© Eva Blue - Tourisme Montréal
Let there be light – and festivals!
In February and all winter long, discover uniquely Montréal activities and entertainment, restaurants and cafés, shopping and more, whether you’re travelling solo, as a couple or as a family. One of the many free things to do this winter, interactive art playground Luminothérapie illuminates Place des Festivals until February 27: ride giant seesaws, walk through a metal iceberg or among a field of “wheat,” stand next to a giant “whale” as it vocalizes, watch joyful new projection artwork Adventures of the Night on the façade of the Grande Bibliothèque and more.
Adding to the fun in the Quartiers des spectacles and beyond, Montréal’s signature winter festival MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE showcases the city’s amazing food and culture from Feb 17 to 27. The festival spans restaurants, indoor stages and a sprawling outdoor site with food, drink, live music, a kids activity area and luminous artworks throughout the Quartier des spectacles. Epic all-nighter arts and culture event Nuit Blanche closes out the festival with an array of activities.
© Myriam Baril-Tessier - Société du parc Jean-Drapeau
Outdoor winter wonders
Explore Montréal's many parks this month to reconnect with nature on winter walks and hikes or go ice skating, sledding, snowshoeing in the snow – if you’re an adventurous couple, all of these make for fun Valentine’s Day activities! See incredible city views from Mount Royal Park, take a walk, snowshoe or cross-country ski through the forest paths, and go ice skating and sledding near Beaver Lake. Day or night, skate on the picturesque pond in Parc La Fontaine. Cross the river to Parc Jean-Drapeau for cross-country skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, sledding and even fat biking – as at Mount Royal Park, you can rent equipment on site! Parc Jean-Drapeau also hosts outdoor Valentine’s activities and brunches on February 12 and 13!
Or you could simply relax in the warmth of world-class spas, reopening on February 14, including Bota Bota, spa sur l’eau (their outdoor pools are open year-round), Strøm Nordic Spa (also with amazing outdoor pools), Scandinave Spa Vieux-Montréal and Spa William Grey.
© Ecomuseum Zoo
Stroll along the peaceful snow-covered paths of the Montréal Botanical Garden (or head indoors to experience nature in a different way at the Biodôme and Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium). Nearby outside the Olympic Stadium, check out the new Parc des Rails Dillon Ojo snowboard park or go rock climbing inside at Nomad Bloc. Head to the Ecomuseum Zoo to see local wildlife in their natural outdoor habitats. And check out the winter pro-sports season too: see the Montréal Canadiens on the ice at the Bell Centre throughout the month.
In Old Montréal, walk the snow-covered cobblestone streets to the frozen Saint-Lawrence River to visit the peacefully illuminated square outside Notre-Dame Basilica – inside, see gorgeous multimedia show AURA. Explore Old Montréal in a whole new way this winter with a free scavenger hunt created by Guidatour and the SDC du Vieux-Montréal. Go ice skating at the Old Port of Montréal Skating Rink and see incredible city and river views from the Observation Wheel.
© Patricia Brochu Photographe- Cathcart
Seasonal food and drink
Whether you’re booking a five-course meal or ordering in for Valentine’s Day this year, Montréal restaurants have romance on the menu – choose from our picks of romantic Montréal restaurants or discover a new favourite restaurant together. Add sweetness to your celebration with creations from Montréal's best bakeries and pastry shops and best chocolate shops. And there’s more to celebrate this month: ring in the Lunar New Year on February 1 and all month long with fabulous food in Montréal’s Chinatown and at some of the best Chinese restaurants throughout the city.
Indulge in creative dishes and comfort foods alike at Montréal’s incredible variety of restaurants. Take a seat at the city’s newest restaurants and “buvettes," plan for brunch with friends and family, or dig into long-time classics like smoked meat, poutine and Montréal bagels. Warm up with hot food for cold days in Montréal, including big bowls of ramen and a variety of Indian food. If you’re craving pizza, join the debate over who makes the best pizza in Montréal. Explore the wide variety of excellent meals at the downtown’s gourmet food halls, including Time Out Market, Marché Artisans, Le Cathcart Restaurants et Biergarten and Le Central - Manger Montréal, Whether you’re dining in person or ordering take-out and delivery, seasonal food and classic dishes are all on the menu in Montréal.
© Alison Slattery
Get your caffeine fix at Montréal's indie coffee shops – and fresh-baked doughnuts to go with it! Warm up with hot chocolate, grab a sweet treat at local candy shops or pick up musts for foodies in Montréal. By night, mix cocktails at home with gin, vodka, rum and more specialty spirits from these Montréal specialty alcohol and spirit makers. For the beer lovers, discover the downtown’s beer culture with a new initiative by Montréal centre-ville brassicole culturel gourmand – and pick up a six pack from inventive Montréal microbreweries.
© Tourisme Montréal - Madore - Maude Chauvin
A new year calls for a new look, whether for your wardrobe, your home or even your bookshelf! Go shopping in Old Montréal’s boutiques, downtown along Sainte-Catherine Street and in the underground city malls, or head to the Plateau and Mile End for unique finds. Keep your eye out for items made by Montréal designers, relaxing self-care staples and plenty of home decor. Add sparkle to your life at the coolest Montréal jewelry stores. Shop local and eco-friendly at the most fabulous vintage boutiques in the city. Pick out the perfect new books for friends and family from Montréal’s bookstores and a wide world of music from Montréal's excellent vinyl stores.
February exhibitions and experiences
Montréal’s museums and art galleries inspire all year and make a warm, inviting place to visit in winter. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts features a diversity of programming for 2022: this month, see themed exhibition How long does it take for one voice to reach another? (until February 13), highlighting major works in the Museum's permanent collection that touch on subjects that have affected us all over the past year, as well as Ecologies: A Song for Our Planet and an exhibition of work by Swiss-born artist Nicolas Party.
The Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal installs multimedia exhibition Terror Contagion: Forensic Architecture with Laura Poitras at Place Ville Marie, featuring narration by Edward Snowden and music by Brian Eno. At home, explore immersive online exhibition Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything, a recreation of the MAC’s monumental show.
At the Phi Foundation for Contemporary Art, Stan Douglas: Revealing Narratives opens on February 19, featuring the revered Canadian artist’s most recent photo series Penn Station's Half Century (2021) and Disco Angola (2012). Meanwhile, the Phi Centre showcases visual and audio journey An exhibition by Marven Clerveau: Visions Hip-Hop QC, and immersive poetic journey Lashing Skies.
© Jonathan Evans
A massive immersive experience in surround sound and laser light, Oasis Immersion’s RECHARGER/Unwind and other sensory installations take over the ground floor of Palais des congrès. Surround yourself in the wonderful world of Imagine Monet at Arsenal Contemporary, featuring over 200 immersive projections of Monet’s paintings.
Among many free things to do this season, see new exhibitions at Never Apart in Little Italy, Bradley Ertaskiran in St. Henri, Hugues Charbonneau, Galerie B-312 and Elephant downtown, at Oboro and MAI in the Plateau, Centre Clark in Mile End and many other amazing art galleries in every neighbourhood – find out more in our Montréal guide to gallery hopping and these affordable places to buy contemporary art. Go on a Portrait Sonore sound walk downtown and on the Mountain. And hunt for more public art everywhere in the city.
History past and present
History buffs of all ages will love Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex whether in person or online: see fantastical and fun new exhibition It’s Circus time! and join workshops for all ages, don’t miss kid-friendly interactive display Come Aboard! Pirates or Privateers?, and more. Go to the McCord Museum for radical fashion exhibition Parachute: Subversive Fashion of the ‘80s, Exquisite Score by Caroline Monnet and Laura Ortman, and new permanent exhibition Indigenous Voices of Today: Knowledge, Trauma, Resilience.
See exhibitions Middleground: Siting Dispossession and The Design of Carpets That Design Us at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. Or go back in time in Old Montréal as you tour the rooms of Château Ramezay and historical site Chateau Dufresne. Climb aboard railway cars and learn about the history of the railroad at the Exporail the Canadian Railway Museum. Take a historic walking tour, like Beyond the Bagel Food Tour and Making their Mark, a tour of Jewish Montréal, with the Museum of Jewish Montreal. And discover the vivid history and present of Québec ceramics at the Musée des métiers d'arts du Québec.
Venues reopen their doors this month with new creative performances. In dance, Danse Danse presents Sylvain Émard Danse performance Rhapsodie at the Wilder Building from February 22 to 26 – and watch dance at home with Danse Danse’s online shows, including South African dance company Via Katlehong Dance’s Via Kanana performance. New and experimental performances come to LaChapelle: this month, see film work by director Mireille Dansereau and filmmaker Karl Lemieux, both set to music, while Danse Cité presents dance by Andrew Turner. And see a new season of contemporary dance at Agora de la danse and Tangente.
For kids ages 3 to 9, Centaur Theatre presents online performance Hat Trick by Rag & Bone Puppet Pet Theatre, from February 7 to 21. Check back regularly for more performance and other event announcements, including Black History Month events!
The Massimadi Montréal Afro-Caribbean LGBTQ+ Film and Arts Festival goes virtual during Black History Month, featuring new shorts and feature films from around the world, discussions and more from February 11 to March 11. For families, the Montréal International Children's Film Festival sparks young minds with new kid-focused local and international films, from February 26 to March 7.
See independent features, family films, documentaries and more at Cinéma Moderne in person and online. And see the art world in a whole new light thanks to the International Festival of Films on Art year-round ART FILM program. Discover new art house films and more from Montréal indie cinemas' programming, including in-person and virtual screenings from Cinéma du Parc, Cinéma du Musée and Cinémathèque québécoise.
Watch cinematic nature documentaries for the whole family thanks to the Montréal Science Centre’s IMAX in-person and online programming. Explore the city through cinema in these Hollywood movies made in Montréal. And travel through cinematic Virtual Reality with the Phi Centre’s VR to Go.
© Antoine Saito
Live music and classical concerts
The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal performs concerts at Maison Symphonique throughout February and features online concerts and playlists through the orchestra’s website. The Orchestre Métropolitain performs concert A Nordic Tale in a webcast available until March 13, and concert An Invitation to Dance on February 27 at Maison Symphonique. Relaxed and acoustically refined, the Salle Bourgie concert hall at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts is a wonderful place to be for intimate classical concerts, which begin again mid-month.
Live music returns to other Montréal venues this month too. Courtney Barnett performs at MTELUS on February 11, where Leif Vollebekk performs on February 19 and Alicia Moffet on February 23. Check back regularly for more live music announcements!
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.