Montreal, one of the largest cities in Canada, hosts about 90 festivals throughout the year. These flavorful festivals gather locals and tourists from around the world to experience colourful parades, raving concerts, sensational cinema, and much more. From foot-tapping music to finger-licking food, these Montreal festivals leave no stone unturned when it comes to people having a good time.
Here are 28 must-attend Montreal festivals for the next time you plan on visiting the city.
1. Fête Des Neiges Montreal Snow Festival
The Fête Des Neiges Snow Festival is held in Parc Jean Drapeau in Montreal. This festival is held during the peak winters of January and lasts till the beginning of March.
At Fête Des Neiges, people can enjoy winter activities, including cross-country skiing, sliding, fat biking, snowshoeing, birdwatching, ice climbing, ice skating on a 500m trail overlooking breathtaking views of winters in downtown Montréal, and much more.
Igloofest is the coldest music festival in the world. It occurs at Old Port of Montreal, where temperatures can go below -20 degrees celsius in January. The electronic music festival invites music lovers to jam to their favourite DJs worldwide.
Montreal festivals can get cold, but that doesn’t stop fashion from making a statement. Snowsuit contests are held where contestants wear their fanciest ski suits. The winner is rewarded a grand prize, from expensive winter clothing to exciting gift vouchers. These are posted on Igloofest’s official website.
3. Montréal en Lumière
Montréal en Lumière translates from French as ‘Montreal in Lights’ and is one of the largest winter festivals in the world. During the festival, Montreal is covered in delightful light installations illuminating the night landscape of the entire city. The festival has a turnout of more than 500,000 people each year.
Nuit Blanche, the main attraction of Montréal en Lumière, is an all-night urban art festival held on the last Saturday of the festival. It has more than 200 free activities throughout dawn, including museums, public and private art galleries, exhibitions, and plenty more.
4. St. Patrick’s Day Parade
The parade covers a long route on Sainte-Catherine Street. It starts from Lambert Closse Street in the east and ends at Philips Square and St Patrick’s Basilica. Wear green and chug Irish beer and whiskey at St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Montreal.
The parade focuses on the Irish communities of Montréal with exciting bands for the children. St Patrick’s Day is celebrated with pubs roaring Irish beer and whiskey.
5. Monster Spectacular
Monster Spectacular is an event featuring monster trucks such as Bounty Hunter, Anger Management, Rat Nasty, and more. It is held during mid-April.
Participate in ATV races, BMX, freestyle motocross, etc., at Monster Spectacular. Or watch participants as they backflip and perform nail-biting stunts that will keep you at the edge of your seat the entire show.
6. Festival TransAmériques
Festival TransAmériques is a contemporary dance and theatre event held annually in May in Downtown Quartier des spectacles, Montréal, Canada.
Festival TransAmériques is a two-week affair with over 25 shows presented on outdoor performer stages. Partakers include locals and foreigners in showcasing unique international elements in their performances.
7. Festival Go Vélo
Festival Go Vélo is for all bike lovers in the world. It kicks off during the pleasant summers of Montréal.
The festival allows cyclists to get together and have fun while cycling with family and friends on an untimed route. The festival goes on for a week. It includes other events involving cycling through the city on car-free streets, Tour la Nuit, and Tour de l’Île de Montréal.
8. St-Ambroise Montréal Fringe Festival
St-Ambroise Montréal Fringe Festival features over 700 street performers around every corner of the neighbourhood of Plateau-Mont-Royal.
This festival is a three-week event filled with exciting entertainment, including dance, busking, theatre, repertory, and drag-queen performances in the summer.
Elektra is a digital art festival displaying novel creations in electronic music, cinema, video, design, and gaming. The event features local and international artists from Europe, East Asia, and the Asia Pacific.
Elektra is hosted by the International Digital Art Biennial (BIAN). It is a large exhibition that showcases various art forms created through new technology. These include audiovisual, immersive, participatory, and robotic performances.
10. image+nation Festival Film LGBTQueer Montréal
image+nation Festival Film LGBTQueer Montréal is primarily a film festival. image+nation is dedicated to representing and protecting generations of LGBTQ+ people through cinema. They provide a platform for present and future generations of LGBTQ+ to share their stories through storytelling media with audiences in Canada and worldwide with online set-ups.
The event lasts for 11 days. It showcases award-winning LGBTQ+ films, provides discussions based on them, and ensures their voices are heard worldwide.
11. Yatai MTL – La semaine Japon
This festival is a cultural celebration of Japan, bringing Japanese communities of Montréal together for week-long events.
This event offers food trucks filled with Japanese cuisines, traditional Japanese performances, and masterpiece art forms. The festival is an ode to the harmonious livelihood of different communities co-existing in Montréal, Canada.
12. Les Francos de Montréal
Les Francos de Montréal is a large annual music festival featuring French music from performers from all over the world. Most performances are free for audiences to enjoy and are held on public stages, indoors and outdoors, all around Place des Arts in Montréal.
The festival lasts for 10 days. It features over 250 concerts. The music ranges from hip-hop to rock, pop, folk, electronic, and so much more.
13. Montréal MURAL Festival
The Montréal MURAL Festival showcases the works of the best graffiti artists from all over the world. Saint-Laurent Boulevard in the city is a canvas for their art which is transformed into high-spirited, wall-tall artwork featuring cultural depictions of Montréal, Canada.
An app connects artists and people through guided tours of the top murals in the city.
14. Festival International De Jazz De Montréal
Montréal Jazz Festival is set in Quartier des spectacles. It has spotlighted performances for over 42 years, including a lineup of Bob Dylan, Diana Ross, Tanya Tagaq, and so many more.
Festival International De Jazz De Montréal is one of North America’s and Montreal’s most well-known events attracting tourists and locals for the week-long June event in the city’s heart.
15. Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada
Montréal Grand Prix is an esteemed sporting event in Canada. It attracts audiences of over 100,000 people each year.
Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve is the racetrack on Île Notre-Dame at Parc Jean Drapeau near Montréal’s Saint Lawrence river. The Grand Prix is privy to overtaking and driving errors that make for dangerous and thrilling races.
16. Montréal Complètement Cirque
Montréal Complètement Cirque is an international circus arts festival where people from all over the world, such as the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, and France, participate in exciting performances showing off their acrobatic skills early July.
The festival includes interactive activities, international shows, and street performances. Montréal Complètement Cirque is held annually in July.
17. Festival International Nuits d’Afrique
Festival International Nuits d’Afrique is a celebration of cultures from Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America through dance, music, and food. There are over 700 concerts, activities, workshops, and open markets for the entire family. Markets include original items from Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America.
The festival takes place over three weeks in the Nuits d’Afrique’s village.
18. Just For Laughs
Just For Laughs is Montreal’s and the world’s largest international comedy festival. It has a turnout of over 2 million people each year.
During the evening, nightclubs and live venues are filled with eager spectators enjoying the biggest comedy event in the world. Many big names have taken the stage and made the audiences roar with laughter and entertainment. For Just For Laughs, performers showcase sketch comedy in the form of both vocal and visual narratives.
19. Fantasia International Film Festival
Fantasia International Film Festival has been occurring in Montreal since 1996. It is held regularly in July each year.
The festival holds film screenings of genre films, mainly fantasy, action, horror, and science fiction. But other genres have been embraced, and film submissions worldwide are accepted for screening.
Awards are handed out to teams of filmmakers in different categories after the screening of the films.
20. L’International des Feux Loto-Québec
L’International des Feux Loto-Québec is an international fireworks competition where pyrotechnics from all over the world show off their artistic endeavours. The night sky is filled with vibrant colours that look like fireflies playing with each other.
The fireworks show is held near the Jacques-Carter Bridge. The bridge is closed off to the masses during the event for audiences to relax and enjoy the show. The shows are held on Wednesday and Saturday nights, each lasting 30 minutes.
Montreal festivals love concerts, and we’re not complaining. Osheaga is a summer music festival held for three days in early August at Parc Jean-Drapeau.
The festival is an amalgam of music and visual arts. It includes music of various genres, including hip-hop, electronic music, pop, and indie pop.
The festival finds emerging national artists and allows them to showcase their talents alongside the biggest international artists. The impressive lineup of artists includes Dua Lipa, A$AP Rocky, and Charli XCX, among many more.
22. Montréal First Peoples Festival
Montréal First Peoples Festival is a celebration of Indigenous cultures throughout America and all over the world. It lasts for 10 days in early August at Montréal’s Place des Festivals.
The festival includes concerts, workshops, international film competitions, exhibitions, traditional dancing, live performances, and more.
23. Montreal Pride Festival
Montréal’s Pride Festival is one of the biggest annual events of Montréal. It is perhaps the most well-known among all Montreal festivals. A rainbow of activities, including drag-queen performances, takes place in the Gay Village on community day. Movie nights and live performances are organized after the exhilarating Gay Pride Parade.
The event attracts more than 2 million people to support LGBTQ+ communities and celebrate their uniqueness.
24. Gardens of Light Montréal
Held in the alluring Montréal Botanical Garden, a little outside the main city, this festival feels like a scene extracted from a fairytale.
Chinese and Japanese gardens are lit with lanterns full of stories from their cultures and past events. First Nations Garden is a display of seasons and spirits of the water, wind, fire, and earth through stunning lights in Montréal.
Gardens of Light can be viewed from the beginning of September till the end of October.
25. La Ronde Fright Fest
This is a call to all horror geeks. La Ronde Fright Fest is ready to spook your soul out of your body this Halloween season.
The amusement park adorns spine-tingling decor, which adds to the effect of the scary rides and haunted houses. Frightening characters roam around the park, so be prepared for a jump scare.
26. Festival Bach Montréal
Festival Bach is held in honour of Johann Sebastian Bach, a German composer and musician.
Montreal, Quebec, attracts elite performers to the stage during the Bach Festival. Concerts and educational events are held to flaunt to the world the musical talents of Canadians.
The Montreal festival is held throughout November and December.
27. Merry Montréal
Place Jacques-Cartier morphs into an enchanting hub of music, art, lights, and holiday spirit during French Merry Montréal or Montréal en Fêtes.
Old Montréal is a great spot to take a shopping break while basking in the beautifully decorated square full of the fantastic panorama.
Montréal en Fêtes is usually held during the second half of December, a little before Christmas.
28. Noël dans le Parc Festival
Noël dans le Parc Festival is an outdoor music festival free for all music lovers. It showcases a variety of musical artists while providing a warm holiday getaway.
You can buy Christmas trees and roast marshmallows while enjoying the music during the festival. All the activities of the festival encourage inclusivity and harmony among multicultural communities.
Noël dans le Parc Festival starts at the beginning of December and lasts till Christmas in Canada.