Summer in the LGBTQ+ Village

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ+ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

This article was updated on July 20, 2023.

Montréal is home to one of the largest LGBTQ+ Villages in North America and the famed gaybourhood’s kilometre-long pedestrian mall on Sainte-Catherine Street East presents free outdoor concerts on five stages all summer long.

Follow the yellow brick road

For its 17th year, the pedestrian mall in the Village is open until October 30 and stretches east from Place Émilie-Gamelin near Berri-UQAM metro station to Papineau Avenue near Papineau metro station.

The pedestrian mall and surrounding area is filled with more than 40 patios which are called “terrasses” by locals. There are LGBTQ+ and queer-friendly establishments to suit all tastes and thirsts. This summer, for the first time, the city is permitting bar terrasses to remain open until 3 am from Thursday to Saturday until October 7, as well as on the following Sundays: July 30, September 3 and October 8. Terrasses will also remain open until 3 am daily during Montréal Pride from August 3 to 13.

“Nightlife has always been part of the neighborhood’s DNA, and the openness of our borough partners helps position the Village as an essential place to celebrate diversity,” says Gabrielle Rondy, General Manager of Village Montréal, the Village merchants society.


Concert highlights

The Village presents free concerts on five outdoor stages located on Sainte-Catherine Street East between Saint-Hubert and Papineau streets all summer long.

The programming is varied: Variety Cabaret acts, Variety Cabaret: Rendez-vous Danse shows, Kings and Queens of The Village drag shows, Circus Arts and Backstage at the Circus shows, Outdoor Cinema and karaoke nights.

In all, several hundred artists will perform on Sainte-Catherine and Atateken streets until September. For the full calendar, click here.


Place du Village

There are 12 observation posts located along the pedestrian mall – decorated with plants and disco balls – where visitors can sit and rest. The heart of the pedestrian mall is Place du Village located at the corner of Sainte-Catherine and Wolfe streets. With installations created by Castor et Pollux, this social and cultural space includes a mini-putt zone, hanging furniture and a variety of games that can be borrowed at no charge. Open Sunday to Wednesday from 9 am to 9 pm, and Thursday to Saturday from 10 am to 10 pm, until October 31.


Urban oasis at Jardins Gamelin

On the west end of the Village visitors will find Les Jardins Gamelin which was established nine years ago at Place Émilie-Gamelin right next to Berri-UQAM metro station in the Quartier des Spectacles.

Les Jardins Gamelin offers a friendly space designed to make the most of the Montréal summer, complete with a large terrasse, snack counter with bar, daily activities, a diverse musical program and free outdoor concerts. Click here for the full daily schedule. All activities are free. Les Jardins Gamelin is open daily until 11 pm to September 17.

Just south of Les Jardins Gamelin on Sainte-Catherine Street between Labelle and Saint-Hubert is the new Jardins Gamelin Miniature Golf, open daily from 1 pm to 9 pm until September 17. The nine-hole miniature golf course can accommodate up to 40 players at a time. Free activity.


MTL En Arts Festival

Since its creation in 2000, the Mtl en Arts festival welcomes more than 150 artists from different disciplines each year, many exhibiting their art along the pedestrian mall in the Village, while others perform public multidisciplinary and interactive performances. This year’s edition runs from June 28 to July 2.


Montreal Pride

The Village is the place to party and be seen during Montréal Pride which runs from August 3 to 13. The parade on Sunday, August 13, symbolically starts in the downtown west end – original home of the Gay Village before it moved east in the 1980s – and marches 2.9 km along René-Lévesque Boulevard to the Village in its current location in the downtown east end. The parade begins at 1 pm.

Click here for the story of Pride in Montréal.


The Village and beyond

Québec’s National Assembly in 2019 recognized the Village as the largest LGBTQ+ district in North America after the Castro in San Francisco and as an official place of refuge and emancipation.

From when a gay military drummer stationed with the French garrison was sentenced to death in 1648 to the Sex Garage rebellion of 1990 – widely considered to be Montréal’s Stonewall – Montrealers fought hard for their city to become the queer mecca it is today. Now, more than two million visitors come to see The Village each year.

There are also plenty of LGBTQ+ and queer-friendly establishments beyond the Village in a safe, queer-friendly city that likes to let the good times roll. Montréal also has a thriving scene for LGBTQ+ women.

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ+ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

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