25 free things to do in Montreal this May

Apr 19 2017, 5:43 pm

Spring has finally arrived in Montreal so why not celebrate?

Get active this month and take advantage of all that Montreal has to offer. Even better, you can have fun without spending a penny! Between free spring markets, art installations, neighbourhood parties, and museum exhibitions, you’ll never be bored in our fair city.

Check out 25 free things to do in Montreal this May.

Puces En Couleurs

Puces Pop hosts some of the best markets around. However, in addition to their annual Christmas market, they are hosting a spring/Mother’s Day market this year. Titled Puces En Couleurs, this festive springtime market promises to celebrate women this May. The upcoming edition will take place on May 5th, 6th, and 7th at Église St-Denis right near the Laurier metro station. This specialty spring craft market will feature 115 vendors, as well as 20 newcomers. Everything from handcrafted jewelry and home baked sweets, to furniture, children’s clothing, and ceramics will be available.  In addition to the vendors, music will be provided by CJLO and played throughout the weekend, and there will be raffle prizes up for grabs (all of the proceeds from sold raffle tickets will go towards the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal). There will also be a snack stand on-site selling sandwiches, cookies, and coffee in case anyone gets hungry.
When: May 5-7, 2017
Where: Église St-Denis, 454 Laurier Avenue East

Free Trees At The Montreal Botanical Garden

Get in the spring spirit with a little gardening! As part of Tree and Forest Month, the Montreal Botanical Garden, or more specifically, the Frederic Back Tree House, is giving out free saplings this May. Science experts will be on hand to teach visitors about the importance of trees and the care they require. Plus, Montrealers can visit the Arboretum and see all the beautiful plants that blossom in spring. All saplings are trees that are native to Quebec, and there will be on-site demonstrations on different tree sizes and how to plant trees.
When: May 26 – 28, 2017
Where: Montreal Botanical Garden, 4101 Rue Sherbrooke E


In addition to the beloved 21 Swings, Montreal will see a second interactive installation taking up residency near Place des Arts this spring. It is none other than Maestro, an installation that allows Montrealers to become the conductor of a water fountain. Sound a little bit confusing? Here’s how it works. There will be a podium set up in front of a water fountain in Quartier des Spectacles. There is also a motion-sensored baton. When someone stands on the podium, picks up the baton, and waves it around, the water fountain will mimic their movements. More specifically, the official website says, “the spouts will activate in sync with your motions and the music.” In essence, this art installation will make you feel like the conductor of a grand water symphony orchestra.  Open between May 8th and May 28th, you have less than three weeks to check out this unique art installation in Quartier des Spectacles.
When: May 8-28, 2017
Where: Quartier des Spectacles

Montreal Digital Spring

Quartier des Spectacles is hosting a unique digital art festival all season long. Throughout the months of March, April, May, and June, Quartier des Spectacles will see all sorts of events pertaining to the digital arts. These include a media lab, live musical performances, and sculptures. Be sure to check out what’s going on in Quartier des Spectacles every weekend in the spring.
When: March 21-June 21
Where: Quartier des Spectacles

Virtual Reality Garden: Felix and Paul Studios

Step back into the Phi Centre’s virtual reality garden, this time showcasing the works of Felix and Paul Studios. This “eclectic and powerful” collection boasts 7 of the studio’s best virtual reality creations, including many curated in collaboration with Cirque du Soleil. Prepare to be amazed by everything from fire and acrobats to President Obama and amphibious characters.
When: March 22-May 29
Where: Phi Centre

Walk up Mount Royal

The weather has finally turned so why not take advantage? Go for your first spring 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

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

Concordia Greenhouse’s Epic Seedling Sale

Concordia’s massive Seedling Sale returns! One of the best plant sales in the city, the Concordia Greenhouse is once again hosting their Epic Seedling Sale. 2017 marks the 6th edition of the event which features over 150 varieties of vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Perennial fruit trees, houseplants including terrariums, and organic seeds will also be available. This is the perfect time of year to stock up on plants in order to create a beautiful spring garden!
When: May 19-20, 11 am-5 pm
Where: Concordia Greenhouse, 1455 de Maisonneuve

The Giant Marionettes

According to the official program of events for Montreal’s 375th anniversary, a not-so-secret art installation featuring giant marionette dolls will be set up in the city next May. Titled, The Giants, the unique sculptures, otherwise known as The Giant Marionettes of the Royal de Luxe street theatre company will be landing in Montreal in May 2017. The exhibit is tentatively planned for May 19th until the 21st, however the location is still under wraps. This means for three full days Montrealers will get to marvel at these historic figures and “experience a very first for the city: the gentle and grandiose promenade of the Royal de Luxe giants.”
When: May 19-21, 2017
Where: TBA

Montreal Salsa Convention

The Montreal Salsa Convention returns for another this May. Starting May 18th, this holiday weekend festival is sure to get Montrealers on their feet. Hosted by the Canadian Salsa Dance Corporation, this dancing event features a slew of workshops, performances, and competitions. There will be free dance shows, an international night with DJs and dancing, dance workshops, and a special gala night. The majority of the festival is free to the public so be sure to watch the best of the best duke it out at Complexe Desjardins (or better yet, try it yourself!). 
When: May 18 – 22
Where: Complexe Desjardins

Montreal Avudo

A dazzling water show paying tribute to the Saint Lawrence River will be taking over Old Port this summer. Titled Montreal Avudo, this spectacular water show will project 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.” The show will also include an 11-storey tall shipping container tower (the largest in the world).
When: Thursday to Saturday from May 12-September 2, 2017, 9:30pm and 10:30pm each night
Where: The west sector of the Old Port of Montréal

La Grande Tournee celebrates Montreal: 19 boroughs in 19 weekends

To celebrate the city’s 375th anniversary, all 19 of Montreal’s boroughs will be hosting parties. Officially titled La Grande Tournee celebrates Montreal: 19 boroughs in 19 weekends, the event is being organized by Cirque Eloize, who will be travelling across the Montreal to help honour the city, its people, and its history. Each weekend, a neighbourhood park will host 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 will feature all sorts of entertainment.
When: May 12-September 17 (Thursday to Sunday)
Where: TBA

Dating in New France

Step back in time to New France and experience a magical town market like never before. In honour of the city’s 375th anniversary, Montreal is hosting a unique event called Dating in New France. Not only will guests learn what it was like to live under the French regime, but they will have the pleasure of walking around a “festive spring market” and meeting all sorts of characters from the time period. There will be live musicians, as well as craftsman and entertainment for children. And of course, there will be lots of food, from freshly baked bread to artisanal jams. Taking place outside Pointe-A-Calliere in scenic Old Port, be sure to visit this eighteenth century market this May.
When: May 19-22
Where: Place d’Youville

Montreal Museums Day

Montreal has some incredible museums. The only problem is, admission can be a little pricey. Luckily, each year there is an incredible deal when all of the city’s museums are free to visit. It is known as Montreal Museums Day. Scheduled for May 28, 2017, Montreal Museums Day is hosted by the Montreal Museums Society and sees over 30 of the city’s museums opening their doors and waiving all admission fees for one day only. That means you can plan a day of museum hopping and stop at everything from the esteemed Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art to the educational Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium.
When: May 28, 9 am-6 pm
Where: Various locations

La Virée des Ateliers

Just in time for Mother’s Day! La Virée des Ateliers returns for its 10th edition this year. Kicking off May 4th and lasting until May 7th, this local arts and craft fair is an excellent opportunity to score one-of-a-kind pieces. This exciting event sees over 90 local artisans opening their studio doors to the public. The fair typically features jewelry, art, and fashion, meaning Montrealers will be able to purchase everything from paintings and pottery, to clothing and accessories.
When: May 4 – 7, 2017
Where: TBA

Sherbrooke’s Open Air Museum

As part of Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations, Sherbrooke Street will temporarily be turned into an open-air museum. Coordinated by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the project will mark 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 will feature 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 will be 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 in the province begins soon! 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: May 5 – October 27
Where: Olympic Stadium

Tam Tams

Grab your sangria kits and drum sets! Tam Tams will soon be returning 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: May 7 – September 24, 2017
Where: Sir George-Etienne Cartier Monument

Festival Classica

Montreal’s resident classical music festival is back! Festival Classica is an annual event that takes place in the heart of Saint-Lambert and features an impressive programme of indoor and outdoor concerts. The 2017 theme is De Bach aux Beatles, so you can expect a wide range of music at this year’s edition. All outdoor concerts are free, while indoor concerts require tickets, but they are all affordable. Festival Classica kicks off May 26th and ends June 4th, with exciting performances and activities happened every night of the festival. In addition to music, there will be a Notes gourmandes event showcasing Quebec food and alcohol, as well as a Classic’Art activity where artists come together to create works based on classical music!
When: May 26 – June 4, 2017
Where: Rue Elm & Avenue Lorne, Saint-Lambert   

Dance Under the Stars

Have you ever wanted to dance the night away atop Montreal’s most famous landmark? Non-profit organization, Les Amis de la Montagne, is hosting a free dance party outside the Beaver Lake Pavilion this summer. Titled Dance Under the Stars, this one-of-a-kind event features both traditional and electronic music. The free event will begin at 6pm with an international dance workshop from he Association montréalaise des arts et des traditions populaires. At 9pm, DJ Doro will take the stage playing electronic music all night long. There will also be drinks and snacks available at Cafe des Amis at the Beaver Lake Pavilion. To learn more about this Mount Royal dance party, click here.
When: May 20, 6 pm-10:30 pm
Where: Outside Beaver Lake Pavilion

21 Swings

Montreal’s beloved 21 Swings (or 21 Balancoires) has returned to Promenade des Artistes! Open until May 28, is there any better sign that spring has arrived? The interactive, music art installation has us all feeling like children again as we swing back and forth while a beautiful melody plays. Created by Daily tous les jours, in collaboration with animal behaviourist Luc-Alain Giraldeau and composer Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, this fun and colourful urban playground is open 24 hours a day between April 10th and May 28th.
When: April 10-May 28
Where: Promenade des Artistes

The Montreal Botanical Garden

Celebrate our city’s anniversary in one of Montreal’s most beautiful attractions! The Montreal Botanical Garden has announced that all entrance fees will be waived on Friday, May 26, 2017 in honour of the city’s 375th anniversary. As the cost of entrance for one adult is typically $15.75, this is a pretty fantastic deal. In addition to the Japanese garden and tropical greenhouse, the Montreal Botanical Garden is hosting an extra special event during the weekend of May 26th. Titled The Great Gardening Weekend, this fun and informative three-day event showcases unusual plants of all kinds and provides tips to Montrealers on how to grow your own food.
When: May 26, 2017
Where: Montreal Botanical Garden, 4101 Rue Sherbrooke E

Festival Acces Asie

Montreal’s resident Asian culture festival, Festival Acces Asie, returns with a seriously awesome program for 2017. Showcasing the best in Asian culture, cinema, music, art, and dance from the south of India to eastern China, the 2017 event includes everything from workshops and conferences, to meditation activities. The festival kicks off May 2nd and lasts for four weeks until May 28th. The event’s programme is divided up by week, with the first week including a free cocktail hour that features a Bollywood dance troupe and famed pianist. Other activities throughout the month include a Middle Eastern dance competition, a “sizzling spices, sacred stories” culinary lesson, and two dazzling shows in Jardins Gamelin. The best part about Festival Acces Asie? Most of the events are completely free of charge, meaning you can celebrate your own culture or learn about a new one at absolutely no cost!
When: May 2 – 28, 2017
Where: Various locations

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 a season pass sale, 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 officially returning in 2017. Free Bixi Sundays Offered by Manulife kick off May 28th. 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 11:59 pm).
When: May 29
Where: All across the city

The Montreal Comic Arts Festival

The Montreal Comic Arts Festival, which in this case is one of the first park festivals of the season, is happening in Parc Lafontaine next month. This year marks the 6th edition of the Montreal Comic Arts Festival, which will be taking place over the course of a weekend, beginning on Friday, May 26th and ending on Sunday, May 28th. During this time, more than 40 exhibitors will take over Espace La Fontaine. The event will feature original works from 130 authors from all over the world. Best of all, this event is 100% free so be sure to stop by Parc Lafontaine between May 26th and 28th.
When: May 26-28
Where: Espace La Fontaine

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