Where to rent winter sports equipment in Montréal
Montréal in winter is an experience like no other, with its snow-covered rooftops, sparkling streets and cozy hotels and restaurants. But if you really want to experience the city like a Montrealer, put on a pair of ice skates, snowshoes or cross-country skis. We've got the scoop on where to rent winter equipment, stay warm and active and see the city sights at the same time.
Riverside in Old Montréal
One of Montréal's most picturesque ice skating rinks is the Natrel Rink in Bonsecours Basin in the Old Port, with views of Old Montréal's historic architecture (including the neoclassical silver dome of Marché Bonsecours and the angels atop Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel (the one in the middle is the “Lady of the Harbour” in Leonard Cohen's song Suzanne), La Grande Roue de Montréal observation wheel, the Jacques-Cartier Bridge and beyond. One of the city's biggest refrigerated outdoor rinks, it opens in early December and doesn't close until winter's over in mid-March. The Natrel rink amps up the on-ice fun with DJ nights, skating workouts and other themed events, and features skate rentals for all ages, lockers and a bistro offering hot chocolate and more.
High atop Mount Royal
See a different side of Montréal's most famous park during its winter months, when Mount Royal Park boasts a natural rink and a refrigerated rink at Beaver Lake, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails and more. Starting in December, rent ice skates, skis and snowshoes at the park from nature stewardship organization Les amis de la Montagne. Grab a map and explore on your own – the view from the Kondiaronk Belvedere is just as photo-ready and breathtaking in winter (and when you catch your breath again, you'll be able to see it – so Instagrammable!). Or go on a nature-inspired, eco-friendly tour with Les Amis de la Montagne to learn more about the park's history and ecology and meet some locals too.
A slice of nature in the Plateau
A charming natural ice rink lit softy all winter, with a fountain at its heart and surrounded by trees, the Parc La Fontaine ice skating rink is definitely unforgettable. Once the pond's surface is solidly frozen, locals and tourists of all ages can be found skating along the rink's meandering path, day and night. Rink-side, you can rent ice skates, pick up a new toque and mittens, and even take a skating lesson. Whether you're on a romantic couples getaway or looking for outdoor things to do with energetic kids, take advantage of the park's proximity to restaurants and stores on Rachel Street, Mont-Royal Avenue and Saint-Denis Street, where you can fuel up before or after skating or pick up a snack.
Winter wonders in Parc Jean-Drapeau
In summer, it's a green oasis and festival venue just across the St. Lawrence River from the Old Port, while in winter Parc Jean-Drapeau welcomes nature lovers and winter sports enthusiasts. The Stewart Museum hosts its annual Santas Are Taking Over the Stewart Museum event for families, while the Biosphère environment museum inside the Buckminster Fuller geodesic dome features exhibitions and activities designed to connect us with nature.
The Olympic spirit in Hochelaga
Host to First Fridays food truck events, les Jardineries gardens and more all summer, Esplanade Financière Sun Life of the Olympic Park transforms into a winter village and ice skating rink by mid-January, with skate and helmet rentals on site. Situated next to the Olympic Stadium and steps away from Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium and the Olympic Park Sports Centre, the winter village also features food, warm beverages, live music, holiday festivities and more. Just up the hill, explore Parc Maisonneuve's 63 hectares of open space, including tree-lined cross-country ski trails and a skating rink with rentals.
Indoor days downtown
For a change, or if the weather's particularly cold, head indoors to the lively atmosphere of Atrium Le 1000, a skating rink located in the city’s tallest office building skyscraper. A windowed glass dome lets natural light onto the ice, while seasonal lighting and year-round events maintain a festive mood. Atrium Le 1000 also plays music to skate by, offers rentals and skating lessons for kids and adults, features a food court with several restaurant options and can be conveniently reached through the underground city walkway network from Bonaventure metro station.
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.
To see the list of our regular contributors, click here.