As fall’s colder weather settles in and the mornings glitter with frost, the Cree begin another season of nesting and indoor warmth. For some, the urge to get away from it all grows too strong to ignore. For people like you, the Nation has a list of ideas to brighten up the dark months.
If you can afford it, a trip south to Florida or the Caribbean is lovely but it can be a bit pricey for flights and accommodations for the entire family. If you are on the market for something closer, like a getaway to southern Quebec to celebrate the Christmas holidays, shop and enjoy some culture here is a guide to the incredible festivals and celebrations our province has to offer. Whether you’re looking for a mind-blowing musical, family fun or a dance party wearing your snow pants – you name it, we have it listed.
Festival Fun, Special Events and Public Parades
Whether you are looking to discover more about a cultural community, party it up, get down and boogie or celebrate the best of the seasons, Montreal has the “it factor” and much more when it comes getting the good times rolling.
While Montrealers sure know how to throw a party for the world in the summer months, they also make sure to invent fun for themselves and their neighbours in the off-season.
La Grande Braderie de Mode
Held at Marché Bonsecours October 24-27, La Braderie de Mode showcases the finest and most glamorous of high-end fashion from up to 100 Quebec designers.
This incredible semi-annual event features exclusive women’s and men’s ready-to-wear, children’s fashions, coats, sportswear, leather, fur, shoes, bathing suits, lingerie, casual wear and accessories.
So, you can shop for something incredible that will make you the envy of the office or a gift for the fashion addict in your life.
For more info: www.braderiedemodequebecoise.com
International Tourism and Travel Show
If you are planning bask on a beach getaway down south or to discover a new culture on the other side of the globe, look no further than Montreal’s tourism and travel show at Place Bonaventure October 25-27.
Attracting more than 35,000 visitors in three days, this mega exhibition features 400-plus exhibitors and presenters. This year’s event will feature more than 100 countries and 250 destinations as well as a whole bounty of travel-related products and expert travel tips.
For more info: http://salontourismevoyages.com
Arab World Festival
If you happen to be in Montreal October 25-November 9 and are looking to expand your cultural horizons, look no further than the Arab World Festival to familiarize yourself with a breathtaking look at some faraway lands.
Featuring more than 100 concerts, shows, conferences and films, this 14th annual event is a celebration of the Middle East and a cultural community that has taken root throughout the province of Quebec.
For more info: www.festivalarabe.com
Gem and Mineral Show
Stocking up on items such as craft- and jewellery-making supplies can help keep you busy indoors throughout the winter. And, if you’re looking for something exotic or just want to shop for semi-precious stones, jewellery, sculptures, pearls, beads, fossils, tools and minerals, there is no better place than the 54th annual Gem and Mineral Show at Place Bonaventure November 1-3.
An ideal spot to get the jump on your holiday shopping, this feast-for-the-eyes event features 100 local and out-of-province dealers selling all kinds of exotic goods.
For more info: www.montrealgemmineralclub.ca
La Grande Dégustation de Montréal
This event offers an incredible sampling of wine, spirit and other alcoholic products from across Canada and around the world. Formerly the Wine and Spirits Show of Montreal, La Grande Dégustation de Montréal will help get you tipsy at Place Bonaventure November 8-9.
Ideal for discovering new products as well as stocking up on exotic products that are normally only available through special order, this event is a wonderful opportunity to pick up things like scotches, brandies, Champagnes and wines for your collection or for upcoming holiday gifts.
This year will include a special showcasing of California wines with over 40 producers presenting their products, a special focus on chardonnays, with over 60 to sample, chardonnay awards and a special selection of more than 30 vodkas.
For more info: www.lagrandedegustation.com
Known for avant-gardism, slick style and sexiness, French films have always served as a major inspiration for the rest of the cinematic world. So, if you want to check out what is currently très chaud or take in some classics, Cinemania features all sorts of flicks from the exclusive Cannes film festival and more November 7-13.
For more info: www.festivalcinemania.com/
If your love life is becoming a little too run-of-the-mill and you and your partner are looking to spice it up, why not check out Sexapalooza, a unique, upscale adult-consumer show and shopping experience, at Palais des Congrès November 8-10.
Featuring entertainment, shopping and “education” for adults in a very adult environment, this event could just be the thing that turns your love life around.
For more info: www.sexapalooza.ca/
Rencontres internationales du documentaire
If the true drama of documentaries are your inspiration, or you are an aspiring documentary filmmaker, check out the Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal (RIDM) November 13-24.
This popular event showcases a selection of the year’s best documentaries from Canada and around the world for general and professional audiences.
Started in 1998, this event serves as a celebration of Quebec’s most popular film genre and screens some of the most fascinating, yet lesser-known international documentaries.
For more info: www.ridm.qc.ca
Le Salon Mieux-Vivre
As Canadian life expectancy increases, the demand for information on just how to make the most of these years and your health also grows.
This is why shows like Le Salon Mieux-Vivre 50 + and Le Salongévité are becoming more popular as they are all about what to do with the second half of your life.
Featuring a wide variety of health-related products and services for the 50+ crowd, this show is at the Palais des Congrès November 16-17.
For more info: www.salonmieuxvivre.ca/montreal.html
M for Montreal
With events like the Jazz Festival, Mutek and Pop Montreal already over for 2013, many are still longing for more magical musical showcases, and M for Montreal offers the perfect remedy come November 20-23.
This year’s lineup is no doubt “red hot” as none other than Ottawa’s “electric powwow” DJs-turned-international musical sensation A Tribe Called Red is one of the headliners.
While the full line-up is yet to be released, we know that the following groups will be performing at the three-day event: A Wilhelm Scream, Damien Robataille, Dead Obies, Elliot Maginot, Forêt, Grand Analog, Gros Mené, Hermigervill, Hjaltalín, Mac Demarco, Ponctuation, Single Mothers, The Damn Truth and Young Galaxy.
For more info: www.mformontreal.com
Salon du livre de Montréal
For the latest and best of French literature, the Salon du livre de Montréal is a celebration of French writing for true connoisseurs.
Running November 20-25, this is the ideal event for book lovers, avid readers and those who just want to browse. Patrons can meet authors and discover new books while taking in roundtable discussions and public readings.
For more info: www.salondulivredemontreal.com
Santa Claus Parade
The Montreal Santa Claus Parade down Sainte-Catherine St. ushers in the holiday season and has been a family favourite for generations.
Held this year on Saturday, November 23, at 11 am, this is a fun and family-oriented event that is a delight to take in while sipping hot chocolate and marvelling at the incredible décor the city puts on for the holidays.
This parade is the perfect prelude to a marathon in the shops, while playing elf yourself.
For more info: www.destinationcentreville.com/en/santa-claus-parade
The Nutcracker Market
A unique and decadently atmospheric Christmas festival/shopping experience is on offer at Montreal’s Nutcracker Market set up on the mall level of the Palais des Congrès.
Featuring over 85 vendors/exhibitors, this event is the ultimate place to purchase delectable gourmet delights, exclusive jewellery, eye-dropping holiday décor (that nobody else has), incredible fashions, toys and gifts for Christmas.
Now in its fourth year, this event is all about entering into the magical shopping experience that is themed with of sugar-plum fairies, dancing mice, angels and nutcracker soldiers while shopping for a good cause.
Every year, 10% of the merchant’s pre-tax sales and all revenues earned by Les Grands Ballets during the market go to The Nutcracker Fund for Children. This fund allows children from underprivileged neighbourhoods to attend educational workshops and a performance of the ballet.
For more info: www.marchecassenoisette.com/
Salon des métiers d’art
If you’re looking for handcrafted gifts, the Salon des métiers d’art brings out over 400 of the country’s best artisans to put on demos while selling their goods in a unique setting.
Considered to be the most important professional craft exposition in Canada, it offers handmade fur products, couture, delicate desserts, fine artisanal alcoholic products, incredible carvings and stained-glass goods. Running December 6-22 at Place Bonaventure, the event brings out the crème of the artisanal crop and is a phenomenal event for craft fans and gift hunters alike.
For more info: www.metiers-d-art.qc.ca/
Montreal Burlesque Festival
If something more adult is your desire, Montreal’s 5th Annual Burlesque Festival is an all-out celebration of sparkle, tassels and garters. It takes place at Club Soda December 6-7.
While those unfamiliar with the genre may automatically think “old-timey-strippers” in its revival form, contemporary burlesque acts now include various types of performance art, like classic striptease, modern dance, theatrical mini-dramas or comedic mayhem….and a lot of underwear.
For more info: www.montrealburlesquefestival.ca/home.html
Telus Fire on Ice
If you are looking to get your mind blown in a dramatic outdoor setting while taking in the beauty of Montreal’s Old Port during the holiday season the Telus Fire on Ice event is just the ticket.
This free pyrotechnical extravaganza, one of the city’s newest festivals, features fireworks set to music over a skating rink. But when you put them all together, it is quite spectacular.
Held on December 14, 21, 28 and January 4 at 8 pm, don’t miss this bright and dazzling spectacle during the year’s darkest days.
For more info: www.oldportofmontreal.com/telus-fire-on-ice.html
The deep freeze of January is transformed into a magical setting of snow and ice at Montreal’s Snow Village. Located on Île Sainte-Hélène, this winter delight is a fabulous family fun-time environment during the day and a sophisticated world for adults at night.
This icy paradise features an ice hotel, heated spas, snow igloos, an ice restaurant with a well-known chef, an ice bar with a terrace, meeting rooms, an ice chapel for weddings, a snow-sculpture exhibit, a snow labyrinth, a snow slide and a series of incredible replicas of Montreal buildings.
While the 2014 dates for this event are not yet frozen in place, it usually aims for the first week of January until whenever the temperatures get too warm.
For more info: www.parcjeandrapeau.com/events/snow-village/
For those planning their nuptials for 2014 or 2015 and want to impress, the 2014 Salon Marions-Nous (Let’s Get Married Salon) at Place Bonaventure is the place to be January 4-5.
From dresses and tuxes to limos, champagnes, flowers and venues, this is a great event for ideas and special-event-planning services. Whether you want to have your big day in Eeyou Istchee or on the sunny beaches of the Caribbean, this show can be a one-stop-shopping extravaganza to plan your special day from A-Z.
For more info: www.marionsnous.ca/index.cfm
Running three days a week for four consecutive weeks, Montrealers and tourists alike don their warmest and craziest winter gear and head down to the quays of the Old Port starting January 16, 2014.
This tantalizing party/mega annual event sees several thousand snowsuit-clad dancers boogie to a mega sound system, walls of light, ice sculptures and warm-up facilities. Believe it or not, even in minus-25 temperatures, this is still one of the warmest places in the city.
For more info: http://igloofest.ca
The Auto Show
If your New Year goal is a new set of wheels, look no further than Montreal’s Auto Show at the Palais de Congrès January 17-26.
From vehicle premieres to fantasy cars and trucks to the latest in green and muscle machines, this show will showcase it.
For more info: www.salonautomontreal.com
Salon de l’Amour et de la Séduction
If you are looking for a unique way to spice up your love life in the New Year or just want to pick out something sexy for Valentine’s Day, Place Bonaventure is once again hosting the Love & Seduction Expo January 17-19.
Featuring entertainment, seminars, workshops, art, fitness and lots of adult-themed shopping, this 18+ event could really warm up your winter.
For more info: http://montreal.everythingtodowithsex.com/
Fête des neiges de Montréal
Starting on January 19, the Fête des neiges de Montréal is all about spending wholesome, quality family time in Montreal’s Snow Village.
Spanning over three consecutive weekends in January and February, if you happen to be in town, why not take the family out to play in a spectacular environment that features tube sliding, zip-lining and boot or ice hockey and skating along the river.
With mascots, warm-up stations and loads of hot chocolate, this is a great way to have an active day in the dead of winter.
For more info: www.parcjeandrapeau.com/106-Fete_des_neiges_de_Montreal-event.html
Montreal National Outfitting, Hunting and Fishing Show
The first of a handful of hunting/outfitting events that happen during the winter, the Montreal National Outfitting, Hunting and Fishing Show takes place at Palais des Congrès January 30-February 2 and features a wide variety of related products and services.
For more info: www.pourvoirie.net/
Montreal Boat and Water Sports Show
If you are on the market for an outboard motor or a sleek new speedboat, come see what the boating industry is showcasing at its 2014 Boat and Water Sports Show.
Now in its 14th edition, this marine extravaganza features an infinite variety of boats, marine accessories and services, and conferences held at Place Bonaventure February 6-9.
For more info: www.salondubateau.com
Montréal en Lumière
Offering the dazzling light to cure your seasonal affective disorder, Groupe Spectra (Jazz Festival and FrancoFolies) puts on the internationally acclaimed Montréal en Lumière (Highlights Festival) from February 20 to March 2.
Now in its 15th edition, this event is all about highlighting the best Montreal has to offer in terms of restaurants and culinary experiences, outdoor fun and parties in unique settings as well as the city’s most shining examples of music, circus arts, song, theatre and dance.
Over the last 15 years, the festival has expanded significantly and now rivals some of Montreal’s summer events, attracting up to 900,000 fans to experience the joy of Montreal’s wintertime.
While the lineup won’t be released until late November, the event will definitely feature famous chefs from around the world offering you some fine dining experiences. In the past, over 400 have participated.
You don’t need pockets laden with gold to enjoy this event as anyone can enjoy the festival space set up in the Quartier des Spectacles in downtown Montreal. There will be a brilliantly lit up Ferris wheel, braziers to cook treats on while you warm yourself, lots of shows and activities for children.
For more info: www.montrealenlumiere.com
Hunting, Fishing and Camping Show
Starting February 20 is Montreal’s massive Hunting, Fishing and Camping Show.
Featuring the latest in every variety of bush gear from firearms to crossbows to tents to boats, this is the ultimate event to see what’s new on the market for the bush. So talk with an expert, try on some new camo gear or plan a hunting/fishing excursion outside of Eeyou Istchee.
Running for three days at Place Bonaventure, this is the largest event of its kind in the province. It brings out some familiar Cree faces to represent the best of Cree tourism –Awashish, COTA and Mistissini reps.
For more info: www.montrealcampingshow.ca/index.php?language=eng
St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Having Irish ancestry has never been necessary to take part in the largest and longest-running St. Patrick’s Day parade in North America.
A commemoration of Irish culture in Montreal and the day that St. Patrick supposedly drove all the snakes out of Ireland, this event has been celebrated since 1759. The parade was first held on March 17, 1824.
Now in its 191st edition, this event signals to Montrealers that spring is finally on our slushy doorsteps and is a one-time pass to uninhibited partying in the streets. The 2014 parade takes place Sunday, March 16, along Sainte-Catherine Street.
For more info: www.montrealirishparade.com/
Expo Manger Santé et Vivre Vert
For those looking to put that spring back into their step just as the seasons change, or want to find out about the newest health-food trends, shop for someone who has food allergies or just want to sample all sorts of delicious delights, the Expo Manger Santé et Vivre Vert is the place to go.
Held March 21-23 at the Palais des Congrès, this is a fun and informative event that showcases food and green-living trends. It’s an excellent place to learn about and shop for new eco products that are just hitting the market.
For more info: www.expomangersante.com/site2014/
Festivals and Fun in Other Regions
While Montreal may be the festival hub for year-round culture and good times, there are many special events and festivals in other Quebec regions and cities during the fall and winter that are worth checking out. Here is a list of the best of regional events to check out.
Festival du cinéma international en Abitibi-Témiscamingue
A big-city-style event in a small-city context, this film fest in Rouyn-Noranda October 26-31 offers a bilingual program of insightful features geared to a northern audience.
For more info: www.festivalcinema.ca
Zoom Photo Festival Saguenay
Running October 29-November 24, the Zoom Photo Festival is a unique opportunity to enjoy some of the world’s best photojournalism from the past year.
Featuring large-size formats of major action shots, this exhibition hosted in various Saguenay venues is a visually stunning recap of recent history.
For more info: http://zoomphotofestival.ca/
Mont-Tremblant’s 75th Anniversary
Mont-Tremblant’s 75th anniversary festivities feature all sorts of snowy weather celebrations from November 22 to March 29. If you’re taking your family on a Mont-Tremblant escape this year, keep the following dates in mind:
• November 22: Ski Season Opening – 75th Anniversary
• December 6-8: Tremblant’s 24h of Skiing (charitable event)
• December 31: New Year’s Eve Show
• February 12: 75th Anniversary Day
• February 15-23: Washington Week
• March 1-9: Quebec School Break
• March 8-16: Ontario School Break
• March 29-April 21: four weekends of events including official launch of Tremblant’s 75th Spring Skiing season, Caribou Cup and Red Bull Event.
For more info: www.tremblant.ca/75/celebrations/index.aspx
Le Village illuminé Desjardins
Old-fashioned holiday fun can be found in the Drummondville region during the Village illuminé Desjardins December 13-31.
This cute village of yesteryear serves as a learning experience for schoolchildren and families as they get to see firsthand how the world once operated. Come the holidays, it gets dolled up with lights for a visual family experience.
For more info: www.villagequebecois.com/?village=illumine
Quebec City Lights Festival
If the bright lights and charm of la Vieille capitale are more your speed, Quebec City’s breathtaking Lights Festival runs December 21-31. It’s an incredible way to spend your holidays taking in Old World glamour and sophisticated New World beauty.
For more info: www.quebecregion.com/en/what-to-do/events/quebec-city-lights-festival
Les Nuits Polaires de Trois-Rivières
One way to break your winter hibernation is by attending Les Nuits Polaires in Trois-Rivières January 17-19. Featuring all sorts of spectacular indoor and outdoor entertainment and activities for the very small to the very tall, this event can beat the crap out of your cabin fever.
While this year’s lineup has yet to be announced, the event is known for bringing some big names to the region.
For more info: www.nuitspolaires.ca/
Pohéngamook Winter Festival
This Bas St-Laurent event is one of the province’s largest winter family events. Held January 24-26, it features extreme skating races, fireworks, professional-calibre snowmobile drag racing, children’s entertainment, a lumberjack competition, an outdoor snow rave and ice fishing.
For more info: www.pohenegamook.net/annuaire/annuaire.php?annuaire=82
Carnaval Glisse et Glace Terrebonne
If skating is your bliss, check out the Carnaval Glisse et Glace Terrebonne January 25-February 3. A celebration of ice, from ice-skating to ice sculptures, this event is an outdoor party that makes winter worthwhile.
For this event, the Île-des-Moulins lock is transformed into a skating rink and central stage for shows, evening skating and DJs. Plus there’s an outdoor bar.
For more info: www.iledesmoulins.com/fr/
Saguenay en Neige
Saguenay en Neige, a breathtaking winter sculpture festival, runs January 30-February 9.
For this event, the borough of Jonquière is transformed into the Cité des sculptures, with over 200 incredible creations by sculptors from across Quebec and beyond. Plus there’s live entertainment, fireworks, an inflatable structures play area and sporting activities.
For more info: www.saguenayenneige.com/
One of Canada’s best-known winter events, Winterlude is a jam-packed cold-weather event that features something for everyone. Involving two provinces and spanning several miles of the Rideau Canal, since 1979 this event has been a favourite in the hearts of the hundreds of thousands of Canadians and tourists.
Winterlude celebrates winter at four different sites. Patrons can don their skates for some friendly family fun on the world’s longest skating rink, check out some jaw-dropping ice sculptures in competition or bring along the kiddies to frolic in North America’s largest snow playground January 31- February 17.
Hosted by Heritage Canada, this fantastic fest features a wide variety of live entertainment, including musicians, dancers, street performers, acrobats and circus performers.
For more info: www.pch.gc.ca/eng/1379706275276
Carnival de Québec
Let loose before Lent with a party at Quebec City’s world-famous winter carnival, the biggest in the world.
A Quebec City tradition that dates back to 1894, it draws revellers from around the globe. Bonhomme Carnaval plays host January 31-February 16 for an extravaganza featuring shows, snow rafting, canoe races, ice palaces, horse-drawn sleigh rides, dog-sledding rides, a children’s village, the International Snow Sculpture Competition and all of the Caribou (fortified wine) you can drink.
For more info: www.carnaval.qc.ca/en
Tomcod Ice Fishing Festival
Most Cree know a thing or two about ice fishing, but the Tomcod Ice Fishing Festival in the Mauricie region’s village of Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade is a unique experience for the uninitiated.
From February 1 to 16, a small city of more than 500 ice-fishing cabins forms on the Rivière Sainte-Anne, playing host to all sorts of outdoor activities such as artistic performances, sporting events, fireworks, bouncy castles and, of course, a fishing competition.
For more info: www.associationdespourvoyeurs.com/
La Fête d’hiver de Rouyn-Noranda
An easily accessible source of family fun in the middle of February can be had in Rouyn-Noranda.
Running February 21-23, La Fête d’hiver de Rouyn-Noranda features dog sledding, tubing, snow sculptures, a boot-hockey tournament, foot races, live entertainment and many other indoor and outdoor activities.
For more info: www.lafetedhiver.com/
Festi-Vent sur glace
Kicking off on St. Valentine’s Day and running three days in the Laurentian town of Sainte-Placide (one hour north of Montreal), the Festi-Vent sur glace is one of North America’s largest winter kite festivals and is a feast for the eyes.
Attracting more than 22,000 visitors annually, this event features kite demonstrations and lots of entertainment and activities for the entire family, plus special goodies for the little ones relating to the magical world of kites.
For more info: www.festi-vent.com/
Le Mondial des cidres de glace
If you happen to have a penchant for ice ciders, one of Quebec’s burgeoning agri-tourism industries, the town of Rougemont in the Montérégie has a fabulous little festival that celebrates the beverage.
The Mondial des cidres de glace is a coming together of over 50 cider and local food producers to serve up tastings in a winter environment February 14-16. Featuring events, activities and entertainment for the entire family, this delightful event is a delicious way to celebrate the season.
For more info: www.mondialcidresdeglace.com/
Carnaval de Sherbrooke
If you happen to be in the Eastern Townships between February 28-March 2, the Carnaval de Sherbrooke offers family-oriented festivities in a winter wonderland on the cusp of spring.
Presented in the enchanting Parc Jacques-Cartier in downtown Sherbrooke and at the Marché de la Gare, this major winter event has been a hit among locals and tourists since 1966.
Featuring fabulous local and international entertainment at outdoor shows and film screenings, there is also tire tubing, dogsledding and skating.
For more info: www.carnavaldesherbrooke.com/
Les Hivernades de Chicoutimi
Les Hivernades de Chicoutimi offers all sorts of winter and spring goodies for locals and tourists March 1-31. There’s dance, music, arts, snowmobiling and ATV activities and competitions, an outdoor amusement area for children with inflatable games, a skating oval, mini-putt, dog-sledding and horseback riding.
For more info: http://leshivernades.com/
Les rencontres cinématographiques de Québec
Held throughout the month of March, this is a special Quebec City film event that’s all about creating a dialogue between filmmakers and their audiences. This snuggly indoor event has a lot to offer cinephiles with the winter blahs.
For more info: www.rcquebec.org/
Saguenay International Short Film Festival
For a cinematic event closer to home, the Saguenay region hosts a film festival in March that says a lot in a very short time.
Regard, the Saguenay International Short Film Festival, is Quebec’s most important short film fest. It attracts patrons and filmmakers from around the world March 12-16 with its unique program of workshops, screenings, discussion groups, special children’s entertainment and a film competition.
For more info: www.regardsurlecourt.com/en