Festivals and Events in Montreal

Find out about some of the main annual festivals taking place in Montreal...

Montreal is regularly referred to as the city of festivals due to its full calendar of festivals and events throughout the year. Below is information about some of the most popular annual events held throughout the year. For a more detailed list see the What's On guide.

January

Igloofest is an electronic music festival which attracts top local and international DJs to the Old Port of Montreal for a series of open-air concerts in the middle of winter. From mid-January to early February, admission to over 18s only.

Fête des Neiges de Montreal is staged over three consecutive weekends from mid-January to celebrate the activities available in winter. A selection of games and outdoor activities such as snow tube sliding, dog sledding, snow shoeing, cross country skiing and ice skating are available to try, with most activities taking place near the annual Snow Village. Various activity packages are available, including those that give access to the village itself.

February

Montreal Fashion Week is held each February at the Arsenal in Griffintown. With top designers and buyers from around the world present for the event, it is one of the most important events in the fashion industry's calendar. A limited number of seats are available for the general public.

Montréal en Lumière is one of the biggest winter festivals in the world attracting approximately 900,000 people. The festival runs from around 20 February to the beginning of March and has a mixed program of free outdoor activities, performing arts, and gastronomy. The Nuit Blanche event ends the celebrations, an all-night event full of activities, exhibitions, music and dance.

Montreal Hunting, Fishing & Camping Show is the largest outdoor activity show in Québec and runs for four days towards the end of February at the Place Bonaventure, next to the Montreal Central station. Attracting more than 45,000 visitors each year, the show has retailers, outfitters and advice available for a wide range of different activities such as camping, fishing, hunting, kayaking, ATVing and boating.

March

Art Souterrain (Underground Art) is an annual exhibition of mainly contemporary art, which is displayed in Montreal's Underground City. Starting at the end of February or beginning of March, the festival lasts for around two weeks and has various events such as artist meet-and-greets, guided tours, art workshops and conferences.

Montreal's White Party Week is held at the Palais des Congrès exhibition center with five days of urban culture events, fashion, design and dance. The festival finishes off with a huge white party, with top DJs performing before more than 15,000 party goers. The activities generally run through the weekend from Easter Thursday with the main party starting on Sunday evening.

Montreal St. Patrick's Parade has been taking place since 1824 making it the longest running St. Patrick's parade in North America. Montreal's largest annual parade usually starts at midday on the closest Sunday to 17 March and travels slowly along Sainte-Catherine Street from around Fort Street to Phillips Square. The parade usually last between two to three hours with more than 100 floats, groups and bands making up the procession.

May

Festival Transamériques is held at different venues around the city and runs for two weeks from late May into June. Over 30 local and international dance and theatre companies showcase a selection of contemporary shows.

Montreal Bike Fest is a week-long celebration of cycling and getting out and about in one of North America's most bike friendly cities. Starting at the end of May, the event features daily events around the city, with the main events being the Tour de l'Île de Montréal, a day time tour of the Island of Montreal, and the Tour la Nuit, a 25 Km after dark ride through closed off city streets.

The Piknic Electronik is a summer long music festival with DJs and electronic artists playing every Sunday at the Parc Jean-Drapeau. From mid-May until the end of September.

C2-MTL is an original business conference that encourages businesses and entrepreneurs to be creative and think outside the box. The event takes place over a three day period at the Arsenal in Griffin Town.

Montreal Museums Day is held every year to promote the city's museums and cultural heritage. Almost all of the city's museums open their doors with free admission to their many exhibitions and galleries.

MUTEK (International Festival of Digital Creativity and Electronic Music), brings together over 100 artists, panelists and industry professionals for five days at the end of May. Held at various venues in the Quartier des Spectacles area, the festival promotes new thinking in contemporary music.

June

The Formula 1 Grand Prix of Canada takes place on Montreal's Ile Notre-Dame each June and is extremely popular, with fans coming from all over Canada as well as the US and Europe. For a few hours on the Thursday morning there is free access to the pit lane and a chance for fans to meet the drivers and see the cars being prepared. For the entire week leading up to, and including the Grand Prix weekend, the Ile Notre-Dame is closed to non-event traffic and access is only possible with an official pass. There are also a host of other events and activities over the Grand Prix weekend in celebration of the event, notably the Grand Prix Party on Crescent Street.

  • For more information about the Grand Prix Festival: Click here

The Mondial de la Bière (World of Beer) festival takes place over five days in early June at the Palais des Congrès. Hundreds of different beers and ciders are available to sample, with advice and workshops on beer making, cooking with beer and onsite demonstrations. Entry to the festival is free, but samples must be purchased with pre-purchased coupons available near the front entrance or online before the show.

L'International des Feux (International Fireworks) runs from mid-June to the beginning of August with a calendar of firework displays put on by eight competing nations. The best place to view the displays is from La Ronde amusement park, but they can also be watched for free from various nearby locations such as the Jacques Cartier Bridge (closed to traffic for the show), the Old Port shoreline, Longueuil shore or from a boat on the Saint-Lawrence River. The fireworks can attract tens of thousands of spectators, so people going to watch should be prepared for large crowds.

Festival International de Jazz de Montreal features approximately 3,000 artists and 650 concerts played at various venues around the city. There are around 450 outdoor performances at the 10 free outdoor stages. The festival runs for 10 days from the end of June into July and attracts more than 2.5 million visitors, with some of the bigger shows attracting over 100,000 people.

Montreal Fringe Festival is an entertainment festival with no artistic direction and no censorship. The festival features a variety of local and international, emerging and experienced artists, as access to perform at the festival is open to any artist using a lottery system. Ticket prices are low with all of the proceeds being passed on to the artists at each particular event. Events are held at indoor and outdoor venues around the Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood, over a 20 day period in June.

La Fête Nationale du Québec à Montréal is Québec's national holiday, celebrated on 24 June. Otherwise known as St. Jean Baptiste day, this has been Québec's official national holiday since 1977 and celebrates French Canadian culture. Several free of charge concerts and events are held around the region during the festivities, as well as many smaller local events.

July

Canada Day on 1 July is a national holiday and is also sometimes referred to as moving day, as it is the day when the majority of rental agreements start and finish. All around the region there are events to celebrate Canada's birthday, combined with every available truck, van and trailer being loaded and unloaded with people's furniture and belongings.

Festival International Nuits d'Afrique is a two-week festival celebrating the arts and cultures from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. Over 90 shows, concerts, activities and workshops are held at indoor and outdoor venues area around the Quartier des Spectacles area, many of them free.

Just for Laughs Festival is an international comedy festival, which started in 1983 as a two day French-language event. It now runs for over two weeks and hosts around 1,700 local and international, French- and English-language artists and comedians. Along with many paid shows, the festival also offers over 1,000 free outdoor shows and activities that attract around 2,000,000 visitors each year.

Fantasia International Film Festival is a popular genre film festival that has been running since 1996.

Montréal Complètement Cirque is a festival displaying Montreal's cultural diversity and promoting the city's circus performers and artists. A wide selection of indoor and outdoor events are planned around the city each year, with most of the outdoor events being free of charge.

August

Osheaga Music and Arts Festival presents three days of open air live music and entertainment from some of the world's top artists along with the best of local talent. The festival site at Parc Jean Drapeau has five stages with a full schedule for each stage. There are also a host of other activities, places to eat or relax, promotions and competitions.

FestiBlues International de Montréal is a family oriented blues music festival with over 40 established and emerging artists playing at Ahuntsic Park in early August. The festival has events through the day and into the evenings, including workshops introducing children to blues music.

Italian Week celebrates Montreal's rich Italian heritage with a selection of activities and events, such as outdoor concerts and operas, food and wine tasting, guided Little Italy tours, literary events and more.

Montreal Pride runs for a week in mid-August ending with the Gay Pride parade on the Sunday afternoon. A wide range of events take place at indoor and outdoor venues around the city including cabaret shows, art exhibitions, theatre, literary events and more, with many of the events being free of charge.

The Rogers Cup is part of the men's ATP World Tour and brings some of the world's best male tennis players to Montreal. The competition is played at the Uniprix Stadium at Parc Jarry at the beginning of August.

The Montreal Highland Games & Festival is a chance to celebrate Montreal's rich Scottish and Celtic heritage with activities and events the Celtic way. Events such as pipes and drums, Highland dancing and Highland athletics run through the weekend. Scottish souvenirs and accessories are also available for purchase, along with food, beer and other refreshments.

The Montreal World Film Festival takes place at the end of August over ten days. With films from well-known and first time filmmakers from around the world, the festival provides an opportunity for new talents to show themselves. There are awards for different categories of film as well for actors and directors. During the festival there are approximately 300-400 films and documentaries screened at cinemas and theatres around the city.

September

Gardens of Light takes place every year in the evenings of September and October. Montreal's Botanical Gardens are illuminated by colorful lanterns and light displays. The Japanese gardens light up with traditional style lanterns in an array of shapes and sizes. The Chinese gardens are flooded with color with lamps lighting up the trees and plants in bright and contrasting colors.

Pop Montreal is a not-for-profit festival bringing together emerging independent artists and celebrated artists from around the world. The first event was in 2002 with around 80 artists, but now more than 500 hundred artists play to audiences of over 50,000 during the five day festival at the end of September. As well as music, the festival also promotes visual arts, fashion shows and films with a variety of exhibitions and screenings around the city. Many venues are used for the festival from intimate bars to large theatres, cinemas, concert halls and even churches.

The Montreal Marathon is the biggest running event in Québec and attracts thousands of runners from around the world. In addition to the full marathon there is also a half marathon, 10 Km and 5 Km races, and a 1 Km marathon for children. The races are held between Parc Villeray to the north and Ile Notre-Dame to the south, Parc Maisonneuve in the east to Blvd. St Laurent in the west. Many roads in the city are closed for the event. There are many events and entertainers along the route and an after race concert at the finish line.

Les Journées de la Culture is a free of charge festival that has been running annually since 1997 throughout Québec. The festival takes place over three days from the last Friday in September and aims to raise awareness on the importance of access to arts and culture. Organized by volunteers, the various events around the province provide hundreds of free hands on workshops, conferences, guided tours and demonstrations to visitors.

October

The Black & Blue Festival was started in 1991 as a big party organized by a group of friends to raise money for a good cause. Since then it has grown into one of the largest events of its kind in the world, with a full program of cultural, sports and social events. As a non-profit foundation, the BBCM passes all the proceeds from the events on to Montreal's AIDS support organizations. The event attracts many thousands of visitors to Montreal over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, and is usually held at the Palais des Congrès or the Olympic Stadium.

The Festival du Nouveau Cinéma showcases independent films from around the world, and is also an Academy Award qualifying festival for short films. Several different venues are used for the festival which takes place over 10 days in the middle of October.

Light the Night Walk is an opportunity for families, groups and communities to get together to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada. Carrying color coded lanterns the walk is carried out a leisurely pace and takes under an hour to complete. Held in mid-October at the Parc Jean-Drapeau.

November

M for Montreal is a showcase for emerging artists, providing them with the opportunity to expand their audiences and prove themselves in front of some of the industry's big players. For four days in November various venues in the city host music workshops, auditions and concerts, many of which have free admission.

Montreal International Documentary Festival takes place over ten days in mid-November and showcases some of the year's best documentaries from Canada and around the world. Documentaries on a wide range of different subjects are screened at cinemas around the city.

The Santa Clause Parade is Québec's most popular Christmas event with 1,500 artists singing, dancing and playing music in downtown Montreal. Approximately 20 floats take part in the parade, along with the musicians and dancers, traveling down St. Catherine Street West from Du Fort to Saint-Urbain.

The Fête des Vins du Québec takes place at the end of November in the Marché Bonsecours and showcases Québec's winemaking and gastronomy artisans. The entry fee includes a tasting glass and tasting coupons, with two admission options available, each with a different number of tasting coupons.

December

The Old Montreal Extravaganza and Christmas Village starts in mid-December and ends early January, and lights up the Old Port area with Christmas color. As well as the Christmas village, a series of activities and events take place indoors and outdoors to get everyone into the spirit of Christmas. The highlight of the festival is the New Year's Eve Grand Bal which finishes off with a fireworks display over the Old Port.