Summers in Montreal are as wild as the winters are long.
The collective trauma of six cold months of the year means that come summer, nobody wants to miss out on a single day to play in the sun:
The city parks are full and festive, and every year, the city adds more terraces, pedestrianized streets and festivals.
Coming to Montreal for a visit? Here are a few of our favourite – and affordable – summer activities to enjoy, just like Montrealers do.
If you’re traveling light, don’t forget your festival-wear for Piknic Électronik, the electronic music festival that gets Montrealers up and dancing nearly every Sunday (and some Saturdays too) from May to October.
It’s all about the hottest DJs, happy crowds getting down to their grooves and the enchanting environment of Jean-Drapeau Park. It’s like a daydream that ends with the sun going down over Montreal.
For a similarly joyous Sunday picnic vibe, minus the electricity, check out the legendary “tam-tam” jams on Mount Royal.
Dozens of amateur percussionists get together spontaneously at the foot of the mountain to bongo out infectious rhythms together, and hundreds of people show up to dance, picnic and get some sun.
Absolutely free, in every sense of the word: it’s been the perfect expression of the open and relaxed mindset of Montrealers for decades now.
For something with a little bit of both those vibes, try the Village au Pied-du-Courant. It’s a big outdoor beer garden and beach boardwalk at another special location.
The Village is set up each summer on the port with a backdrop of ships and trains passing by, the majestic Jacques Cartier Bridge and the roller coasters at La Ronde.
It’s the perfect place to dance with your feet in the sand and watch the summer fireworks festival. The Afrobeat nights are particularly wild.
For over 20 years, Mutek has introduced Montrealers to the near future: it’s an electronic music and digital arts festival that showcases cutting-edge artists and emerging arts.
Check out the most modern of the modern arts from August 22 to 27 on the new Esplanade Tranquille and at different venues around the city and.
Three favourite festivals
A streetwise June.
The MURAL festival is a celebration of urban art where street artists from all over the world come to paint murals on building walls around the city.
It’s a democratic celebration of creativity that also plays host to concerts and street parties. From June 8 to 18 on Boulevard Saint-Laurent.
A magical July.
Imagination knows no bounds when Complètement Cirque hits the city.
A celebration of the circus arts, it aims to thrill your inner child, make you laugh until you cry and wake up your sense of wonder.
Troupes from the world over come to perform at indoor and outdoor venue downtown. From July 6 to 16.
An extravagant August.
Fierté Montréal, or Montreal Pride, is the most colourful event of the summer.
It’s ten full days of flamboyant shows, unchained parties and delightful strolls on Ste. Catherine Street, the main thoroughfare, which becomes a pedestrian street through the Gay Village during the summer.
A genuine celebration of diversity, the festivities start off with a party parade and end with a mega closing party: the T-Dance, on the Olympic Park’s esplanade.
From August 3 to 13, at the Olympic Park and in the Gay Village.
The main events
It’s impossible to talk about the summer in Montreal without mentioning the Quartier des Spectacles, the downtown location where the biggest festivals unfold one after the other without a break.
You can stroll through almost every afternoon and evening and catch a free concert that’s part of whichever festival is happening.
The biggest of these are the International Jazz Festival (which in fact offers quite a wide variety of music), Les Francos de Montréal (French-language concerts) and Festival International Nuits d’Afrique (world music concerts), plus Just For Laughs and its off-festival Zoofest.