Montréal winter activities roundup
This article was updated on December 18, 2018.
When winter hits, Montréal doesn't stop throwing big street festivals and open-air events. From action sports and ice skating to outdoor electronic dance parties, the city keeps playing all winter long.
Winter sports action
Always a good time in the snow, the BARBEGAZI winter action sports festival turns the Montréal Olympic Park into an open-air action sports arena for two wintery weekends, January 12 to 13 and January 19 to 20. Test your skills on a snowy obstacle course, try out snow skating and fat biking, and watch freestyle snowmobile demonstrations, wood cutting and Christmas-tree throwing. Along with all the action sports comes a variety of great food trucks and a high-energy soundtrack by local DJs. For families with high-energy kids, Fête des neiges de Montréal at Parc Jean-Drapeau is a true winter wonder. Every weekend from January 19 to February 10, Fête des neiges is packed with all kinds of activities (some for a fee, but most of them for free!), including ice slides, bouncy castles, snow tubing, live musical and theatrical performances, a Ferris wheel, dog sledding and more, with warm up stations and plenty to eat too. Try out snowtubing, snow scooters, winter archery and an obstacle course at Voiles en Voiles adventure park in the Old Port, or go snowboarding, snowtubing, sliding and more at La Pente à neige in Parc Ignace-Bourget near Angrignon metro.
One of the many free things to do this winter, annual outdoor art event Luminothérapie brightens Place des Festivals until January 27 with Domino Effect – 120 giant, luminous dominoes that we can interact with to make a symphony of beautiful sounds. While in the Quartier des spectacles, look up to see the playful animation of 100% Chance of Snow projected on building facades. From February 21 to March 3 comes winter festival MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE, an arts, culture and food event that spans restaurants, indoor stages and a sprawling outdoor site with food, drink, live music, a Ferris wheel, ice slides, kids activity area and Illuminart projections throughout the Quartier des spectacles. Walk (or drive) to the summit of Mount Royal Park to see an iconic city view and discover the park while sledding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Visit the Montréal Botanical Garden for winter birdwatching or a tropical greenhouse stroll. Take a break from the weather to see Montréal from above in all its wintery glory, including from the top of the Montréal Tower at Olympic Park, on the tallest observation wheel in the country, La Grande Roue de Montréal, and from 46 floors above downtown at the Observatoire Place Ville Marie. Or relax with a sea-level view of the St. Lawrence River at Bota Bota, spa-sur-l'eau, an indoor-outdoor boat-turned-spa, right on the river.
Skate, ski, snowshoe – and eat!
Ice skate to music next to the St. Lawrence River on the Old Port of Montréal's Natrel ice skating rink, on the softly lit tree-lined pond in Parc La Fontaine and near the peak of Mount Royal Park at Beaver Lake, where you can also go cross-country skiing or on an expert-led snowshoeing tour along the park's trails. Bring your own skates or rent skates and other winter sports equipment on site. Or comfortably hit the ice indoors at fully-equipped Atrium Le 1000, next to a food court, malls and more downtown amenities. And see how the pros do it at a Montréal Canadiens game. If you've brought your own equipment, go cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on the meandering trails of Parc Maisonneuve and Parc Jean-Drapeau. Take a day trip out of town to go downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at Mont Tremblant and other mountains in the Laurentians, the Eastern Townships, Montérégie or Lanaudière on a Bonjour Nature tour. Whether you’re in the city or the countryside, be sure to partake in a real Québécois tradition: the sugar shack (or cabane à sucre), where from late February to early April you can eat sausages, pancakes, tourtière and so much more until you’re full, and even go for a horse-drawn sled ride through the snowy maple woods.
Cold-weather party zone
Spend New Year's Eve in Montréal with music, fireworks, food and more outdoors at the Merry Montréal New Year's Eve Party in the historic Old Port of Montréal. That's also where the spectacular Natrel Fire on Ice fireworks light up the sky every Saturday until January 5. Zip up your parka and dance outdoors at electronic music festival Igloofest, happening every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night from January 17 to February 2 on the Old Port's Jacques-Cartier pier – hear party tunes from international and local producers, DJs, hip hop artists and more in an electro winter wonderland. Warm up in style with gourmet prix-fixe meals during Old Montréal's Happening Gourmand restaurant event, from January 10 to February 3, or a heaping plate of poutine during Poutine Week, from February 1 to 7. Join the jubilant crowds in a citywide celebration of art, culture, urban life and just plain fun for Nuit Blanche à Montréal, closing out the MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE festival on March 2. Put on your best green toque and join the boisterous crowds downtown on Sunday, March 17 for the Montréal St. Patrick’s Parade. And from March 21 to 28, experience a Québécois winter lumberjack village at the 9th annual Cabane Panache et Bois rond on Wellington Street in Verdun, featuring live music, traditional dancing, family-friendly activities and maple-inspired food.
Robyn Fadden, blogger
Robyn Fadden is a Montréal-based writer and editor who searches out city secrets, new bands, life-changing art and things to do with her perpetually active kid. Robyn has covered major events for HOUR, MUTEK, ARTINFO, CKUT 90.3FM and more.
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