Montréal in lights is so shiny and bright!

Place Jacques-Cartier
Mark Andrew Hamilton

Mark Hamilton

This article was updated on November 23, 2023.

Montréal’s status as a City of Lights is known the world over, but the city twinkles particularly shiny and bright during the winter holiday season. Each and every year, Montréal’s neighbourhoods, shopping streets, parks and markets spruce up in their sparkling nighttime best and sparkle. Eye-popping illuminations thrill visitors and locals of all ages all winter long, while spectacular seasonal installations guarantee some unforgettable #mtlmoments sure to capture the imaginations of friends and loved ones back home.

Place d'Armes and Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal

The gorgeous snow globe of Old Montréal

Under a blanket of snow, Old Montréal is a glowing storybook winter wonderland that’s the definition of postcard-pretty photogenic. The iconic quartier’s holiday lighting offer countless shimmering vistas down cobblestone streets and across building facades, while neighbourhood shops go all out in decorating their entrances and windows sure to bring feelings of comfort and joy. Québec’s first declared historical monument the Château Ramezay spends the holiday season bedecked in lights, hosting old-fashioned holiday traditions like stocking-making and singsongs around the fireplace. After taking in the beaming archways and domes of the City Hall, Marché Bonsecours and its neighbouring Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours chapel, the Notre-Dame Basilica and Place d’Armes with its epic-sized star installations, head to the stately Place Jacques-Cartier for some fresh maple syrup candies and to warm your hands over an open fire.

On Friday and Saturday evenings throughout the winter months, the elegiac Cité Mémoire is the world’s largest video projection circuit in the world. Telling the story of Montréals most memorable dwellers through cutting-edge projections on facades and in alleyways, the project’s tableaus offer a luminous history lesson you won’t soon forget. And best yet, the project’s app designed for iOs and Android features an interactive map, audio for each presentation and the power to trigger the projections.

 

XP_MTL - L’Odyssée, le grand réconfort d’hiver

Bustling and beaming shopping streets

All over town, Montréals shopping streets from Ahuntsic to the Plateau-Mont-RoyalOutremont to Lachine are all cozily a-twinkle with draping lights and glimmering storefront decorations. Bedazzling installations between Promenade Wellington’s restaurants and boutiques further increase the charm quotient on one of the world’s coolest streets, while Mont-Royal Avenue’s trees and parks are lit up in a rainbow’s worth of colours. And every year, towering installations on busy Sainte-Catherine Street set holiday excitement on an epic scale.

 

Jean-Talon Christmas Market

Dreamy Christmas markets

From November 25 to December 30, 2023, Noël Montréal brings three uniquely charming Christmas Markets across Montréal, guaranteeing something for everyone in the family. The Great Montréal Christmas Market transforms the Quartier des Spectacles and Place des Arts into a charming holiday village modelled on the world famous German Weihnachtsmarkt, while the Montréal Christmas Village at the Atwater Market is the perfect go-to for artisanal decorations, locally-produced tasty treats and warming cups of hot cocoa. Those looking for the perfect Christmas tree need look no further than the Jean-Talon Market, where some of the best trees await their holiday homes. And this year, all three markets also feature free performances and activities for the kids.

 

Luminothérapie

Bask in Luminothérapie

Its no mere pun to proclaim Luminothérapie as an annual highlight (see what we did there?) in the Quartier des Spectacles calendar. For the 2023-2024 edition running November 30, 2023 to March 10, 2024, Luminothérapies cutting-edge and playful installations extend far beyond its traditional home base of Place des Festivals to the Esplanade Tranquille skating rink (offering free skate rentals, no less), and down Sainte-Catherine Street all the way to Phillips Square. Taking inspiration from the farthest reaches of the cosmos, five all-new installations presented for the first time in Montréal guarantee an unforgettable cosmic playground for kids both young and old.

 

Lights on Peel

Radiant histories on Peel Street

Before there was Montréal there was Tiohtià:ke, and the recent discovery of thousands of hand-crafted Iroquoian artefacts at the intersection between Peel Street and Sherbrooke Street has been commemorated in the permanent Lights on Peel installation. Artist Kaiento:ton Kyle Williams’s twinkling designs portray a trio of the Rotiononhsión:ni Clan Systems symbolic animals: the turtle, the wolf and the bear. Scannable QR codes offer a deeper look at the areas rich Indigenous First Nations history.

 

Christmas in the park

Village lights (and Christmas in the Park!)

A year-round gathering place, the buzzing Place Émilie-Gamelin is home to the annual Christmas in the Park festival from December 8 to 31, 2023. Filled with music, games and treats, its the perfect city centre holiday activity hub. Its also the entry point into the charming streets of MontréalVillage, lit up nightly along Sainte–Catherine Street in colourful displays spotlighting the sexual and gender diversity flags raised in pride by the LGBTQQIP2SAA community reflecting all the colours of the rainbow. Don’t forget to tag your photos with #ProudColoursMtl!

 

Shopping on Saint-Denis Street

Quartier by quartier

Proud locals are also known for decking the halls with picture perfect lights and trimmings down every street, so a wander through any of Montréals iconic neighbourhoods is sure to bring sparkle around every turn. Wed suggest a stroll through Square Saint-Louis, past the stately homes and high streets of the English-speaking enclave of Westmount, down the streets of the Plateau and Mile End and between the towers of Downtown with cameras at the ready.

 

Montréal en Lumière

MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE

Just because the holiday season has ended doesnt mean Montréal stops shining, and February 22 to March 10, 2024, MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE returns for its 25th edition in the Quartier des Spectacles. Bright lights, family friendly amusement rides, fine dining and flash mob performances have helped keep the winter moving for a quarter of a century! And this year back celebrating its 21st edition on March 2, 2024, Nuit blanche à Montréal keeps local museums and other cultural locations up all night long with special exhibitions and performances. The full line-up and further information is available on their website.

 

Mark Andrew Hamilton

Mark Hamilton

Mark Hamilton is the community director for QueerMTL, an internationally-touring musician with his projects Woodpigeon and Frontperson  and a graduate studies student of history researching LGBTQ+ activism in the city. He’s lived in Montréal since 2015, during which time he’s most often spotted atop a BIXI bike usally running a few minutes late.

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