Have a ball without spending a penny.
Thanks to this month’s slew of free art exhibitions, outdoor concerts, food festivals, and snowy activities, there are a multitude of ways to have fun without breaking the bank this February.
Check out 21 free things to do in Montreal this February
The Phi Centre has yet another cool exhibit happening right now. Titled Virtual Reality Garden: Animation Series, the exhibition showcases a collection of internationally-acclaimed short films including Henry, Eagle Flight, and Minotaur. The programme “juxtaposes animated film and virtual reality,” thus making it one of the most innovative and exploratory art exhibits on display in Montreal.
When: Until March 12
Where: Phi Centre
Get outside this February and check out the ultimate extreme winter sport: freestyle snowmobiling. On February 4th and 5th, Montreal will be hosting world snowmobiling champions for an event called, Motoneige MTL Xtrem. Taking place at Place Philips, the expert riders will be performing crazy tricks for Montrealers to enjoy free of charge. This freestyle snowmobiling show is presented by Tribu Experentiel in collaboration with the city’s 375th anniversary team. Over the course of two afternoons, downtown Montreal will be turned into a snowmobiling course in which riders will pull stunts such as jumping above Sainte-Catherine street. The event will feature 10 of the best riders in the world and three gratify-defying demonstrations.
When: February 4 and 5, 2017
Where: Square Philips, Sainte Catherine Street between Union and Place Philips
McGill University’s Social Equity and Diversity Education Office is hosting an introductory event for the first ever institutionalized Black History Month at McGill. The event will feature a plethora of speakers including activists and special guests from the Black community from McGill and Quebec more broadly. The evening will also include live music, cultural performances, and food and drink.
When: February 1, 6-9 pm
Where: Thomson House Ballroom, 3650 McTavish
Pointe-A-Calliere is hosting their annual Port Symphonies event this winter. The event is comprised of a series of special musical shows that utilize urban sounds such as those by the ships and locomotives in Old Port. 2017 marks not only the 23rd edition of Port Symphonies but also the 375th anniversary of Montreal. As such, the performance will be inspired by Jeanne-Mance et Paul de Chomedey, Sieur de Maisonneuve’s arrival in Montreal back in 1642.Composed by Quebecoise-European singer and songwriter, Sonia Paço-Rocchia, this is sure to be one for the ages.
When: Sundays at 1:30 pm, February 26-March 12, 2017
Where: Pointe-a-Calliere, Old Port
Stay active this winter with a little help from the 5th annual Montreal Ice Canoe Challenge. Hosted in Old Port, this unique winter event will see forty ice canoeing teams making their way down the frozen Saint Lawrence River. This is an extreme action sport that is not only fun to participate in, but also to watch. The race will make a loop between the Clock Tower, Alexandra Basin, the Cite du Havre park, and Ile Sainte Helene. Happening on February 11 and 12, 2017, you’ll want to dress warmly.
When: February 11-12, 2016
Where: Old Port of Montreal
You can now attend Igloofest 2017 for free! Courtesy of Off-Igloo, Montrealers who can’t afford to pay for Igloofest this year can still enjoy the EDM music festival’s awesome atmosphere with two free shows. For the city’s 375th anniversary, Igloofest added two whole weekends to its programming, remaining in Old Port for an astounding six weeks in 2017. In an effort to make Igloofest even more accessible to the public, and to celebrate the city’s upcoming birthday, they are offering two free Off-Igloofest nights. The shows will both feature local artists so be sure to stop by Quai Jacques Cartier on February 11th and 18th. It is guaranteed to be a party to remember.
When: February 11 and 18, 7 pm-11:30 pm
Where: Quai Jacques Cartier
The Redpath Museum’s monthly Cutting Lecture series is back to discuss Canada’s economic role in a non-fossil fuel world. The lecture will be given by Robin D. Rogers from McGill’s Department of Chemistry and is free to attend for all.
When: February 9
Where: Redpath Museum
Check out the lanterns in Chinatown
As Montreal’s Chinatown just celebrated the Lunar New Year, the neighbourhood has put up a ton of gorgeous decorations, most notably stunning Chinese lanterns. In addition to the lit-up Rooster (in honour of the Year of the Rooster) that is in the centre of own, there are also several colourful lanterns strung up on the streets. Be sure to visit before they’re taken down and remember to snap a few photos for you Insta feed!
Where: Chinatown, Montreal
In addition to free shows, 2 extra weeks of programming, and a killer lineup, Igloofest 2017 also marks the return of the Nordik Slide. A winter tradition dating back over 100 years, Igloofest’s Nordik Slide has been wowing Montrealers for several years in a row. Presented as a contemporary update on a winter carnival classic (with an Igloofest touch), there is surely tons of fun to be had on the Nordik Slide. It will be set up in Place Jacques Cartier all festival long, meaning you have between January 12th and February 19th to check it out.
When: January 12-February 19, Thursdays to Sundays
Where: Place Jacques Cartier
Get active with your date and take them to Montreal’s biggest winter festival, Fete des Neiges. Taking place between January 14th and February 5th, Parc Jean Drapeau will host a myriad of snow-themed events and activities. On this year’s schedule? Everything from evening dance parties to dog sledding. Outdoor activities include snow tubing, cross country skiing, dog sledding, snow archery, an icy pirate ship, a special simulator at the Biosphere, ice skating, ice sculptures, ziplining, a ferris wheel, a Village of Penguins, a Polar Circus, snow scooters, an inflatable bouncy castle, and a mini igloo play area. Though some activities will cost you, many are free. Plus, walking around the grounds on its own is enough of a fun time.
When: January 14-February 5, 2017
Where: Parc Jean Drapeau
Montreal-based fitness company, POP Spirit, is hosting a series of outdoor yoga sessions this winter. Aptly titled POP Yoga Neige, classes will take place between January 7th and March 12th in Parc Lafontaine and Parc Wilfrid Laurier. All classes are free to the public and boast top-notch instructors. All you have to do is bring your own mat and dress warmly (and we mean, really warm). Happening every weekend until March 12th, classes start at 10:30am sharp and last for roughly 40 minutes. Saturday mornings sessions will be held at Parc Lafontaine and Sunday mornings they will be held at Parc Laurier. Time to start practicing your downward dog in sub-zero temperatures!
When: Sundays between January 7 and March 12, 10:30 am
Where: Parc Laurier and Parc Lafontaine
It appears Marche Jean Talon is enthusiastically embracing the city’s annual Montreal En Lumiere festival, by hosting a day of free tastings and cooking demos. Taking place during the first weekend of the festival, February 25th and 26th, Marche Jean Talon will be transformed into the site of a giant culinary expo. There will be a myriad of vendors on site to teach Montrealers how to cook and to give away free samples. All we know about this year’s event is that it will focus on food from the “Greater Montreal Area” and will feature “agri-food products” and “discovery workshops”.
When: February 25-26, 2017 10:30 am-4 pm
Where: Marche Jean Talon, 7070 Henri-Julien Avenue
Visit Parc Lafontaine’s Love Lock Fence
It’s true! Parc Lafontaine now has a Love Lock Fence just like the ones seen in Paris, Berlin, and nearly every major city around the world. Check it out solo or solidify your love with your partner by purchasing a lock (you can even get them at Dollarama), writing your initials on them in permanent marker, and attaching it to this fence in Parc Lafontaine. This activity is perfect for Valentine’s Day!
Where: Parc Lafontaine
The Christmas markets may be gone, but Igloofest’s free winter village is in full swing. Village Nordik is back for another year of action-packed winter fun, setting up shop in Old Port for six whole weeks (January 12th until February 19th, to be exact). This year’s Village Nordik is an interactive play area curated by seven local design firms, each of which have been asked to present their vision of winter living. In the past, visitors have seen everything from igloos and ice sculptures to warm fire (featuring roasted marshmallows) and giant reindeer statues
When: January 12-February 19
Where: Place des Vestiges
In an effort to revitalize vacant land along the Mile End railway, a hangout spot in an abandoned parking lot has popped up in recent weeks. Featuring a school bus-turned-cafe, picnic tables, lights, and a skating rink, this newest late night joint is called La Petite Floride. Open every Saturday night from December 2nd until the end of March, this is the place to be in winter. Grab some mulled wine, sit by the fire, skate around the manmade rink (featuring paintings by local artists), and enjoy a relaxing night in this urban oasis.
When: Saturdays 9 pm-1 am, from December 2nd until the end of March 2017
Where: 5705 avenue de Gaspé
Embark on a classic winter adventure: tobogganing down one of the city’s many hills. Whether you’re more of a plastic disk, magic carpet, or wooden sled kind of person, there are plenty of places to enjoy an afternoon whizzing down Montreal’s natural slopes. Mount Royal, Parc Lafontaine, and Westmount are great places to go tobogganing this winter.
Where: Various locations
Free on the last Sunday of each month, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the city’s top museum completely free of charge. With everything from graphic and contemporary art to Latin American and First Nations art, there is plenty to see at this gorgeous museum.
When: February 26
Where: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Calling all cheese lovers! You are finally getting a festival dedicated to your love of cheese – and it’s happening right here in Montreal. It has just been announced that an event entitled, “The Festival of Our Cheeses” will be taking place this February as part of Montreal En Lumiere. The three day cheese extravaganza will be going down at Complexe Desjardins starting at 11:30 am on February 23, 24, and 25, 2017. During the festival, Montrealers will be offered the chance to try free samples of some of Quebec’s premiere cheeses. In addition, there will be cheese makers in attendance to answer questions and discuss the factors that contribute to their products’ unique flavour and wine and beer to taste along with the cheese.
When: February 23-25, 2017
Where: Complexe Desjardins Grand-Place
In case you hadn’t heard, Montreal is currently home to the Barbie Expo, the largest permanent collection of Barbie dolls in the world. Montrealers have the chance to see and Instagram over 1,000 one-of-a-kind Barbie dolls. The Barbie dolls on display are not your average Barbie dolls, however. Rather, Barbie Expo is an exhibition of haute couture with Barbie as the model. As the website states, “This is Barbie seen at her fashionable best, a stunningly beautiful collection chicly modeled by the 11½-inch fashion icon.”
When: Open Monday to Wednesday from 10 am to 6 pm, Thursdays and Fridays from 10 pm to 9 pm, Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm, Sundays from noon to 5 pm.
Where: 1455 Rue Peel
If you still haven’t been skating in Old Port, now’s the time! Not only is the weather warming up making your skating experience that much more pleasurable, but skating is a great form of exercise! Bring your own and hope on the ice or rent a pair at any one of the city’s many rinks. For more information on skating in Montreal, click here.
When: Early December 2016-Mid March, 2017
Where: Various locations
Slide down the snow atop Mount Royal on the designated snow tubing trails near Beaver Lake, or head to Olympic Park’s Village Mammouth for the ride of your life! There are plenty of places around the city to go for a spin, from Parc Jean Drapeau to the Laval Nature Centre. Rent an inflatable inner tube or bring your own (and pay nothing!), and enjoy an afternoon of gliding down the mountain at high speeds.
When: December 17-March 6, 2017
Where: Various locations