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Montreal Winter Activities for 2021

Things to do in Montréal in winter 2021

Winter can be tough for some of us but we are here to try and make it a little better! Under normal circumstances, we would recommend a plethora of different activities and festivals to visit and participate in but with covid, there is just so much uncertainty and we will work with what is available this year. However, we have compiled a shortlist for you to make this holiday season an even more special and memorable one! 

This is MontrealTips’ Top 5 Winter Attractions 2020/2021:

  1. Our first option on the list is to visit Mount Royal Park during a nice snowfall. We can at least guarantee this to be available during the wintertime so it is a great place to start. Try and pick a day where it isn’t too cold and really take in the simplicity of it all. Visiting Mount Royal Park easily embodies Montreal’s winter scenery at its finest. It is a great time to spend with family and friends and a great area to bring your dogs for an adventure! The park also has regular walking trails as well as snowshoe trails and of course ice skating for all those interested
  1. Something I was truly worried about is returning this year and that’s Montreal’s, Christmas Market! Located just on the outskirts of Atwater Market, the Christmas market is open every weekend from November 26th to December 20th. It is currently the 5th year they do this and have always had a great time. As the name would suggest, the market offers visitors a chance to discover talented local artisans and their products all bundle up in a very Christmasy experience. It is a great way to help encourage local talent and to make new friends! Visiting the market is also free but like with a lot of things there are efforts to respect covid rules and that includes a capacity limit so make sure you get there early!
  1. For the first time ever, Montreal will actually be host to not one but two Christmas markets! This time the new one will be held at the Jean-Talon Market and available from December 4th to December 23rd. The market offers visitors “to make gastronomic discoveries and enjoy local crafts”. One of the aisles will also be occupied by small wooden cottages that offer warm-up spots and other comforting products like hot chocolate and churros. Like the Atwater Christmas market, it is a relaxing way to spend a weekend with friends and family during this holiday season.
  2. A classic amongst most Montrealers and tourists is visiting the Old Port during the holiday season. It’s equally as magical of a place as the Christmas villages but really shows off Montreal to its core. The decorations, the sights, the smells are all a part of the experience. While restaurants and bars won’t be able to fill that void this season, it is still worthwhile to take a stroll around the Old Port for a relaxing time and an extra excuse to get in those extra steps to walk off that extra covid weight! 
  1. With the Christmas villages up and running, their cousin, Montreal’s Winter Gardens is also alive and well this year. At Place des Arts,  after spending time shopping, take a trip down to The Winter Gardens and take in the sights and sounds of the holidays. The gardens promise an enchanting evening which will make your next winter memories a memorable one. Walk around and take in the sights and really bask in the holiday spirit by visiting the Winter Gardens this year! Starting from December 5th until January 3rd, 2021 and considered “a little treasure hidden in the heart of the Quartier des spectacles”, which really brings out the Christmas spirit in all of us. 

And there you have it. MontrealTips’ Top 5 Winter Attractions, we hope you have the chance to support the local talent and have a great time visiting them and want to wish everybody happy holidays!

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View of Montreal Skyline from Park Jean Drapreau

Top Parks To Visit on the Island of Montreal This Winter

View of Montreal Skyline from Park Mont-Royal

View of Montreal Skyline from Park Mont-Royal

 

Ah, Montreal parks. The perfect setting for people watching, romantic strolls, picnics with friends, quirky activities like slack-lining, quidditch, extreme frisbee or practicing cartwheels because, why not? At least they’re great for all that (and more) in the summer and fall. But, what about winter?

Don’t despair, folks. The parks stay open year round, and there’s plenty to do at Montreal’s parks throughout the long winter months!

Here are 4 of the best parks in Montreal to visit in winter:

 

1. Parc la Fontaine

Located in le Plateau, Parc la Fontaine is bordered by Sherbrooke, Avenue du Parc La-Fontaine (obvs), Rachel and Papineau. It’s a great park for a stroll, a picnic, chilling by the duck pond or kicking back with a good book. In the winter, it transforms into a snowy wonderland, surrounded by some of the city’s trendiest hotspots.

Why it’s awesome for winter:

The skating! There’s something truly romantic about this park, so while you can definitely take the family skating, or go for a pick up hockey game, it’s a really special spot for an evening skate with your special someone. Don’t have skates? No worries! You can rent skates at the onsite chalet. You can also get your own skates sharpened there if you quite literally had to dust yours off. There’s also a little restaurant onsite to grab a snack or a hot drink, but… 

Kick it up a notch:

In case you weren’t aware, you can drink alcohol in Montreal’s public parks! The catch is, you have to be consuming a meal if you’re drinking. Ah, but there’s another catch! There’s really no definition of what constitutes a meal. So, if you were to bring a few yummy pastries or holiday baking alongside your thermos of spiked hot chocolate or egg nog, you’re probably good to go! If that isn’t the perfect budget-friendly, yet romance-packed date night, we don’t know what is!

More awesomeness:

Though the park is known more for its beautiful skating rink in the winter, you can also use the cross-country skiing or snowshoeing trails throughout the winter. Even just a snowy stroll through the park can be pretty special.

Park la fountaine in downtown montreal

 

2. Parc Mont Royal

Pretty much all of the mountain (note to non-Montrealers: it’s more of a large hill than an actual mountain, but to Montrealers it is 100% “the mountain”) is Parc Mont Royal and since that’s a lot of ground to cover, there’s an awful lot to love about it. Montreal's lake - Beaver lake in the park of mont royal

Why it’s awesome for winter:

Snow tubing! There are a few spots on the mountain where you can bring your own sled and coast down the hill, but the groomed tubing tracks overlooking Beaver Lake are hands down some of the most fun you can have in Montreal during the winter!

You rent a tube onsite (prices for this year have not yet been announced, but have always been extremely affordable in the past) and if you bring your own lock, you can make use of one of the onsite lockers so you can whoosh down the hill at top speed without a care in the world!

This is obviously an awesome activity for kids, but if you’re an adult or semi-adult and feeling nostalgic for the days when snow felt thrilling and magical, trust us… there is no joy quite like tubing! So slap on your snow pants and get ready to yeehaw!

Kick it up a notch:

Scrap the office Christmas party this year and take the whole team out to the hills for a day of totally unprofessional fun! When was the last time you fell into a fit of giggles with your coworkers? Forget the team building exercises. Nothing bonds a team together like tubing!

More awesomeness:

Like we said, this is a BIG park. Aside from tubing, there’s also snowshoeing, cross country skiing, bird watching, skating, hiking and more!

 

3. L’Escapade in Rigaud

So this one’s actually outside the city and – bit of a bummer – not accessible by public transportation. It’s about a 45 minute drive away in the town of Rigaud, but it makes our list because… 

Why it’s awesome for winter:

The cross country skiing! L’escapade is a linear park. Yes, that is a boring description, but what it means is that the park is a lot longer than it is wide. Because of that, it’s the perfect layout for trails! There are about 27 kms of groomed ski trails in gorgeous l’Escapade park. The 27 kms are divided into five distinct trails, rated from easy to difficult. Given the length of the trails, you can really make a full day of it.

Kick it up a notch:

Combine your ski day with a little history! Rigaud is a town packed with historic sites and rich in quebecois culture. Sure, there’s plenty of history in Montreal as well, but this is a little different and immersing yourself in the roots of Quebec culture is an experience every Montrealer should have. So, spend a morning skiing the trails, then stop for lunch before visiting one (or more) of the many stops along the heritage and cultural circuit.

More awesomeness:

If you’ve never tried snowshoeing, this might be the perfect opportunity as you can rent the equipment onsite. There are also walking trails open year round, and while dogs are not allowed on the ski trails, they are more than welcome to join you for some furry fun on the walking and snowshoeing trails.

 

4. Parc Jean-Drapeau

This is probably the most action-packed park the city has to offer. Year round, there are all kinds of events and activities happening at Parc JD. Located on Île Sainte Hélène, Parc Jean-Drapeau is surprisingly easy to get to with plenty of parking and access via the metro’s yellow line. In the summer, you can even take a river shuttle from the Old Port. But in winter… 

Why it’s awesome for winter:

Fȇte des neiges! For the 37th year in a row, this event will be bringing the joy of winter to Montrealers for four weekends in a row. This year’s festival will include the ice boat (a giant pirate ship made of ice), snow tubing, a refrigerated skating trail, boot hockey games to join, a human foosball game, an “alpine adventure” activity organized by Cirque Éloize acrobats and much more. There’s even a mini-hill and equipment for kids to take their first shot at downhill skiing or snowboarding!

This is definitely a family friendly festival, with plenty of activities for kids of all ages, but it is by no means exclusively for kids and families. The ice slides are fun for everyone, there are plenty of activities to join in, and last year’s festival had amazing food trucks to sample some of the best cuisine in the city. This year’s food truck lineup is gearing up to be just as delicious.

Kick it up a notch:

Access to just the festival is free, but some activities require a ticket. Opt for the ridiculously affordable pass and you get unlimited access to all activities for ALL 4 WEEKENDS of the festival! Skate one day, go tubing the next, eat yourself silly at the food trucks, take a snowshoeing lesson, join a game of boot hockey, then do it all again!

More awesomeness:

If you opt for the festival pass, you also get free admission the Stewart Museum, which has great exhibits and programming for all ages, as well as 25% off admission to the Biosphere. If you’re tired of hearing “I’m bored” from your kids… or partner… or friends… there’s four straight weekends packed with activities!

View of Montreal Skyline from Park Jean Drapreau

What’s your favourite Montreal (or nearby) park to visit in the winter? Share it in the comments!

Read more about some activities that you can do this winter in Montreal.

Also make sure you are all set for winter, and see what we recommend for a Canadian winter Jackets