Winter shines bright in Montréal
Montréal's glittering winter streets, parks and city squares treat visitors to a uniquely luminous urban experience from December to mid-March, when the city is infused with high-energy festivals and charming events dedicated to all things light and bright. With outdoor adventures, holiday activities, creative gastronomy and illuminating art exhibitions, Montréal dazzles all winter.
December holidays sparkle
As winter begins in late December, the city starts to glow with holiday activities. Festivals Christmas in the park and Merry Montréal invite everyone to sip hot chocolate together around wood-burning fires outdoors, while holiday markets sparkle with locally made creations to bring home. Playful art event Luminothérapie brightens downtown's Place des Festivals with innovative interactive art from December through January, while the incredible Fire on Ice fireworks light up the sky in the Old Port of Montréal – also offering a great view of the Jacques-Cartier Bridge aglow with colour-shifting light.
Festivals light up the night
Montréal keeps celebrating the season in January and February, outdoors and in the city's renowned restaurants and cultural venues. On the shore of the St. Lawrence River in Montréal's Old Port, colourfully-dressed crowds take to the snowy dancefloor by night as electronic music pulses at famed festival Igloofest. In late February, international gastronomy meets Montréal's food, arts and culture scenes at MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE, where food lovers rub shoulders with guest chefs and sommeliers, an outdoor site illuminates Place des Festivals with a Ferris wheel, ice slides and entertainment, and festival grande finale Nuit blanche à Montréal brings thousands of people together to explore Montréal from dusk until dawn.
Outdoor activities energize
Night or day, Montréal's parks are a sparking oasis. People of all ages fill the ice skating rinks alongside the St. Lawrence River in the Old Port of Montréal, next to Beaver Lake in Mount Royal Park and on Parc La Fontaine's softly lit pond. The energy's festive in Parc Jean-Drapeau on the snow-tubing hills, ice slides and many activity zones of family-focused Fête des neiges de Montréal in January and February. And from late February to early April, traditional sugar shacks warm visitors up with plates of authentic Québécois food like tourtière and maple syrup candy tire d’érable.
Art and culture illuminate
Spirits soar at Old Montréal's Notre-Dame Basilica as high-tech multimedia experience AURA reinvigorates the church's architectural and historic glory. On building facades in Old Montréal, the colourful multimedia tableaux projections of Cité Mémoire astound viewers as they reveal another side of Montréal history. And there's always something surprising to see and so many things to learn about the world at Montréal's many brilliant museums and art galleries.
Throughout the season, international and local stars of theatre, dance and music shine on Montréal's stages (and one of Montréal's brightest stars, Leonard Cohen, stands out on murals on Crescent Street and just off Saint-Laurent Boulevard near Schwartz's deli). Look through the city's cultural calendar at La Vitrine, pick up the Passeport MTL to visit museums and up to 28 must-see Montréal attractions for a great price (with public transportation included), plan your visit with My Official Montréal City Guide and save on your stay with the MTL Sweet Deal!
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.