As we say goodbye to winter, be sure to take advantage of all the activities ushered in by the new season.
We’re talking about art festivals, Nuit Blanche, a maple syrup festival, and an outdoor symphony concert in Old Port (to name a few), and best of all, they are all completely free of charge.
Check out 19 free things to do in Montreal this March.
Taking art out of artistic institutions and integrating them into daily life, Art Souterrain is hands down one of the coolest art festivals Montreal has ever hosted. Art Souterrain is a non-profit organized founded in 2009 that is dedicated to showcasing contemporary art, artists, and the “cultural heritage of Montreal’s underground city.” Thus, we can expect art installations to centre on concepts of pleasure, relaxation, sharing, and leisure. Specific forms of play mentioned include video games, theme parks, game rooms, sports, television, and the internet. The best part? Each installation will be set in a different underground tunnel in Montreal.
When: March 4-26, 2017
2017 marks the 14th edition of Nuit Blanche, and just as the city and country are celebrating anniversaries this year, Nuit Blanche has also decided to celebrate an important year for the city: 1967. Happening for one night only, Nuit Blanche 2017 will take place on the night of March 4th and will channel the spirit of Expo 67. On that one night, the festival has planned over 200 mostly free events happening all over the city. In other words, you won’t be able to miss it! Ranging from family events at the Goethe-Institute, where children are invited to “create fascinating games from light and shadow,” to Espaces des Arts where adults have the chance to “discover the incredible allure of rope bondage arts,” it’s going to be a pretty wild night. While the central hub of Nuit Blanche remains Quartier des Spectacles, there will be events taking place all over the city both indoors and out, such as at the Phi Centre, the McCord Museum, and the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art. Be sure to get a good night’s sleep on March 3rd!
When: March 4, 2017, 12 pm-3 am
Where: Various locations (for a map of locations, click here)
Mark your calendars! In honour of St. Patrick’s Day, otherwise known as one of Montreal’s favourite holidays, the city will be hosting its annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 19th, 2017. As the real St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday this year, the parade will take place on the Sunday. Organized by the United Irish Societies of Montreal, the parade will begin at the corner of Saint Catherine and Rue Fort at 12pm sharp, and proceed along Sainte Catherine, finishing at Rue Bleury. If it’s anything like the previous years, you can expect everything from dancing leprechauns to Gaelic music (oh, and don’t forget to grab a green beer afterwards!).
When: March 19, 2017, 12pm
Where: Sainte Catherine Street
A cabane a sucre right in the middle of the city! Montreal’s own urban sugar shack/maple syrup festival is back for the 7th year in a row. Officially called Cabane Panache Et Bois Rond, all the sugary goodness of a Quebec cabane a sucre will be coming to Promenade Wellington between March 23rd and March 26th, 2017. Last year, more than 55,000 people from all over Montreal converged on Promenade Wellington for four days of maple syrup and wood cabin glory, and this year will likely be no different. The traditional event will feature square dancing, log-throwing, two-man saws, six francophone concerts, and of course a maple syrup feast. We’re talking about maple taffy, sugar pie, pancakes with syrup, and even maple cocktails.
When: March 23-24, 5 pm-9 pm, March 25-26 11 am-5 pm
Where: Promenade Wellington, 266 Rue Hickson, Verdun
See Montreal like you’ve never seen it before. Montreal en Lumiere recently released its 2017 Nuit Blanche schedule and we couldn’t be more excited. One of the 200 free events happening all over the city on March 4th is none other than free entry to the Place Ville Marie Observatory. Titled Observation 360 Degrees, this official Nuit Blanche event will take place between 8pm and 1am, and will offer Montrealers a breathtaking view of the city. In addition to the view, the Place Ville Marie Observation deck has an interactive exhibition called #MTLGO that will take visitors on a “special urban mission.” As admission into the Place Ville Marie Observatory typically costs $19 for adults and $14 for students, this Montreal en Lumiere promotion is a major deal.
When: March 4, 8 pm-1 am
Where: Place Ville Marie Observatory
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
Get in a serious workout while enjoying the fresh outdoors. Cross country skiing is a popular activity amongst Montrealers, whether they’re heading to nearby Mount Royal or the Montreal Botanical Garden (the latter of which boasts 3 kilometers of groomed trails and serene surroundings).
When: December 20-March 15, 2017
Where: Montreal Botanical Garden, 4101 Rue Sherbrooke Est
Each month, McGill’s Redpath Museum hosts a free scientific lecture for the general public. Hosted by a McGill professor and exploring a new topic each month, this month’s lecture is titled “Forecasting the future, with toads,” and will take place on March 9th. David M. Green will be speaking, pondering the question of what a “small, sand-dune dwelling amphibian can tell us about the biodiversity crisis and global climate change.”
When: March 9
Where: Redpath Museum, 859 Sherbrooke St W
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
One of the largest winter festivals in the world, 2017 marks the 18th edition of Montreal En Lumiere. The festival showcases everything that a Montreal wintertime has to offer, from the performing arts to gastronomy to outdoor activities.
When: February 23-March 12, 2017
Where: Various Locations
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
This winter festival right in the heart of the Olympic Village is one of the biggest attractions in the city. Featuring ice skating, snow tubing, an outdoor bar, and plenty of restaurants, there is tons of fun to be had at this snow-filled paradise.
When: Until March 12
Where: Olympic Park
Looks like you don’t have to visit a cabane a sucre to get a taste of the maple syrup taffy we all know and love! Located right in downtown Montreal lies Stephanie Voghell, a maple-themed hut that sets up shop in Phillips Square each winter, selling an array of maple goodies. We’re talking about maple syrup, maple butter, maple sugar, maple lollipops, maple fudge, and of course, maple syrup snow taffy. Caught in the act earlier this week, Stephanie Voghell has a small snow-covered surface that they pour maple syrup onto, and allow customers to roll onto a popsicle stick. They are $2.50 a pop, and worth every penny.
When: Daily (weather permitting)
Where: Phillips Square (across from the Bay, at the corner of Sainte Catherine Street West and Union Avenue)
The giant Air France Ferris Wheel will be taking up residence in Place des Festivals between February 23rd and March 11th.In addition, the Air France Ferris Wheel is by no means your typical ferris wheel. While it does go round and round and will offer great views of downtown Montreal, it also happens to be illuminated making it that much more magical. Lit up with all sorts of neon colours and designs, it is guaranteed to be nothing short of mesmerizing. Even better, it will be completely free to ride so grab your partner, family, and friends, and enjoy an exhilarating trip on Montreal’s own urban ferris wheel.
When: Thursdays and Fridays from 5 pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 12 pm between February 23 and March 11
Where: Place des Festivals
By now, you’ve likely heard that the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is one of the best museums in the city. Boasting an incredible collection of art, ranging from paintings to sculptures, there is no better way to spend an afternoon in Montreal. Unfortunately, however, given the museum’s reputation, it will cost you a pretty penny to enter…except when they’re having a promotion. And luckily, this is one of those times. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has a long-standing deal whereby entrance fees are waived on the final Sunday of each month. When is the final Sunday in March you ask? It’s March 26th! That means that on Sunday, March 26 the museum will be open to the public for free. Mark your calendars and get ready to explore one of Canada’s best collections free of charge.
When: March 26
Where: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
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
Montreal en Lumiere recently released their 2017 schedule, and in and among the hundreds of exciting activities is none other than the RBC Tyrolean Zip-Line. The second zip line operating in Montreal this winter (the first being MTL Zipline in Old Port), the RBC Tyrolean Zip-Line is an annual staple of Montreal en Lumiere. Set up in Place des Arts between February 23rd and March 11th, this exhilarating ride will see Montrealers getting high up in the sky and travelling eastbound between Balmoral Street and St Urbain Street. As you soar through the sky, be sure to look down and spot the illuminated ferris wheel, lit up slide, and plethora of food trucks and stalls set up in Place des Arts.
When: February 23-March 11
Where: Place des Festivals
Less than two weeks after Montreal’s free cheese festival, Montreal en Lumiere has confirmed that SAQ will be hosting their annual cider festival this March! Known as Mondial des Cidres, the event will take place between March 3rd and March 5th at Complexe Desjardins. Part of the official Montreal en Lumiere 2017 programming, Mondial des Cidres will feature products and tastings from local cider breweries in Quebec.Whether you want to know more about how apple cider is made, or just want to try out different ciders from throughout the province, Mondial des Cidres is the place to be. The event is open to the public (18 years and older) and free to all.
When: March 3, 4 pm-9 pm, March 4, 12 pm-12 am, March 5, 12 pm-5 pm
Where: Complexe Desjardins
Concordia is back at it again. Montreal is undoubtedly an artsy city. We love public art, fine art, and even underground art. Thus, it’s no surprise that 2017 is welcoming yet another art festival. Art Matters is unique in that it is a student-run festival, organized entirely by Concordia University students. The event is the largest of its kind in North America and has taken place annually every March since its inception in 2000. Just like previous years, the 2017 edition will showcase 10 exhibitions created by students, spread out over 3 weeks. There will also be parties and special events. In the past, the festival has incorporated different art workshops and all types of art installations including contemporary art exhibits, audiovisual components, and even live music.
When: March 4-27, 2017
Where: Various locations