27 FREE things worth checking out in Montreal this December

Nov 29 2019, 3:39 pm

Before you spend oodles of money on family members, food, bottles of hooch, and parties, here are a bunch of free things to check out in Montreal this month.

Before your holiday credit card bill catches up to you, it might be smart to check out some activities that don’t require a wallet.

Fontaine boréale

Christmas fountain

@amazing.views/Instagram

Considering Christmas is usually associated with snow and ice, it might be time for a little element change.

For the fourth consecutive year, the Christmas fountain known as “Fontaine borĂ©ale” is returning to the complexe Desjardins for the holiday season and it splashes off tomorrow.

The immersive and multi-sensory experience features the Complexe Desjardin’s Grande-Place water fountain, completely decked out in the Christmas spirit.

Every hour, the fountain lights and shoots up to the shopping mall’s ceiling, accompanied by music, lights, and special effects.

When: From now until December 6, and select dates afterwards
Time: Every hour from 4 pm – 10 pm
Where: Complexe Desjardins, 150 rue Ste. Catherine Ouest

The Nutcracker Market- Montreal

november 17

kavalenkava/ Shutterstock

Every holiday season, the Nutcracker Market brings together hundreds of local artisans for a magical shopping experience and it’s returning today for its 10th edition.

Hundreds of exhibitors will be in attendance selling everything from gourmet food and hand-knit mittens, to gorgeous jewelry, and sweet-smelling candles. The market will display gifts for everyone in your life – children, partners, friends, and family.

When: From now until December 8
Time: Monday to Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, 11 am to 6 pm; Thursday and Friday, 11 am to 8 pm
Where: Palais des congrès

Honey Martin Trivia

Honey Martin/Facebook

Honey Martin is a cozy Irish Pub in NDG that hosts a phenomenal pub trivia every trivia. They do six rounds of ten questions and 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.

Buy him a shot and you just might get that European geography question right after all.

When: December 3, 10, 17, 24, and 31
Time: 9 pm – 1:30 am
Where: 5916 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest

McKibbin’s Pub Stumpers

Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Test your trivia knowledge at McKibbin’s Irish Pub every Monday.

The pub’s trivia has five rounds, general knowledge multiple-choice, short answer, a picture round, and a music round. The winner of each round receives free drinks or a round of shots.

When: December 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30
Time: 7:30 pm – 10 pm
Where: 1426 Rue Bishop
Price: Free to play (with purchase of a beverage)

FAO Schwarz Pop-Up Week 3:  DIY Ornaments

FAO Schwarz

Hudson’s Bay/Facebook

Now that the countdown to Christmas is officially on, one of the world’s leading toy stores is holding a series of festive pop-ups to get Montrealers into the holiday spirit.

Ahead of the upcoming holiday season, FAO Schwarz will host holiday activities over three weekends at Montreal’s La Baie d’Hudson over the coming weeks.

This weekend, families can come in and make their own custom Christmas ornaments at this DIY workshop.

When: Saturday, December 7
Time: 9:30 am to 12:30 pm
Where: 585 Saint-Catherine Street Ouest, Main Floor

Noël dans le Parc

Christmas festival

@majordomemusique/Instagram

Celebrating its 26th edition, Noël dans le Parc is a month-long outdoor Christmas festival spread out among three popular parks in Montreal.

The festival offers free music shows and events, holiday-themed drinks and bites, outdoor fire pits, and Christmas trees for purchase.

Because if there’s ever a place to nab a tree, it’s in a park devoted to Christmas.

Once again this year, the festival will host francophone music by renowned local artists, all of whom will perform on a gorgeous cabin stage, built specifically for the Noël dans le Parc.

When: From now until December 24
Time: Varies per park
Where: Place Émilie-Gamelin, parc Lahaie, and parc des Compagnons

Natrel Skating Rink Fireworks

Old Port of Montreal

Aside from offering 2,500 square metres of refrigerated ice, the Natrel Skating Rink will be hosting firework displays in December.

Soak up a little mix of fire and ice this month.

Pro tip: it costs $5 to $7 to get into the rink but you can stand on the outskirts of it and still enjoy the fireworks.

When: December 14, 21, 28
Time: 8 pm
Where: Old Port, Rue de la Commune Ouest
Price: $5.22 – $7.83, available on site and online

Carols by Candlelight

Carols by Candlelight/Facebook

Carols by Candlelight is a highlight of the Christmas season at the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul. This traditional service of Lessons & Carols takes place in near-darkness, creating a sense of great beauty and peace. Go check out your favourite Christmas carols in a gorgeous setting.

When: Sunday, December 15
Time: 7 pm – 9 pm
Where: Musique à St.Andrew & St.Paul Sacred Music, 3415 rue Redpath

Miracle Montreal – Christmas Pop-Up Bar

Miracle on de la Commune/Facebook

Miracle Pop-Up has taken over The Coldroom and transformed it into a beautifully festive Christmas bar.

If you aren’t in the holiday spirit yet, this might help you get there.

Miracle pops up in over 80 cities around the globe, partnering with local bars to inspire the Christmas cheer through festive decorations, quirky parties, ugly X-Mas sweaters, and of course, seasonal cocktails and grub.

For the second year in a row, Miracle will join forces with The Coldroom to bring on the festive feels, every day until December 26.

Admission is free but it’ll cost you if you want to purchase something. You could just walk around and snap pics…

When: From now until December 26
Time: 5 pm to 3 am
Where: The Coldroom — 131 de la Commune

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts – Miracle at the Museum

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Shutterstock

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) is getting into the spirit of giving by allowing free access to the general public to its permanent collections and discovery exhibitions.

The deal is part of the museum’s Miracle at the Museum promotion and it kicks off from Saturday, December 21 to January 5, 2020.

Check out the website for a full list of exhibitions.

When: December 21 – January 5
Time: 10 am – 5 pm
Where: 1380 Sherbrooke Ouest

Merry Montreal

@montrealenfetes/Instagram

Merry Montreal returns in December for its sixth edition with a slew of free events to kick your Christmas spirit into high gear.

Along with the Old Port’s historical cachet, restaurants, boutiques and renowned hotels, Merry Montreal features the Nordic Place, Music on the Docks, and a massive New Year’s Eve bash (one of the only free New Year’s Eve events in the city).

The Nordic Square features DJs, live theatre, a band, interactive installations, and a winter beer garden. Local artists will be performing on stage to keep you entertained while a giant fire keeps you warm (the alcohol will help too).

When: December19 – 31
Time: Various times
Where: Montreal’s Old Port

Luminothérapie

Place des Festivals

Quartier des Spectacles

Place des Festivals is going to be lit all month.

The Quartier des Spectacles’ public square is hosting the 10th edition of Luminothérapie through Pop!, a celebration of five fantastical creatures that aim to light up the city during the dark days of winter.

Because if anything can lighten up our bleak winter, it’s Luminothérapie, Quebec’s largest temporary public art installation.

When: Every day in December (weather permitting, closed the 25th)
Time: 12 pm – 11 pm
Where: Place des Festivals

Village de Noël de Montréal

themonthofjune92/Instagram

As if the Atwater Market isn’t magical enough, it’s been transformed into a ‘Christmas Village’ for its fourth edition of Village de NoĂ«l.

The village, which can be found on the outskirts of the Atwater Market, will include 40 local craftsmen and restauranteurs, concerts, choirs and shows, a sugar shack, an outdoor fire pit, creative activities, a Christmas tree sale, and face painting.

As a bonus, the big man himself, Santa Claus, will be taking time out of his very busy holiday schedule to be on site every weekend until Christmas.

When: Every weekend in December until the 22nd
Time: 11:30 am – 9 pm
Where: Place du Marche, corner of St-Ambroise and Atwater

Enchanted Worlds – McCord Museum

Ogilvy's Christmas window display

McCord Museum

Ogilvy’s old Christmas window display, a holiday fixture at the corner of Ste. Catherine and rue de la Montagne since 1947, can now be found on Sherbrooke Street.

Last year, the annual scenes of stuffed animals interacting in mechanical settings, was donated to the McCord Museum and it is now on display until January 5, 2020.

Ogilvy’s old display has been split into two exhibits, “The Mill in the Forest” (fro free) and the “Enchanted Village” (for not free)

The Mill in the Forest can be seen outside, 24 hours a day, at the corner of Sherbrooke and rue Victoria and the Enchanted Village is in a room on the McCord’s second floor.

When: From now until January 5, 2020
Time: 10 am – 6 pm (Enchanted Forest), 24 hours a day, outside (The Mill in the Forest)
Where: McCord Museum
Price: Free admission (The Mill in the Forest)

Le Marché de Noël chez Maison Pepin

Christmas alleyway

@lysannepepin/Instagram

Maison Pepin has channelled a little bit of Harry Potter by turning its charming alleyway into a breathtaking rustic Christmas market.

The market itself features a variety of locally-made products for sale and DIY workshops from gift packaging to wreath making.

Without taking away from the local artisans, the alleyway is one of the most picturesque Christmas-time spots in the city. The narrow walls, dim lighting, light snow, and wreaths are begging to be shared all over Instagram.

When: From now until December 22
Time: 10 am – 6 pm
Where: 378 Rue St-Paul Ouest

Outdoor Hockey Rinks

vprim1/Instagram

The weather is about to get cold in Montreal for a few months which mean it’s the prime time to show off your Canadian pride and hit the ice at any of the city’s collection of outdoor hockey rinks.

Whether you’re going for a leisurely skate or you want to wire off a few clappers, these spots around the city offer not only the best ice and maintenance but have warm rooms to lace up, long hours, lights, nets, boards, and open-skate areas for the mini-skaters.

Let’s leave the Natrel Skating Rink out of this one, folks. It’s picturesque, chilled, and beautifully maintained but it’s not really an option for a pick-up game of shiny.

Plus, any place that charges you to get on the ice, isn’t what Canadian ODRs are about.

Be sure to check out the Ville de Montreal’s skating rink site to check out ice condition details, which are updated daily.

When: Every day in December (weather permitting)
Time: Various times
Where: Various locations (our recommendations here)

Casino de Montreal

free

Casino de Montreal/Shutterstock

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?

The Casino is decorated beautifully for the holidays and is worth the trek off-island just to marvel in its beauty.

When: Every day in December (closed the 25th)
Time: The Casino de Montreal is open 24/7
Where: 1 Avenue du Casino

Galerie MX

Galerie MX

An art gallery is always appealing, especially during December’s chilly days.

Galerie MX seeks to give greater exposure to contemporary artists, primarily from Canada, but from all over the globe as well.

The gallery is located in the heart of the Quarter international, the cultural epicenter for arts in Montreal in a sleek 6,000 sq. ft. exhibit space.

When: Every day in December (closed the 25th)
Time
: 10 am – 6 pm (Monday – Wednesday), 10 am – 9 pm (Thursday – Friday), 11 am – 5 pm (Saturday – Sunday)
Where: 333 Viger Avenue Ouest

Notre-Dame Basilica

Easter events Montreal

jiawangkun/ Shutterstock

One of Montreal’s most-viewed structures is filled with hundreds of wooden carvings, several religious statues, and gigantic stained glass windows. Take a self-guided walking tour or visit the church every Sunday at 11 am to hear a 25-person choir accompanied by the organ.

When: Every day in December
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

Jean Talon Market

jean talon market

Songquan Deng/Shutterstock

The highlight of Little Italy is undoubtedly the Jean Talon Market. The Jean Talon 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 every day in December (closed the 25th)
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

Barbie Exhibition

barbie expo

joshuajacobs81/instagram

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: Every day in December (closed the 25th)
Time: 10 am – 7 pm
Where: Cours Mont-Royal, 1445 Rue Peel

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.

When: Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral is open year round
Time: 8 am – 4 pm
Where: 1085 Rue Cathedrale

Grande Bibliothèque

bedbug

BAnQ, Bernard Fougères

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 (closed the 25th)
Time: 10 am to 5 pm
Where: 475 Boulevard de Maisonneuve Est

Mont Royal Belvédère Kondiaronk Park

Hiking Mont Royal has its rewards besides the view. The spring sunshine fused with the skyline is totally Instagram-worthy and Mont Royal’s chalet has some nice historical elements as well.

You get to see the entire city lit up – especially with December’s wintery charm. 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

Promenade Fleuve-Montagne

You can experience two of Montreal’s most stunning landmarks in one trek: the St. Lawrence River and Mont Royal Park. Stroll from one to the other on a beautiful 3.8-km promenade that features wide sidewalks, pedestrian crosswalks, rest areas, greenery and access to various restaurants along the route. The multimillion-dollar investment from the city’s 375th birthday celebrations is a site and a sight to see.

When: Every day in December
Time: The path is open 24/7
Where: Rue de la Commune Ouest and Place Royale to Avenue des Pins and Rue McTavish

Redpath Museum

free

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: Every day in December (closed the 25th)
Time: 9 am – 5 pm during the week, 1 pm – 5 pm on Saturdays and Sundays
Where: 859 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest