Winter holiday activities for all in Montréal

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 December 13, 2022.

Montréal's winter holiday season is always something to celebrate, shining bright this year from Old Montréal and downtown to every neighbourhood in the city. Discover festive things to do and see, with outdoor fun for families, holiday events, Christmas concerts and lots more.

Holiday city sparkle

All kinds of magical holiday events make Montréal shine throughout November and December, starting with the Santa Claus Parade on November 19, a festive family favourite of holiday-themed floats traveling the length of Sainte-Catherine Street downtown. Outside Place des Arts, stroll through the Village de Noël de Montréal, sip hot chocolate and mulled wine, and enjoy outdoor activities and performances – and while there shop in the open air for Quebec-made gifts of all kinds at the Le Grand marché de Noël from November 19 to December 31.

Throughout downtown, XP_MTL  watch for larger-than-life decorations (like The Legend of the Bears by Cree artist Jason Carter), window displays and lighting installations on Sainte-Catherine Street, along with choir performances and more holiday activities and entertainment at street-level and in the underground city. Eaton Centre and Place Montréal Trust also transform in December, with gourmet surprises, a cappella choirs, a carousel ride, art workshops and more. Play in this year’s Luminothérapie art playground at Place des Festivals, where illuminated interactive art makes us all feel like kids again. Look up on building facades in Place des Festivals and throughout the Quartiers des spectacle to see joyful new projection art too. A few blocks away, don’t miss Ogilvy's classic holiday window display Enchanted Worlds on Victoria Street outside the McCord Stewart Museum.




Visit the peacefully illuminated square outside Notre-Dame Basilica, while inside see gorgeous multimedia show AURA; and on weekend evenings search out the historical projections of Cité Mémoire on building facades.

In summer, Riverside St-Henri is the perfect spot to meet pals and their pups on their bustling canal-side terrasse, but in winter Riverside becomes Hiverside, an ice palace cocktail bar designed by Julien Doré out of the frozen stuff itself. Watch your Instagram blow up with shots of this frozen getaway, and bask in the Montréal winter.



Christmas in the parks and markets

Get a bird’s eye view of Montréal in all its festive glory, night or day, from the Mount Royal Park lookout – a classic Montréal holiday experience for all ages. Or go for a 360-degree view of the city on La Grande Roue de Montréal, the climate-controlled observation wheel in the Old Port of Montréal – also a prime place to watch the ice skaters in action at the illuminated Old Port of Montréal outdoor ice skating rink. Rent ice skates and skate in the Old Port, in city parks from Mount Royal to Parc La Fontaine, and even indoors at Atrium Le 1000 downtown, decorated for the season and playing holiday tunes!

Mount Royal Avenue also sparkles this month with the return of free Christmas concerts and family activities along the avenue, which is also a great place to shop for gifts! In the Rosemont neighborhood, visit Santa in his winter cabin and sip free hot chocolate and cider around a huge Christmas tree at Le Chalet du Père Noël on Promenade Masson on December 10 and 11 - and buy locally made gifts (with a chance to win prizes) along the promenade. 



Enjoy music, festive lights, hot chocolate and more at Noël dans le Parc at Place Émilie-Gamelin downtown and in Parc des Compagnons and Parc Lahaie in the Plateau neighbourhood – watch for free concerts by local musicians, holiday-themed games, Christmas tree and bough sales, and more all season.

Experience the festivities and shop local for gifts this season at Montréal holiday markets, including the Village de Noël de Montréal at Atwater Market and the Marché de Noël de Jean-Talon at Jean-Talon Market. Take a stroll down Mont-Royal Avenue for its holiday atmosphere and great shopping. And Complexe Desjardins transforms into a Christmas village, with concerts, an illuminated fountain and holiday fun, along with all kinds of holiday shopping. And follow the Sentier-des-Neiges winter path in Côte-des-Neiges to see lighting installations, enchanted trees, a tour of local merchants and more until March 17 – and don’t miss the Christmas Village giant video projections at 5450 Côte-des-Neiges!


Holiday music and shows

Holiday concerts and theatrical events return in abundance this year! Always glorious, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal presents The Nutcracker from December 9 to 30. The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal celebrates the holidays with concerts Christmas Songs with Rafael Payare, J. S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio Conducted By Leonardo García Alarcón and more this season and throughout the winter, while the Orchestre Métropolitain performs a Holiday Melodies concert, Bach’s Mass in B Minor, and more at Maison symphonique. Relaxed and acoustically refined, the Salle Bourgie concert hall at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts is also a source of beautiful concerts this holiday season, including A Charlie Brown Christmas concert by the Taurey Butler Trio, Ensemble ALKEMIA - Un monde pour Noël family concert, and more.

See epic musical The Sound of Music, directed by Gregory Charles and featuring over 25 actors, singers and dancers, plus a 10-person orchestra at Théâtre St-Denis from December 3 to 31 (shows available in either English or French). A truly Québecois experience, theatrical musical show Décembre, la grande fresque du temps des fêtes signée Québec Issime adds extra joy to the season  – and gather the kids for the rollicking Le Petit Noël de Québec Issime too! Sing along with the CBC Christmas Sing-In at The Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul and also on CBC Music and CBC Radio One. The Glen Miller Orchestre performs concert In the Christmas Mood on December 23 at Place des Arts. And POP Montréal presents concert Étoiles Et Toi with Rufus & Martha Wainwright Ensemble + Famille on December 3 at St. Jean Baptiste Church.

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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