Things to do in Montréal – January 3 to 9, 2020

Montréal still glitters this week as the holiday season continues into the first week of January. Walk through snowy Mount Royal Park, go ice skating and sledding, play with the outdoor art of Luminothérapie downtown, and see the Fire on Ice fireworks on Saturday night! Warm up with a great meal and seasonal cocktails, catch a Montréal Canadiens hockey game, take an illuminating stroll through a museum, immerse yourself in a virtual reality creation or go out dancing! Happy New Year in Montréal!

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Winter activities

Among Montréal's many wonderful winter activities, go ice skating at the lovely Old Port of Montréal ice skating rink, where you can rent skates and sip on hot chocolate too, or on Mount Royal Park's refrigerated rink next to the Beaver Lake Pavilion – rent skates and glide through nature in one of the biggest parks in the city, also where you can take a snowshoeing tour, go tobogganing and tube-sliding on the snow-covered hills, and take part in activities inside the Chalet du Mont-Royal. Slide, ride quadricycles, bounce, play games, have snowball battles and more at the Voiles en Voiles winter park in the Old Port of Montréal, open every afternoon until January 5. And learn to snowboard and ski at the Pente à neige snow park, also featuring a snow-tubing hill.

The city lights shine bright this time of year – and so do the Fire on Ice fireworks! Catch them in the Old Port of Montréal on Saturday night at 8 p.m. Visit Notre-Dame Basilica (one of many Montréal churches featuring cultural activities) to see beautiful multimedia show AURA. By night in Old Montréal search out the projections of Cité Mémoire on building facades. Look out on the snowy city from Mount Royal Park or the Observatoire Place Ville Marie downtown, La Grande Roue de Montréal in the Old Port or the observatory at the top of the Montréal Tower at Olympic Park. And if you're feeling cold, warm up at Montréal's best spas. No matter what the weather, kids will be busy (and not bored!) with these entertaining indoor family activities. Plot your visit with My Official Montréal City Guide (and save with the MTL Sweet Deal!).


Family-friendly fun

Among Montréal's many free things to do this winter, play with the bright, colourful and musical creatures of interactive artwork POP! by Montréal creative studio Gentilhomme, created for this year's Luminothérapie downtown in Place des Festivals. Play games at the McCord Museum’s toy exhibition It’s Your Move! Board Games: Larger Than Life, enjoy the holiday magic of Enchanted Worlds, Ogilvy's department store window display, and create your own games at workshops until January 5.

See all kinds of Québec wildlife at the conservation-focused Ecomuseum Zoo, hosting holiday activities for families. Exporail / The Canadian Railway Museum hosts Railway Christmas until January 5, with train rides, Christmas trees, cookie decorating and Santa visits. For a more traditional take on the holiday, step back in time at Château Ramezay's Around the fireplace... Holiday Traditions, baking workshops and more, plus a Champagne, Charlotte and Crinoline at the Sir George-Étienne Cartier National Historic Site. And catch an NHL game as the Montréal Canadiens play home games against the Pittsburgh Penguins on January 4, the Winnipeg Jets on January 6 and the Edmonton Oilers on January 9 at the Bell Centre.


Festive food and drink

Warm up with excellent winter cocktails and more at Montréal's coziest bars and inventive Montréal microbreweries, sip perfectly brewed hot tea at Montréal tea houses, get your caffeine fix in style at Montréal's indie coffee shops, and savour the sweet stuff with the best hot chocolate in the city (and get a pastry to go with it at Montréal's best bakeries and pastry shops). If you're shopping downtown and looking for a quick yet impressive meal, head to the new Time Out Market in Eaton Centre on Sainte-Catherine Street. Another excellent new Montréal food hall, LE CENTRAL - MANGER MONTRÉAL, serves up delicious local fare at the corner of Sainte-Catherine Street and Saint-Laurent Boulevard. Also check out these other foodie hotspots downtown. Extend the holiday festivities with dinner and a show at the Casino de Montréal's Cabaret en fête on January 4.

Sit down at these 5 restaurants with amazing chefs for their unique local dishes, from classic French menus to ground-breaking Asian cuisine. Explore Montréal's new restaurants too, from twists on Italian classics to warming Moroccan dishes to Japanese ramen bowls. And try Montréal's best bring-your-own-wine restaurants and great casual restaurants. Have a locally sourced meal at Marcus restaurant in the Four Seasons hotel downtown – or drop in for its delectable afternoon tea service, every afternoon. Also enjoy a classic afternoon tea service at the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth's Rosélys Restaurant from Thursday to Sunday. Explore more of Montréal and its culinary delights on Montréal's best food tours or discover some of Montréal's hidden gems. These inventive Montréal microbreweries craft seasonal beers to join their classic line-ups and Montréal's best bakeries and pastry shops create irresistible desserts and more.


On stage and screen

Québec circus company FLIP Fabrique creates a snow-covered world full of acrobatic antics in Blizzard at La TOHU from December 17 to January 5. Centaur Theatre presents the Annual Wildside Theatre Festival from January 7 to 18, featuring audacious, wild and hilarious works of indie theatre, from soul icon Michelle Sweeney's Her Songs, My Story to surrealist comedy Multiple Organism and more! Experience the contemporary VR artistry of the Cadavre exquis exhibition, featuring work by Marina Abramovi, Olafur Eliasson, Laurie Anderson, Antony Gormley, Paul McCarthy and other artists, at the Phi Centre – also visit the VR Cinema to see InnerFlood, creations by artists Anish Kapoor, Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg, Jakob Kudsk Steensen and Mali Arun. The Phi Centre also presents BIBELOT, an audio visual kinetic installation piece by composer Jay Crocker.

Explore the universe at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, featuring science-meets-multimedia shows Planet Nine, Secrets of Gravity, EXO, POLARIS, Continuum and Aurōrae as well as Mice and the Moon for younger kids. The Montréal Science Centre presents IMAX film Great Bear Rainforest 3D and hands-on science exhibitions such as Health from Head to Toe. Among Montréal's great indie cinemas, see art-house, documentaries, Québécois, cult films and more at Mile End's Cinéma Moderne, the Cinémathèque québécoise, Cinéma du Musée at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and at long-running Cinéma du Parc. And the Gay Village, stages light up with world-class drag shows in Montréal.


Art for everyone

At the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, don't miss “For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you”: Selections From The Bailey Collection, About Face: Photographs by Cindy Sherman, Laurie Simmons and Rachel Harrison From the Collection of Carol and David Appel and more, and check out the museum's weekend tours and art workshops. At the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, experience the video works of Francis Alÿs: Children's Games, a survey of prominent Montréal painter Janet Werner and more. The Fondation Phi pour l’art contemporain presents music-oriented installations and video work by British artist Phil Collins exploring how we participate in popular culture, while Eva & Franco Mattes redefine the boundaries of the Internet in video and sculptural works. Montréal's Arsenal Contemporary Art gallery in Griffintown hosts Imagine Van Gogh, an immersive, technologically-enhanced experience of over 200 of the artist's paintings, including Sunflowers and The Starry Night.

Several galleries take a holiday break until January 5 or 6 and reopen this week. Galerie de l’UQAM presents Le déploiement, an exhibition of works focused on the Canadian Far North by photographer and video artist Emmanuelle Léonard. The Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery presents ᓄᓇᙳᐊᓕᐅᕐᓂᖅ ᓄᓇᕐᔪᐊᙳᐊᓂᒃ Mapping of the World by Nunavut-based artist Shuvinai Ashoona. At La Guilde see Nunavut artist Jessie Oonark's Artworks - Still Very Much Alive and Love-Struck Souls by jeweler Aurelie Guillaume. At the Canadian Centre for Architecture, see Building a new New WorldAmerikanizm in Russian Architecture, as well as Rough Cuts and Outtakes, showcasing the work of Gordon Matta-Clark. The Museum of Jewish Montreal presents Return to The Fortress by Julie Gladstone. Mile-Ex gallery and cultural space Never Apart features new art in its fall exhibitions. Visit Art Mûr to see exhibitions by Bevan Ramsay, Jennifer Small, Hédy Gobaa and Brandon Vickerd. And there's more art to discover while gallery hopping and antiquing in the city.


History near and far

Montréal is also a must for history buffs. The British Museum's Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives makes its North American premiere at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, reconstructing the lives of six Egyptians who lived along the Nile from about 900 BC to AD 180. At Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex discover the origins and legacy of the Inca Empire in stunning exhibition The Incas, Treasures of Peru, and experience multimedia exhibition Generations MTL and cabinet of curiosities Into the Wonder Room. At the McCord Museum see retrospective exhibition Jean-Claude Poitras: Fashion and Inspiration, Celia Perrin Sidarous: The Archivist and more. The Stewart Museum's new Nights exhibition lets visitors explore the fiction-meets-reality of four worlds created by Québec writers Heather O’Neill, Simon Boulerice, Dominique Demers and Éric Dupont – while at the museum, peek into day-to-day life in New France in History and Memory and enjoy family-focused holiday activities all month or try your hand at escape game Phantoms of the Island every Saturday.

Among the city's other family-friendly museums, the Musée de Lachine illuminates 350 years of history, wax museum Grévin MONTRÉAL features Québécois and international celebrities past and present, and the free Barbie Expo shows off Barbie's fashion transformations through the decades. At the Biosphère, Environment Museum see several exhibitions on marine environments, weather and current environmental issues. Discover Irish Montréal and Montréal's Scottish history through historic landmarks and more. Read all about jazz in Montréal, from the Roaring Twenties to today. And pick up some historic and present-day facts about Montréal that even some locals might not know.

Live music

On Friday night, Dutch symphonic metal band Epica and opener The Agonist perform in operatic style at Corona Theatre, while electronic producers NO_4MAT, Ryan Playground and The Holy shake the dancefloor at Newspeak. Saturday's another night for dancing with British producer Tim Green at Newspeak and the return of popular Dutch electronic music trio Dash Berlin to New City Gas. Meanwhile, The Musical Box plays the music of Genesis on vintage instruments, all set to signature live visuals, on January 4 and 5 at Place des Arts. Or go out for dinner and dancing at Le Balcon's Best of Soul, Motown and Jazz night on January 4 with special guest Leanna White. For more music throughout the week, check out our picks on how to get your nightlife on in Montréal, where to hear live music in Montréal, 10 great places to see indie bands, Montréal's best jazz and blues clubs and our guide to electronic music in Montréal. And if you want to bring the music home with you, go record shopping at Montréal's excellent vinyl stores.

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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