Travel Blog

9 Dec

Free things to do this December in Montréal

We anticipate December’s holiday shopping, gift giving and celebratory meals and parties long before the first snow falls, yet Montréal also offers a flip side that doesn’t cost a thing and can often be just as glamorous. Read on for free and easy December fun!

Montreal en fetesMerry making

Old Montréal’s December-long winter extravaganza, Merry Montréal, adds shine to the Old World edifices and glitter to the cobblestones – drink free hot chocolate and coffee, watch Christmas-themed films like Home Alone and Elf on an outdoor screen, warm up around fires, bring kids to see Santa at the Christmas market at Place Jacques-Cartier, call the North Pole, broadcast holiday wishes on “Wish-a-Phones,” and top it all off at the end of the month with the Merry Montréal New Year’s Ball.

Luminotherapie_2015Outdoor illumination

Become a kid again – or just join the kids at play already – at this year’s edition of Luminothérapie, an interactive-art playground filled with 30 seesaws emitting sound and light at Place des Festivals, beginning December 10. Also watch for state-of-the-art video projections on nearby Théâtre Maisonneuve and UQAM’s President–Kennedy building as well as the Grande Bibliothèque, UQAM bell tower and five more looming facades.

Noel sur l'avenueWinter in the parks

Mont-Royal Avenue’s annual Noël sur l’Avenue lights up the street and Parc des Compagnons all month – play in the park, peer in all the decorated shop windows and take a carriage ride. Find even more entertainment at Noël dans le Parc at parks and surrounding streets around town. And if it’s cold enough for the lakes to freeze, go skating and sledding on the lakes at Parc Mont-Royal, Parc LaFontaine, Parc Jarry and Parc Maisonneuve.

Marche de Noel Price ArthurMarket fare

Head outdoors for Le Grand Marché de Noël de Montréal winter market – with food and entertainment to match – at the Place des Arts and the nearby and charming Marché de Noël Prince Arthur. And see what local artisans and craftspeople are up to at Montréal’s traditional holiday fairs and indie markets – listen to live music, walk among Christmas trees and holiday lights, and even sample food and drink along the way, with the option to buy to your heart’s content.

La Basilique Notre-DameMusic and entertainment

Montréal’s Quatuor el Pieto quartet plays classical, tango and traditional tunes on December 19 at Place des Arts’ Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme. Hear classical and seasonal music by ensembles and soloists at the McGill University Schulich School of Music – check the schedule for all the free concerts. Attend mass or simply wonder at the beauty of Saint-Joseph’s Oratory and Mary Queen of the World, and go to services and music performances at Christ Church Cathedral. Related though not free, the $5 entry to Montréal’s famed Notre-Dame Basilica is worth it, especially when choirs sing.

Mind-expanding museums

From modern art to ancient history, Montréal museums can be as fun as they are educational – and many have free options. On a Christmas theme, see hundreds of handmade Santa figurines and sip hot chocolate at the Stewart Museum at Parc Jean-Drapeau – free all month. It’s usually $12 to see the Montreal Museum of Fine Artss extensive permanent collections, but they’re free on the last Sunday of the month, free on Thursdays to people 65 and over, always free to anyone 30 and under, and kids 12 and under have free access to the entire museum, including special exhibitions and family weekend art workshops and tours. Wednesday evenings are half-price at the Musee d’art contemporain and admission is always free for children under 12, including Family Sundays tours and workshops. Wednesday nights are free at the McCord Museum, and children under 12 are always free to visit – see the museum’s annual toys show Mister Rabbit’s Circus and the city’s history in multimedia exhibitions. Visit the Canadian Centre for Architecture for free on Thursday evenings after 5:30 p.m. to see new exhibition The Other Architect, architecture that goes beyond building and deeper into intellectual, critical and radical work. And explore the McGill University campus to find the Redpath Museum of natural history, featuring displays about the biodiversity of Québec, including dinosaur and marine vertebrates skeletons.

Imagine BrazilGorgeous galleries

Winter gets a warm-up at DHC/ART’s Imagine Brazil extensive exhibition of contemporary Brazilian art. Galerie UQAM at the Université du Québec à Montréal explores the life work of an influential Canadian artist in Hank Bull. Connexion. Find more commercial galleries and artist-run centres throughout the city, including five floors of art in downtown’s Belgo Building, home to SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art, Galerie Joyce Yahouda, Galerie Donald Browne, SKOL, Galerie Dominique Bouffard, Les Territoires, Visual Voice, and more, plus Old Montréal’s Phi Centre, St-Henri’s Parisian Laundry, Mile End’s Galerie Simon Blais, Centre Clark, Optica and Monastiraki, and Little Italy/Mile-Ex’s Galerie Yves Laroche, Battat Contemporary and Eastern Bloc.


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