What is the best time of the year to go to Montreal?

 

Montréal is a city that glows and welcomes the traveler in any season, and truly has all the seasons that offer variety for your visit. People visiting Montréal for the first time can hire their own personal guide for a walking tour of the city. You can also tour Montréal by scooter, bicycle, or even double-decker bus. Here are some seasonal activities and sights you might want to explore, either with a tour or on your own. Savor Montréal in any season with this city guide.

SPRING

This is the time of the year when the snow melts and things can be a bit messy, but Canadians are celebrating with bare arms and use of the Bixi rental bicycles around the city. To locals, this is probably the best time of the year in Montréal. The season is full of fun activities and events all summer long.

Montréal strives to be is a greener city, and at this time of the year, downtown starts to really bloom. Montréal is the hometown of Cirque du Soleil, and you can catch their newest shows or enjoy one of the older ones retiring here. There are also Montréal’s signature music festivals. Montréal’s Old Port is a great area to explore by walking. There is even a short zip line for braver visitors and a tamer Ferris wheel and paddle-boating. Lining the walk, food trucks offer something for all. This might be the opportunity to try a favorite Canadian dish, poutine, a mixture of fries slathered in heavy gravy. The end of May (or early June) marks beer festival Mondial de la Bière.

SUMMER

Summer brings a plethora of events and activities. First-timers are encouraged to visit Mount Royal Park, which you can hike or bicycle up to the top for great views of the city. You will see joggers galore, and the people-watching is always fun in a new place. Once at the summit, you can picnic or purchase coffee, smoothies, and various snacks.

Montréal rejoices in their festivals. The summer is the peak time for many of the largest celebrations. The giant French music festival, Les FrancoFolies,is held in early June. The Folk Festival on the Canal in early to mid-June allows you to mingle with locals for folk, traditional, and bluegrass music in the plein air. If you are in the city during the end of June and the beginning of July, you will enjoy the biggest jazz festival in the world, where A-list musicians grace the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal stage. For comic relief, try the Just For Laughs comedy festival starting in the second week of July. At the end of July, there is a festival called Haiti on Fire! hosted by Montréal’s Haitian community, the largest outside of Haiti. Early August brings Montréal’s Italian Week Festival in Little Italy, complete with fashion shows, movie screenings, vintage Italian cars, and of course, delicious pasta and more!  

Summer is also a great time to check out Montréal’s biggest farmer’s market,Jean-Talon. Nestled in Little Italy, this open-air market is an epicure’s dream with colorful produce. For shopping and exploring like a native, the trendy Mile-End area offers a chance to shop locally. Craft breweries dot the boulevard, along with well-known neighborhood bagel and ice cream vendors. It’s also sprinkled with hip vintage shops, leather goods, and stationery stores.

FALL

In the fall, the end of September brings the 5-day, POP Montréal, a music festival, a visual art exhibit, film appreciation, open-air flea market, and free art workshops for kids. 

From early September through late October, the world-famous Montréal Botanical Gardens stays open late so visitors can explore the “Gardens of Light.”The handmade silk lanterns hung throughout the gardens and multimedia display best enjoyed from sunset to close.

WINTER

Montréal’s downtown is a chilly place in the winter but offers respite from the cold with a reliable and dependable metro system. You can go to the nice and toasty underground shopping center,  Place Ville Marie.

Festivals continue in the winter months, One of the bigger events is the Fête des Neiges Snow Festival. Held late January to early February at the Parc Jean-Drapeau. This is a family-friendly weekend event is full of many free activities, including inner-tube sledding, ice sculptures, ice hockey for kids, musical shows, and dramatic skits. Those who are into winter sport can check out snow-shoeing treks in nearby woods or enjoy ice skating around the city.

One night a year, the last Saturday in February or first Saturday in March is Nuit Blanche, boasting as many as 200 free activities and which culminates the Montréal en Lumière, or celebration of lights.

At the smaller street festivals in the winter, make sure to look for maple sweets at stalls that are offering it. Canadians have a tradition of pouring boiling maple syrup on a clean bed of snow, making a taffy-like treat. It’s a small bit of heaven!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ann Shea is a writer who lives in South Florida and loves to travel and connect with fellow citizens of the world. You can find her on LinkedIn and also on Instagram. Please say hello!