Things to do in Montréal this March 2021

Robyn Fadden

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.

This article was updated on March 23, 2021.

Among March snow flurries and sunshine, you’ll find so much to do outdoors and indoors in Montréal. Stay busy with spring break activities for all ages, from Luminothérapie’s bright interactive art to museum exhibitions and virtual film festivals.

Get adventurous with restaurants’ special take-out meals and get to know Québecois gastronomy thanks to festival MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE. Dance to the electro of a virtual Igloofest and hear more live music online. And go shopping for new spring staples by local designers, fresh home decor and more!

Winter city sights

No matter what the March weather has in store, Montréal celebrates the spring equinox season with all kinds of outdoor activities and indoor escapes. The sights in Old Montréal and the Old Port of Montréal always shine, where you can see the city from above on the observation wheel, relax with a massage at Bota Bota, spa sur l’eau and other world-class spas, and even zip over the the port on the Tyrolienne MTL Zipline on Saturdays and Sundays! 

 

 

One of many free things to do this season, Montréal’s annual outdoor art event Luminothérapie brightens the whole Quartier des spectacles until March 28 with interactive sound-and-light installations and projection art – don’t miss the newest addition, Splinter, a circle of five immense and mysterious interactive monoliths. 

Montréal’s signature winter festival of food and culture MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE returns from March 4 to 28 in collaboration with the Casino de Montréal, featuring virtual events, Québecois terroir gastronomy activities, an outdoor site at Place des Festivals with a Ferris wheel and luminous art and more  – plus virtual all-night event Nuit Blanche on March 13, featuring over 30 free activities, including live music, comedy, games, art museum tours and film screenings that run late, late into the night.

Snow day activities

Take your pick of outdoor winter activities in Montréal this March in Montréal parks. See incredible city views in Mount Royal Park and stroll the peaceful grounds (and warm greenhouse) of the Montréal Botanical Garden. Even take a stroll through Mount Royal Cemetery, especially picturesque at this time of year. Go sledding, snow tubing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice skating in Mount Royal Park, where rentals are available on site. Go ice skating in parks citywide, including picturesque Parc La Fontaine. And discover snowshoe paths and snow-covered domes in Frédéric-Back Park.

Make a day of it in Parc Jean-Drapeau where you’ll find a big new ice rink in the heart of Espace 67, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails, fat biking paths and even an intriguingly elaborate mitt-warmer – if you don’t have your own equipment, rent it there! You can also rent cross-country skis, snowshoes, crazy carpets and snow racers in four Montréal nature parks this year: Cap-Saint-Jacques, Bois-de-Liesse, l’Île-de-la-Visitation and Pointe-aux-Prairies

Spring break fun

Enjoy spring break (and great food too!) in every neighbourhood in Montreal this March: activities to get you out and about as a family; relaxing ways to give yourself a Montreal-style spring break as a couple; and ideas for solo spring break excursions in the city. Explore different parts of Montréal, learn about the city’s unique history, culture and more on private winter walking tours with knowledgeable local companies. Take yourself on a Portrait Sonore sound walk downtown and on the Mountain, or on a tour of the city’s murals. And hunt for more public art everywhere in the city.

Kids of all ages can see penguins, lynx and more in the Biodôme's five ecosystems (purchase fixed-time tickets online ahead of time). Or stay in and play with Festival Montréal Joue from February 20 to March 7: download game notebooks or pick up printed copies from Montréal libraries, and play games and more through Facebook.

Learn all about The Orchestra in All Its Forms with the Orchestra symphonique de Montréal’s webcast concerts from February 25 to March 7. Watch new family films from around the world online with the Montréal International Children's Film Festival from February 27 to March 7. Catch adventure films and discover science activities online from the Montréal Science Centre. And see Festival de Casteliers puppet shows online and puppet window displays in Outremont from March 3 to 7. 

 

Food and drink

Sugar shack season has arrived! And though it looks different this year, the meals are just as delicious at home from the best sugar shacks around! Gourmet meal kits meet live virtual entertainment in the hands of the Fairmont the Queen Elizabeth and Marché Artisans: order from a selection of meal kits, cook up your dishes, sip on the included cocktails and wine, and tune in to a romantic candlelight concert by Fever from March 12 to 14, a Mystery Wine game with sommelier Jessica Hamois from March 19 to 21, or a Maple Brunch with a seasonal playlist from March 26 to 28. You can order the Maple Brunch kit on its own until April 18, or take a break and book your maple brunch with a Fairmount staycation. Cabane Panache 9.5 also helps us celebrate sugaring-off season with their Cabane Panache Brunch, sourced from top Verdun restaurants. And the Old Port of Montréal’s La Scena launches home-delivery of its Un Chef à L’érable sugar shack menu.

If the snow’s falling this month, indulge in Montréal’s many options for hot food for cold days, from Vietnamese pho to spicy South Asian dishes. No matter what the weather, Montréal’s many restaurants and cafés are set to satisfy all cravings with special Montréal take-out and delivery offers – browse our updated list of Montréal restaurants open for take-out and delivery for the latest, including some of the best Chinese food in Montréal. Wander through the Jean-Talon Market and Atwater Market to find ready-to-eat dishes and all the ingredients to make your own winter feasts. 

Get your caffeine fix at Montréal's indie coffee shops. Warm up with perfectly brewed tea from Montréal tea houses or a cup of the best hot chocolate in the city. Get a pastry to go with it at Montréal's best bakeries and pastry shops or get fresh-baked doughnuts! Sample chocolate creations at the best chocolate shops, indulge your sweet tooth at local candy shops or pick up other musts for foodies visiting Montréal. By night, mix cocktails at home with gin, vodka, rum and more specialty spirits from these Montréal specialty alcohol and spirit makers. Or for the beer lovers, pick up a unique six pack for take out (or even delivery) from inventive Montréal microbreweries.

Local retail therapy

Montréal shopping is back, baby! Whether you’re looking for a new spring wardrobe or gifts for friends, Montréal shopping has something for all styles tastes. Wrap yourself in something warm or find that perfect bath time candle with these hot local creations for winter weather and self-care staples and home decor musts. Buy that perfect piece of jewelry for your loved one – or yourself! – at the coolest Montréal jewelry stores. Peruse Puces POP's virtual catalog for Valentine's Day or any day to find jewelry, art and more creations by over 70 local artisans. Shop local and eco-friendly at the most fabulous vintage boutiques in the city. Shop for clothing, specialty food and more in the boutiques along Mont Royal Avenue or go shopping at the new Holt Renfrew downtown and in the underground city.

Winter art exhibitions

Museums and many art galleries have officially reopened this month with world-class winter exhibitions! Visit the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to see Riopelle: The Call of Northern Landscapes and Indigenous Cultures as well as Manuel Mathieu: Survivance and more, while online join art workshopsvirtual tours and webinars. At the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal see the work of several Montréal artists in themed group exhibition La Machine qui enseignait des airs aux oiseaux, John Akomfrah’s beautiful three-channel video installation Vertigo Sea, plus virtual creative workshops, talks and tours – and immerse yourself in virtual exhibition Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything, an incredible recreation of the MAC’s 2017 monumental show.

Visit the PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art in Old Montréal to see the Canadian premier of solo exhibition Lee Bae: UNION and walk over to the Phi Centre to see multi-artist exhibition Parallel Lines. PHI also presents a unique immersive experience: Alejandro G. Iñárritu's Oscar® award-winning virtual reality installation CARNE y ARENA (Virtually present, Physically invisible) at Arsenal Contemporary Art gallery from March 17 to June 20, exploring the human condition of immigrants and refugees and the blurred lines between subject and bystander.

Festival Art Souterrain 2021 goes online from February 20 to April 30 (and in person starting April 10) – see artwork, dance performances and talks on this year’s theme of “Chronometry.” Step inside the wild worlds of the OASIS immersion experience at Palais des congrès all month. At Art Mûr see inspiring group exhibition Terra Nova: A look at the present and the future. The Goethe-Institut Montréal's The City in Times of the Virus projects video art in windows along St. Laurent Blvd. downtown until March 22. And explore more of Montréal’s amazing art galleries in our Montréal guide to gallery hopping and these affordable places to buy contemporary art – many galleries have reopened and are welcoming visitors in limited numbers to see new exhibitions.

History past and present

Montréal's history museums reopen their doors and continue with online activities this month! History buffs of all ages will love Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex whether in person or online: see new exhibition A Railroad to Dreamsinteractive display Come Aboard! Pirates or Privateers? and more. The McCord Museum's Christian Dior exhibition features over 50 classic designs as well as documentary Christian Dior: The man behind the myth, plus online urban tours of Montréal.

See new exhibition The Things Around Us: 51N4E and Rural Urban Framework and more at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. Step into the neon glow and cabarets of virtual exhibition Scandal! Vice, crime and morality in Montréal, 1940-1960. Or go back in time with The Château Ramezay’s exhibition 1812: Objects to Discover. Known for historic walking tours, the Museum of Jewish Montreal launches its first-ever live-on-Zoom virtual tour, Making Their Mark: A Virtual Tour of Historic Jewish Montreal, guiding visitors through the Plateau neighbourhood, the city’s historic Jewish quarter. 

Montréal music

Experience the enduring beat of electronic music festival Igloofest at home this March: the winter fest goes virtual – and free! – with international and local producers, DJs, hip hop artists and more, including Misstress Barbara and more live from the Old Port on Saturday, March 6 and a marathon of DJs and VJs including Esther Cote and Guillaume Michaud live from the SAT on Saturday, March 13.

There’s more live electronic music and art from MUTEK and HELLERAU in free virtual event HYBRID ─ Cutting Edge Canada from March 11 to 14, featuring over 20 artists such as Alexis Langevin-Tétrault, Deadbeat & Fatima Camara and Ouri. 

The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal presents concert Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale live on March 2 and webcast to March 16, as well as three webcast concerts in March celebrating Maestro Kent Nagano as Conductor Emeritus of the OSM.

Hear the Orchestre Métropolitain performing The OM Is Buzzing: GÉNIAL!, featuring Martin Carli, online until March 7. Hear more music online in Bourgie Hall’s virtual classical concerts and Pro Musica’s Cartes Blanches Series webcast. The Ensemble Caprice performs Handel’s Messiah in a webcast available until March 14. Québec musicians talk all about their music in online conversations this month: catch Roch Vosine on March 4, Renée Martel on March 11, Pierre Huet on March 18, and Serge Fiori on March 25, all webcast to March 31.

Check out the sounds of Funk Lion and more Montréal artists in concerts webcast from March 13 to 20 through Place des Arts. Tune in to Festival de la Voix live concerts and workshops from March 14 to April 10, including The Best of Broadway along with Roots, Blues and Spirituals and vocal quartet QUARTOM. The Phi Centre invites music fans to stay up all night every night until March 7 for its Infrared live broadcasts from 7:30 pm to 7 am. Catch Les Dimanches Couvre-Fun live online concerts, featuring Millimetrik on March 7, The Liquor Store on March 14, Elephant Stone on March 21 and Titelaine on March 28. Read all about Montréal’s own queens of jazz, soul and blues. And fill your home with music from Montréal's excellent vinyl stores.

On stage and screen

Dance fans won’t want to miss seeing a brilliant archival production of Jean-Pierre Perreault’s pivotal dance work Joe for 32 dancers, webcast on demand from March 17 to 23. Watch Dynamo Théâtre’s webcast of theatrical circus show Life-Cycle from February 27 to March 7, along with interactive online Place des Arts spring break events for kids.

The 39th edition of The International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA) screens 249 new art films from 40 countries through its online ARTS.FILM platform from March 16 to 28, opening with the North American premiere of Andy Cohen and Gaylen Ross’s Beijing Spring. Watch shorts and feature films and join in on discussions at this year’s virtual Festival Filministes from March 4 to 12.

Many performance venues reopen their doors for live performances in March and April, with physical distancing, masks and other safety measures in place. Le Monastère celebrates with two wild nights of circus cabaret shows, on March 26 and 27 at Centre St. Jax downtown. Centaur Theatre puts audiences in suspense with Catherine-Anne Toupin’s psychological thriller MOB from March 26 to April 3. 

Discover new art house films and more from Montréal indie cinemas' programming, including virtual screenings from Cinéma ModerneCinéma du ParcCinéma du Musée and Cinémathèque québécoise. Explore the city from a cinematic distance in these Hollywood movies made in Montréal. And the PHI Centre's VR TO GO delivers world-class VR content (and headsets) to your door until April 30.

Robyn Fadden

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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