What to do in Montréal on Labour Day weekend 2020

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.

The final long weekend of summer, Labour Day weekend in Montréal embraces everything that summer stands for: warmth, freedom and exuberance. Among the many things to do from September 5 to 7, spend time outdoors in the parks and markets, see the city sights, enjoy open-air entertainment, discover new art and restaurants, and spend evenings under the stars. Let the Labour Day weekend begin!

Outdoor activities

Montréal offers all kinds of free things to do in summer, including on Labour Day weekend. Relax, play and picnic in Montréal's parks and green spaces such as Mount Royal, where you can take in the view from the Kondiaronk lookout and chalet and hear Les Tam-tams drummers next to the George-Étienne Cartier monument, or simply relax on a blanket near the fountain in Parc La Fontaine. If the weekend's warm, go for a dip at the pool or beach at Parc Jean-Drapeau or other city pools and beaches.

In almost every neighbourhood, brightly hued Placott’arts and Terrasse urbaine libre au public invite passersby to have a seat, a drink, even a moment of reflection. Enjoy music and more entertainment alongside food and drink  at seasonal spaces Jardins Gamelin outside Berri-UQAM metro station, Village au Pied-du-Courant near the Jacques-Cartier Bridge, the Old Port’s Marché des Éclusiers or green space and café Les Jardineries on the Esplanade of the Olympic Park.

Festivals and entertainment

Brighten your day with MURAL Festival's colourful murals – look for them on building facades along Saint-Laurent Boulevard and its side streets, and hear more about the mural artists on a street art tour with Spade & Palacio.

In the Quartier des Spectacles, watch for surprise entertainment by XP_MTL, and stop by public art exhibition Un coeur nomade along the Promenade des Artistes, honouring the literary career of Dany Laferrière. After dark look up to see animated film L’Exil vaut le voyage on the façade of UQAM’s Pavillon Président-Kennedy. Take a musical soundwalk with the Portrait Sonore app, featuring modern architecture, public art, Expo 67 and more. You might even catch one of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal's outdoor pop-up Summer in the City with the OSM concerts.

See the city

In the Old Port, get a bird's eye view of Montréal from La Grande Roue de Montréal or from the top of the MTL Zipline & Quick Jump tower (before zipping or jumping off it!). Stroll the Old Port of Montréal boardwalk and visit Marché des Éclusiers for local food and made-in-Montréal items. Discover more of Montréal on a guided bike tour or through the culinary delights of Montréal's best food tours. And keep an eye out for public art works: stop by Village Motel at open-air Galerie blanc I and discover more art throughout the city on self-led art tours.

In Old Montréal, visit famed Notre-Dame Basilica and on Friday and Saturday nights search out the projections of Cité Mémoire on historic buildings. Living Connections illuminates the Jacques-Cartier Bridge every night. Or see the sights from a new vantage point: a quiet river cruise along the St, Lawrence River with Navark, Le Petit Navire or Croisières AML. Follow our guide to Montréal's most famous icons to see more of the city's major sights and architecture.

Family activities

Explore the nature-focused Space for Life museums at Olympic Park: walk around the themed gardens of the Montréal Botanical Garden (and see if you can find grazing sheep!); visit the newly reopened Biodôme so you can explore the beautifully renewed immersive ecosystems, from the fish, birds and plants of the Tropical Rainforest to penguins and ice floes of the Sub-Antarctic Islands (be sure to buy your timed tickets ahead of time);  and search the cosmos in immersive shows at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. The Montréal Science Centre features interactive exhibition Journey to Space and IMAX films. Visit Québec wildlife at the conservation-focused Ecomuseum Zoo and all kinds of wildlife at the Zoo de Granby. And ride roller coasters big and small at La Ronde amusement park.

Food and drink

Montréal's bountiful public markets beckon with seasonal produce and BBQ-ready food, delicious meals to go and a diversity of desserts. Speaking of seasonal, wherever you are in the city, treat yourself to locally made ice cream and frozen treats. Le Burger Week is all about cheeseburgers this year: try original and exclusive burgers from dozens of participating restaurants from September 1 to 7.

Dine, have a drink and relax outdoors on Montréal terrasses. Grab a pick-me-up at Montréal's indie coffee shops, local coffee roasters and most “Instagrammable” cafés and tea houses. Sip a creative cocktail at happy hour. Also eat well at these top Montréal restaurants for the gourmet traveller, romantic dining options and casual restaurants. And of course, don't miss Montréal classics like poutine, smoked meat, bagels and brunch! Indulge your sweet tooth at Montréal's best bakeries and pastry shops. For more culinary discoveries, check out Tourisme Montréal's favourite year-round food picks.

Art and history everywhere

Art enlivens every corner of the city this Labour Day weekend. Immerse yourself in the incredible multimedia art of Rafael Lozano-Hemmer in Cercania at Arsenal Contemporary Art. Or step into Paris in the Days of Post-Impressionism: Signac and the Indépendants at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (book your tickets online for an exact date and time). At the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, see Painting Nature with a Mirror and Points of Light, 40 years of moving image art from the collections. At the Fondation PHI pour l'art contemporain see multi-artist exhibition Relations: Diaspora and Painting. Step into the Phi Centre's immersive exhibition Emergence & Convergence, on until September 6, and new virtual reality exhibition Venice VR Expanded, featuring 44 international virtual reality art works.

Montréal history museums and numerous religious sites blend history with art: visit Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex for The Incas, Treasures of Peru, tracing the origins and legacy of the Inca Empire; see the McCord Museum's retrospective exhibition Chapleau, Profession: Cartoonist and outdoor photography exhibition Go Play Outside! along McGill College Avenue; and take a guided tour of Maison Saint-Gabriel, Museum and Historic Site, where time has stopped in the days of Marguerite Bourgeoys. For more places to see art in the city, check out our guide to gallery hopping in Montréal.

Whether you're looking for art, adventure or relaxation (yes, Montréal's best spas are open!), the Labour Day long weekend in Montréal is the perfect opportunity to explore what the city has to offer and soak up summer in September.


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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