29 FREE things worth checking out in Montreal this May

Apr 29 2019, 8:22 pm

As we hope for more spring-like temperatures in May, at least there’s a slew of great events worthy of checking out this month that are completely free.

This May, may your wallet never leave your pocket.

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Jeux d’Ă©checs gĂ©ants


Gary Burke/Flickr

Montreal is going to be enlarging a classic hobby this month for you to check(mate) out.

Four giant, playable, chess sets are returning to the Quartier des Spectacles from May 2 to 31 and it’s free to play.

The giant boards consist of all the required pieces to play an official game and each piece is made out of a light plastic that’s easily moveable.

Sure, it might be a little more difficult to strike your opponent’s queen emphatically, but that’s all part of the fun.

The outdoor chess sets will work on a first come, first served basis as there’s no registration or sign-up required.

When: May 2 – 31
Time: 10 am – 8 pm
Where: Corner of Ste. Catherine and rue Jeanne Mance

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 is offering free admission on the first Wednesday of May to get those intellectual juices flowing.

When: Wednesday, May 1
Time: 10 am – 9 pm
Where: 690 Rue Sherbrooke

First Fridays

Les Premiers Vendredis/Facebook

Montreal is about to keep on truckin’ as the first First Friday of 2019 kicks off at the beginning of the month.

First Fridays is a special culinary event in which a variety of the city’s food trucks gather at the Olympic Stadium allowing Montrealers to gobble up dishes from dozens of local spots.

The festival, which calls itself “the largest street food fest in Canada,” is known to dish off everything from tacos and churros, to mac and cheese, burgers, and lobster rolls from over 40 participating eateries around Quebec.

Check out a list of participating spots right here.

When: Every Friday from May 3 – October 4
Time: 4:30 pm – 11 pm
Where: Olympic Stadium

Free Comic Book Day

fan expo

Comic books ( Radiokafka / Shutterstock)


With spring’s sunny and warm weather, it’s the perfect time to get lost in the world of comic books and the 18th annual Free Comic Book Day is going to make sure you’re not only catching up on everything superhero, but that you’re doing it for free.

Comic fans both young and old, from Marvel to DC, will be able to rejoice as this year’s Free Comic Book Day is coming to Montreal to kick off the new month.

On Saturday, May 4, anyone will be able to take home a free comic book by simply walking into a store.

When: Saturday, May 4
Time: Varies per location
Where: Various locations in Montreal, available here


As if Montrealers needed any more indication that spring has sprung, Tam-Tams first official Sunday of 2019 kicks off on May’s first Sunday.

Tams, the weekly outdoor party at the base of the mountain, is a perfect summary of Montreal, open to both locals and tourists.

The magical outdoor bash is where Montrealers from far and wide, gather in Parc Mont Royal for an afternoon of food, vendors, fun, music, and maybe even a couple beers and some smoking (shhh, don’t tell anyone).

When: Sunday, May 5
Time: 12 pm until sunset
Where: Sir George-Etienne Cartier Monument

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: May 7, 14, 21, 28
Time: 9 pm – 1:30 am
Where: 5916 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest

Orange Julep Vintage Car Night

orange julep

Orange Julep/Shutterstock

Montreal has its fair share of well-known local restaurants – Schwartz’ Deli, Joe Beef and Chalet Bar-B-Q – but you’d be hard-pressed to find one more obvious than Gibeau Orange Julep.

Obvious is the proper word here because the place sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s a giant, orange sphere that stands three stories high and is forty feet wide.

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.

Grab yourself some OJ, poutine, and marvel at a parking lot full of gorgeous vintage cars.

When: May 8, 15, 22 and 29
Time: 7 pm – 10 pm
Where: 7700 Boulevard Decarie

21 Swings


grantalias/ Instagram

Spring isn’t the only thing in the air as Montreal’s musical swing exhibition has returned to the Quartier des Spectacles.

The interactive, music art installation, 21 Swings, will have Montrealers feeling like kids again as guests can swing back and forth, creating musical melodies.

The 21 Swings (or Balançoires) installation was custom-made for the Promenade des Artistes in the Quartier des Spectacles. The work was created by Daily tous les jours, in collaboration with animal behaviourist Luc-Alain Giraldeau from UQAM and Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, the installation’s composer.

When: From now until May 28
Time: 10 am – 11 pm (Sunday to Wednesday), 10 am – 12 am (Thursday to Saturday)
Where: Promenade des Artistes, Quartier des spectacles

Cité Mémoire


Head to Old Montreal to admire 25 of the world’s largest projection circuits. Montreal’s history is displayed on buildings and streets throughout the Old Port. Download the free “Montreal en Histoires” app for destinations, details, and schedules.

When: May 3, 10, 17, 24, and 31
Time: From nightfall until 11 pm
Where: Old Montreal

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: May 6, 13, 20, and 27
Time: 7:30 pm – 10 pm
Where: 1426 Rue Bishop
Price: Free to play (with purchase of a beverage)

R1-B1 at Le XVI XVI

robot bartender


Remember the old days when regular human bartenders would pour you drinks? That is so 2017. The world’s first interactive robot bartender serves up drinks at Le XVI XVI (Le 1616).

Le XVI XVI offers a Franco-Quebec culinary experience fused with technology as their robotic bartender, R1-B1, serves drinks at the restaurant’s first-floor lounge.

What makes R1-B1 stand out (besides the fact that it’s a robot) is that it doesn’t only serve drinks, it interacts with clients, making it the first of its kind in the world.

R1-B1 (no relation to R2-D2) understands drink orders, quantities and interacts with customers with a sense of humour, in French.

The drinks cost a few bucks but interacting with the robot is free and let’s be honest, how many times can you say that?

When: Every day in May, except Sundays
Time: 5 pm – 11 pm (Monday – Wednesday) 5 pm – 10 pm (Thursday – Saturday by reservation only)
Where: 1616 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest

Yoko Ono’s “Arising”

Reykjavik Art Museum/Facebook

As part of the Japanese multimedia artist’s ongoing installation called “Arising,” Yoko Ono is asking women to share stories of harm that has been brought on as a result of being a woman. Participants are asked to also send in a photo of their eyes as part of the project.

Both projects take an important stance about the condition of women, particularly in regards to the #MeToo movement.

Submissions can be made by email, regular mail or in person and will be accepted at any time before or during the exhibition. Every and all submissions will be displayed.

The display kicks off at the end of the month and will be on display until September.

When: Every day in May
Time: 12 pm – 7 pm (Wednesday to Friday), 11 am  6 pm (Saturday and Sunday)
Where: Fondation Phi pour l’art contemporain, 451 rue St-Jean

Full Flower Moon

flower moon

Flowers and full moon/Shutterstock

Take a gander in the sky midway through May to witness a beautiful full flower moon.

What do flowers and the moon have in common you might ask?

Well, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the May full Moon marked a time of increasing fertility, with temperatures warm enough for safely bearing young, a near end to late frosts, and plants in bloom.

When: Saturday, May 18
Time: 5:11 pm
Where: The sky

Montreal Museum Day

public art installation

Baker Jarvis/ Shutterstock

Montreal Museums Day is returning to the city again at the end of the month.

The event is hosted by the Montreal Museums Society and will see many of the city’s museums opening their doors and waiving all admission fees for one day only.

The day is filled with entertainment, art, and music events across the city so you’ll definitely have something to look forward to as you travel from one museum to the next.

When: Sunday, May 26
Time: Varies per location
Where: Full list of museums TBA. Check website for details

Free BIXI Sundays

Exploring Montreal is great but checking out the city on a bike is even greater. Add on scoping out the city on a bike, for free, and you’ve got yourself a dandy of a day.

For the fourth year in a row, BIXI Montreal wants to make sure you’re hitting the road for free all summer.

On the last Sunday of the month, from May to October, the city’s bike sharing program will be offering free rides for everyone throughout the city.

When: Sunday, May 26
Time: 12 am – 11:59 pm
Where: Various docks throughout the city

Les Jardins Gamelin


Le Jardins Gamelin/Quartier Des Spectacles Montreal

Just in time for the surge in spring weather, one of Montreal’s favourite spring and summer past times makes its return.

The open-air space will play home to both cultural and citizen-driven events, taking place every day and night of the week.

Returning for its fifth consecutive year, Les Jardins Gamelin is an ideal place to meet friends and enjoy new cultural experiences, Les Jardins offers a rich, original, 100% made-in-Montreal program – all for free. There’s something for everyone, with daily culture and entertainment all season long.

When: May 30 – September 15
Time: 9 am – 11 pm
Where: Quartier des Spectacles

The Maisonneuve Bike Path

Bike season kicks into high gear in May.

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 all of it.

When: Every day in May
Time: 24/7
Where: Runs parallel with Boulevard Maisonneuve

Orangetheory Workout

Orangetheory is a workout that, according to the website, is scientifically designed to give guests more energy, more strength, and more results. Orangetheory combines cardio, power, and strength training to “transform your body and your life.”

They offer free classes to everyone who signs up online.

When: Every day in May
Time: 5:30 am – 9:30 pm
Where: 6275 avenue Somerled, 1056 rue Ottawa, 2380 chemin Lucerne

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 May
Time: 6 pm – 10 pm
Where: 745 Rue Ottawa

Casino de Montreal


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 May
Time: The Casino de Montreal is open 24/7
Where: 1 Avenue du Casino

Notre-Dame Basilica

Mozart concert

AG Baxter (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 May
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 May, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has got you covered. The MMFA offers free admission to all of their Collections and Discovery exhibitions to people under 30-years-old.

When: Every day in May
Time: 10 am – 6 pm
Where: 1380 Rue Sherbrooke 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 May
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


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 May
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


BAnQ, Bernard Fougères

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

Mont Royal Belvédère Kondiaronk Park

Hiking Mont Royal has its rewards besides the view. The spring sunshine fused with the skyline are 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 in May’s springtime 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

Atwater Market

Jean Gagnon

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, and 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 in May
Time: 7 am – 8 pm
Where: 138 Avenue Atwater

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 May
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


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 May
Time: 9 am – 5 pm during the week, 1 pm – 5 pm on Saturdays and Sundays
Where: 859 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest

DH Montreal StaffDH Montreal Staff

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