Let’s make merry!

Isa Tousignant

The wintry season is particularly twinkly in Montréal, in our real-life snow globe. And the best way to warm up? By celebrating. Start with Merry Montréal, from December 20 to 31, 2018, when Old Montréal at large becomes a holiday village. Go back in time to celebrate A Victorian Christmas at the Cartiers from December 1 to December 31, in the old home of Sir George-Étienne Cartier on Notre-Dame. Get to know a hidden side of Montréal on Guidatour’s Christmas Secrets of Old Montréal walking tour, where you’ll visit landmarks from Victoria Square to Bonsecours Market through the charming cobblestone streets of Montréal’s historic neighbourhood. At Château Ramezay, Around the Fireplace is an annual holiday tradition where the whole family can explore the meaning of Christmas trees, stockings, advent calendars and more. Instill magic in your kids’ hearts with a visit of the mechanized holiday windows that used to be in the windows of Ogilvy, now exhibited at the McCord Museum. Speaking of windows, watch for the winners of the illuminated window display contest going on downtown! And when you’ve taken in the live music, food, shopping and free activities happening from December 20 to 30 at the Nordic Square, maybe you’ll want to warm your toes in one of Montréal’s amazing spas?

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Shop for everyone on your list

Find the peeerfect gift for every one of your loved ones at one of Montréal’s exciting holiday happenings. Whether they’re outdoor villages replete with little craft huts, or indoor sales chock-a-block with one-of-a-kind goodies, they’ve got gift ideas ranging from fashion to candles to soaps, jams and jewellery. Start with the Souk@sat, from November 28 to December 2, or the Puces Pop fair, taking place on the Plateau on weekends from December 7 to 16, 2018: bustling hubs of cool #montrealmakers. The Montréal Christmas Market is the granddaddy of traditional Christmas fairs, from November 30 to December 23. Noël Éternel is a store dedicated to Christmas year-round, so there’s no greater expert! Support the Grand Ballets Canadiens by shopping at their annual sale, the Nutcracker Market, at Palais des Congrès from November 29 to December 10. And you’ll find original, only-here goodies at the Marché de Noël des designers de la Grover, for one single weekend, from December 6 to 9.  

Fa-la-la-la-laaa! The holidays get musical

From Christmas pop to religious hymns, there’s music in the air. Experience a Candlelight Christmas with the Lyric Theatre Singers, who present fresh renditions of classics and rare gems from December 6 to 9, 2018. At the Montréal Casino, crooners Rita Tabbakh, Jean Paray and Yanick Lanthier will set the tone for your holidays from November 25 to December 20. Hear the next generation sing at the Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal boys choir’s Christmas Concert, on December 16. The Nutcracker by the Grands Ballets Canadiens is an unmissable holiday tradition in Montréal (December 13 to 30). Feel the holiday spirit vibrate through your bones at the organ Christmas Concert Series, from December 9 to 30. Thirty artists on stage, 12 magical scenes and dazzling costumes and sets will amaze the whole family at Décembre, la comédie musicale, from December 13 to 30. The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts presents its own Holiday Concerts from December 7 to 20, while the Montréal Symphony Orchestra presents Noël Symphonique, an extravaganza of seasonal magic (on December 1), and Handel’s Messiah (on December 18).

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Holiday festivities for the whole family

A holiday trip with the family makes for wonderful Montréal memories. There’s so much to do! The Santa Claus Parade, for starters, crosses downtown on November 17. Starting on November 30, Prince Arthur Street East on the Plateau is worth a stroll to see the Vilain sapin chatouilleux, a mechanized Christmas Tree that giggles when passersby tickle its branches! Take the kids to Christmas in the Park, featuring bonfires, storytelling and music in Place Émilie-Gamelin downtown. History museum Pointe-à-Callière asks the big questions at Who is the Real Santa Claus? (December 15 to 31), while trainspotters in the making will love the holiday celebrations at Exporail: Railway Christmas features a train car filled with toys, among other attractions, from November 23, 2018 to January 6, 2019. The holiday celebrations at Maison Saint-Gabriel are spread over four weekends, with A Month Announcing Christmas running on December 2, 9, 16 and 24. It features glass-blowing, tree decorating, toy making and fudge. Lots of fudge. From November 30 to December 23, Le Village de Noël de Montréal near Atwater Market features holiday traditions, local products, and sweet and savoury treats. And at Complexe Desjardins the kid-tastic Christmas party starts on November 17 and lasts until December 30, with mini-train rides, makeup, choir shows, plays and special appearances by Santa Claus himself. Don’t miss the Marché des Lëon, too, a special general store concept in Santa’s village where shoppers will find all sorts of thematic gift ideas in a chalet ambiance.

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Holiday treats you can eat

Hot chocolate in the cold, toasty feasts by a roaring fire – ‘tis the season to eat! It’s the most wonderful time of the year at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel: explore the special menus at Rosélys restaurant, enjoy a “Holidate” to ring in the New Year at trendy Nacarat bar, take part in seasonal culinary workshops, or get gourmet gift ideas and holiday treats to-go at Marché Artisans. Whether you’re in the mood for a traditional Québécois repast or a vegetarian tasting menu, there are dozens of scrumptious holiday meals to choose from in Montréal. Montréal in the cold months is magical, wondrous, otherworldly… but it can get frosty! Stop into one of these heartwarming spots during a long day in the snow for coffee, tea or a hot chocolate. You can also duck into one of these hot spots, or pick one of the cozy restaurants and bars that have one thing in common: hot, beautiful, roaring fires.

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Light up your nights (and New Year’s Eve)

Montréal’s status as a City of Lights is brighter than ever, and not just during the winter festival MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE. There are countless light displays to visit during the holiday  nights, starting with the Jacques-Cartier Bridge (there’s a magnificent view from the heated cabins on the Grande Roue de Montréal), the AURA light show at Notre-Dame Basilica, Luminothérapie in Quartier des spectacles, and La Marche de Noël aux Flambeaux along Mont-Royal, on December 8, 2018. And of course, Montréal pulls out all the stops on New Year’s Eve. This is a party town, after all! From free fun in the streets (fireworks included) to midnight dance parties both under the stars and indoors, get all the deets you need on the big night right here.

Isa Tousignant

Isa Tousignant, blogger

Isa Tousignant is an art and lifestyle writer based out of Montréal’s eclectic Park Ex neighbourhood. She is Contributing Editor for Canadian Art magazine and freelances full-time for a wide variety of magazines and brands. She’s also a jewellery designer and passionate about animal costumes and their role in contemporary art.