As the party and historical capital of Canada, Montreal has quite a reputation to match up to. Luckily, thanks to our hundreds of festivals and atmospheric Europe-like city center, it’s a feat that is quite easily done, and that doesn’t fail to impress both locals and visitors every time. Montreal really does have a vast selection of things to see and do during at Christmas and New Year’s. Let’s have a closer look.
Montreal’s Holiday Season: Christmas Events & Festivities
One of the few things that doesn’t get old every time December comes around is the return of the Nutcracker. Les Grands Ballets Canadiens offers a spellbinding version of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Christmas tale, with twice daily showings throughout the month at the splendid Place des Arts in downtown Montreal. Be quick though — tickets sell out FAST.
In terms of outdoor festivities, Old-Montreal is the place to be. First off, the colorful and highly musical skating rink in Quai Bonsecours –which offers an outstanding view of the city– where each day as a different music theme and evening sessions for just $6 per person. A definite must-do for cold weather lovers! Not to forget the free fireworks show every Saturday at 8PM, and the magical Christmas light installations on Place Jacques-Cartier.
The Quartier des spectacles also has a pretty cool light show, Luminothérapie, an artsy and skillfully assembled wheat field of light. A great picture-taking spot for visitors and Instagrammers alike. Just a bit further west but still in downtown Montreal, the Museum of Fine Arts presents a series of free Christmas concerts on Saturday afternoons alongside its annual Christmas tree exhibition, featuring dozens of whimsically decorated trees.
The Olympic Village also decks its halls with its Christmas village, which both kids and parents will enjoy thanks to the outdoor ice skating rink, sleigh rides, storytellers, free concerts, and most importantly, its 65-foot-tall Christmas tree.
Lastly, those wishing to get some gift shopping done and looking for unique, locally-made items should head to Palais des congrès for the Nutcracker Market, where artisans come and sell their original creations.
Montreal’s Holiday Season: Eating Your Way Through the City
True to its reputation of being a foodie city, Montreal doesn’t let the snow or the subzero temperatures stop her from serving some of the best meals in the world — both indoors and outdoors. Most restaurants in Old-Montreal offer a special holiday menu inspired by traditional Québécois cuisine. Make sure to book ahead.
The Olympic Village will also celebrate the city’s love of food with the First Saturdays, which means that every first Saturday of the winter months (December 7, January 4, February 1 and March 1), gourmet food trucks that made Montrealers so happy and sated during the summer will gather on the Esplanade Sun Life and serve their gastronomic creations, like mac&cheese, crepes and poutine.
Montreal’s Holiday Season: New Year’s Eve Parties
Like any festive city with its fair share of bars and nightclubs, Montreal has a plethora of options when it comes to celebrating the New Year in style. Pick a club, get a ticket and prepare to have the time of your life in North America’s party city!
Those who would however prefer an off-the-beaten-track type of experience should visit Place Jacques-Cartier, for what promises to be an explosive (fireworks included!) evening with musical performances, a lively countdown and not to mention a historical and scenic backdrop. Definitely a night to remember.
Have you ever spent the holidays or rang the New Year in Montreal? Or is this something you would consider doing eventually?