12 Best Things to Do in Montreal in Winter

by Jen
Best Things to Do in Montreal in Winter
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Thinking of exploring Montreal this winter? Here are some of the most fun and unique things to do in Montreal in winter. The city’s enchanting sights, vibrant activities, and charming attractions are sure to make your winter getaway an unforgettable experience.

Winter in Montreal transforms the city into a snowy playground, brimming with unique charm and excitement. As someone who’s explored this vibrant city during its frosty months, I can vouch for the magic that winter here brings. From the twinkling lights of festivals to the laughter echoing from ice rinks, Montreal in winter is a wonderland waiting to be discovered.

Whether you’re bundling up for an outdoor adventure or seeking cozy indoor activities, this city has it all. Trust me, the blend of historical charm and modern festivities in Montreal’s winter scene is something you don’t want to miss. So, grab your warmest coat, and let’s dive into all the exciting things to do in Montreal this winter!

The top places to visit in Montreal in winter

Montreal’s Best Winter Attractions & Sights

Ready to discover the best winter experiences in Montreal? From the lively beats of Igloofest to the magical ambiance of the Montreal Christmas Market, Montreal offers a diverse array of winter delights.

Whether you’re gliding across the ice at the Old Port or indulging in a traditional sugar shack meal, Montreal in winter has something special for every traveler. Here’s your ultimate guide to the top winter activities in this vibrant city. Let’s dive into Montreal’s winter wonderland!

1. Montréal en Lumière Festival

Imagine a festival where the cold winter nights in Montreal are lit up with vibrant lights and buzzing energy. That’s the Montreal en Lumière Festival for you! Held in the heart of the city at Quartier des spectacles, this festival, running from February 29 to March 10, 2024, is a must-experience.

As one of the largest winter festivals globally, it draws over 500,000 visitors. You’re in for a treat with its unique blend of performing arts, gastronomy, and free outdoor activities. The festival starts with its gastronomic programming on February 22, offering a taste of local and international flavors. Trust me, the cuisine here is a foodie’s dream come true!

But it’s not just about food. The festival’s all-nighter, Nuit blanche, is an adventure in itself. Picture this: exploring art, music, and performances under the starry winter sky. It’s a perfect way to experience Montreal in winter.

Whether you’re here for the culture, the food, or just the sheer joy of being part of something grand, this festival is an unmissable winter highlight. Without a doubt, it’s one of the best free things to do in Montreal in the winter.

Experience the vibrant lights and buzzing energy of Montreal's nights at the Montreal en Lumière Festival.
Experience the vibrant lights and buzzing energy of Montreal’s winter nights at the Montreal en Lumière Festival.

2. Attend Igloofest

Ready for an electrifying winter experience? Igloofest is where it’s at! From January 18 to February 10, 2024, this festival heats up the cold Montreal nights with thumping beats and dazzling lights at the Old Port of Montreal. It’s one of the most fun things to do in Montreal in winter that you just can’t miss.

Celebrating its 15th anniversary, Igloofest is not just a music festival – it’s a winter spectacle. Imagine dancing under the stars surrounded by icy decors and steel structures, with a lineup featuring stars like Marc Rebillet, NTO, Rezz, and Armin Van Buuren. The vibe here is electric, and the energy is contagious!

Don’t forget the Tackiest Snowsuit contest – it’s a blast! Dress up in your most outrageous winter gear and join the fun. Whether you’re a music enthusiast or just looking for a unique winter party, Igloofest promises unforgettable nights. My advice? Bundle up and dive into this winter wonderland of rhythm and fun at Igloofest!

Don't miss the electrifying experience at Igloofest, heating up nights with thumping beats and dazzling lights.
Don’t miss the electrifying winter experience at Igloofest, heating up Montreal nights with thumping beats and dazzling lights.

3. Explore Montreal’s Great Christmas Market

When it comes to fun places to visit in Montreal in Winter, the Great Christmas Market in the Quartier des spectacles is a festive wonderland. Typically open from late November to December, this market transforms Sainte-Catherine Street into a holiday paradise.

Picture this: strolling through 40 chalets, each brimming with local and regional crafts. It’s a shopper’s dream, offering unique gifts and a true taste of Montreal’s artisanal talent. The market isn’t just about shopping, though. It’s a full-on festive experience!

You’ll be swept up in the holiday spirit with musical and theatrical performances that light up the winter evenings. The “Christmas in Montreal” show is a personal favorite, capturing the city’s unique holiday vibe. And let’s not forget the culinary delights! Indulge in seasonal treats and warm drinks, perfect for those chilly Montreal nights.

If you’re here for the shopping, the entertainment, or just to soak in the festive atmosphere, the Great Christmas Market is a must-visit. It’s a celebration of how Montreal does winter right!

Exploring Montreal’s Great Christmas Market is one of the best things to do in Montreal in winter.
Explore the festive wonderland of Montreal’s Great Christmas Market in the Quartier des spectacles.

4. Skate at the Old Port

For a truly magical winter experience, skating at the Old Port of Montreal is a must-do. It’s one of the best things to do in Montreal in winter as a family, especially if you love embracing the outdoors.

The Old Port’s ice skating rink offers breathtaking views of historic Old Montreal and the St. Lawrence River. Imagine gliding on ice with the city’s picturesque backdrop – it’s like a scene from a winter postcard! The rink is renowned for its excellent ice quality, ensuring a smooth skating experience throughout the season.

What makes this rink stand out is its inclusive program. Whether you’re a seasoned skater or just starting, you’ll find the atmosphere welcoming and joyous. Plus, it’s easily accessible by public transportation, with the Champ-de-Mars subway station nearby.

After a fun skating session, I recommend exploring the Old Port area, filled with charming cafes and shops. It’s the perfect way to end a day of winter fun in Montreal. So, lace up those skates and get ready for an unforgettable experience on the ice!

Embrace the outdoors with a truly magical winter experience by skating at the Old Port of Montreal.
Embrace the outdoors with a truly magical winter experience by skating at the Old Port of Montreal.

5. Join the Fête des Neiges de Montréal

If you’re looking for fun things to do with kids in Montreal in Winter, the Fête des Neiges de Montréal is a winter wonderland that can’t be missed. Held over four weekends from mid-January to mid-February, this festival at Parc Jean-Drapeau is a celebration of all things winter.

Imagine a place where families can play outdoors and enjoy activities like ice sculpture contests, dog sledding races, and snow games. The festival’s mascot, Boule de Neige the polar bear, adds to the fun with costumed performances. It’s a magical setting spread across two islands, offering a variety of winter sports like sledding, ice skating, zip lining, curling, and skiing.

What’s great about this festival is that most entertainment is free for both kids and adults. You’ll only need to pay for equipment rentals like skis, sleds, and skates. And, of course, there are plenty of food and drink options to keep you warm and energized.

Fête des Neiges is more than just a festival. It’s a vibrant celebration of winter’s joy and a perfect way to make lasting family memories in Montreal’s snowy paradise.

Don't miss the winter wonderland of Fête des Neiges de Montréal for fun things to do with kids during the winter.
Don’t miss the winter wonderland of Fête des Neiges de Montréal for fun things to do with kids during the winter.

6. Snowshoeing on Mount Royal

Wondering what to do in Montreal in the winter? Snowshoeing on Mount Royal is an adventure you can’t miss. It’s a unique way to explore one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, covered in a blanket of snow.

Join a guided tour with Les Amis de la Montagne, and you’ll discover the secrets of Mount Royal. These 90-minute excursions take you through scenic trails and offer breathtaking views of Montreal, both day and night. It’s a chance to see the city from a whole new perspective.

Don’t worry if you’re new to snowshoeing. The guides are fantastic, and snowshoes are provided. For those who prefer a solo adventure, snowshoe rentals are available for self-guided tours. Plus, if you’re a Montreal resident 17 years old and under, snowshoe rentals are free!

Snowshoeing here is an immersive experience in nature, right in the heart of the city. Whether you’re with family or friends, it’s a delightful way to enjoy Montreal’s winter wonderland.

Don't miss the unique winter adventure of snowshoeing on Mount Royal, exploring the iconic landmark covered in snow.
Don’t miss the unique winter adventure of snowshoeing on Mount Royal, exploring the iconic landmark covered in snow.

7. Skiing at Mont Tremblant

Heading to Mont Tremblant for skiing is one of the best things to do in Montreal in the winter. Trust me, it’s a winter wonderland that’s both thrilling and breathtaking.

Just a short journey from Montreal, Mont Tremblant is a skier’s paradise. The slopes here cater to all levels, making it perfect whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned pro. The views from the top? Absolutely stunning. You’re looking at a snowy panorama that’s picture-perfect.

But Mont Tremblant is more than just skiing. The village is a gem – think charming shops, cozy cafes, and delightful restaurants. It’s the ideal spot to relax after a day on the slopes. Don’t miss out on the hot chocolate by a roaring fire. It’s the kind of experience that makes winter special.

Skiing at Mont Tremblant is an unforgettable experience. From the exhilarating slopes to the warm village atmosphere, it’s a must-do winter activity in Montreal.

Experience the best of winter by heading to Mont Tremblant for skiing.
Experience the best of Montreal’s winter by heading to Mont Tremblant for skiing.

8. Try a Traditional Sugar Shack Meal

When thinking about what to do in winter in Montreal, trying a traditional sugar shack meal is a must. It’s a quintessential Quebec experience that’s both delicious and heartwarming.

Sugar shacks, or ‘cabanes à sucre‘, are a staple in Quebec’s culinary culture, especially in the chilly winter months. These cozy havens offer a taste of authentic Canadian cuisine, with maple syrup taking center stage. Imagine tucking into hearty dishes like pea soup, baked beans, and maple-glazed ham, all sweetened with a touch of maple syrup. It’s comfort food at its best.

I recommend visiting a sugar shack just outside Montreal for the full experience. It’s not just about the food – it’s about the ambiance. Rustic settings, warm fires, and often, lively music create an unforgettable atmosphere. And let’s not forget the maple taffy on snow – a treat you have to try!

A visit to a sugar shack is a celebration of winter and Quebec’s rich culinary traditions. It’s a delightful way to experience local culture and cuisine.

Don't miss the quintessential Quebec experience of trying a traditional sugar shack meal.
In winter, don’t miss the quintessential Quebec experience of trying a traditional sugar shack meal.

9. Winter Zip Lining in Old Montreal

Zip lining in Old Montreal offers an exhilarating way to see the city from above, even in winter. The MTL Zipline at the Old Port is a unique adventure, blending thrill and beauty.

You’ll soar over Bonsecours Island, with the Old Port’s charming landscape unfolding beneath you. It’s a rush like no other, giving you a bird’s eye view of one of Montreal’s most picturesque areas. The zipline is open from March to December, which makes it a fantastic winter activity for those seeking a bit of adrenaline.

The experience is safe and thrilling for all ages, making it a great family activity. You’ll feel like a superhero, flying over the city! The staff are friendly and ensure everyone has a fun, memorable experience.

This urban zipline circuit is the first of its kind in Canada. It’s a unique way to experience Montreal’s beauty, combining the excitement of an adventure sport with stunning urban views. For those looking for fun places to visit in Montreal in Winter, the MTL Zipline is a must-try.

Experience the thrill of zip-lining for a unique adventure.
Experience the thrill of zip-lining in Old Montreal for a unique adventure.

10. Attend the Santa Claus Parade

The Santa Claus Parade in downtown Montreal is a dazzling spectacle of holiday cheer. Held annually in November, It’s one of those family-friendly things to do in Montreal in winter that brings out the child in everyone.

This parade is a long-standing tradition, marking the start of the holiday season in the heart of the city. Imagine colorful floats, merry music, and dancers filling the streets with festive energy. And, of course, Santa Claus himself makes a grand appearance, delighting crowds of all ages.

The parade is a celebration of community and joy. Families, friends, and visitors gather to share in the excitement. This makes it a perfect outing for anyone looking to soak up the holiday spirit.

Attending the Santa Claus Parade is a fun, enchanting experience. It’s a chance to sing along to Christmas carols, marvel at the festive decorations, and maybe even catch a glimpse of Santa. If you’re in Montreal during the holiday season, this parade is a must-see!

Experience the dazzling spectacle of holiday cheer at the Santa Claus Parade.
Experience the dazzling spectacle of holiday cheer at the Santa Claus Parade in downtown Montreal.

11. Go Ice Fishing on the St. Lawrence River

Ice fishing on the St. Lawrence River is an authentic Quebec winter experience. It’s one of those unique winter activities in Montreal that combines tranquility with a touch of adventure.

In Quebec, ice fishing, or ‘pêche blanche’, is a tradition with roots in Indigenous practices. Picture yourself on the frozen expanse of the St. Lawrence River, surrounded by the serene beauty of winter. It’s peaceful, yet exhilarating.

The experience is made comfortable with small, colorful huts that shelter you from the cold. Some are even heated! These cozy havens are often available for rent, fully equipped for your fishing adventure.

Whether you’re an experienced angler or trying it for the first time, ice fishing is a must-try. It’s a chance to slow down, enjoy the quiet of winter, and maybe even catch your dinner! So, bundle up and get ready for a unique winter experience on the St. Lawrence River.

Enjoy an authentic Quebec winter experience by trying ice fishing on the St. Lawrence River
Enjoy an authentic Quebec winter experience by trying ice fishing on the St. Lawrence River

12. Relax in a Nordic Spa

After all the winter adventures, relaxing at the Scandinave Spa Old Montreal is the perfect way to unwind. It’s a serene escape, ideal for those seeking a peaceful retreat amidst the winter bustle.

Located in the historic stone landscape of Old Montreal, this spa offers a unique wellness journey. The experience involves cycles of hot, cold, and relaxation installations, all within a completely indoor setting. It’s a digital detox, encouraging you to disconnect and immerse yourself in tranquility.

The spa’s setting is iconic, blending the charm of Old Montreal with modern relaxation techniques. Whether you opt for thermal therapy or indulge in a massage from skilled practitioners, the experience is rejuvenating. From gentle Swedish massages to more therapeutic treatments, there’s something for every preference.

Visiting the Scandinave Spa is more than just relaxation. It’s about exploring a deeper state of calm. It’s the perfect way to conclude your winter vacation in Montreal, leaving you refreshed and revitalized.

Relax and unwind at Scandinave Spa – the perfect serene escape amidst winter's bustle.
Relax and unwind at Scandinave Spa Old Montreal – the perfect serene escape amidst winter’s bustle.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Montreal in Winter:

Looking for more content on the top things to do this winter in Montreal? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your winter getaway to Montreal.

Is it worth going to Montreal in the winter?

Absolutely! Montreal in winter is a wonderland. The city transforms with snow-covered streets, vibrant festivals, and cozy cafes and restaurants, making it a destination worth flying to Canada for. From ice skating at the Old Port to the magical Santa Claus Parade, there’s a unique charm. The winter activities are diverse, offering something for everyone. Trust me, it’s a season you don’t want to miss in Montreal, one of the top places to live and visit in Canada.

How many days do you need in Montreal?

I recommend at least 3 to 4 days. This gives you enough time to explore key attractions, enjoy some activities like ice skating or visiting a sugar shack, and still have leisure time. If you can stay longer, even better! Montreal, situated in Eastern Canada, has plenty to offer, and a week would let you experience the city more fully, including day trips to places like Mont Tremblant.

Is Montreal a walkable city?

Yes, Montreal is quite walkable, especially in areas like Old Montreal, Downtown, and the Plateau. Even in winter, the city does a great job of clearing snow from sidewalks. Just wear warm, comfortable boots! For longer distances, public transport is efficient and user-friendly.

Winter scene of Dorchester Square in Montreal, QC, Canada
Winter scene of Dorchester Square in Montreal, QC, Canada

What is the best month to go to Montreal?

For winter experiences, December to February are great. December has festive charm with Christmas markets and lights. January and February are perfect for winter sports and festivals like Igloofest. If you prefer milder weather, late February to early March starts to warm up slightly.

Does it snow a lot in Montreal?

Yes, Montreal gets quite a bit of snow, typically starting in late November and lasting until March. The city is well-equipped for snow, with efficient snow removal and winterized public spaces. It adds to the winter charm, making activities like snowshoeing and skiing popular.

The top things to do in Montreal in winter for all types of travelers
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