Montréal winter activities 101

Robyn Fadden

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 keep playing all winter long.

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Winter sports action

Always a good time in the snow, the Barbegazi festival turns Olympic Park into an open-air action sports arena in mid-January. Test your skills on a snowy obstacle course, try out snowskating and fatbiking, and watch freestyle snowmobile demonstrations, wood cutting and Christmas-tree throwing. Along with all the actions sports comes a variety of great food trucks and a high-energy soundtrack by local DJs. Later in January and into February, spend the weekends snow tubing and ice sliding, riding the ferris wheel and so much more at family-oriented Fête des Neiges at Park Jean Drapeau.


Snowy sights

Every year, interactive art event Luminothérapie illuminates Place des Festivals with art installations made to be played on and high-tech projections on the surrounding buildings from mid-November to late-January. In February comes winter festival MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE, spanning restaurants, indoor stages and a large 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 go sledding, cross-country skiing, take a snowshoeing tour along the park's 22 km of trails or try a snow biking tour. Visit the Botanical Garden for winter birdwatching or a tropical greenhouse stroll. Take a break from the weather to see Montréal in all its wintery glory from the top of the Montréal Tower at Olympic Stadium, 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 water-level view of the Saint Lawrence River at indoor-outdoor Bota Bota spa.


Cold-weather party zone

Spend time in the historic Old Port. That's also where the spectacular Natrel Fire on Ice fireworks light up the sky over the outdoor skating rink every Saturday night from mid-December to early-January. Zip up your parka and dance outdoors at electronic music festival Igloofest, happening every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night in mid-January to early-February – hear party tunes from international and local producers, DJs, hip hop artists and more in an electro winter wonderland. And join the crowds in a celebration of art, culture, urban life and just plain fun for Nuit Blanche, closing out the MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE festival.


Skate, ski, curl – and eat!

Ice skate to music next to the Saint-Lawrence River on the Old Port of Montréal's Natrel Skating Rink or among the trees and wildlife of Mount-Royal Park's Beaver Lake and Parc La Fontaine. Or comfortably hit the ice indoors at Atrium le 1000 downtown. Off the ice, see a Montréal Canadiens game. Go cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on the trails of Parc Maisonneuve and Park Jean Drapeau. Even try your hand at old-fashioned curling at the Stewart Museum. 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 or in the Eastern Townships. Whether you’re in the city or the countryside from late February to early April, be sure to partake in a Québécois tradition: the cabane à sucre – eat sausages, pancakes, tourtière and so much more until you’re full, and go for a horse-drawn sled ride or walk through the maple woods.

Robyn Fadden

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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