Absconding to somewhere exotic and lovely is one of the best ways to beat the cold weather blues, but Florida, the Caribbean and Hawaii can be a costly undertaking for a large family.
If you happen to be down south for business or you want to enjoy some arts and culture while on a shopping trip, read on. Quebec’s winters have made us hardy, we are experts at spicing it up both inside and out.
Bust out those calendars. The 2014-2015 winter season has numerous events, parties, family festivals, holiday celebrations and wonderful ways to deal with the cold months.
Read on for events that will brighten up those long months of snow and ice and to find the ticket to beating the winter blues.
Festivals, fun times and fabulousness in Montreal
Montreal Burlesque Festival
If you are looking for some adult fun while down in the south, Montreal’s Burlesque Festival is much more than just a song and dance with pasties.
Featuring 20 different burlesque and cabaret performances October 16-18, this vintage entertainment has enjoyed a renaissance in the last decade, long after its heyday in the 1940s and 50s. Sexy, smart and a whole lot of theatrical fun, this fest features intimate club performances geared at provoking the senses.
If you are looking for an art experience on the wild side, the Phénomena Festival is a small, exciting and inspiring event that goes down in Montreal’s Mile End district October 17-24.
This festival’s goal is to bring together acts and artists who are simply unclassifiable. Put on by people who are both undisciplined and unclassifiable, this event boasts 110 artists and nearly 40 performances in multiple locations.
This is an effervescent look at the avant-garde that brings in cutting-edge artists from around the world.
International Tourism and Travel Show
If you’ve always wanted to plan a major trip abroad but just weren’t sure where to start, the International Tourism and Travel Show at Place Bonaventure October 24-26 will whet your appetite for adventures abroad without straying beyond provincial borders.
This year more than 100 countries will be represented through their tourism offices, tour operators or travel agents.
Putting their best feet forward to potential tourists, this event features a wide variety of presentations of folk dances, music, costumes, arts and crafts, cinema and other cultural showcases.
Biennale de Montréal
The Biennale de Montréal is a biannual event that features a series of contemporary art exhibitions that celebrate this year’s theme: “Looking Forward.”
Put on October 22-January 4 by an independent non-profit organization in collaboration with Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC), this event features a series of art exhibits following the theme of future concepts and where that may take us.
La Braderie de Mode
For the trendsetters and fashion-minded, La Braderie de Mode is an opportunity to scoop up locally designed garb October 23-26.
Held at the historic and glamorous Marche Bonsecour in the Old Port of Montreal, this semi-annual event is now in its 20th year and features products from around 100 Quebec designers, including exclusive women’s and men’s ready to wear, children’s fashions, coats, sportswear, leather, fur, shoes, bathing suits and lingerie, casual wear, and accessories.
It’s an ideal event to get your hands on something that is bound to turn heads or get a jump on your holiday shopping.
Montreal ESP Psychic Expo
If you’ve ever wanted to have your palm read, get your astrological chart done or explore the world of crystal healing, the Montreal ESP Psychic Expo offers all of this and more.
At Place Bonaventure October 31-November 2, the event may just be the way to celebrate a wonderful Halloween in the city by learning more about the paranormal through its many lectures and events.
For those who enjoy French cinema, Cinemania offers a festival experience to both aficionados and novices looking to enjoy new and classic French films with English subtitles.
Running November 6-16 in downtown Montreal’s historic and newly renovated Imperial Theatre, this is a wonderful little film festival to take in just as the weather turns cold and rainy. And, as the films have been diligently selected by a professional team of programmers, what is screened is generally known to wow.
La Grande Dégustation de Montréal
Now in its fourth edition, La Grande Dégustation de Montréal, or what used to be known as the Wine and Spirits show, is an ideal spot to learn about and stock up on incredible international alcoholic beverage products that are not normally available at the local liquor stores.
There is a specialized tasting event put on by the SAQ and the l’Association québécoise des agences de vins, bières et spiritueux (AQAVBS). Presenters from around the world offer samples of wines, beers, spirits and liquors. For those looking to taste as many products as possible, there are numerous receptacles on hand to expel the taste and move on to the next… though not everyone chooses to do so.
At Place Bonaventure November 7-8, this year’s themes include a special exploration and celebration of South African wines as well as Chenin Blanc and Whiskeys of the World.
Weekend de toute beauté
If you want glamour, fashion, cosmetics and all-out pampering, there is no better event to than the Weekend de toute beauté at Palais de Congrès November 7-9.
This shopping experience features 35,000 square feet of major beauty care labels, make-up artists, hairstylists, beauty advisors, skincare professionals, perfumes, spa products, major fashion labels, designers, artisans, jewelers and stylists. Visitors can also pop by the champagne bar or have a photo session done. It’s the perfect event to get your glam on for the holidays or find a new look.
Montreal International Dog Show
If you want to learn more about specialized dog breeds, visit with prize-winning pooches, take in three Canadian Kennel Club Licensed Conformation Dog Shows or specialty shows for Great Danes, Dobermans, Collies and Golden Retrievers, the Montreal International Dog Show is your ideal event.
Running November 7-9 at Place Bonaventure, the show offers a chance for a meet-and-greet with breeders as well as services, supplies, crafts and gifts for dogs and their owners.
Annual Gem and Mineral Show
Montreal’s 55th Annual Gem and Mineral Show at Place Bonaventure November 7-9is the jewellery artisan’s opportunity to purchase semi-precious gems, jewellery, sculptures, pearls, beads, fossils, tools and minerals.
More than 100 local and out-of-province dealers offer products from mines around the world, including Afghanistan, Africa, Brazil and North America.
Featuring sculptures made from exotic materials such as agate, serpentine, amazonite, rose quartz and jasper, this show is an excellent learning and shopping experience.
International Documentary Festival
For those who enjoy reality-based cinema, the Montreal International Documentary Festival (Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal) highlights the year’s best documentaries from Canada and beyond.
Running November 12-23, this multi-lingual and multi-cultural event is a feast for serious and curious film lovers.
M for Montreal
Montreal is seldom devoid of mega musical events, and M for Montreal keeps bodies moving and grooving November 19-22. With four days of shows and showcases by emerging acts on the Montreal scene, this festival brings out professionals and music lovers who want to know the newest trends. Also features panels, conferences and creative meetings.
This year’s lineup includes Les Sins, Nils Frahm, Dawn of Midi, Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra with Lemon Bucket Orkestra, Thee Oh Sees, Gazelle Twin, Elephant Stone and Teenanger.
Salon du Livre de Montréal
The five-day Salon du Livre de Montréal showcases French-language literature from Quebec and the world at Place Bonaventure November 19-24.
This unique and ultimately intimate expo gives readers the chance to meet some of their favourites in person as well as discover new books and authors. It also features round-table discussions, debates and public readings.
Image + Nation Festival
A celebration of pride and innovation in cinema, Image + Nation is Montreal’s annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) film festival takes place November 20-30.
Celebrating LGBT cinema from around the world, at almost 30, this is the oldest festival of its kind in Canada and every year it brings ground-breaking films to the big screen to the delight of local and visiting audiences.
A special shopping event that is guaranteed to get patrons into the holiday spirit, Montreal’s festive Nutcracker Market lets you shop for gifts in a magical wonderland.
Running November 27-December 7 on the Merchant Level of Palais de Congrès, merchants sell exclusive jewellery, garments, accessories, toys, chocolates, locally crafted alcoholic beverages, crafts, pottery and crockery.
Decorated in the theme of the Nutcracker Ballet, the market also celebrates the return of The Nutcracker to Place des Arts, where it is performed by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens every year.
As an added bonus, 10% of the proceeds from every purchase made at the market goes to the Nutcracker Fund for Children. This fund allows children from underprivileged neighbourhoods to attend educational workshops and a performance of the ballet, as well as towards the production costs of The Nutcracker.
Salon des Métiers d’Art de Montréal
If you are looking for exclusively artisanal products to put under the tree this season, the Salon des Métiers d’Art de Montréal is the place to find some of the most incredible handcrafted creations the province has to offer.
One of the most important professional craft expositions in Canada, nothing gets onto the showroom floor unless it has been vetted by the Quebec Craft Council meaning that each item is of the highest quality.
At Place Bonaventure December 5-21, this spectacular event offers incredible and professional crafts that could be the perfect present for the person who has everything.
Old Montreal Extravaganza
If you are planning on being in Montreal during the holiday season, The Old Montreal Extravaganza offers several days of incredible celebrations and events geared at making the season magical and memorable December 15-January 5.
Featuring a variety of indoor and outdoor entertainment at 20 different venues, this festival features a magical Christmas village, festive skating on a musical rink in front of Marché Bonsecours, incredible fireworks, loads of traditional Quebecois folk music and the New Year’s Eve Grand Bal on Place Jacques-Cartier.
The Let’s Get Married Bridal Wedding Show
For all of those lucky gals who received a special sparkler from a holiday engagement proposal and are now looking to plan a wedding, The Let’s Get Married Bridal Wedding Show is a great way to begin your planning experience and get wedding ideas.
Running January 10-11 at Place Bonaventure, this event features one-stop shopping for brides and grooms and is the perfect place to find a wedding planner, venue, look at prospective wedding registry items, see bridal fashion runway shows that feature the latest in wedding attire and lots more. Whether you are getting married at home or abroad, this event may just be the thing to give you great ideas for your future together.
The Auto Show
If you love cars or are looking to buy a new one or just want to see what is hot for 2015, Montreal’s Auto Show is the ultimate event to check out what the auto industry has to offer in one magnificent show.
At the Palais de Congrès January 16-25, this event features floor after floor of vehicles from all the big auto producers. Plus the 2015 event also features more than 40 modified cars and many unveilings.
A unique way to party in the cold, this is one of Montreal’s more innovative ways to chase away the winter blues and get your blood pumping under the night sky. Igloofest puts on one dance party after another in the Quays of the Old Port.
Running Thursday to Saturday nights January 16- February 8, the folks behind Piknic Electronik showcase the city’s top DJs and import some of the hottest from around the world for a special kind of outdoor dance event that could only really happen in Montreal.
Attracting thousands of snowsuit-clad partygoers, this event creates an atmospheric setting with mesmerizing light shows, majestic ice sculptures and igloos that patrons can hang out in and cozy spots to warm up if the need arises. But really, the collective body heat makes for a fairly comfortable dancing experience, even in -20 weather.
Salon de l’Amour et de la Séduction
For those looking to keep warm this winter by generating body heat in the bedroom, there is no better place to look for new ways to spice it up than the Salon de l’Amour et de la Séduction.
Running January 16-18 at Place Bonaventure, this very sexy and adults-only consumer show features seminars, stage shows, celebrities, erotic art, shopping and kink for singles, couples and groups looking to spice up their lives. It’s the perfect opportunity to shop for adult products and learn from experts in the area of love and sex.
Fête des neiges
For something that truly celebrates the best of winter and all of the creative and crazy things imaginable that can be done with snow, the Fête des neiges is about family fun during the day and more fun for the bigger kids at night. Running weekends on Île Jean Drapeau January 17-February 8, this snow-themed festival features ziplines, tube sliding, dogsled tours, skating, shows and music.
If you are on the market for an outfitting camp getaway outside of James Bay or are looking to present an outfitting operation to potential visitors, there is no place better to go than the 2015 Montreal National Outfitters Hunting & Fishing Expo at Palais de Congrès January 29-February 1.
It’s Montreal’s biggest outfitting event and the best place to find a special spot for a hunting getaway for you and your fellow hunters.
Le Salon de la Mariée
For the bride and groom looking to save money and time, the Sheldon Kagan International Le Salon de la Mariée at Palais de Congrès January 31- February 1 offers wedding professionals, honeymoon options and home preparation ideas.
Featuring fabulous fashion shows, appointments with presenters, sample goods, prize contests and lots more, this is a great event to learn all about wedding planning.
February 5-8 marks the return of the Montreal Boat and Water Sports Show to Place Bonaventure and it promises to serve up a wet and wild time for all.
Featuring the latest in boats and maritime technology, the event is put on by the Quebec Maritime Association with the mandate of promoting the growth of boating in the province. The goal of the event is not only to promote boating and water sports but also raise awareness about boating safety and develop nautical tourism in Quebec.
If you want to purchase a new boat, there really is no better place to go as this event features over 275 exhibitors, over 400 boats and all sorts of speakers and industry professionals.
Montreal Bicycle Show
Come mid-February most people are dreaming of a world without snow and ice, so for cycling enthusiasts, there is no better way to start planning out your spring/summer/fall cycling excursions than the Montreal Bicycle Show at Place Bonaventure February 13-15.
Featuring information and products relating to everything pertinent to professional and amateur cyclists, this expo features lots of bikes and gear, plus information on nutrition and health.
Les Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois
February 19-28 marks the return of the Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois, an annual festival that promotes the local film industry, its artists and industry professionals and their contributions to the international film scene.
Hunting, Fishing and Camping Show
If you’re looking to trick out your next hunting, fishing or camping trip, the best spot to see what’s new in terms of gear for any of these outdoor adventures is Montreal’s Hunting, Fishing and Camping Show at Place Bonaventure February 19-22.
An excellent place to start researching your next purchases of firearms, GPSs, fish finders, binoculars, decoys, tents, fishing poles or reels, camp stoves, sleeping bags and even hunting dogs. This event lets you get a good look at things that may give you that advantage out in the wild or make your next bush trip the best one ever.
Montréal en Lumière
Montréal en Lumière is not only one of the biggest winter festivals in the world, attracting over 900,000 every year, but comes at a perfect time to beat the winter blahs, starting February 19 and running until March 1.
Now in its 16th year, this festival transforms Place des Festivals into a free, festive family-fun zone with braziers, shows, activities for children that celebrate winter’s wonder and Montreal’s party spirit.
This event also pairs Montreal chefs with international culinary masters for one of the most exclusive and incredible restaurant events of the year.
Also highlighting the cream of the crop from the arts world with music, circus arts, song, theatre and dance shows, its offers patrons 11 days of top-notch entertainment both indoors and out.
New Musics Festival
Running February 26-March 7, the Montreal New Musics Festival has a mandate to promote contemporary music and its composers. This annual event features a concert series and an “homage series” that celebrates contemporary classics and exposes this genre of music to the youth. With all sorts of musical events happening, this year’s theme will explore “Surroundings and New Technologies.”
Montreal Motorcycle Show
Whether you fancy Harley-Davidsons, Ducatis or Arctic Cats, if you are a fan of motorcycle culture, the Montreal Motorcycle Show – at Palais des Congrès February 27-March 1 – is a great event to check out what’s new in this world.
While this expo highlights the best and the latest in two-wheeled technology, for those on the market for a new scooter, trike, ATV, side by side or any other kind of on-road or off-road vehicle for the city or the bush, this is the place for riding on toys for big girls and boys.
Showcasing products from companies like Harley-Davidson, Aprilia, Arctic Cat, BMW Motorrad, Can-Am BRP, Honda, Husaberg, Husqvarna, Canadian Kawasaki, Suzuki, Vespa and Victory, this event even has nights devoted to kids and women.
Nuit Blanche à Montréal
This major event held throughout Montreal has become such a smash hit that the trend has caught on in other cities. The Nuit Blanche à Montréal is an all-night ritual that keeps folks awake with amazing cultural events.
On February 28, participating venues across the city will open their doors overnight so that patrons can take part in their artistic celebrations. They include a wide variety of art galleries and museums as well as shows and cultural events. Happening in conjunction with the Montreal Highlights Festival, this will be the 12th edition of the increasingly popular event.
Edgy Redux Festival
According to their website, Montreal’s Edgy Redux Festival is a “fierce, feminist and considerably condensed reincarnation of the Edgy Women Festival.” Now in its second edition, this undisciplined and unapologetic event features shows and performances that explore feminist art practices February 28-March 8.
National Home Show
At Place Bonaventure March 6-15, the National Home Show is about renovation, decoration and landscaping. It’s the perfect place to see the latest trends in any of these areas or talk to an expert about what can become your new home reality.
Featuring over 1,500 experts on homes and home products, this show is a great place to see what the latest technology is for green living and energy-saving products for your home, like new doors, windows or roofing materials. It showcases the latest colour and décor trends as well as all kinds of innovative ideas for the exterior of your home.
Whether you’re a homeowner or in the market, looking for an industry professional or a home beautification service, this is the show for you.
National Women’s Show
For the gal looking to find out more about fashion, beauty and services geared directly to today’s woman check out the Salon National de la Femme at Palais de Congrès March 13-15.
This event showcases one-stop shopping for everything from botox to new hair trends to what is hot for spring to spa getaways, all under one roof.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade
A sure-fire sign that spring is on our doorstep, Montreal’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade runs down St. Catherine Street in an explosion of green, white and orange as well as music, dancing and all-out fun on March 22.
Featuring floats from many Irish community organizations as well as major Montreal institutions, this is the ultimate event where everyone can be Irish for a day and enjoy being outside for the revelry.
Expo Manger Santé et Vivre Vert
All about eating well, living healthy and going as green as you can, Montreal’s Expo Manger Santé et Vivre Vert is a great way to learn about the latest in health-food trends as well as find out more about new products hitting the market and how they can be prepared.
The perfect event for anyone who is looking to turn over a new leaf come spring, this event is happening at Palais de Congrès March 20-22 and it can be a real eye-opener for those looking to try new health foods as there are hundreds to sample.