Things to do in Montreal

Must-Visit Montreal Christmas Events

Experience the magic of a true Montreal Christmas. This festive city offers visitors a variety of Christmas events, including markets and light shows.

During the holiday season, Montreal transforms into a beautiful winter wonderland, covered in snowy streets and shimmering lights. The cheery sounds of jingle bells and Christmas carols beckon you to partake in the festivities with snowy adventures and holiday festivities.

Zip up your coat, put on your mittens, and join us as we explore the most delightful things to do in Montreal at Christmas.

Markets and Villages

The holiday season in Montreal is a time of holiday cheer and celebration. Christmas markets and villages are set up throughout the downtown area in the holiday spirit. Each market has its unique theme, character, and individual operating hours. Here are some of our favorites.

1. Village de Noël de Montreal

Explore the magic of Christmas when you visit the Village de Noël de Montreal. This yuletide market opens at the end of November and closes a few days before Christmas. Here, you can find unique gifts made by local and regional artisans.

Take in the sparkling lights and sip hot chocolate as you shop for decorative products and holiday wares. Listen as the Live concerts and carolers add to the festive ambiance throughout the village. Its picturesque location on Place du Marché Atwater makes it the perfect spot for creating enduring holiday memories. Best of all, attendance and all activities are free for everyone.

2. The Great Montreal Christmas Market

Explore 40 chalets filled with handmade gifts and stocking stuffers at the Great Montreal Christmas Market. Running from late November to the end of December, this festive market lights up the Quartier des Spectacles in holiday cheer.

Live theatrical and musical performances by carolers keep you in a cheery mood while you nibble on delicious street food. This is one holiday market you must visit.

Performing Arts

Experience the joy of Christmas in Montreal by attending one of their seasonal shows. From the crisp winter air to the shimmering lights and holiday harmonies, these must-see events set a joyous tone when exploring the city.

3. The Nutcracker by Les Grands Ballets

Immerse yourself in the holiday spirit with the magnificent performance of The Nutcracker by the talented performers of Les Grands Ballets. This timeless Christmas tale takes you on a romantic journey with Clara and her “Nutcracker” Prince. Travel to an enchanted realm where toy soldiers come to life and dance with fairies.

The ballet is accompanied by the Les Grands Ballets Orchestra, whose musical performance is nothing short of perfection, making Tchaikovsky himself proud. The show runs from mid-to-late December, and tickets for this event sell out fast!

4. Un piano pour Noël

Include a captivating musical experience in your holiday planning by catching Un piano pour Noël at Place des Arts’ Théâtre Maisonneuve concert hall. This one-night-only performance celebrates the holiday composition created by the legendary Canadian composer André Gagnon.

The performance features the world-renowned pianist Stéphane Aubin, accompanied by a string orchestra. Together, they will perform Gagnon’s classic holiday tunes with the help of a guest singer. The performance is on December 1, and tickets run between $55 and $85. After the show, keep the yuletide boogie going with a visit to a nearby jazz bar in Montreal.

5. A Not So Silent Night

Hallelujah! A Not So Silent Night graces POP Montreal in December and continues to embody the true meaning of Christmas — family. Rufus and Martha Wainwright bring their mother’s creation to life year after year, as they are joined by recurring guests such as Emmylou Harris and Norah Jones.

This concert was inspired by the bittersweet love that most parents feel as their children grow and move on. Kate McGarrigle conceived the idea for this performance, which was dedicated to raising funds for Sarcoma research. The performance included a masterpiece called Prosperina, written by Kate, channeling Hera’s sorrow after losing her daughter to the Underworld.

Ice Skating, Tubing, and Sledding

You don’t have to dream of a white Christmas in Montreal. During the winter months, the city is typically blanketed with snow. Once the air becomes cold and crisp, the city offers many outdoor activities to warm your heart.

6. Old Port Skating Rink

Glide across the ice with your significant other, friends, or family at the Old Port Skating Rink. Luminous lights reflecting off the ice and cheery holiday music give the experience a fanciful feel as you whirl and twirl.

The rink offers spectacular views of Old Montreal and the St. Lawrence River, and a trip here is an essential Christmas tradition for many families. It opens in early December each year. Ticket prices range from $6.75 for kids aged 6-12 to $10 for adults. Children aged five and under skate for free.

Photographer: Guillaume Didelet

7. Parc La Fontaine Sledding and Skating

Parc La Fontaine is in the heart of Montreal and brings enchantment to the city during the colder months. It features two sports rinks and one chalet-style rink, making it a great place to test your ice skating moves in a fun setting.

This picturesque park also has great spaces for sledding and tobogganing, so you can enjoy a bit of thrill on a cold winter day. You can get toasty again with a warm drink and a quick bite from the on-site restaurant, Espace La Fontaine.

Admission is free, but there is a parking fee. You can still join in the fun, even if you don’t have skates. The park offers equipment rentals so that everyone can participate.

Photographer: Romain Lambic

8. Parc du Mont-Royal Inner Tube Sliding

Going inner tube sliding at Parc du Mont-Royal will have your kids squealing with glee as they whizz down the slopes. Situated on the shores of Beaver Lake, this exhilarating seasonal pastime offers family-friendly holiday fun.

A well-organized inner tube sliding area ensures a safe, enjoyable ride down the dedicated corridors. This attraction opens when snow starts blanketing the park, usually in early- to mid-December. The park offers equipment rentals and charges for parking and admission.

Photographer: Oxane Alexandroff

9. Parc Ignace-Bourget Sledding Slopes

Spend a fun day with your family at Parc Ignace-Bourget sledding slopes. The park has two sledding slopes, one for beginners and one for experienced riders. This separation between skill levels allows everyone a safe and satisfying ride.

The venue offers an affordable family fun day since the slopes and equipment rentals are free. Although it isn't required, we suggest you make reservations for rental equipment during the busy days leading up to Christmas. The slopes are open from late December through March, depending on the weather.

Window Displays

Imagine yourself in a bygone era, with every store window sporting cheery Christmas sights and sounds. Designed to entertain children while their parents shop, these iconic displays still draw the attention of the young and the young at heart.

10. Ogilvy’s Christmas Mechanical Window Displays

Turn back the clock to a simpler time by viewing the Christmas mechanical window displays created by Ogilvy. These beautiful displays are housed in the McCord Stewart Museum and are part of their “Holidays at the Museum exhibition.” These displays are particularly remarkable, boasting precision craftsmanship by German toy makers.

Take a peek at The Mill in the Forest display outside the museum. To see The Enchanted Village window display, go inside and head to the Museum Theatre. Although admission is free, the museum recommends adults make voluntary donations.

Parades

Envision streets lined with onlookers, electric anticipation in the air as they await the Santa Claus Parade. From cheerful Christmas music and carolers to vibrant, festive floats depicting classic holiday themes, this parade brings the community together.

11. Le Défilé du Père-Noël Montreal

Every year, Downtown Montreal kicks off its joyous holiday celebrations with the Le Défilé du Père-Noël Montreal. Held on Sainte-Catherine Street, this parade boasts over 20 floating stages and showcases singing and dancing from over a thousand players.

The parade will be held on November 25, 2024, starting at 10 a.m. with large-screen animations on Dorchester Square. Santa pops in around 10:30 a.m. after the parade reaches Esplanade PVM. Then, at 11 a.m., it heads to the Entertainment District to open the Christmas Market.

Be sure to stick around until 12:15 p.m. when the Les Petite Tounes concert brings more festivity to this beloved event. The Santa Clause Parade is one of the best things to do in Montreal with kids at Christmas.

Although attendance is free, parking may be challenging due to the influx of locals and tourists hoping to catch a glimpse of “Ole” Saint Nick.

Photographer: Miguel Ausejo

Tours

The curated nature of holiday tours lets you relax and enjoy tidbits you might miss if you explore independently. These tours provide a touch of merriment as you learn more about Christmas in Montreal.

12. A Victorian Christmas at Sir George-Étienne Cartier National Historic Site

Discover more about the origins of the Christmas traditions still popular today. Take a Victorian Christmas tour at Sir George-Étienne Cartier National Historic Site. This guided tour shows you what 19th-century bourgeois Christmas preparations and celebrations looked like.

On this 50-minute tour, you can check out the decorations in the main living room, dining room, and Mrs. Cartier’s bedroom. We love how each room has a theme of its own. They highlight everything from vintage ornaments and Christmas trees to holiday etiquette and traditional cooking.

This attraction opens on Saturdays and Sundays from early to late December. General admission costs $10. Tours sell out quickly, so reserving your spot early is a good idea.

13. Christmas in Québec & Montréal Tour

See all the holiday sites in these two cities by taking the Walking Adventures Québec and Montréal tour. It offers two tours, each lasting six days.

Both tours start with your arrival in Montreal. Why not embark on an optional ethnic food tour that takes you through diverse neighborhoods? You'll get to sample tasty holiday fare from other cultures.

On the third day, you'll travel to Quebec City, where you'll spend the next two days participating in regional activities and enjoying holiday festivities. The tour culminates with a Canadian Christmas feast at the iconic Le Château Frontenac restaurant on the final evening of your adventure.

On the final day of the tour, you'll travel back to where it all began in Montreal. The cost of this excursion depends on the itinerary you select when booking your trip.

Embracing the Festive Spirit: Reflecting on Christmas in Montreal

In Montreal, the holiday season captures the enchantment of old-world celebrations. Sparkling lights and familiar music are everywhere, bringing holiday cheer to young and old.

Keep that joyous feeling alive by watching one of our shows in Montreal. The adventure begins when you step into our unassuming theater and take your seat. From there, lights and sounds draw you into our stories, sending your imagination and excitement levels soaring like our acrobats. Join us to see what moments we unwrap!

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