51 FREE things to do in Montreal this July

Jun 28 2018, 8:13 pm

There’s nothing quite like July in Montreal. With summer in full swing, we’ve assembled the best free things to do in Montreal during the long, hot, and gorgeous July days in Montreal.

From jazz music to comedians, fireworks to the circus, and Shakespeare to markets, Montreal has it all in July and you won’t even have to spend a loonie.

Jessie Reyez at Jazz Fest

Jazz Festival


This past March, Jessie Reyez won the Juno Award for Breakthrough Artist of the Year. The Toronto-native is considered to be an R&B Canadian revelation. Her debut EP, Kiddo, absolutely dominated the music scene, powered by her extraordinary voice.

She’ll be dominating an outdoor show early in July, if you’ve never experienced Montreal Jazz Fest, now is probably a good time to start.

When: July 3
Time: 9:30 pm
Where: TD Stage, Place des Festivals

International firework competition

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, check out the Jacques-Cartier Bridge for a local favourite view of the fireworks. The 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, 11, 14, 18, 21, and 28
Time: 10 pm – 11:45 pm
Where: Various spots around the city (Jacques-Cartier Bridge is the popular spot)

Marché des Éclusiers du Vieux-Port

Set up by the water in the Old Port, the mission of Marché des Éclusiers (Farmers’ Market) is simple: showcase Quebec products. There is no middleman. The quaint market gives producers the chance to sell their organic products directly to the public.

Though offerings at the market are seasonal, you’ll typically be able to find vegetables, bread, pastries, organic juices, breakfast, beef, pork, sauces, and cheese – all locally made.

When: From now until mid-October
Time: Thursdays: 2 pm – 7 pm, Saturdays: 9 am – 2 pm
Where: 400 Rue de la Commune Ouest


quartier des spectacles


The circus comes to the streets of Montreal!

LA RUE COMPLÈTEMENT CiRQUE is a circus festival that includes tightrope walkers, trapeze art, balancing and trampoline acts, fire art, jugglers, gymnastics, live music, and human pyramids, all using the urban landscape of Montreal as their stages.

When: July 5 – 15 (off day on July 9)
Time: 5:30 pm – 11 pm
Where: Spread out among the Quartier des Spectacles

The Montreal Metropolitan Orchestra at the Mont Royal Summit

The Montreal Metropolitan Orchestra will be performing an outdoor concert at the Mont Royal Summit.

Imagine having Mont Royal’s spectacular sights and the orchestra’s magical sounds together at the same time?

The concert will be conducted by Montreal native, Yannick Nézet-Séguin as he directs his 47-person orchestra to three of Russian composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s pieces.

When: Friday, July 27
Time:  8 pm – 10:15 pm
Where: Mont Royal Chalet

Casino de Montreal

It’s tough to associate casinos without money, but it’s true.

The Casino de Montreal is free to enter. If you don’t feel like blowing money at the blackjack table, head to the Casino de Montreal and simply take in the sights and sounds, it’s quite spectacular. The casino offers free refreshments and coffee, maybe you’ll find a loonie on the ground and even win big?

When: The Casino de Montreal is open year round
Time: The Casino de Montreal is open 24/7
Where: 1 Avenue du Casino

Parc Jean-Drapeau Aquatic Complex for kids

aqua complex

Parc Jean-Drapeau/Facebook

Parc Jean Drapeau’s Aquatic Complex features three massive Olympic-sized pools, trampolines, diving boards and towers, a shaded area, sprinklers, and water sports.

What’s even better? It’s free for kids (aged 13 and under) on Wednesdays!

When: Every Wednesday until September 3
Time: 10 am to 8 pm (Jean Doré Beach until 7 pm)
Where: Parc Jean-Drapeau
Price: Free for kids under 13

Grande Bibliothèque

The Grande Bibliothèque is a Montreal’s biggest public library. Its collection is part of Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec (BAnQ), Quebec’s national library.

The Grande Bibliothèque is an absolute spectacle to see. Its winding staircases will make you feel like you’re at Hogwarts and it hosts an unbelievably impressive collection of books, magazines, records, CDs, and film.

It’s one of the most visited libraries in North America.

Membership is free to all Quebec residents.

When: The Grande Bibliothèque is open year round
Time: 10 am to 5 pm
Where: 475 Boulevard de Maisonneuve Est

Jean Talon Market

The highlight of Little Italy is undoubtedly the Jean Talon Market. The 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 every day. 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

Carifesta Caribbean Festival

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

Outdoor movies

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

Mtl en Arts

Mtl en Arts is Montreal’s largest open-air art exhibition. The festival aims to further promote and develop the concept of art in the street and in public spaces and closes off a portion of the famous Rue Saint Catherine to vehicular traffic.

The one-kilometre stretch of art welcomes painters, photographers, sculptors, illustrators, ceramists, and glassmakers.

When: Until July 2
Time: 9 am – 8 pm
Where: 576 Rue St-Catherine Est

Oka Beach

Beach Volleyball/Shutterstock

Beat the July heat at a real 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

First Fridays

The largest food truck festival in the province happens the first Friday of every month. The 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.

It’s free to enter but the food samples have varying costs.

When: Friday, July 6
Time: 4 pm – 11 pm
Where: Olympic Stadium

Ste-Catherine Sidewalk Sale

The Ste-Catherine Sidewalk Sale calls itself “the largest open sky gathering of merchants in Canada” and judging by the size of it, it’d be tough to compete.

More than 300,000 visitors ramble onto the street over the three-day event and the famous street is completely closed down to traffic between Rue Guy and Rue Mansfield. More than 250 boutiques, stores, and restaurants set up outlets outside for Montrealers to browse and enjoy. Plus there’s a parade, dancers, inflatable castles, and free samples!

When: July 13-15
Time: Friday: 12 pm – 12 pm, Saturday: 10 am – 10 pm, Sunday: 10 am – 7 pm
Where: Rue Ste-Catherine from Rue Guy to Rue Mansfield

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 in July
Time: 7:30 am-8:30 am
Where: Place Emilie-Gamelin, 1500 Rue Berri

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

Harmonie Laval at Parc Mont Royal


Orchestre Métropolitain/Facebook

Conductor Patrick Morin presents Fiesta Festivale. 

Audiences will hear music from classic films like An American in Paris and Star Wars as well as pieces from the band Earth, Wind & Fire.

Organizers ask guests to bring a chair and snacks.

When: July 12
Time: 7:30 pm – 9 pm
Where: Kiosque Mordecai Richler – 4060 Avenue du Parc

Moving Dunes

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has unveiled their newest exhibit in the Sculpture Garden – an optical illusion.

The exhibit features silver spheres, designed to look like they’re moving through a dessert, fusing notions of real and virtual to give downtown Montreal its very own urban mirage.

When: From now until October 29
Time: 10 am – 5 pm
Where: 1380 Rue Sherbrooke Oues

Mont Royal Belvédère Kondiaronk Park

Hiking Mont Royal has its rewards besides the view. The tulips fused with the Montreal skyline are totally Instagram worthy and Mont Royal’s chalet is a nice alternative to being close to the fireworks during the festival.

You get to see the entire city lit up – especially in July’s gorgeous weather. A 15-minute hike is totally worth it.

When: Mont Royal is accessible year round
Time: 6 am – 12 am
Where: 1196 Voie Camillien-Houde

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

Festival of India

Indian food

Alex Hubenov/Shutterstock

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

Too Many Zoos at Jazz Fest

Too Many Zooz achieved viral fame by jamming out in a New York Subway in 2014. Their super-jazz sound and vibrant look has rocketed the trio to stardom. If these guys don’t get your toes tapping, jazz probably isn’t for you.

When: July 5
Time: 9 pm and 11 pm
Where: TD Stage, Place des Festivals

The Maisonneuve Bike Path

Bike season is in high gear in July. 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 it all. On the last Sunday of every month (July 29) Bixi Bikes offer free rides to everybody.

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

The War on Drugs at Jazz Fest

Festival International de Jazz de Montréal

The War on Drugs’ A Deeper Understanding just won the Grammy for Best Rock Album of the year. The Philadelphia-based quartet stops by Jazz Fest as part of their major world tour. Their captivating live show and powerhouse sound will be an endearing way to close off the festival.

When: July 7
Time: 9:30 pm
Where: TD Stage, Place des Festivals

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 a 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

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
Time: 7 am – 8 pm
Where: From the Old Port of Montreal to Lake Saint-Louis

Just for Laughs



Head to the Quartier des Spectacles in July where the world-renowned comedy festival, Just for Laughs, presents a plethora of free outdoor pranks, weird costumed people, performances, activities, and comedy gigs on the streets of Montreal.

When: July 18 – 29
Time: 2 pm – 11 pm
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

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
 1380 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest

Atwater Market

The Atwater Market is a massive farmers’ market located in Saint-Henri that’s been running since 1933. The market features both indoor and outdoor vendors from a vast variety of local options: meat, bread, cheese, fruit, vegetables, flowers, candy, pizza, ice cream.

The market is free to enter and a lot of outlets hand out free samples. Take a stroll through the market, it’s lovely.

When: Every day
Time: 7 am – 8 pm
Where: 138 Avenue Atwater

Place Publique



Place Publique has nested itself on to Rue Ottawa every summer since 2007. The space is dedicated to the visual arts and its expanded audience. Site-specific artworks, performances and workshops enliven the space and transform it into an interactive platform by bringing together artists and citizens.

When: Every day in July
Time: 6 pm – 10 pm
Where: 745 Rue Ottawa

Vintage Cars at the Orange Julep

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

Steve Hill at Jazz Fest

Hailed as the best young blues guitarist in North America by Real Blues magazine, Steve Hill is a one-man wrecking crew who plays various instruments, sometimes at the same time. The 2015 Juno Award winner plays the guitar, harmonica, percussion, and the cymbals

Plus he’s got great hair.

When: July 4
Time: 9 pm and 11 pm
Where: Hyundai / CBC/Radio-Canada Stage

Bouffons MTL



Bouffons Montreal call themselves “an open-air gastronomy village.” It’s free admission and a variety of restaurants from around the city have food trucks and outlets, plus they give out free samples. You might be hard-pressed not to spend any more, but you could pull a “Costco” and just walk around trying free samples. Bouffons gives out samples of poutine, foie gras sandwiches, Beaver Tails, and vegan grub.

When: July 18-29
Time: 12 pm – 11 pm
Where: Corner of Rue Ste-Catherine and Rue De Bleury

Festival International Nuits d’Afrique

The 32nd edition of the festival assembles a massive collection of talent from here to Timbuktu, across great oceans to Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. The 3-week festival hosts both indoor and outdoor shows of dancing and live music. The free admission part of the festival runs during the third week of July.

When: July 10 – 22
Time: Various times through the month
Where: Parterre du Quartier des Spectacles

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


Shakespeare by the Bow/Facebook

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. It’s 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

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

dragon boat


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

Bois-de-Liesse Nature Park

The Bois-de-Liesse Nature Park is a large park on the northwestern part of the Island of Montreal. It is located in the cities of Dollard-des-Ormeaux and Dorval and is absolutely stunning. Especially in July.

Enjoy the refreshing breeze off the lake, the wildflowers in full bloom and the variety of birds.

If you’re looking for some new social media pics, Bois-de-Liesse is your go-to spot for the day.

When: Bois-de-Liesse is open year round
Time: 10 am – 4:30 pm
Where: 9432 Boulevard Gouin Ouest

Stéphane Moraille

Everyone remembers the instant classic single Drinking in LA from Montreal’s Bran Van 3000. After a brief hiatus from music, Moraille is back in the spotlight with her new album Daïva. It’s Jazz vocals where Créole meets English.

When: July 4
Time: 8 pm and 10 pm
Where: Rio Tinto Stage

Public pianos

Treat your fellow pedestrians to some live music in the heart of downtown. The outdoor piano located on the corner of Rue Guy-Concordia and Boulevard De Maisonneuve is open to anyone with or without piano experience. Play something!

When: The outdoor piano is showcased until August
Time: 24/7, the Indigo piano is from 10 am – 10 pm
Where: Rue Guy Concordia and Boulevard Maisonneuve and Place Montreal Trust

Redpath Museum


Musée Redpath Museum/Facebook

Founded in 1882 at McGill University, the Redpath Museum’s aims to further the understanding and appreciation of biological, geological, and cultural heritage.

The comfortable, little museum has a variety of ancient Canadian artifacts.

When: The Redpath Museum is open year-round (Closed on July 1 and 2)
Time: 9 am – 5 pm during the week, 1 pm – 5 pm on Saturdays and Sundays in July
Where: 859 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest

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.

It’s not only free to attend, it’ll have your jaw dropping.

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

The Twins Parade

Only Just for Laughs could think of parading twins, triplets, and quadruplets together downtown. But they have.

The parade is free to watch and free to join if you fit their criteria of having an identical or fraternal twin.

Twin-related activities start at noon and the parade doubles down afterwards.

When: Saturday, July 21
Time: 12 pm – 5 pm
Where: Place des Festivals

Jardins Gamelin



You can’t exactly linger on too many terraces in Montreal without buying anything. That is, except for Jardins Gamelin. The gardens is a public space that hosts a slew of activities in July on their charming patio. Everything from game nights, karaoke, art exhibitions, meditation and live music are free to enjoy.

When: Various dates throughout July, check the website for specifics
Time:  Various times
Where: Quartier des Spectacles

Dance Lessons

The Verdun Greenhouses host three different free dancing lessons throughout July: Tango Festival, Summer Swing, Tropical Fiesta.

Learn to move before this summer’s weddings!

When: Tango: July 6, Summer Swing: July 16, Tropical Fiesta: July 17
Time: 1 pm – 4 pm
Where: Municipal Greenhouses – Boulevard Lasalle, Verdun

The Cambridge University Wind Orchestra at Parc Mont Royal

The concert will take place at the newly renovated Mordecai Richler Gazebo, at the base of Mont Royal.

William Barnes-McCallum will conduct the 53-person orchestra who will perform Persistence (Richard L. Saucedo), Paris Sketches (Martin Ellerby), Danzo´n No. 2 (Arturo Márquez with arrangement by Oliver Nickel), First Suite in Eb (Gustav Holst), Cartoon (Paul Hart), and Lochnagar Suite (Nigel Hess).

Bring some snacks and a chair, get comfortable!

When: July 5
Time: 7:30 pm – 9 pm
Where: Kiosque Mordecai Richler – 4060 Avenue du Parc

Hannah Williams & The Affirmations at Jazz Fest

Hannah Williams brings her deep soul sound and powerhouse voice to the Jazz Fest for a couple of free shows. She inspired Jay-Z to write 4:44, and then made her his protégée. That’s pretty high praise. She is accompanied by her band The Affirmations to conjure a vortex of supreme soul.

When: July 4 and 6
Time: 9 pm and 11 pm on July 4 and 8 pm and 10 pm on July 6
Where: TD Stage, Place des Festivals on July 4 and Rio Tinto Stage on July 6

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