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 6, 2023.

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 and fun things to do in December make Montréal shine throughout Discover festive lighting installations along Sainte-Catherine Street downtown and illuminated interactive artworks in Place des Festivals during this year’s Luminothérapie event. Look up on building facades in Place des Festivals and throughout the Quartiers des spectacle to see joyful new projection art too. And experience an interactive ice skating experience, Au Bord du Lac Tranquille, on the Esplanade Tranquille skating rink, where trails of light stream behind you as you skate. 

Outside Place des Arts, The Great Christmas Market, one of several holiday markets in Montréal, transforms downtown’s Place des Festivals into a winter village of wooden chalets and twinkling lights, where you’ll find creations by local artisans, speciality foods, mulled wine, music and more.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts becomes illuminated for the season too: when night falls, see Quebec artist Nathalie Bujold’s new video-synthesizer artwork Pixels, Petits Points and Monument projected on the facade of the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion on Sherbrooke Street. A few blocks away at the McCord Stewart Museum, don’t miss Ogilvy's classic holiday window displays Enchanted Worlds inside the museum and The Mill in the Forest outside on Victoria Street. And don’t miss seeing the massive The Ring installation aglow at Esplanade Place Ville Marie downtown.

Holiday gift shopping becomes illuminated too as Centre Eaton de Montréal and Place Montréal Trust in the Underground City also transform in December, with decorations, gourmet and shopping surprises, live music and more. While Complexe Desjardins transforms into Santa’s Kingdom, with concerts, visits with Santa, an illuminated fountain and holiday fun, along with all kinds of holiday shopping. 



In Old Montréal, 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. 

Don’t miss Holidays on the Pointe at the Pointe-à-Callière Museum until January 8: see Christmas show “Who is the real Santa Claus?,” attend creative workshops and snap family photos among the glittering Christmas trees and wood huts outside the museum. Nearby, visit Château Ramezay’s Around the fireplace... Holiday Traditions exhibition, where kids can hang a Christmas stocking at one of the Château’s fireplaces and pick it up on New Year’s Day. 


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 Noël sur l’Avenue’s 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 16 and 17 – and buy locally made gifts (with a chance to win prizes) along the promenade. 



Enjoy music, festive lights, hot chocolate and more at Christmas in the Park at Jardins 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 at Jean-Talon Market. Take a stroll down Mont-Royal Avenue for its holiday atmosphere and great 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 at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier from December 14 to 30. Montréal choirs perform Christmas songs for free every Saturday and Sunday during Les Choralies at Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel from December 2 to 17. Attend music events at Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal, including Handel’s Messiah on December 13 and 14 and a Christmas Concert at the Oratory on December 15. On the other end of the spectrum, see The Grinch: Film with live Orchestra at Théâtre St-Denis on December 10 and 11. 

For high-energy holiday-season entertainment, go see Cirque du Soleil’s acrobatic and immersive ice skating show CRYSTAL at the Bell Centre, from December 21 to 31. And enter the magical world of Disney at innovative experience Immersive Disney Animation, featuring iconic scenes from movies and more, at Arsenal Contemporary Art Montreal from December 15 to February 25, 2024. Also at Arsenal, explore Notre-Dame de Paris: The Augmented Exhibition until December 30.

The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal celebrates the holidays with concerts like Berlioz’s L’enfance du Christ with French conductor Hervé Niquet on December 19 and more this season and throughout the winter. The Orchestre Métropolitain performs a Holiday Melodies concert on December 9 and 10 at Maison symphonique. Relaxed and acoustically refined, Bourgie Hall concert hall at the Montreal 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, Momo and Mari Kodama performing The Nutcracker on two pianos, Arion Baroque Orchestra performing Christmas in Paris, and more. 

Quebec singer-songwriter Pierre Lapointe performs seasonal songs in concert Chansons hivernales at Place des Arts on December 7. A holiday tradition, Andy Kim Christmas is in full effect on December 9 at Théâtre Beanfield. Canadian trio LYRICO celebrates the holidays with concert A Very Operatic Christmas on December 21 at Place des Arts. Also at Place des Arts: Ensemble Caprice performs Handel’s Messiah at Maison symphonique de Montréal on December 22; David Marino, a finalist on Canada’s The Voice, sings his holiday heart out on December 22; and Celine Dion fans will love Orchestre Philharmonique du Québec concert Céline Symphonique on December 27 and 28.

Have a happy holiday season 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.

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