50 free things to do in Montreal this summer

Jun 18 2016, 4:08 am

In case you needed an extra bit of motivation to get off your couch, we’ve come up with a list of 50 free things to do in Montreal this summer. We know some cities can be expensive, but Montreal simply isn’t one of them. Take advantage of everything our amazing city has to offer without spending a single dollar.

From relaxing in the park to checking out some of 2016’s hottest musical festivals, this summer is gearing up to be the best yet.

To help you plan out your summer calendar, here are 50 free things to do in Montreal this summer.

Montreal Jazz Festival

  • What: Ranked as the world’s largest jazz festival by Guinness World Records, the festival hosts some 30 countries, 3,000 musicians, and 1,000 concerts in 15 concert halls and eight outdoor stages from noon to midnight daily. While some concerts will set you back a hefty fee, the festival also boasts a multitude of free jazz concerts happening all across the city.
  • When: Wednesday, June 29 to Saturday, July 9
  • Where: Various locations

Stalk your favourite celebs

  • What: Montreal is officially known as Hollywood Northeast, and this summer is truly living up to the name. From chart-topping artists to Academy Award-winning actors, Montreal will be hosting a slew of the world’s most beloved celebrities. Keep your eyes peeled for Jennifer Lawrence, Naomi Watts, and Brie Larson who are all filming in our fair city between June and August.
  • When: Any time!
  • Where: Various locations

Taking Advantage of Montreal’s Picnic Law

  • What: Let’s be real, Montreal only experiences about four months (absolute maximum) of snow-free weather. So when the sun is shining and it’s warm enough to wear shorts and a t-shirt, you better be outside. Thanks to Montreal’s infamous “picnic law,” spending time outside has never been more enjoyable. Seriously, you have no excuse not to head on over to your favourite park with a beer in hand and a box of crackers. What are you waiting for?
  • When: Any time!
  • Where: Any of Montreal’s beautiful parks

Enjoy a relaxing afternoon in the sun at the Tam Tams

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  • What: Enjoy a fun afternoon in the park with this legendary Sunday afternoon party. Join in on the drum circle or just listen from afar; regardless, it’s a fun time for everyone!
  • When: Every Sunday afternoon until September 25
  • Where: Parc Mount Royal

Montreal Wish Lantern Festival

  • What: The first of its kind, the Montreal Wish Lantern Festival takes inspiration from the traditional Asian Lantern festivals. Join your fellow Montrealers on top of Mount Royal and watch your DIY lantern float majestically into the moonlight.
  • When: Monday, June 20 at 5:30 pm
  • Where: Atop Mount Royal lookout (by the chalet)

Gobble up some free samples at Jean-Talon Market

  • What: Jean-Talon Market is one of the best in Montreal offering everything from fruits and veggies to meat and flowers. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, it’s a great place to soak in the views and sample all the delicacies.
  • When: Open every day
  • Where: 7070 Henri-Julien Avenue, Montreal

Go for a bike ride at Parc Jean-Drapeau

  • What: Go off island and explore the beautiful Jean Drapeau Park. If you don’t want to pay for a Bixi rental, take your own bike or just borrow your neighbour’s, the ride is truly worth it.
  • When: Any day of the week!
  • Where: Parc Jean Drapeau

Just For Laughs Festival

  • What: Montreal’s Just for Laughs Festival is back for the 34th year in a row. With headliners like Sarah Silverman and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, there’s no telling who you might see strolling down Sainte Catherine Street. If celebrity watching doesn’t float your boat, Just for Laughs hosts hundreds of free outdoor comedy performances throughout the festival to keep you LOL’ing.
  • When: July 13 to August 1
  • Where: Various locations

Watch kayakers battle the Lachine Rapids

  • What: The Lachine Rapids are where all Montreal adventures begin. If you’re into extreme water sports like whitewater rafting or kayaking, this is the place to be.
  • When: Any day of the week
  • Where: Parc des Rapides, Lasalle Boulevard at 7th Avenue

Attend a concert at les amis de la montagne

  • What: Possibly the most romantic spot in Montreal, Les Amis de la Montagne is hosting a free concert each month of the summer at Chalet du Mont-Royal (the beautiful building at the lookout). Bask in the sun while overlooking our magnificent city and taking in some sweet classical music tunes.
  • When: July 10, August 7, September 4 at 3 pm
  • Where: Chalet du Mont-Royal, 1196 Camillien-Houde Road, Montreal

And then take a free tour of Chalet du Mont-Royal

  • What: After each free concert atop Mount Royal, Les Amis de la Montagne are offering free guided tours of the chalet. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn a little bit of history behind Montreal’s most famous lookout spot.
  • When: July 10, August 7, September 4 at 3 pm
    Where: Chalet du Mont-Royal, 1196 Camillien-Houde Road, Montreal

Join a gym (at least for the one week free trial)

  • What: Montreal can be unbearably hot during the summer making it very difficult to go for a run or workout outdoors. Lucky for you, it’s never been cheaper to join a gym. Get in shape without paying a penny!
  • When: Any time
  • Where: Various locations

Check out a free yoga class

  • What: If cardio and weight training doesn’t tickle your fancy, why not try a free yoga class? Yoga is relaxing, restorative, and hugely beneficial, both physically and mentally. Several yoga studios in Montreal offer free trial classes or are just always free. For example the Lululemon locations on Saint Denis and in Westmount offer free yoga classes every Sunday morning at 9:30 am
  • When: Varies
  • Where: Various locations

Step back in time at the Redpath Museum

  • What: Spend the afternoon at McGill University’s Redpath Museum, a small natural history museum that is fun for all ages. All exhibits are free and range from the dinosaur era to Quebec’s biodiversity.
  • When: Open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm, and Sunday 11 am to 5 pm
  • Where: 859 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montreal

Take a self-guided tour of Montreal murals

  • What: Though Mural Fest ends this Sunday (June 19) the mesmerizing street murals still remain. Go on a self-guided tour and stare in awe at all of the incredible urban art on the streets of Montreal’s Plateau neighbourhood.
  • When: Any day of the week
  • Where: The Plateau

Explore the Notre-Dame Basilica

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  • What: Discover Montreal’s very own gothic cathedral in the heart of Old Montreal. Stepping foot into Celine Dion’s wedding venue, you will feel as though you’ve been transported to Paris.
  • When: Any day of the week
  • Where: 110 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Montreal

Play some beach volleyball at Jeanne-Mance Park

  • What: Take advantage of Montreal’s very own outdoor volleyball courts. You may not exactly be playing overlooking the ocean, but Jeanne-Mance Park is beautiful and there’s no substitute for feeling the sand between your toes.
  • When: Open every day
  • Where: Jeanne-Mance Park, Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, Montreal

Tan in the grass at Beaver Lake

  • What: If you don’t feel like hiking up the mountain, take a drive or cycle up to Beaver Lake. Enjoy the refreshing breeze coming off the water and have a picnic with your friends. Not in the mood for food? Lie back on a towel and tan or bring a frisbee and get some exercise in Montreal’s finest park.
  • Where: Beaver Lake, Montreal
  • When: Any day of the week

Hone your tango skills with Tango in the Park

  • What: Get your dancing shoes on and take advantage of this free outdoor dance class! Always liked tango music? Or perhaps you’re looking for a new way to get some exercise? Head on over to Sir Wilfrid Laurier Park every Tuesday from June until August and dance the night away.
  • When: Now to August 2, Tuesdays from 7 to 9:30 pm
  • Where: Sir Wilfrid Laurier Park, Rue Laurier, Montreal

Or if tango isn’t your thing, take a free salsa class at Club 6/49

  • What: Club 6/49 has been offering free salsa lessons to Montrealers for over 30 years. If this is your first time, head over to this downtown club on Monday nights at 9:30 pm. If, however, you are a seasoned salsa expert, Club 6/49 also offers free classes for advanced dancers on Wednesdays at 9:30 pm.
  • When: Mondays at 9:30 pm
  • Where: 1112 Rue Sainte-Catherine O, Montreal

Look out at the city from Saint Joseph’s Oratory

  • What: Saint Joseph’s Oratory is a Roman Catholic Basilica that was completed in 1967. While it might not be Canada’s oldest church, it is Canada’s largest and most impressive. Set on Westmount Summit, the views from the top are breathtaking.
  • When: Open every day from 7:45 am to 9 pm
  • Where: 3800, chemin Queen Mary, Montreal

Montreal International Fireworks Competition

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  • What: There is nothing more magical than fireworks on a summer night. Take a stroll down to Old Port or ride the metro all the way to the source: Parc Jean Drapeau. This year the national competitors are Chile, Switzerland, USA, Spain, Sweden, and of course, Canada.
  • When: July 2 to 30 on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10 pm
  • Where: La Ronde, Parc Jean-Drapeau, Montreal

Montreal World Film Festival

  • What: Expand your horizons by taking in a foreign film at the Montreal World Film Festival. With the intention of “promoting cultural diversity and understanding between nations,” the Montreal World Film Festival features seven unique sections. Ranging from the Special Chinese Film Festival to the Francophone Film Festival, there will be a screening for everyone.
  • When: August 25 to September 5
  • Where: Various locations

Italian Week

  • What: Take in some Italian culture at Little Italy’s annual Italian Week. This year promises to be better than the last with endless amounts of free activities for the whole family. There will be a sidewalk sale, fashion show, outdoor museum, guided tours, and a FIAT 500 car exposition all for the low, low price of $0.
  • When: August 5 to 14
  • Where: Various locations

Visit the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

  • What: The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is home to an incredible art collection and is the largest and amongst the most prominent museums in Canada. On the last Sunday of each month, the museum opens its doors to the public totally free of charge.
  • When: Last Sunday of each month
  • Where: 1380 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest

Window shop at the Sainte Catherine Sidewalk Sale

  • What: Montreal sidewalk sales are a shopaholic’s paradise. Montreal is hosting a myriad of sidewalk sales all around the city but none quite compare to the spectacle that is the Sainte Catherine Sidewalk Sale. Spanning all the way from Rue Guy to Rue de Bleury, marvel at the 1.24 miles of clothes, shoes, and yummy food.
  • When: July 15 to 17
  • Where: Rue Sainte Catherine from Rue Guy to Rue de Bleury

Go for a morning hike on Mount Royal

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  • What: The best hiking you’ll find in Montreal. Mount Royal is beautiful in the summer with a plethora of hiking and running paths. You can even combine two activities on this list, by stopping for a picnic around the picturesque Beaver Lake.
  • When: Any day
  • Where: Mount Royal

Take a free walking tour of Old Port with Free Montreal Tours

  • What: Whether you’ve been a resident for years or are visiting Montreal for a couple days, this free walking tour of the Old Port is a great way to get acquainted with the city and its history.
  • When: Monday to Thursday at various times
  • Where: Tours meet in front of City Hall (Hôtel de ville de Montréal) on Place de la Dauversière

Practice your language skills at a Mundo Lingo meetup

  • What: Show off your language skills at the weekly Mundo Lingo meetups held around Montreal. Whether you’re unilingual, bilingual, trilingual, or more, Mundo Lingo is a great opportunity to meet new people from all over the world.
  • When: Every Tuesday at 7 pm
  • Where: Clebard Bar, 4557 Rue Saint Denis, Montreal

Celebrate Saint Jean Baptiste Day

  • What: Officially recognized as the Quebec National Holiday, Saint Jean Baptiste Day is an excuse to let loose and have fun. With events happening all across the city, there is no shortage of activities. Be sure to check out the annual Saint Jean Baptiste Day Parade on Rue Saint Denis.
  • When: June 24
  • Where: Various locations around the city

Partake in public karaoke

  • What: Release your inhibitions with a little afternoon karaoke – completely free of charge. A karaoke system will be set up in Parc du Portugal on one Saturday each month from 3 to 7 pm. Come by and belt out your favourite tunes for the whole city to hear!
  • Where: Parc du Portugal, Rue Marie-Anne, Montréal
  • When: June 27, July 25, August 29, September 16 from 3 to 7pm

Walk under Les Boules Roses in the Gay Village

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  • What: Spend time under one of Montreal’s most famous art installations, the pink balls. New and improved for 2016, this year’s design features over 170,000 pink balls suspended over an entire kilometre of Sainte Catherine Street Est.
  • When: Any time
  • Where: Sainte Catherine Street Est

Go for a musical swing on the 21 Balancoires

  • What: Create your own song by swinging back and forth on Montreal’s now famous 21 swings. One swing plays a note while several produce a melody so be sure to head on over with a few friends.
  • When: August 8 to September 5
  • Where: From the Place des Festivals to Le Parterre, along De Maisonneuve Boulevard and Président-Kennedy Avenue

Learn about the history of First Nations at the McCord Museum

  • What: The McCord Museum, Montreal’s foremost social history museum, is home to an extraordinary collection of First Nations artifacts. On Wednesday nights after 5pm, admission to the museum is free, so be sure to check out the permanent exhibition, “Wearing Our Identity: The First Peoples Collection.”
  • When: Wednesday nights after 5pm
  • Where: 690 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montreal

Cool off in Parc la Fontaine’s wading pool

  • What: Parc la Fontaine is known as Montreal’s own personal Central Park. Spanning 84 acres and containing two interconnected ponds, Parc la Fontaine is a great place to relax outdoors. And when you find you’re getting a little bit too hot under the Montreal sun, you can take a dip in the wading pool (both kids and adults are welcome).
  • When: Any day of the week
  • Where: 1619 Québec 138, Montreal

Take in the picturesque Mont Royal Cemetery

  • What: Despite the slightly morbid element to walking through a cemetery, there’s no denying that the grounds of the Mount Royal Cemetery are extremely beautiful. Catch a glimpse into Montreal’s historic past by taking a stroll through the cemetery. Notable people buried here include Sir John Abbott, John Redpath, and David Ross McCord.
  • When: Open 8 am to 8 pm Monday to Friday and 9 am to 8 pm on the weekend
  • Where: 1297 Chemin de la Forêt, Montreal

Walk through Old Montreal’s cobblestone streets

  • What: Wishing you were in France or Italy right about now? Lucky for you, Montreal’s Old Port is a pretty good substitute. Step back in time with the cobblestone streets, outdoor terraces, and sweet-smelling croissants.
  • When: Any day of the week
  • Where: Old Montreal

Watch an outdoor film at Downtown Screenings Under the Stars

  • What: The Society for Art and Technology will be screening 13 movies over the course of the summer for Montrealers to enjoy free of charge. This year’s most anticipated screenings include Back to the Future, 20,000 Days on Earth, and a 16mm French version of Pinball Summer.
  • When: June 9 to September 8
  • Where: Various locations

Take in a live performance at Theatre de Verdure

  • What: Combining music, dance, theatre, and cinema, Theatre de Verdure’s free live performances are back this summer. Taking place annually in July, be sure not to miss these family-friendly shows in the heart of Montreal’s Parc la Fontaine.
  • When: Now to August 3
  • Where: 1619 Québec 138, Montreal

Take in some urban art at the Station 16 Art Gallery

  • What: This contemporary art gallery located in the lower Plateau is certainly nothing like you’ll see hanging in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Influenced by graffiti, street art, pop culture, and design, Station 16 offers some of the most colourful, vibrant, and eye-popping art in the city.
  • When: Open Monday to Saturday 9 am to 7 pm, closed on Sundays
  • Where: 3523 Boulevard Saint Laurent, Montreal

Take a free tour of city hall

  • What: Be proactive and set up a tour for this June! Montreal’s City Hall offers free-guided tours from September until June each year. If you’re looking for a fun and educational summer activity, head to Old Montreal and learn some history about our fair city.
  • When: September to June, enquire for specific dates and time
  • Where: 275 Rue Notre-Dame Est, Montreal

Stop and smell the fragrant flowers at Floralies Gardens

  • What: Though the Montreal Botanical Garden is beautiful, it may not be the best option for those on a budget. Luckily, you can still smell the roses over at the Floralies Gardens. Located on Parc Jean-Drapeau, the Floralies Gardens contains thousands of different types of flowers, trees, shrubs, lagoons, and even public art.
  • When: Any day of the week
  • Where: Parc Jean-Drapeau

Attend a lecture at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts

  • What: Check out a pre-show lecture series at the Segal Centre and learn about the history, themes, and ideas behind each production. Lectures are held the first Sunday of each new run at 11am in the Segal Theatre.
  • When: Sundays at 11 am
  • Where: 5170 Chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine, Montreal

Attend the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal’s “Big Free Concert”

  • What: Presented by Sirius XM, the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal is hosting their annual free concert at Esplanade Financière Sun Life. This year’s edition will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima before launching into a night at the opera.
  • When: August 5 at 7 pm
  • Where: 4139 Pierre-de Coubertin Ave

Watch a production of Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Julius Caesar in the Park

  • What: Repercussion Theatre gives Montrealers the chance to enjoy Shakespeare-in-the-park completely free of charge. This year’s chosen play is The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. The all-female cast will be travelling around Montreal’s boroughs performing nearly every night between July 7 and August 4.
  • When: July 7 to August 4
  • Where: Various locations

Head over to one of POP Montreal’s free shows

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  • What: The annual POP Montreal Festival may not be until September, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a ton of free POP shows to take advantage of during the summer months. Coming up in June and July is Passovah Fringe POP 2016 and POP Off Canada with the She-Devils and Un Blonde.
  • When: There are several shows happening each week, click here for a detailed schedule
  • Where: Various locations

Test your comedy skills at Theatre Sainte-Catherine’s improv workshop

  • What: Hone your improv skills at Theatre Saint-Catherine’s weekly improv workshops. Instructors with over nine years of experience under their belt will be there to guide you in what could be the most exhilarating time of your life. Warning: it might take a drink or two to get you up on stage the first time.
  • When: Every Sunday night from 5 to 7 pm
  • Where: 264 Sainte Catherine Street Est, Montreal

Try a hand at trivia night at The Blue Dog Motel

  • What: Every Tuesday night, The Blue Dog Motel hosts a trivia night. Sometimes the trivia nights are general, but more often than not they are themed. So if you happen to have a strange amount of knowledge about Pokemon or Star Trek, now’s your time to shine – the winning team gets a $50 bar tab!
  • When: Tuesdays at 8:30 pm
  • Where: 3958 Boulevard Saint Laurent, Montreal

Enter another world at the Virtual Reality Garden exhibition at the Phi Centre

  • What: Get artsy with the latest art exhibition at the Phi Centre. Free to the public and open to those over the age of 13, the Virtual Reality Garden exhibition is designed with Oculous Rift stations to ensure an optimal user experience.
  • When: Now to July 3
  • Where: Phi Centre, 407 Rue Saint Pierre, Montreal

18th Century Public Market

  • What: Anyone ever tell you that you were born in the wrong time period? Well perhaps the 18th century would have suited you better! Take a trip back to 1750, when Montreal’s first public market was founded. Meet farmers, craftspeople, and historic figures from the eighteenth century before sampling some deliciously authentic food.
  • When: Saturday, August 27, from 10 am to 8pm and Sunday, August 28, from 10 am to 6 pm
  • Where: Pointe-A-Calliere, 350 Place Royale, Montreal
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