What to do for Christmas in Montreal


Christmas in Montreal can be enchanting. Despite the cold, for which you will need a hat, gloves and boots, there are plenty of outdoor events, with festivals honouring the snow, light and holidays. There are outdoor sports to try, with Montreal offering an amazing backdrop for your holiday snaps and for days that you want to be inside, Canada offers many cultural activities.

Santa Claus parade / Defile du Père Noël

Christmas begins in Montreal with the Santa Claus Parade, which has been running every November since 1925. On 23 November 2019, you can join thousands of children waiting to see Santa Claus on one of up to a score of floats travelling along Boulevard Rene-Levesque between Rue du Fort and Rue Saint-Urbain.

Shop for unique and unusual gifts

If you want something unique for a Christmas gift, you can get some inspiration from some of Montreal’s top Christmas shopping pop-up events. There is an Etsy Makers’ Market in the middle of December that features over 100 crafters and artists from Montreal. Here you can find the perfect present for those for whom you are unsure what to do on Christmas gift exchanges. The market is held at the Theâtre Denise Pelletier in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighbourhood, in the east end of the city.

Christmas Eve at Notre Dame Basilica

Christmas mass at the magnificent Notre Dame Basilica in Old Montreal is full of drama, with choir and organ music included. There is a family mass at 19:30, another at 21:30 and then midnight mass. Reservations are required with tickets available in September direct from the Basilica. Tickets must be collected in person. For 2019, tickets are USD10 for adults and USD5 for those aged 17 and under.

Aura at the Notre Dame Basilica

The Basilica was built in 1656 and is known for its intricately designed interior, including stained glass chronicling the history of the city. There are daily tours where you can truly appreciate the wonderful stained-glass windows. Aura, a light and loud music show with strobe effects, highlight other parts of the church in unusual and stunning ways.

Saint-Joseph’s Oratory

Saint-Joseph’s Oratory, Canada’s largest church, is located at the highest point in Montreal. The Oratory is open year-round, including on Christmas and New Year’s Day, and admission is free, though there is a modest fee to visit the museum.

Defile des rêves, Montreal’s other Christmas parade

If you miss the annual Santa Claus parade, you may be able to catch the less well-known event a week later. The Defile des rêves, at the corner of Saint-Hubert and Belanger Streets offers activities from 18:00, with a parade that starts at the corner of Bellechasse and Saint-Hubert Streets an hour later, to include marching bands, singers, dancers, entertainers and floats, and officially starts at 7 pm, at the corner of Bellechasse and Saint-Hubert Streets.


From 28 November 2019 to 26 January 2020, Luminotherapie delights with another novel interactive light installation where you can become a light artist, creating your own show as you play your way through the 120 giant dominos distributed across multiple stationsat the Quartier des Spectacles. Manipulate the dominoes to create unique musical work with a choice of vocals, percussion, marimba, balafon or flute.

Candlelit Walk / Marche de Noël aux flambeaux

At the beginning of December, more than 10,000 people participate in La Marche de Noël aux flambeaux with its musical fireworks, fantastical larger than life characters and several choirs singing Christmas carols. The event starts with music at Companion Park before a musical firework display and walk. The public is invited to return to Companions’ Park, to enjoy a free concert.

Free New Year’s Eve party

Montreal’s free NYE Party at the Old Port is where you want to be to see in the new year. There will be a choice of eateries and activities for both children and adults. Music from some of Quebec’s most famous artists starts from 22:00 so that you can dance out of the old year and into the new, accompanied by giant fireworks. Montreal’s metro system will be running all night to get you back to your place of residence safe and sound.

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