From July 2 to July 30, Montréal hosts a month of explosive aerial entertainment. Running since 1985, the International Montréal Fireworks Festival (L’International des Feux Loto Québec) is the biggest of its kind in the world. Every Saturday and alternating Wednesday nights during the month of July (plus a closing finale on the first of August), the skies above Île Ste-Hélène light up with impressive pyrotechnical displays from competing countries. With eight colourful nights you won’t want to miss, we’ve searched the skies and assembled five prime locations that offer a VIP view to the show.
Get your fireworks fix straight from the source. Held at Montréal’s famed amusement park, La Ronde, there’s no getting closer to the action than taking the Métro over (well, under) the river to Île Sainte-Hélène. La Ronde offers waterfront stadium seating to the event with tickets starting at $65*, which include full-day access to the park and its rides. With a single admission to La Ronde costing $62 on any day of the week, this combo ticket is a steal. A significant portion of the fireworks display is only seen from the ground, and there’s nothing like experiencing the synchronized musical accompaniment first-hand. So secure yourself an evening spot on the grandstands and spend the sunshine hours battling Goliath.
La Ronde: 22 MacDonald Road, Île Sainte-Hélène
TERRASSE SUR L’AUBERGE
Try this scenario on for size: You’re sitting on a stylish rooftop terrace located in Montréal’s historic Old Port, and as you overlook the St. Lawrence River, the skyline ignites with explosions of colour. Did we mention there would be wine? The Auberge du Vieux-Port certainly provides the classiest fireworks viewing party in the city. A $25 cover is charged per head on fireworks evenings, and no minimum food or beverage purchase is required. The show itself starts at 10 p.m., but aim to get there early. Reservations are only available to hotel guests, and the rooftop hits maximum capacity at about 100 people. The terrasse closes every night at 11 p.m., but there’s plenty of neighbouring nightlife in Old Montréal to explore.
Warning: Tourisme Montréal does not take responsibility for any spontaneous marriage proposals made in the heat of the moment.
Terrasse sur l’Auberge: 97 De La Commune Street E.
Free, thrilling, and full of community spirit, the Jacques-Cartier Bridge is a local favourite for watching the fireworks. A short jaunt from the Papineau Métro station, the length of Canada’s 3rd busiest bridge transforms into a pedestrian-only viewing platform from 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on fireworks nights. Join the masses to dangle your legs over the river as you watch the awe-inspiring action erupt just above eye-level. Pyrotechnics enthusiasts come equipped: We recommend bringing a sweater (it’s windy up there), something soft to sit on, and a radio tuned to Rythme 105.7 FM, so you can enjoy the music that goes along with the show.
COMPLEXE SKY ROOFTOP TERRACE
A favourite summer rooftop any day of the week, Sky’s celestial terrace is especially noteworthy on nights during this festival. A fixture in Montréal’s Gay Village since its opening in 1994, the elevated platform of the three-floored party palace offers a clear view of the fireworks to the East. There’s no cover charge to access the terrace, which—barring inclement weather—is open seven nights a week until its 3 a.m. closing. And really, what pairs better with kaleidoscopic explosions than a drag show, a hot tub, and a mammoth-sized pitcher of sangria with friends?
Complexe Sky: 1474 78 Sainte-Catherine Street E.
CLOCK TOWER BEACH
While all these lofty locations are excellent choices, maybe you prefer to enjoy fireworks on terra firma—or semi-“firma” anyway, but that all depends on how you classify sand. Opened in 2012, the Clock Tower Beach in Montréal’s Old Port has quickly become a favoured fireworks spectating spot. Entrance to the all-ages beach costs $5 on fireworks nights, and boasts a bar on location for the 18+ crowd. The caveat, of course, is that the space fills up quickly, so get there at least two hours before show time. Better still, you could spend a leisurely afternoon relaxing on the urban shoreline, and have front row seats come nightfall. Up for a round of pre-fireworks volleyball? We’re game if you are.
Clock Tower Beach: Quai de l’Horloge Street, Montréal
AU SOMMET PLACE VILLE MARIE OBSERVATION DECK
Newly opened in June 2016, find yourself watching the fireworks from the long-anticipated observation deck Au Sommet Place Ville Marie. The 360 degree view from the landmark 46th floor (that’s 188 metres above street level) is the highest place in the city to watch the polychromatic explosions, and will be open ’til 11p.m. on competition nights. Get there early and enjoy a sky-high dinner on the 44th floor at Les Enfants Terribles Brasserie’s four season terrace, or take a tour of the interactive #mtlgo multimedia exhibition on the 45th.
Au Sommet Place Ville Marie: 3 Place Ville Marie (entrance on Rue Cathcart)
VILLAGE AU PIED-DU-COURANT
Community project extraordinaire, this sandy stretch just East of Papineau metro is situated right across the river from La Ronde itself, making an incredible spot to spread out a towel and watch the glittering sky. Styled like a traditional “boardwalk”, Village au Pied-du-Courant is lined with pavilions, public art, a beer garden, and space for food trucks. Better still, on-site speakers boom with the music to accompany the show, so you’re in for a truly immersive fireworks experience. Get there early to secure a space and prepare to be awash with sensory stimuli.
Village au Pied-du-Courant: 2242 Rue Notre-Dame E
ON THE WATER
In the sky, laid out on sand, atop a bridge, in the grandstands themselves… so many incredible options on land, but what about taking to the water? Set sail and take in the colourful spectacle from the mighty St-Lawrence from the fireworks tour by Le Petit Navire, a cruise on the Croisière AML or Bateau Mouche, or a private boat excursion with Adventures Wet Set MTL. You’ll never see aquatic excursions the same way again.
Le Petit Navire: Jacques-Cartier Pier
Bateau Mouche: 55 Quai d’accostage
Adventures Wet Set MTL: Place Jacques Cartier, Montréal
With 8 nights of the spectacular competition, we urge you to give each viewing platform a try. And remember, the number one place to watch the 2016 Montréal fireworks competition is arms of the people you love!
Full fireworks schedule here
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