Montréal's winter festivals shine bright
A festival city through and through, Montréal keeps celebrating all winter with festivals made for snowy days and nights. Montréal's winter festivals delight in seasonal fun from December to March, keeping everyone warm with outdoor activities, gourmet food and drink, art and cultural events and world-class entertainment.
December holiday delights
Santa’s Kingdom (November 23 to December 24, 2019) Complete with a mini train and carousel, a colourful fountain, art activities for kids, daily performances by choirs, orchestras, dancers and more, Santa’s Kingdom turns a visit with Santa (and even the wait in line!) into a festival atmosphere for everyone.
Luminothérapie (November 28, 2019 to January 26, 2020) An interactive art event that transforms downtown's Place des Festivals into a playground, this year's Luminothérapie features bright and colourful new artwork POP! by Montréal creative studio Gentilhomme. Interact with five fantastical creatures and you'll be greeted with surprises, music and dancing!
Christmas in the park (November 30 to December 24, 2019) Twinkling lights in the trees, fires for roasting marshmallows and stacks of Christmas trees to bring home set the scene for the annual Christmas in the park events. Enjoy live music, hot chocolate, mulled wine and even a visit with Santa Claus at Place Émilie-Gamelin downtown and in Parc des Compagnons and Parc Lahaie in the Plateau neighbourhood.
Noël sur l’Avenue (December 1 to 31, 2019) The celebrations continue along Mont-Royal Avenue in the Plateau neighbourhood all month long. Hear live music at Parc des Compagnons-de-Saint-Laurent, take carriage rides, and even join a candle-lit parade and see fireworks at the festival's flagship event “La Marche de Noël aux flambeaux” on the evening of December 7.
Fire on Ice (December 14, 2019 to January 4, 2020) Watch celebratory fireworks every Saturday night in the Old Port of Montréal during the holiday season. Set to the music of film composer John Williams, the fireworks light up the night sky over the St. Lawrence River and Old Montréal beginning at 8 p.m.
Merry Montréal (December 19 to 31, 2019) The season's bright in historic Old Montréal throughout December with Merry Montréal's many activities outdoors and at restaurants, boutiques, museums and hotels. A visit to Nordic Square is a must at Place Jacques-Cartier, with its market full of Québec products, art installations, cozy fires, hot chocolate, live music and other Nordic-themed activities. And spend New Year's Eve at the Merry Montréal New Year's Eve Party with music, fireworks, food and more outdoors in the Old Port of Montréal.
January and February festivities
Dômesicle – Winter Edition (January 11 to February 22, 2020) A celebration on the dance floor in the awe-inspiring Society for Arts and Technology’s 360° dome, the Dômesicle parties bring together emerging electronic music producers with an enthusiastic crowd, filling Saturday nights in January and February with high-energy fun right downtown.
Igloofest (January 16 to February 8, 2020) An outdoor music festival unlike any other, Igloofest turns January's cold weather into an excuse to dance with thousands of Montrealers on the Old's Port's Jacques-Cartier pier every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. Hear electronic music by top international and local producers, DJs, hip hop artists and more in an electro winter wonderland.
Old Montréal's Happening Gourmand (January 16 to February 9, 2020) A winter restaurant event made to warm body and soul through the power of great food, Happening Gourmand features gourmet dining experiences at a fraction of their regular cost, with nine restaurants in Old Montréal offering table d'hôte menus at $25, $29 and $35 as well as $17 brunches and $12 happy hours.
Fête des neiges de Montréal (January 18 to February 9, 2020) For families with energetic kids, outdoor festival Fête des neiges is a true winter wonder. Held on the weekends at Parc Jean-Drapeau, the festival is packed with all kinds of activities, 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.
Poutine Week (February 1 to 7, 2020) The name says it all: a week dedicated to the Québécois signature dish of French fries and gravy topped with cheese curds. It's also a chance to try specially created new poutine dishes made by chefs at dozens of restaurants throughout Montréal.
MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE (February 20 to March 1, 2020) Montréal's biggest winter festival, MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE merges gourmet food and drink events with arts, culture and an exciting outdoor activity site in Place des Festivals. Enjoy themed restaurant meals, workshops by guest chefs and more. While outdoors you can listen to live music, ride a Ferris wheel and ice slides, watch playful video projections and warm up with food and drink too. And on February 29, join the jubilant Nuit blanche à Montréal crowds in a citywide all-nighter celebration of art, culture and urban life.
Le Mondial des cidres SAQ (February 28 to March 1, 2020) Discover the unique flavours of Québec-made cider as over 20 cider makers bring their sparkling, sweet, dry, ice, effervescent and flavoured ciders to Le Mondial des cidres SAQ. Sample ciders and food pairings, visit the on-site market and learn more at the festival's culinary demonstrations.
Art Souterrain (February 29 to March 22, 2020) Expect a creative surprise around every corner in Montréal’s underground city during this annual visual arts and design festival. Spread over 33 km of underground pedestrian walkways, the festival's 11th edition features artwork under the theme “True or False” and offers visitors guided tours and other activities.
Festival de Casteliers (March 4 to 8, 2020) A puppet theatre festival that features incredibly creative shows made for both children and adults, Festival de Casteliers brings together emerging puppetry companies from Montréal and around the world. With shows and activities held in the neighbourhood of Outremont and in various theatres across the city, the festival is a great way to explore Montréal's performing arts scene.
Festival G. - Griffintown Gourmand et Gastronomique (March 5 to 15, 2020) Celebrating the gourmet food and creative chefs of the Griffintown neighbourhood, Festival G. - Griffintown Gourmand et Gastronomique introduces food lovers to the area's excellent restaurants, while also highlighting the heritage and architecture of the neighbourhood.
BARBEGAZI (March 7 and 8, 2020) Always a good time in the snow, winter action sports festival BARBEGAZI transforms Montréal’s Olympic Park into an open-air arena. No matter your age, you can 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 action sports comes a variety of great food trucks and a high-energy soundtrack by local DJs.
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.