Our list of things to do in Montreal this holiday season may help make up for the dreadful winter weather around the corner.
It’s getting darker, colder and, and let’s be honest, kind of gross. Our days are getting shorter, while night dominates most of the hours in a day. The light in the sky escapes our eyes at 4 p.m. and, once again, we find ourselves taking our “afternoon” walks in the dead of night. I’m being a tad dramatic, I know. I can hear my mother’s voice making its way through my ears, telling me to “Look at the positive side, bun.”
While it may be easy to dump a cloud of doom and gloom over the Montreal winter, why not embrace the fact that the holidays are just around the corner?
Glistening lights and holiday drinks have entered the chat folks, so pay attention. In the spirit of the season, I’ve put together a few fun and festive things to fill your winter days.
It’s time to dig your skates out of that bag in your closet, wear your thickest socks, and hit the ice. Let’s be honest, nothing quite says “Montreal holiday season” like skating outdoors. While rinks remain open throughout the winter, there’s something special about strapping on a pair of blades during the holidays.
If you’re thinking of locations, the Old Port is definitely the place to be. The twinkling lights of the city paired with the sound of music and the mystic St. Lawrence River right by the rink makes for an enchanting outing.
If your feet start to hurt (and, let’s face it, they always end up doing so), you can always take a step back from the rink and grab a hot cocoa… or a beer. Did I mention how perfect this activity makes for a fun and flirty date? You couldn’t have picked it better.
If this activity doesn’t seem perfectly storybook enough, I don’t know what is.
Markets, markets, markets!
Tis’ the season to venture out to holiday markets! This has to be one of my favorite holiday traditions, no matter what city I’m in. The best news is that there’s no shortage of them in Montreal. What better way to join in on the holiday-spirited fun than by embracing the magical sights and sounds of each unique holiday market?
Whether you’re hitting the Village de Noël de Montréal at Atwater Market, the Marché de Noël de Jean Talon or Les Jardins d’Hiver at the Esplanade de la Place des Arts, you have options. Of course, several measures have been implemented at these different venues to ensure the safety of all visitors and employees, including the government-mandated vaccine passports.
Regardless of which location you decide to visit, you’ll find food, drinks, and fun little knick-knacks you can pick up for your loved ones as kitschy holiday gifts. Nothing says “holiday season in Montreal” quite like warm and welcoming holiday markets, right?
Let there be light (and sparkles)
As the days get shorter and the nights grow longer, Montreal has several different activities that will light up your winter days — literally. Time to fill up your thermos with a hot drink of your choice (I don’t judge), bundle up, and enjoy some light installations around the city.
First stop: the Luminothérapie playground at the Quartier des Spectacles. Getting your hands on the funky mixture of interactive art and light pieces will make you feel like a kid again. After you’ve had your fun there, take a stroll downtown. Allow yourself to be amazed by the holiday decor and lighting installations, all of which are guaranteed to distract you from the icky winter streets.You can also enjoy some pop-up shows and holiday activities offered from XP_MTL.
Your last stop? You don’t want to miss the stunning multimedia show Aura at the Notre-Dame Basilica. The universally-acclaimed show features stunning visuals and incredible music. The luminous experience will truly take your breath away, making it an unforgettable, magical evening.
Get your tickets for holiday music and shows!
Holiday music and theatre shows are back and better than ever. From Dec. 9 to 28, you can catch The Nutcracker, presented by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, at Place des Arts. After years of watching the Barbie Nutcracker version (which will never get old), I can say that this activity is definitely at the top of my wish list.
The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal is contributing to the festive joy with several different concerts. Included in the line-up are La Poste du Paradis, Handel’s Messiah, Hervé Niquet and Berlioz’s L’Enfance du Christ (The Childhood of Christ), and many more. You can also make your way to the Bourgie Hall at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to enjoy their holiday concerts, including A Very Merry Christmas by the Montréal Guitare Trio and A Charlie Brown Christmas by the Taurey Butler Trio.
Take a break from that essay, lab, or project, grab your winter gear, and go enjoy some festive fun! Let’s embrace Montreal’s holiday sparkle while we still can.
Feature graphic by Madeline Schmidt