20 reasons to visit Montréal in 2020

Montréal is a city of seasons, from its vibrant, glowing winters to the crowd-pleasing festivals of the summer – and with something special on offer in all the months in-between. And once again in 2020 the calendar is packed full of unforgettable must-see events you won’t want to miss, and here are just a few we can’t wait for.

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A sparkling winter wonderland

Montréal positively glows in the winter, with skiing, sledding and skating locals making the most of the snow and ice that transforms the city into a life-size snow globe. And we don’t let a little cold keep us indoors, with enough festivities on the streets that make the wintery outdoors the place to be.

1- Once the sun goes down, Old Montréal and the Old Port light up with Montréal en Histoires – Cité Mémoire, one of the world’s biggest projection circuits re-telling the city’s history and bringing it back to life.

2- With ground-breaking lights and special effects, AURA transforms the Notre-Dame Basilica into an eye-popping visual extravaganza from the minds at Moment Factory.

3- When the temperature drops the party starts with Igloofest, Montréal’s outdoor electronic music fest on the Quays of the Old Port, where 10,000 revellers dance themselves warm under the subzero night skies.

4- The Quartier des Spectacles, the entertainment district, lights up for MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE, a feast for the senses including rides, lighting installations and outdoor culinary delights.

5- The 2020 ISU World Figure Skating Championships bring together the international top figure skating talent to the Bell Centre – returning to Montréal 88 years after its first time in the city in 1932.

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Let your imagination blossom

With the first green buds of spring, Montréal sheds its winter coat and heads out into the sunshine. Re-energized from the winter months, local creativity hits its peak with an annual rejuvenation of building walls and public spaces. With its countless café terrasses, cycling pathways and leafy promenades, each springtime Montréal is born anew.

6- Composed of various installations, performances and exhibitions, Montréal Digital Spring is the ultimate fusing of cutting-edge technology with the arts, from the selfie-favourite 21 Balançoires (21 Swings) to Eureka! Festival and Festival ELEKTRA.

7- Gathering the world’s top innovative business minds, C2 Montréal is a game-changing three-day conference punctuated with world-renowned speakers, collaborative workshops and interactive exhibits.

8- Hosted at the innovative Usine C, the 50 invited artists of the Chromatic Festival push boundaries and challenge perspectives. There’s also opening and closing evening dance parties and daytime events.

9- Every spring Sunday through to the end of September, Piknic Électronik brings electronic music to the lush outdoors of Parc Jean-Drapeau. Top DJs, green grass and sunshine – a stellar Sunday combination.

10- In Montréal we like to think of every surface as a canvas, and the Plateau-Mont-Royal’s annual MURAL Festival commissions bold, large-scale urban art pieces that change the visual landscape. Better yet, visitors can watch the artists at work while wandering the festival’s street fair.

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Summer’s here and the time is right

The summer months in Montréal are a time for celebration and culture, with a packed calendar of inspiring festivals and outdoor programming keeping wide smiles on the faces of locals and visitors alike. And better yet, much of what’s on offer from music and comedy to circus and fireworks is free to all.

11- For over 40 years, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal has featured some of the top musical talent in the world. There are more than 3,000 performers and over 500 concerts, a whopping 2/3 of which have no entrance fee.

12- A cleverly reinvented public space overlooking the St. Lawrence River, the Village au Pied-du-Courant is part beachfront chill zone, part food truck boardwalk and uniquely Montréal.

13- Montrealers love the water, and the rapids of the St. Lawrence are put to good work in urban surfing. It’s even a great way to check out the iconic Habitat 67 while you catch some waves.

14- Think of it as Coachella North – the annual line-up of the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival brings some of the hippest indie stars to the stage in leafy Parc Jean-Drapeau, from Childish Gambino to Radiohead.

15- Hockey fans are buzzing to catch a glimpse of the best young hockey players in the world at the 2020 National Hockey League Draft in the Bell Centre – the 27th time it’s been held in Montréal.

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Fall in love with autumn in Montréal

Autumn is a time for three Rs: reflection, romance, and relaxation. And Montréal has opportunities for all three in spades. Whether it’s a calming spa experience, a cultural night out or a shared meal, the fall in Montréal is a true charmer.

16- Offering a wealth of gourmet choice, the Time Out Market in downtown Montréal is home to 16 of Montréal’s top restauranteurs and chefs, a demonstration kitchen, cooking academy and two bars – the true definition of something for everyone.

17- The soaring Orchestre symphonique de Montréal has been thrilling music lovers since 1934, and continues to perform upwards of 100 concerts per year. With guaranteed knock-out performances of both classical favourites and contemporary composers, the OSM promises a beautiful evening out.

18- Food lovers rejoice! MTLàTABLE puts the spotlight on Montréal’s one-of-a-kind culinary scene, with over 150 local restaurants offering special menus, gourmet events and unforgettable dining experiences.

19- Montrealers know how to relax, and one of their favourite spots to recharge is Bota Bota, spa-sur-l'eau, docked in the Old Port. Housed in a converted ferryboat, this floating spa not only offers some true R’n’R, but also some stellar views over Old Montréal.

20- Montréal is also home to an exciting microbrewery scene, each serving its own signature brews and snacks in charming and stylish outposts across the city. Bottoms up!

Mark Hamilton

Mark Hamilton, blogger, Queer MTL community manager

Likes romantic walks on Mount Royal, long-distance cycling, beard oil products and antique travel guides. Has a bad habit of falling in love with men in vintage photographs who are certainly long dead. If he could be anything, he’d live his life as a professional flâneur. Until then, he spends his time writing, making music, and wandering.

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