Montreal: What’s on when
Montreal is the city of festivals. Throughout the year, it’s host to an extraordinary number of celebrations and events, highlighting the city’s love of music, art, culture, food and just plain fun, indoors and out.
Fête des Neiges de Montreal
Fête des Neiges de Montreal is a celebration of the snow, featuring professional ice sculpting, skating, skiing, dog sledding, snow tube sliding and a range of other winter-specific activities. The festival runs over three weekends in Parc Jean-Drapeau, which is just 5 minutes from downtown Montreal.
Running from mid-January to early February, Igloofest is a series of open-air electronic music concerts held at the Old Port of Montreal. It attracts tens of thousands of visitors, along with internationally renowned DJs.
Montréal en Lumière
Every year in the heart of winter, the Montréal en Lumière festival warms up the city. It features a programme that combines the best of the performing arts, gourmet food and outdoor entertainment at the Quartier de Spectacles, which is spectacularly illuminated. The festival attracts upwards of 900,000 visitors and culminates with Montreal’s version of Nuit Blanche, a night-long celebration of the arts that includes a range of free performances and exhibitions throughout the city.
St. Patrick's Day
Montreal has been host to an annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade since 1824. Today’s parades move along Sainte-Catherine Street to Phillips Square and include bands, performers and over 100 floats.
Montreal's White Party Week
For five days surrounding the Easter weekend, Montreal hosts a range of electronic music performances, as well as fashion, dance and design-related events. The festival culminates with the Bal en Blanc, which is a massive music and dance concert, featuring top international DJs, with a focus especially on trance music. It’s held at the Montreal Bell Centre.
La Grande Braderie de Mode Québécoise
The ideal time for fashion lovers to visit Montreal is during the “Big Fashion Sale by Quebec Designers”. For four days in mid-April, top fashion designers from throughout Quebec offer discounts as high as 80% on their surplus stock. In Montreal, the sale is held at Bonsecours Market, at 350 Saint-Paul East.
MUTEK (International Festival of Digital Creativity and Electronic Music)
MUTEK is a popular five-day celebration of innovative digital and electronic music, with performances held at a number of venues in the Quartier de Spectacles.
Montreal Bike Fest
The annual Montreal Bike Fest is held over a week near the end of May and features two main bike tours – the Tour de l'Île de Montréal on The Island of Montreal and the 25-kilometre Tour la Nuit, which is held at night on city streets closed off for the event.
Held over two weeks, the Festival Transamériques celebrates new works in contemporary American dance and theatre. The festival also includes film showings, classes, workshops and debates.
Mondial de la Bière (World of Beer)
During the five days of the Mondial de la Bière Festival in early June, beer lovers can visit the Palais des Congrès to sample hundreds of different craft beers and ciders, attend workshops on making beer and sample food cooked with beer.
Formula 1 Grand Prix
Canada’s Formula 1 Grand Prix is held in June, on Montreal's Ile Notre-Dame. As well as the Grand Prix itself, Montreal hosts its famous Grand Prix Party on Crescent Street.
L'International des Feux (International Fireworks)
During June, Montreal hosts firework displays by a total of eight competing nations. The displays attract thousands of spectators. Good places for watching include La Ronde amusement park, the Old Port shoreline and the Jacques Cartier Bridge, which is closed to traffic during the shows.
Montreal International Jazz Festival
Montreal’s 10-day International Jazz Festival is one of the largest and most famous jazz festivals in the world. It features as many as 650 concerts, including 450 free outdoor performances across 10 stages, and attracts over 2.5 million visitors.
Festival International Nuits d'Afrique
In July, the two-week Festival International Nuits d'Afrique showcases African, Caribbean and Latin American music and culture, with concerts, workshops and a market dedicated to crafts. Many okf the concerts are free.
Montréal Complètement Cirque
Montreal promotes the circus in July with performances at a number of indoor venues, as well as a range of free outdoor events.
Just for Laughs Festival
Montreal’s two-week international comedy festival attracts as many as 2 million visitors, with shows (many of them free) by top local and international comedians. Some of the shows are in French, while others are in English.
Osheaga Music and Arts Festival
Held at Parc Jean-Drapeau, the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival features indie music performances on five stages, along with plenty of food, fun and outdoor entertainment.
Montreal World Film Festival
Near the end of August, Montreal hosts a 10-day international film festival, with screenings of hundreds of films and documentaries at various venues throughout the city.
The Montreal Marathon attracts over 30,000 runners from around the world. The 42-kilometre marathon route runs through the Île Notre-Dame and Saint Helen's Island, Old Montreal, the Ville-Marie district, Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. A half-marathon and 5-kilometre and 10-kilometre races are held on the same day.
Pop Montreal is a five-day, not-for-profit music festival, featuring as many as 500 top artists and attracting crowds of 50,000 people or more. As well as concerts, the festival includes art exhibitions, film screenings and fashion shows.
Black & Blue Festival
Held to raise money for HIV/Aids sufferers and to celebrate Montreal’s gay community, the Black & Blue Festival is an excellent excuse for a party over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. It features a number of raves, culminating in the Black & Blue Main Event – an epic music and dance concert – at the Palais des Congrès. The festival also includes various cultural, sporting and social events.
The annual Fête des Vins du Québec is held in the Marché Bonsecours and showcases the best of Québec's wines, complemented by gourmet food. Entry to the festival includes a tasting glass and coupons.
Santa Clause Parade
Held late in November, the Santa Clause Parade, or Défilé du Père Noël, is one of the most popular Christmas events in Montreal. The parade, which lasts for about two hours, includes Christmas-themed floats, musicians and dancers to usher in the Christmas season. Once the parade finishes, children can meet Santa at the Montreal Eaton Centre.
Old Montreal Extravaganza and Christmas Village
From mid-December, a colourful Christmas Village is set up in the Old Port and a series of Christmas performances and events are held throughout Montreal. The extravaganza includes the New Year's Eve Grand Bal, which ends with a spectacular fireworks display over the Old Port.