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34 FREE things to do in Montreal this summer

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DH Montreal Staff Jun 19, 2018 1:12 pm 1,303
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It’s no secret that Montreal is the place to be in the summer. The city is oozing with events all summer and a lot of them are free.

Montreal offers free things to do every single day in the summer. Free activities, events, concerts, and workshops are happening every single day in Montreal. You just got to know where to find them.

A stunning city with intriguing, free events? It’s paradise.

Head out to some beautiful sights and warm weather all while leaving your wallet behind.

Tam Tams

Sundays in Montreal in the summer is synonymous with Tam Tams. It’s a giant outdoor party with dancers, sports and drummers all gathered around the Sir George-Etienne Cartier monument. If the weather is nice on Sunday (still worth it even if it’s raining) head over to the mountain and enjoy a longstanding Montreal tradition and vibe. It’s 420 friendly.

When: Sundays until September 30
Time: Noon
Where: Mont Royal Park

tam tams montreal

floatingtracy/Instagram

Mont Royal Cemetary

Cemeteries don’t always have to be scary and the Mont Royal Cemetery is proof. Take a self-guided walking tour of the mountain from a historical standpoint and you will be amazed. Located on the northern slope of Mont Royal, the cemetery offers a view of over 165 acres. Be sure to grab a free tree brochure highlighting the city’s 100 different types of trees. The Mont Royal Cemetery has a beautiful garden on the mountain with the romantic notion of a city of the dead overlooking a city of the living.

When: The Mont Royal Cemetary is open year round
Where: 1297 Chemin de la Forêt

The Maisonneuve Bike Path

Bike season is in high gear in the summertime. The Maisonneuve bike path runs throughout Montreal and has a gorgeous path from NDG to the East End. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the city as the bike path runs parallel with all of it. On the last Sunday of every month Bixi Bikes offer free rides to everybody.

When: The bike path is open year round
Where: Runs parallel with Boulevard Maisonneuve

Lachine Canal National Historic Site

The Lachine Canal is the city’s link between urban and nature. The canal is a 13.5 km route that spans between the Old Port and Lake Saint-Louis, a completely navigable waterway.

The historic site features free tours and events like the Classic Boat Festival and a 90-minute tour of Silo No. 5 – Montreal’s first structure able to store one million bushels. The silo played a prominent part in the history of the Canadian grain economy.

When: The Lachine Canal is open year round
Where: From the Old Port of Montreal to Lake Saint-Louis

The Montreal International Jazz Festival

Festival International de Jazz de Montréal

The Montreal International Jazz Festival was named the largest jazz festival in the world in 2004 according to the Guinness Book of World Records and it’s only gotten bigger since. The 38th edition of the festival features over 500 artists from all over the world who will perform over 150 shows during a three-week span.

This year’s festival is highlighted by Seal, Jann Arden, Ian Anderson, Kamasi Washington, as well as the duo of Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite.

The streets are completely closed off to traffic and the festival is full of music-hungry fans. Some specific shows cost money to enter but the majority of the shows, both indoor and outdoor, are free.

When: June 28 – July 7
Times: Times vary depending on the concert
Where: Quartier des Spectacles

Notre-Dame Basilica

Celebrate Sunday mass at Montreal’s most viewed structure at 11 am and hear a 25-person choir accompanied by the organ. Or, take a walking tour of the basilica which is an absolutely gorgeous spectacle. It is filled with hundreds of wooden carvings, several religious statues, and gigantic stained glass windows.

When: The Notre-Dame Basilica is open year round
Time: 8 am – 4:30 pm on weekdays, 8 am – 4 pm on Saturdays and 12:30 pm – 4 pm on Sundays (mass starts at 11 am)
Where: 110 Rue Notre Dame Ouest

Yoga en Plein Air

Jardins Gamelins, Montreal’s resident summer garden, is hosting free outdoor yoga sessions every 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 7:30 am until 8:30 am. 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 until September 15
Time: 7:30 am – 8:30 am
Where: Place Emilie-Gamelin, 1500 Rue Berri

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 provincial holiday. Montreal honours Quebec by providing a bunch of free entertainment scattered throughout the city (the days off aren’t so bad either).

When: June 24 – 25
Where: Various locations

Tulips on Mont Royal

tulips

@maggiebridges31/Instagram

A gorgeous uprising of tulips has bloomed atop Mont Royal, sprouting at the lookout. As if Mont Royal needed any more reasons to enjoy the view, the mountain now features hundreds of beautiful orange, red, and yellow tulips. It makes for a nice hike and the spot is arguably one of the most Instagram-able places in the entire city.

When: Open year round
Where: Chalet du Mont Royal

First Fridays

The largest food truck festival in the province has begun. Olympic Stadium is known for a lot of things but First Fridays have got to be high on the list. The city’s food trucks gather at Olympic Stadium showcasing an array of mouthwatering local food 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. The event takes place on the first Friday of every month all summer. It’s free to enter but the food samples have varying costs.

When: July 6, August 3, September 7, and October 5
Time: 4 pm – 11 pm
Where: Olympic Stadium

Just for Laughs

laughs

justforlaughs/Instagram

Montreal’s funniest festival returns for roughly three weeks this July. In addition to headliners Dave Chappelle and Kevin Hart, Jimmy Carr, Howie Mandel, Russell Peters, Tiffany Haddish, Nikki Glaser, Judah Friedlander, Tom Green, and so many more. Place des Arts offers a bunch of free on-sight activities, not to mention free shows! Check the JFL website for more info!

When: July 14 – 29
Time: Showtimes vary
Where: Various locations

Carifesta Caribbean Festival

Like it has every year in Montreal since 1975, Carifiesta returns this summer to honour its Caribbean community in the city.

The festival’s main attraction is the parade. The parade features vibrant colours and exciting costumes dancing to the sounds of Caribbean music. It starts at the corner of Saint-Catherine Street Ouest and ends at Le Square Phillips.

Once the parade anchors at its final stop in the square, the partying, music and dancing continues well on into the night joined by a variety of food trucks, all serving traditional Caribbean food.

When: July 7
Time: 12 pm
Where: Starts at Saint Catherine Street Ouest and Rue Forty and ends at Square Phillips

Celebrate Canada Day

World happiness report 2018

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Montreal has been hosting a Canada Day parade since 1977.

Keep the tradition alive by attending this year’s parade that makes 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 1:30 pm onwards, Place du Canada will have inflatable games set up for kids and will be serving a giant Canada-themed cake measuring 4 by 8 feet to the crowd. The cake will be served between 1:30 pm and 2 pm and all cake, activities, and water are free of charge.

When: July 1
Time: 11 am – 7 pm
Where: On Rue Sainte-Catherine from Rue Fort to Place du Canada, click here for more details

Jean Talon Market

The highlight of Little Italy is undoubtedly the Jean Talon Market. The Jean Talon market has been supplying Montreal with fresh Quebec products and specialty items from around the world since 1934.

The market is free to enter and is open everyday. Visitors can find a wide variety of produce, flowers, fish, meat and specialty ice cream for sale, the area is also a great destination for lunch. Barbeque lamb, pork, and chicken sandwiches as well as bison on a stick are all available for a few bucks.

It’s a Montreal landmark.

When: The Jean Talon Market is open year round
Time: 7 am – 6 pm from Monday – Wednesday and Saturday, 7 am – 8 pm on Thursdays and Fridays and 7 am – 5 pm on Sundays
Where: 7070 Avenue Henri Julien

Montreal Orchestras

Orchestra

Orchestre Métropolitain/Facebook

The Montreal Symphony Orchestra and the Montreal Metropolitan Orchestra are playing two separate free shows on two different dates this summer.  The Montreal Symphony Orchestra will perform Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade” at the Olympic Stadium and the Montreal Metropolitan Orchestra will play three of another Russian composer, Tchaikovsky’s pieces on Mont Royal.

When: Symphony Orchestra on August 29 and Metropolitan on July 27
Time: Both shows start at 8 pm
Where: Olympic Park and Mont Royal respectively

Outdoor Yoga Classes

Inhale. Exhale.

Sivananda Yoga Montreal is offering free yoga every Saturday at two different locations.

Both classes start at 9:30 am to 10:30 am at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Park
and Outremont Park respectively and stretch out throughout the summer.

When: Every Saturday at 9:30 am – 10:30 am from now until September 29
Where: Park Outremont: St. Viateur & Avenue Outremont and Sir Wilfrid Laurier Park: Rue Mentana & Avenue Laurier Est

Outdoor Movies

While Cine-Parc’s beloved drive-in movie theatre is set to make its return in the coming weeks, there still a few moviegoers who will find that commute to be a little too far for their liking.

Free movie nights have returned to Hochelaga this summer and it happens every week. The parking lot of the Dairy Queen in St. Catherine’s St. East has been transformed into an outdoor, walk-in movie theatre.

All that viewers need to do is bring their own folding chair (or any form of seating), a blanket or jacket, and any snacks they prefer. Complimentary popcorn will be offered on-site at the events.

When: Every Friday from now until August 17
Where: Dairy Queen, 4545 Saint-Catherine Street East
Time: 8 pm

Shuttle Bus to Yamaska National Park

Parkbus is offering free shuttle services from downtown Montreal to Yamaska National Park every Saturday from July 14 to October 13.

Yamaska is located in La Haute in the Montérégie region of Quebec, northeast of Granby. Its hilly landscape hosts creeks, mountain trails, and breathtaking open spaces. The majority of the land is forested and boasts over 40 tree species including maple, fir, eastern hemlock, grey birch, and basswood. Not to mention a library of wildlife and birds.

The shuttle will depart every Saturday from the Montreal Tourism Info Centre on Rue Metcalfe. It leaves twice in the morning with two returns in the afternoon.

When: July 14 – October 13
Time: 8 am and 6 pm
Where: Montreal Tourism Info Centre

International Firework Competition

Montreal fireworks

@jfsavaria / Instagram

L’International des Feux-Loto Quebec is an international fireworks competition in which major companies, representing their respective countries, demonstrate the latest techniques, and innovations in the field of pyrotechnics.

On the nights of the fireworks, the Jacques-Cartier Bridge is completely closed off to vehicular traffic and it’s a perfect vantage point to see the fireworks in all their glory.

When: July 7 – August 8
Time: 10 pm – 11:45 pm
Where: Various spots around the city (Jacques-Cartier Bridge is the popular spot)

Festival of India

Montreal’s 40th annual Festival of India returns this July for one exciting weekend full of Indian culture.

The two-day event will feature all sorts of festivities, including a parade down Saint Laurent Boulevard (starting at Rue Milton), restaurant outlets, live music, dancing, yoga workshops, kid’s games, and a souvenir shop.

When: July 7 – 8
Time: 12 pm – 7 pm
Where: Parc Jeanne Mance

The Shaika Shakeup

Cafe Shaika hosts the “Shaika Shakeup” every Tuesday in the summer. The Shakeup is an open mic comedy show that features up and coming comedians and seasoned vets working on new bits or old jokes. It’s a comfortable cafe in a busy neighbourhood, minutes away from Vendome metro, and easily accessible by bike/bus.

Plus they have carrot cake.

When: Every Tuesday until July 31
Time: 8 pm – 10 pm
Where: 5526 Rue Sherbrooke

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

If you want to expand your knowledge this summer, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has got you covered. The MMFA has free admission to all of their Collections and Discovery exhibitions to people under 30-years-old.

When: From now until September 16
Time: 10 am – 6 pm
Where:
 1380 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest

Vintage Cars at the Orange Julep

orange julep

Orange Julep/Shutterstock

The Orange Julep is quite possibly Montreal’s most iconic restaurant. The roadside snack-bar has been around since 1932 and everybody in Montreal knows about it, regardless of how old you are.

This summer, like the summer before and the summer before that, the Orange Julep will host vintage cars and motorcycles in its parking lot every Wednesday.

Go check out some gorgeous old-school cars and motorcycles.

When: Every Wednesday from now until October
Time: 7 pm – 10 pm
Where: 7700 Boulevard Decarie

Honey Martin Trivia

Honey Martin is a cozy Irish Pub in NDG that hosts a phenomenal pub trivia. They do six rounds of ten questions. A winner is rewarded each round with either a round of drinks or a round of shots. A round for a round – solid deal. The questions are all general knowledge and the trivia host is interactive and funny.

When: Every Tuesday at Honey Martin
Time: 9 pm – 1:30 am
Where: 5916 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest

Shakespeare in the Park

The untraditional rendition of Shakespeare returns on July 5, and will run until August 8. The long-running outdoor theatre event is celebrating its 30th year and takes on a Shakespearean classic this summer in the form of Romeo & Juliet: Love is Love.

Repercussion Theatre produces Romeo & Juliet: Love is Love with a contemporary, gender-bent take on the classic love story.

When: July 5 – August 8
Time:  7 pm – 10 pm
Where: Various outdoor venues across Montreal

Village au Pied du Courant

beachside

@fra_coco89/Instagram

Village au Pied du Courant is a manmade urban beach just south of the Jacques Cartier Bridge. The site features food trucks, live music, restaurant outlets, bar kiosks and of course, sand. The urban project was a culmination of various local engineers and planners and it’s a total hot spot in the summer.

When: Every Thursday to Sunday until October 13
Time: 4 pm – 9 pm on Thursdays, 5 pm – 12 am on Fridays and Saturdays, 3 pm – 11 pm on Sundays
Where: 2100 Rue Notre-Dame Est

McCord Museum

The McCord Museum is a public research and teaching centre that is dedicated to the preservation, study, diffusion, and appreciation of Canadian history. The museum features a variety of clothes, objects, and artifacts from dozens of different Canadian aspects.

The McCord Museum offers free admission every Wednesday after 5 pm all summer.

When: Every Wednesday until October 8
Time: 10 am – 9 pm
Where: 690 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest

Dragon Boat Challenge

Parc Jean Drapeau hosts the International Dragon Boat Montreal Challenge & Cultural Festival from July 6 to 8.

The Challenge is no longer accepting applicants to compete but the festival will host over 15 Dragon Boat races and it’s free to watch. If you’ve never seen 20 people in a boat race each other, you’re in for a treat.

When: July 6-8
Time: 12 pm – 6 pm
Where: Parc Jean Drapeau

Barbie Exhibition

The world’s largest permanent exhibit of Barbies is happening at Montreal’s Cours Mont-Royal. The upscale mall hosts over 1,000 entertainment industry Barbie dolls, all dressed by leading fashion houses.

When: The Barbie Exhibit happens year round
Time: 10 am – 7 pm
Where: Cours Mont-Royal, 1445 Rue Peel

Station F-MR

metro cars

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Station F-MR is an urban park that is headlined by 1960s Montreal Metro Trains.

The park is located alongside the Lachine Canal and its bike path. The station has a cafe, food counter, art gallery, community garden, stage and relaxation area.

When: Wednesdays – Sundays until October
Time: 11 am – 11 pm
Where: Allee des Barges, Lachine Canal

Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral

Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral is a 19th-century church modelled after the famous St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The church opened in 1894 and is an absolutely stunning visual.

When: Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral is  open year round
Time: 8 am – 4 pm
Where: 1085 Rue Cathedrale

SkatePark Père-Marquette

SkatePark Père-Marquette is Montreal’s newest outdoor skatepark. The skatepark was designed by local skaters with the help of Groupe BC2 and Spectrum Skateparks. The park’s schedule features workshops, a skills competition, free skate and group contests. There’s also a built-in sound system so skaters can blast some tunes.

When: From now until October 20
Time: 10 am – 7 pm
Where: Parc Père-Marquette, Boulevard Rosemont and Rue Garnier

NDG’s Colourful Saturdays

Swing by NDG’s Benny Library and de-stress by colouring and/or painting a variety of different scenes. The library provides coloured markers, pencils, crayons and colouring canvas, and books. Just show up and let your creativity run wild the rest of your afternoon.

When: Saturdays
Time: 11 am to 1 pm
Where: Benny’s Library, 6400 Avenue de Monkland

Oka Beach

Beach Volleyball/Shutterstock

Is there anything better for free than the beach?

Oka National Park boasts a gorgeous beach and a stunning view of Lake Deux Montagnes. They offer a variety of activities including canoeing, kayaking, biking and pedal boating, or you can simply relax on the cozy sand.

The beach offers numerous picnic tables and several charcoal barbeques to use at your disposal. A lifeguard is always on duty.

When: From now until September 3
Time: 8 am – 7 pm
Where:  2020 Chemin d’Oka, Oka

See also

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DH Montreal Staff

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