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28 free things to do in Montreal this summer

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DH Montreal Staff Jun 14, 2017 12:41 am 477

Summer has arrived!

Take advantage of the city’s most exciting season without spending a penny!

From music festivals and sidewalk sales, to foodie events and national holidays, there are plenty of ways to spend the next few months in our fair city.

Check out 28 free things to do in Montreal this summer.

International Jazz Festival

The International Jazz Festival returns to Montreal this month. Taking place over the course of two weeks, hundreds of jazz musicians will flock to Montreal to perform in both outdoor and indoor venues across the city. 2017 headliners include Squarepusher, Matt Holubowski, Bob Dylan, Her, and Andrea Lindsay, and there will be plenty of free shows on the lineup!
When: June 28-July 8, 2017
Where: Various locations

Mural Festival

Mural Festival is on now! This popular street art festival features 21 street artists painting brand new murals all over the city’s walls. Artists from all over the world, including France, Australia, and Spain are participating. Plus, there are free block parties, guided tours of the murals, and and more happening every day of the festival.
When: Until June 18, 2017
Where: Saint Laurent Boulevard, between Sherbrooke and Mont Royal

Sainte Catherine Street Celebrates

It was recently confirmed that Montreal’s annual Sainte-Catherine Street sidewalk sale, otherwise known as Sainte-Catherine Street Celebrates, will return in 2017! Taking place between Friday, July 14 and Sunday, July 16, this annual outdoor event is one of the biggest sidewalk sales the city sees all summer.Over the course of three days, Sainte-Catherine Street West between Bleury and Guy is closed to traffic, giving Montrealers the chance to shop until they drop! 2017 marks the 20th edition of the event, one that garners more than 300,00 visitors each year. In addition to the stores of Sainte-Catherine having major sales and displaying their clothes outdoors, the street temporarily becomes home to live musicians, artists, dance troupes, acrobats, and all sorts of food and drink stalls.
When: July 14-16, 2017
Where: Sainte-Catherine Street West between Bleury and Guy

Free Outdoor Pianos

Montrealers love music, which is why we couldn’t be more excited that the city’s public piano initiative is back! Since 2012, the city of Montreal has been installing public pianos in the summertime. The project first began in the Plateau but has since spread to other parts of the city. Over 50 pianos have now been installed across Montreal for summer 2017. While the bulk of them are located in the Plateau, Mile End, and downtown, you’ll be able to find them as far as Pointe-Aux-Trembles and St-Leonard. Completely free of charge to the public, Montrealers far and wide are invited to play a note on these colourful and beautifully-decorated pianos!
When: Anytime
Where: For a full list of piano locations, click here.

Taste of the Caribbean

Centred on food, rum, music, and art, Montreal’s Taste of the Caribbean festival is a local favourite. Needless to say, it’s returning this June for five days of Caribbean-themed fun. This free festival is entering its 18th year and boasts activities for the whole family, ranging from kid’s workshops and outdoor concerts, to cooking and mixology classes. In addition, this year’s special theme is The Rum Edition, so if you’re a lover of Caribbean rum then you definitely have to attend! Plus, between Friday and Sunday, there will be live music and food vendors all afternoon and evening. In essence, if you’re looking to transport yourself to a tropical island with a rum-based cocktail in hand, Taste of the Caribbean is the festival for you!
When: June 21-25, 2017
Where: Old Port of Montreal

Mtl en Arts

Art festival and sidewalk sale, Mtl en Arts, will be returning to the Gay Village at the end of this month. Mtl en Arts is an outdoor art festival that showcases all kinds of art, ranging from visual arts and crafts to performances and interactive installations. This year, it is taking place between June 28 and July 2, during which time the pedestrian zone of the Gay Village will become home to over 150 artists. Montrealers will be free to roam this artistic sidewalk sale of sorts and marvel at all kinds of artwork, as well as speak with the artists first hand. The festival will also include creative workshops for children, live painting demonstrations, and musical performances.
When: June 28-July 2
Where: Sainte Catherine Street East between St-Hubert and Papineau

Just for Laughs

Montreal’s funniest festival returns for roughly three weeks this July. In addition to headliners Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Carrey, Judd Apatow, and more, there will be all sorts of activities in Place des Arts, not to mention free shows! Check the JFL website for more info!
When: July 12 – 31, 2017
Where: Various locations

The Wave Cooling Station

A whole new way to cool off! The borough of Plateau-Mont-Royal just announced a brand new initiative set to take hold this summer: a cooling station. A unique installation will be set up on the east side of St-Denis between Marie-Anne and Duluth that will feature a 22-metre long misting rack, allowing pedestrians to cool off on hot summer days. The cooling station, dubbed “The Wave”, is set to open to the public this Thursday!
When: Opens June 15
Where: St-Denis between Marie-Anne and Duluth

Pride Montreal

Pride Montreal returns with an incredible lineup. Kicking off August 10th, Pride Montreal 2017 will feature two outdoor sites (one of which Canadian artist, Nelly Furtado will be giving a free live concert at), a special Drag Superstars show, and much more!
When: August 10-20, 2017
Where: Various locations

Baroque Festival

This year, the Montreal Baroque Festival presents “Cirque Musical Circus,” in honour of The Royal Circus which was founded in England and embarked on a Canadian tour that began in Montreal in September 1797. Over the course of the four day festival, which kicks off June 22, there will be 14 indoor concerts as well as a multitude of free outdoor concerts and fun activities for all. According to the official description, the Cirque Musical Circus theme brings “musical acrobats, trumpet clowns, and fiddling fools of the king!” This circus spectacular will also feature tightrope walkers, live musicians, and plenty of other circus surprises! Though the indoor concerts do require tickets, the festival kicks off with a free parade, and then each day of the festival begins with a free outdoor concert and has free talks and exhibitions for all!
When: June 22-25
Where: Various locations, click here for a list of venues

Walk Up Mount Royal

The weather has finally turned so why not take advantage? Go for a summer walk up Mount Royal! Explore the flora and fauna, wander a new trail, or even have a picnic at Beaver Lake. There is so much to explore at this Montreal landmark.
When: Anytime
Where: Mount Royal

Celebrate St. Jean Baptiste Day

Whether you love the historic parade or visiting Quartier des Spectacles for a massive free outdoor concert, there are plenty of ways to celebrate this Quebec holiday. Just to be sure to spend your long weekend relaxing on a terrasse and taking in all that a Montreal summer has to offer!
When: June 23-24
Where: Various locations

Celebrate Canada Day

Montreal has been hosting a Canada Day parade since 1977. Thus, 2017 marks the 40th edition of the parade, not to mention the country’s 150th anniversary and Montreal’s 375th anniversary. In essence, it’s sure to be a pretty big celebration! Keep the tradition alive by attending this year’s Canada Day Parade that will make its way along Rue Sainte-Catherine starting at Rue Fort and ending at Place du Canada. Be sure to wear all of your red and white gear, and whatever you do, don’t miss the parade’s after party. From 1:30pm onwards, Place du Canada will have inflatable games set up for kids and will be serving a giant Canada-themed cake measuring 4×8 feet to the crowd. The cake will be served between 1:30pm and 2pm and all cake, activities, and water are free of charge.
When: July 1, 11:00 am
Where: On Rue Sainte-Catherine from Rue Fort to Place du Canada, click here for more details

Dance Sessions at the Verdun Greenhouses

Dance the afternoon away! The Verdun Greenhouses recently released its summer programme and on it are none other than free dancing sessions. Ranging from salsa and tango to “swing l’ete,” these fun dance sessions are completely free of charge and are set to take place on alternating days throughout the summer. For these special events, a cement floor 511 square metres in size will be set up at the greenhouses. Grab a partner or find one there and prepare for an active and romantic day of dancing in the greenhouses. For a full schedule of events, click here.
When: Until August 20, 2017
Where: Verdun Greenhouses, 7000 Boulevard LaSalle

Explore a new bike path

Bixi Bikes are now back on the roads which means it’s time to start exploring our city’s beautiful bike paths. With bike paths all around the city, cycling in Montreal has never been easier. And if you know where to go, you’ll find that Montreal boasts some pretty magical bike paths – so magical in fact, they may give you a whole new perspective on your favourite city. So hop on your bike, borrow one from a friend, or take advantage of the city’s Bixi bikes and get pedalling! For a little inspiration, check out the most beautiful bike paths in Montreal.
When: Anytime
Where: Various locations

Marche des Possibles

Pop Montreal’s Marche des Possibles returns for yet another year! Taking over the Mile End between June 23 and August 13, this public open-air market has become a local favourite in recent years owing to its incredible lineup of activities. Founded in 2014, the market’s “diversified socio-cultural programming” includes everything from musical performances and film screenings to food trucks, pop up restaurants, a beer garden, and an artisanal market. The market is located at the corner of Rue St. Dominique and Bernard and opens every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday throughout the summer months. Whether you want to go grocery shopping, take in some live music, bargain hunt for a new wardrobe, grab lunch, or relax in a beer garden, Marche des Possibles is the place to be!
When: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday between June 23 and August 13, 2017
Where: 5635 Rue St. Dominique

Montreal Avudo

A dazzling water show paying tribute to the Saint Lawrence River has taken over Old Port this summer. Titled Montreal Avudo, this spectacular water show projects life size images inspired by the city’s history onto the water. The event’s official site promises that “Young and old will be dazzled, moved and transported by the magic of images and scenes projected on rippling water walls and other spectacular installations.” Scenes include archived images, city documents, 3D animations, and relevant illustrations. How does water enter the equation, you may ask? Water jets from 30 fountains create huge 30 x 11.5 meter tall screens of water. The show also includes an 11-storey tall shipping container tower (the largest in the world). All of this magic is capped off by an original score created by Maria Bonzanigo and recorded with the Orchestre Métropolitain and the Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal.
When: Thursday to Saturday until September 2, 2017, 9:30pm and 10:30pm each night
Where: The west sector of the Old Port of Montréal, near the King Edward Pier and the Montréal Science Centre

Yoga en Plein Air

Jardins Gamelins, Montreal’s resident summer garden, is hosting free outdoor yoga sessions each week for the entire summer. “Yoga en Plein Air,” invites Montrealers to practice yoga outdoors at Jardin Gamelins for free. The outdoor sessions are run by Yo-Yoga and take place every Tuesday morning from 7:30am until 8:30am. The official site encourages Montrealers to “Tone your body, awaken your senses in the heart of nature, and move through harmony.” No registration is required, however, participants must bring along their own yoga mat.
When: Tuesdays 7:30 am-8:30 am
Where: Place Emilie-Gamelin, 1500 Rue Berri

Nelly Furtado Concert

Canadian singer Nelly Furtado is heading to Montreal this summer! Nelly Furtado will be performing live in the Gay Village as part of Montreal Pride 2017. Making a special appearance for this annual festival, the 38-year-old singer from Victoria, BC will be giving a free outdoor 90-minute concert in Parc des Faubourgs. You can expect to hear everything from “I’m Like A Bird” to “Turn Off the Light.” Taking place August 18th at 9 pm, the show is first-come first-serve so be sure to get there early.
When: August 18, 9 pm
Where: Parc des Faubourgs

Montreal Folk Festival on the Canal

The 10th edition of the Montreal Folk Fest is happening this month along the Lachine Canal! This laid back musical festival is by far one of the best in Montreal, in part because of its awesome line-up, but also because of its stunning canalside location. The 2017 lineup includes Joel Plaskett, John McEuen, Whitehorse, Sharon & Bram, Richard Shindell, Socalled & Yves Lambert, Anique Granger, Melanie Brulee, David Myles, Katie Moore, Next Generation Leahy, and many more. VIP passes start at $35 for one day, however, they are not necessary to attend the festival. In fact, the majority of the event is comprised of free concert series’, giving Montrealers the opportunity to attend this summer music fest free of charge! For a full list of free shows taking place at the Montreal Folk Festival on the Canal, click here.
When: June 14 – 18, 2017
Where: Centennial Esplanade, 3653-3667 Rue Saint-Patrick

Bouffons MTL!

Located in the Quartier des Spectacles between Jeanne-Mance and St-Laurent, Bouffons MTL! is part of the Just for Laughs festival and also the largest open-air gastronomy village in North America. This year’s honorary guest is Marc-André Jetté, of the critically acclaimed restaurant, Hoogan & Beaufort. The chef will host a series of meet and greets, in addition to serving a special BouffonsMTL! menu. This food festival is an opportunity to discover Montreal’s culinary multiculturalism catered by some of the city’s finest restaurants pop-ups and food trucks.
When: July 15-30, 12 pm-11 pm
Where: Between Jeanne-Mance and St-Laurent

La Grande Tournee celebrates Montreal: 19 boroughs in 19 weekends

To celebrate the city’s 375th anniversary, all 19 of Montreal’s boroughs are hosting parties this summer. Officially titled La Grande Tournee celebrates Montreal: 19 boroughs in 19 weekends, the event is organized by Cirque Eloize, who are travelling across Montreal to help honour the city, its people, and its history. Each weekend, a neighbourhood park hosts a party for all ages that speaks to the characteristics of that community. In addition to a simple gathering of residents, each borough’s party features all sorts of entertainment. Activities include circus and artistic performances, historical exhibitions, live music, treasure hunts, and farmers’ markets.
When: May 12-September 17 (Thursday to Sunday)
Where: Different borough every weekend

Sherbrooke’s Open Air Museum

As part of Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations, Sherbrooke Street has been temporarily turned into an open-air museum. According to the website, it gives Montrealers “the chance to soak up a spectacular world-class public art exhibition.” Coordinated by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the project marks the 375th anniversary of the city, the 50th anniversary of Expo 67, and the 150th anniversary of Canada. In honour of these important dates, this pop-up museum features 67 original works of Canadian art that “convey a message of peace and reflect the universal values of humanism, tolerance and openness that inspired Expo 67.” Finally, flags from each of the 13 provinces and territories, and from over 200 countries have been flown above the exhibition on Sherbrooke.
When: May 29 – October 2, 2017
Where: Sherbrooke Street West between the McCord Museum and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

First Fridays

The largest food truck festival has begun! Olympic Stadium is known for their awesome events, with our personal favourite being First Fridays. The most glorious of days, First Fridays are a special kind of culinary event in which all of the city’s food trucks gather at Olympic Stadium. Allowing Montrealers to sample dishes from over 50 food trucks, you can expect to find everything from tacos and churros, to mac and cheese and lobster rolls. Taking place on the first Friday of the month between May 5th and October 27th, be sure to start the summer off right by hitting up this awesome event.
When: First Friday of each month until October 27
Where: Olympic Stadium

Tam Tams

Grab your sangria kits and drum sets! Tam Tams has returned to our fair city and we couldn’t be more excited. After all, is there any better sign that summer has arrived? Taking place every Sunday during the summer months, Tam Tams is one of the city’s best and most popular unofficial events. Tam Tams is a magical outdoor festival where Montrealers far and wide gather in Parc Mont Royal for an afternoon of food, fun, and music. Though the drum circle is located at the Sir George-Etienne Cartier Monument, vendors and entertainment spread throughout the park, all the way from Avenue Mont-Royal to Duluth. Remember to bring food and wine, and take advantage of Montreal’s picnic law!
When: Until September 24, 2017
Where: Sir George-Etienne Cartier Monument

Free Bixi Sundays

Take advantage of Montreal’s resident bike-sharing system: Bixi bikes! There are lots of exciting things going on with Bixi this year. We’re talking about newly designed bikes in honour of the city’s 375th anniversary and free Bixi Sundays. Free Bixi Sundays are nothing new but we’re pumped to see that they’re back for 2017. Free Bixi Sundays Offered by Manulife lasts until October 29th. On designated days throughout the summer, all one-way trips under 30 minutes will be free of charge for the entire day (from midnight until 11:59pm).
When: June 25, July 30, August 27, September 24, October 29
Where: All across the city

YULEAT

Conveniently situated in Montreal’s Old Port on the Clock Tower Quay, YULEAT is a unique event that focuses on our beloved city. On Labour Day weekend, guests get the chance to discover great street cuisine in a series of tastings, chef demonstrations, and food stands. This year, make sure to check out the newest addition “Le Parcours Gourmand” in Hangar 16 that features 20 food stations and 18 wine and spirits stations operated by Montreal finest sommeliers. During the weekend, guests can also take part in chef demonstrations that involve free tastings.
When: September 2-4, 2017
Where: Clock Tower Quay, Old Port

Montreal International Fireworks Competition

Prepare to be mesmerized! Montreal’s annual International Fireworks Competition returns for another year. Kicking off on Canada Day with a Montreal-themed show, the 2017 edition will see Poland, Portugal, France, England, Italy, and Germany competing to display the best fireworks show possible. Don’t miss out on the fun, whether you’re at La Ronde or watching from across the river in Old Port!
When: July 1 – August 5, 2017
Where: La Ronde, 22 Chemin Macdonald


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DH Montreal Staff

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