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.

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 December. Outside Place des Arts, stroll along the Village de Noël's tree-lined winter garden path Jardins dHiver in December. Throughout downtown, watch for larger-than-life decorations and lighting installations in the streets along with pop-up performances, fun and games and more holiday activities from XP_MTL.  And 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 Museum.

Old Montréal is always gorgeous at this time of year: visit the peacefully illuminated square outside Notre-Dame Basilica while inside see gorgeous multimedia show AURA; and on weekends throughout November and every night from December 18 to January 2 search out the historical projections of Cité Mémoire on building facades. 

All summer long, Riverside St-Henri is the perfect spot to meet pals and their pups on their bustling canal-side terrasse. But this 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. Reservation spots are open now!

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.

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 – watch for free concerts by local musicians, holiday-themed games 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 and holiday fun, along with all kinds of holiday shopping.

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 28. The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal celebrates the holidays with concert series Hervé Niquet and Berlioz’s L’Enfance du Christ (The Childhood of Christ), Handel's Messiah, and more this season and throughout the winter.  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 and much more. Gather the kids for the rollicking Le grand bal de Noël. Sing along with the CBC Christmas Sing-In on CBC Music and at noon on CBC Radio One. A brand new creation by Cirque Eloize will be presented at the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth on December 16. The Celeste cabaret celebrates the mythical and mysterious world of the stars and plunges spectators into a bewitching atmosphere.

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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