Live the magic of the holiday season in Montréal

Janine Hopkinson

The holiday season in Montréal is the perfect time to enjoy the city’s unique architectural beauty wrapped in snow and lights—the perfect backdrop for all kinds of celebrations! Each neighbourhood has a distinct holiday flavour, so grab your metro pass and let the season begin.

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The holidays for early birds

For those who like to get into the spirit as soon as the clocks roll back.

Get your holiday gift shopping wrapped up before December with locally-made treasures at the Pop-Up Market - Collectif Créatif Etsy Montréal, November 21 to 23 at Windsor Station. For gifts that keep on giving, check out the Nutcracker Market, starting November 28 at the Montréal Convention Centre, with over 100 exhibitors and proceeds benefitting the Grand Ballets Canadiens de Montréal’s Nutcracker Fund charity.

For the environmentally-conscious on your list, head over to the Salon des artisans récupérateurs, November 29 to December 1, where you’ll discover over 40 of Québec’s most innovative eco-designers.

Create a unique piece of holiday art at Espace VERRE, where you can try your hand at making a blown-glass tree ornament. Grown-ups and kids can participate in this artisan-led workshop—a rare chance to try out this magical artform. (Be sure to sign up early to reserve your spot at this popular holiday event.)

Finally, get the whole family into the energy of the holidays at the annual Santa Claus Parade. The eagerly anticipated event runs along René-Lévesque Boulevard between Guy and St-Urbain Streets on November 23 starting at 11 am. Ho, ho, ho!

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Sip and savour at neighbourhood markets

Throughout the city, explore charming outdoor markets dressed in holiday style.

Le Village de Noël de Montréal is a traditional outdoor market in Little Burgundy featuring artisans, concerts, gourmet experiences…and an Elves’ Kingdom for the little ones. Place Jacques-Cartier, in Old Montréal, is home to the Nordic Square, which includes performances, winter activities, art installations and warm beverages to keep your spirit lively.

Downtown, live the magic of the season with Christmas in the park, an entertaining holiday festival with bonfires, live music and more! Discover Québec craftsmanship at its best at the massive Salon des métiers d’art du Québec, with over 400 exhibitors over 11 days.

For a truly local vibe, head up to the Plateau (Laurier metro stop) to discover the Holiday Edition of the Puces POP Fair, featuring design, art and objects from Québec’s emerging and established makers, December 6 to 15.

Stroll through the popup market on the pedestrian-only stretch of Prince-Arthur Street, just east of Saint-Laurent Boulevard, the Village du Vilain Sapin de Montréal (so called because of its central element, the charmingly crooked “Ugliest Christmas Tree”). Food stands, a warming bonfire and live events make this a not to be missed stop on your neighbourhood tour.

In Hochelaga, visit the Holiday Market - Collectif Etsy, December 13 to 15. This lively event features over 120 makers from the Montréal area—a true celebration of the handmade!

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Great traditions

From classical music to skating under the stars, Montréal is home to the season’s most beloved traditions.

Visit the historic site of Château Ramezay, where you can discover the origin of a host of traditional activities during the annual exhibition Around the fireplace. Step back in time to Christmas 1867, and relive the charm of a Victorian Christmas at the Cartiers' at the Sir George-Étienne Cartier National Historic Site.

Let yourself be moved by some of the season’s most spectacular choral music in the city’s most memorable settings. Visit the Mount Royal Chalet on December 8 for a performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Magnificat by McGill University’s Ensemble Da Capo. At Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal, there are live holiday performances of Handel’s Messiah, and a Christmas concert by les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal on December 22.

Warm yourself outside this holiday season with a timeless favorite: an after-dark skate at an outdoor rink. Bring the family or friends to the Old Port of Montréal ice skating rink. Rent skates for the whole family, explore the rinkside village and enjoy an après skate warm beverage at the Bistro Bonsecours.

Sparkle and joy

Holiday lights are a delight for the senses.

At the Quartier des spectacles, check out POP! by Gentilhomme, an interactive, luminous light installation that transforms the voices and energy of the visiting public into a joyful performance. A Montréal landmark, the Notre-Dame Basilica, is home to AURA, a multimedia installation that transforms the already-stunning architecture into a dazzling, immersive world. One of Montréal’s most iconic landmarks, the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, is animated every night by a light show that responds to changes in the seasons and data collected by social media. Tag pics of your holiday moments with #illuminationMTL to help feed the collective sparkle of the season!

Janine Hopkinson

Janine Hopkinson, writer

Janine Hopkinson moved to Montréal 25 years ago and has been in love with the city ever since. She mostly works, writes and hangs out in Mile End, and credits all her best ideas to her daily hikes in Mount Royal Park.

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