy the pulse of electronic music from an array of international DJs. Bring a picnic. Have a drink. Think of the event as one big electronic sun salutation.
Montréal’s nightlife has a heated reputation that goes back to prohibition. Americans would flock here in the thousands to enjoy libations. While we’re much more than a “party city”, Montréal still knows how to have a good time. Relive the ‘80s at Club Electric Avenue, get hardcore at alternative music hub Foufounes Électriques, pub crawl on either Crescent Street or Saint-Laurent Boulevard, or if you’re more indie than EDM, search out one of these clubs to hear some premium live music any day of the week.
Daniel Baylis, blogger
Daniel Baylis is a writer and adventurer. Born in British Columbia, Daniel came to Montréal with the kooky bohemian notion that he would write poetry, learn to speak French and fall in love. Having achieved various levels of success in said domains, he now focuses his energy on a new hobby: artisanal pickling.
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