Holiday Activities

November 30th, 2018

The holiday season opens with a bevy of craft markets, Christmas-themed villages and festive activities for the whole family. Here’s an overview of Montreal events to attend in December.

Santa’s Kingdom at Complexe Desjardins
Complexe Desjardins is a place where your young children can meet Santa Claus at his village while staying toasty warm, inside. At 10 am on Saturday, December 1, Santa will make a grand entrance and settle into the mall’s Grande-Place. Free activities will include carol singing and dance performances; from December 2 to 22, an orchestra will play Christmas music. Both the little train and the big carousel return this year, from December 1 to 30. A multimedia immersive show called Fontaine Boréale returns for its third year, until December 31. Marché de Lëon is the place to find gifts, and it will be open until December 24.

Quartier des spectacles
From December 11, 2018, to January 27, 2019, at the Place des Festivals, the 9th edition of Luminothérapie will host an illuminated, interactive and sonic installation called L’Effet Domino. This free, immersive installation will transform Place des Festivals into a vast winter playground. Passers-by of all ages are invited to maneuver giant dominoes to create music together.
From November 17, 2018, to March 31, 2019, every evening from sunset until midnight, five facades of Quartier des spectacles buildings will become projection screens for a project called Probabilités de neige: 100%. Illustrator Cyrielle Tremblay takes a humorous, affectionate look at winter in the city in five colourful, rhythmic animations.

Christmas on Mont-Royal Avenue
All through December, Mont-Royal Avenue celebrates the holiday season with activities and shows. On December 8 starting at 7 pm, a Torchlight Christmas Walk starts at the Parc des Compagnons, at the corner of Mont-Royal and Cartier. Everyone is welcome to join, and torches are available in exchange for food and cash donations to Moisson Montreal. Costumed characters will lead the procession past three choirs (Les Voix Ferrées, The Montreal Gay Choir, and the Clique Vocale) and a balcony concert, La Chasse-Balcon, by Catherine Planet and her musicians. A concert by the Urban Science Brass Band starts at Parc La Fontaine at 7:30 pm; this will be followed at 7:50 pm by a musical fireworks display inspired by the universe of Tim Burton’s films. At 9 pm, Florent Vollant will perform a free show back at the starting point of the walk: Parc des Compagnons. Every weekend in December, children can ride along Mont-Royal Avenue in a Tales and Legends wagon hosted by a storyteller.
Info: 514 522-3797 |

Noël dans le Parc
From December 1 to 25, Parc des Compagnons will host the 25th anniversary of the Noël dans le Parc. A festive atmosphere will be created with a program of free concerts, shows for children, and organic fir trees for sale.

Old Port Skating Rink and Fire on Ice
The skating rink at the Old Port’s Bonsecours Basin will be ready on December 8 and will remain open until March 10, weather permitting. Thematic musical and pyrotechnic parties will be held on Saturdays starting at 8 pm, on December 15, 22, and 29, 2018, and on January 5, 2019. Montreal’s Observation Wheel, located on Bonsecours Island at the centre of the basin, offers breathtaking views of the city from comfortably heated cabins.
Info: 514 496-7678 |

Montréal en Fêtes at the Jacques-Cartier Quay
The free Montréal en Fêtes event returns to Quai Jacques-Cartier from December 20 to 31. The program, which will be unveiled shortly, will feature performances by local artists on a large outdoor stage. In previous years, on December 31, the Quay has hosted Montreal’s biggest New Year celebration with a midnight countdown and a massive fireworks display followed by an outdoor dance party.

Montreal’s Christmas Village
The third edition of this Christmas Village will be installed in front of the Atwater Market on weekends until December 23rd. Visitors will find more than 70 artisans and restaurateurs, Santa’s workshop, the Kingdom of the Elves, an Enchanted Forest, shows and entertainment, outdoor movie screenings, and gourmet evenings. The Noël So Pop! tour of southwestern Montreal brings Santa Claus to a different park each weekend, along with a small, travelling Christmas village with an old-fashioned atmosphere. There will be songs and traditional Christmas tales, as well as fir trees and gourmet snacks for sale.

Village du Vilain Sapin de Montréal
Prince Arthur Street East will come alive on November 30th with the opening of the Village du Vilain Sapin de Montréal. The interactive star of this Christmas market, the “Ticklish Ugly Tree,” will respond to tickling by passers-by: when people shake its lower branches, the tree will giggle, and the more people join in, the more loudly the tree will laugh, followed by a sigh of relief when they stop. A project by the studio Ingrid Ingrid, to whom we also owe Domino in the Quartier des spectacles.

Salon des métiers d’art
The Salon des métiers d’art de Montréal is a local institution. The city’s biggest craft fair is an opportunity to meet master craftspeople, marvel at their skills, and encourage them by buying their work, just in time for Christmas gift giving. This year, more than 400 exhibitors will welcome the public from December 6 to 16 at Place Bonaventure. Admission is free.

The Nutcracker Market
The Nutcracker Market takes place in the shopping arcade of the Palais des congrès until December 9. One hundred exhibitors offer a variety of gift options, including jewellery, beauty and well-being products, gourmet food, clothing, toys, and decorative accessories. Ten percent of exhibitor’s sales are donated to Les Grands Ballets’ Nutcracker Fund for Children.

The Mill in the Forest
This year, The Mill in the Forest, Ogilvy’s famous window display, has moved to the McCord Museum. Until January 6, it will be installed outside the museum, at the corner of Sherbrooke and Victoria Streets. The Enchanted Village, Ogilvy’s second mechanical window display, is on view inside the McCord Museum.

Notre-Dame Basilica
On December 24, the traditional masses celebrated at 9:30 pm and midnight are preceded by a family mass offered at 7 pm.

Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal
Organ Christmas Concerts at the Oratory on Sundays at 3:30 pm in the basilica, from December 9 to December 30, 2018; contribution to discretion and projection on a giant screen.
Traditional Christmas Concert, Sunday, December 16 at 3:30 pm at the basilica: Vincent Boucher at the organ with the participation of the Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal.
The arrival of Christmas is celebrated on December 24 at Saint Joseph’s Oratory with a family mass at 6:00 pm at the basilica, followed by masses at 9:00 pm and midnight accompanied by hymns sung by the Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal. The last two masses require passes.

  • Who Is the Real Santa Claus? (December 15 to 31, Pointe-à-Callière Museum)
  • Handel’s Messiah with the Polyphonic Choir of Montreal (December 13 at 7:30 pm, Mary Queen of the World Cathedral)
  • The Nutcracker (December 13 to 30, Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier)
  • Décembre de Québec Issime (December 13 to 30, at Théâtre Maisonneuve)
  • Symphonic Christmas (December 1, Maison symphonique)
  • Handel’s Messiah with the Orchestre Métropolitain (December 22 and 23, Maison symphonique)
  • Foirée montréalaise (December 4, 5, 6, Théâtre La Licorne)
  • Crooners Christmas (December 2, 5, 6, Montreal Casino)
  • Andy Kim Christmas (December 15, Corona)
  • Matinée de Noël (December 13, Bourgie Hall of the MMFA)
  • Rufus and Martha Wainwright (December 21, 22, MTELUS)
  • The King’s Singers (December 18, Bourgie Hall of the MMFA)
  • Corteo — Cirque du Soleil (December 19 to 30, Bell Centre)
  • Slava's Snowshow (December 19 to January 6, Théâtre Saint-Denis)

For young children

  • Nicolas Noël, Les livres des enfants du monde (December 15, Théâtre St-Denis)
  • Le Petit Noël de Québec Issime (December 16 and 23, Théâtre Maisonneuve)