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 10, 2020.

Montréal's winter holiday season stays 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, virtual holiday events and lots more.

Holiday city sparkle

All kinds of holiday events make Montréal shine throughout December. Outside Place des Arts, stroll along the Village de Noël's tree-lined winter garden path Jardins d’Hiver from December 5 to January 3. Further into downtown, enjoy the festive Lights on Peel illuminated artwork, honouring the Kanien’keha:ka clans, and Follow Santa Claus on Ste-Catherine Street sidewalks and in store windows. In the same area, experience the giant holiday installations of L'Odyssée, le grand réconfort by XP_MTL.

The glowing zoetrope pods of interactive artwork Loop return for this year’s Luminothérapie art playground at Place des Festivals – also see the inflatable shadow-theatre spheres of Lucion's Nouvelle Lune, projection art on building facades and more through the Quartier des spectacles. Don’t miss Ogilvy's classic holiday window display Enchanted Worlds on Victoria Street outside the McCord Museum.

Old Montréal is always gorgeous at this time of year: it’s bright and festive at Merry Montreal’s Place Nordique along Place Jacques-Cartier from December 17 to 21 and from December 24 to 27; visit the peacefully illuminated square outside Notre-Dame Basilica; and from Wednesday to Sunday nights search out the historical projections of Cité Mémoire on building facades. And get a bird’s eye view of Montréal in all its festive glory, night or day, from the Mount Royal Park lookout. 

Christmas in the parks and markets

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 – this year with virtual Concerts sous le sapin by Québec musicians such as Damien Robitaille.

Enjoy 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 is open for shopping in-person and online – kids can even live chat with Santa from the North Pole!

Ice skating, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and climbing

Go ice skating outdoors at at the refrigerated rink at Beaver Lake in Mount Royal Park, where you can also rent snowshoes and cross-country skis. If the weather’s cold enough, skate at tree-lined Parc La Fontaine ice skating rink. If you have your own equipment, go hiking, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing on the meandering trails of Parc Maisonneuve and Parc Jean-Drapeau, or at Montréal's large nature parks, including Cap-Saint-Jacques and l’Île-de-la-Visitation

For something different, try rock climbing for a couple of hours at Olympic Stadium on Nomad Bloc's indoor climbing wall, with 110 feet of bouldering routes for all levels reset every three weeks, we suggest you to book your spot in advance! When it’s time to re-fuel, get take out from restaurants known for making comforting hot food for cold days and warm up with the best coffee, tea and hot chocolate in the city.

Virtual holiday music and shows

The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal celebrates the holidays with a concert of Vivaldi's Gloria and Handel's Messiah, webcast from December 15 to 24, and also presents online concerts throughout the winter. Tune in to a live broadcast of Orchestre classique de Montréal performing Handel's Messiah at L'Oratoire Saint-Joseph on December 8. And sing along with the CBC Christmas Sing-In on December 25 at 8 a.m. on CBC Music and at noon on CBC Radio One.

Enjoy a fireside chat and acoustic performance in the The Dears: Christmas Love Special, broadcast live on December 11. Sing and dance to Chanukah and winter songs at the Segal Centre's virtual Jennifer Gasoi Holiday Concert on December 6. Gather the kids for the rollicking Le grand bal de Noël. And watch Les Grands Ballets' The Nutcracker on ICI TÉLÉ on December 18 at 7 pm and on ARTV on December 28 at 8 pm. And celebrate the start of 2021 at the virtual Merry Montréal New Year’s Eve party on December 31 at 9:30 p.m., with music by Martha Wainwright, Louis-Jean Cormier, Beyries and more great artists! 

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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