Top 7 things to do in Montreal THIS Summer!
This is your guide on how to spend a great time in Montreal this Summer! The article has the complete list of every single event in the city: festivals, ideas of things to do and much more! I will also give you tips for when to come and what to wear. (Hint, you will not need a winter jacket!)
Montrealers LOVE summer, we love to finally be able to hang out outside with a drink, picnic in a park and go to one of the 30 festivals. During summertime it feels like the city is reviving again after months and months of hibernation.
Here are the Top 7 things to do in Montreal in the summer
Go to one of the 30 festivals in the city
Hangout in a park
Check out a street fair
Have some drinks on a terrace and eat your way out in the city
Enjoy the fireworks
Go to La Ronde, a 6 Flags amusement park
Go see a sports game
I will go into a lengthy description of these 7 things to do in Montreal this Summer later in the article. But first, here are some practical information.
Best time to come to Montreal during Summer?
The Summer heat really starts to kick in at the end of May; this is also when all the activities and festivals start to bring the city back to life. The good weather slowly starts fading away around the first week of September. While there is no right or wrong time to come to Montreal in the Summer, it all depends on what you want to do.
If you are coming for the F1 GP, then keep in mind that the accommodations will be EXTREMELY expensive. Hotels and other rental places prices skyrocket during this period as this is the peak of visitors in the city. If you are not coming to see the F1, I would suggest coming during another week. It will be cheaper and the city will be less crowded.
There are around 30 festivals in Montreal and there will for sure be something of your liking. So check out the festivities, maybe you will want to plan your trip around a particular event. Read on to see if there is a festival you want to check out or see which event will match your dates. If you have specific dates in mind, use this tool to see what is going on in the city within that time frame.
How many days in Montreal?
If you are a 9to5er, like me, Montreal can be a great 3-day weekend getaway. All you need to do is to ask for 1 day of vacation or come during a long weekend! Looking to optimize your vacations? Don’t forget to click here.
If not, you can plan a Canada or a Quebec trip by visiting other cities like Toronto or Quebec City. Montreal has many great day trips nearby; don’t forget to check out my other article to see all the great options!
What to wear?
Summers in Montreal are very hot! No, we are not buried in snow all year long ;)
Bring summer clothes, sandals, sunscreen, swimwear if you want to go to the beach or to a pool. I will suggest bringing a light sweater just in case it gets chilly at night. Summertime can be rainy too so you might want to bring extra clothes in case you end up soaking wet from a storm.
Getting around the city
Enjoy the good weather and walk or bike around the city. You can rent bikes with Bixi or Jump, there are stations every few blocks. You can also take public transit, check out the STM website for maps and rates.
I would NOT recommend driving in Montreal in the summertime. The city is undergoing huge construction as roads need some repair after the harsh Winter. Also, parking in the streets can be extremely confusing, especially if you do not understand French!
Top 7 things to do in Montreal in the summer
Montreal Summer Festivals
Summer in Montreal = festivals. The city has more than 30 free outdoor festivals during the 3 short months of Summer. For music lovers this means great opportunities to party and discover your new favourite artist. The biggest festival is Osheaga, Montreal’s take of Coachella, so get your flower crown and festival attire ready! Pop music is not your jam? Maybe the famous International Jazz fest or heavy Montreal or the baroque festivals will be more of your liking. Like I said, there is something for every taste.
If music is not your thing, then, we also have a Just for laugh festivals where you can see your favourite stand-up comedians, comicon, film festivals, and circus, theater and dance festivals. The majority of the festivals are FREE and take place at the Places des Festivals (quartier des spectacles), a downtown area designed especially to hosts events all-year round.
Here is the complete list of festivals (arranged in chronological order), you will not want to miss any!
Imagine doing a nice picnic in a park but with some of the best DJ in the world. Get ready to listen to house, dubstep, techno music and so much more. The festival takes over Plaine des Jeux in Parc Jean Drapeau every Sunday from May to September.
This is one of the first festival of the huge line up during Summer months. This is a theatre and dance festival. Be ready to be marveled by these free and paid performances.
The Festival that officially kicks over the summer is the F1 festivities. The race takes place at the beginning of June and has a bunch of street fairs and parties.
Montreal is also world famously known for its first class street art. And guess what? We have a festival for that too! Mural festival showcases more than 80 artists and it is the biggest street art festival in North America. During the festival you can catch an artist in action and see how the murals come to life. Don’t forget to read my article “where to find the best street art in Montreal” to hunt these gems.
This music event is for all the indie music fans, so be ready to discover your new favourite underground hipster band here. The festival is held at the popular indie music hang out sports like La Sala Rossa and Casa del Popolo. Not sure whether it is worth the investment? Don’t worry the tickets are around $10 each! The festival usually takes place on the first week of June.
If folk and grass music is your thing, then come and hang out at this festival. It is located in one of my favourite neighbourhoods in the city, Saint-Henri. Here you will get away from the crowded downtown festivities and enjoy music by the water. The entrance of the festival is by donation.
Looking to see First Nations arts and culture, then go to the Mixed Arts Festival held in Old Montreal.
Towards the end of the month you have the Montreal Baroque Festival. This classical music festival has mix of free and paid events.
If you love cutting edge theater then, the Fringe is for you! The festival has an eclectic selection and some of the shows will be outstanding, others not so much, it's a hit-or-miss selection. Luckily the performance art festival is CHEAP! You pay around $15 the entrance to see a one of a kind performance. Be sure to hit the Fringe Fest beer tent before or after, they often have free concerts as well. This festival runs over the first three weeks of June. You can either buy your tickets in advance or at the door if you are feeling spontaneous.
This is the largest French music festival in the World! It is also one of the biggest festivals in the city. You don’t need to speak French or be a Francophile to enjoy the music of this festival. This flagship events takes place at the beginning of June and lasts around 10 days. It has a mix of rock, pop, hip-hop, folk, punk and many more music genres. Not feeling like paying? Don’t worry there is a HUGE section of free shows!
On June 24th, celebrate Quebec identity and pride at the celebrations of la Saint-Jean Baptiste. Quebec is a very proud province of its French and unique heritage that differentiates this province with the rest of Canada. It is celebrated everywhere in Quebec with tons of festivities, fireworks, free concerts,...
Another flagship festival, the Jazz fest is one of my favourite festivals in the city! The term jazz is used broadly so don’t worry if Jazz is not your thing. You might find something of your liking. Like others festivals, you have a mix of paid and free shows.
Canada Day, celebrate Canada Day with us on July 1st! It is celebrated everywhere in the country with tons of festivities, fireworks, free concerts,...
Celebrate and party like you were in the Caribbean. This parade and street food stands have been going since 1975 to celebrate the Caribbean heritage of many montrealers. It usually takes place on the first Saturday in July each year.
To all my geeky friends, this is the event for you! Get your cosplay ready, prepare to meet some of your favourite actors and buy some handcrafted souvenirs. The convention takes in early July at the Palais des Congrès and spans for 3 days. Be sure to buy your tickets in advance.
This is North American first circus festival. After all, the Cirque du Soleil was born in Montreal!
This festival takes the street, parks and venues around the city for around 10 days of performances. Come and be amazed by these crazy talented circus performers from around the globe.
If you love stand up comedy then this is your kind of festival. The Just for Laughs line up has a mix of emerging artists to famous comedians like Seinfield and Trevor Noah. Be sure to check out the program to laugh all night long. The festival also has some street performances.
For the film lovers, this is your opportunity to see genre films from around the globe. Every year at the end of July, you will find films that range from your student thriller film to some of the best films genre. The festival takes place at Concordia University.
Celebrate multiculturalism and the heritage of many Montrealers. In this festival, you can learn about the culture and traditions from across the World through music, dance, culinary discoveries and family activities. The best part is that it is free! The festival is at Parc Jean Drapeau and takes place every weekend of July and it showcases different countries at the same time.
This Montreal festival is for the electronic music and digital art fans. Get immersed in this playful and creative universe. The festival is held at the Place des Festivals.
For 2-weeks in mid-July, this festival shows cases music from African continent with more than 30 countries being represented. Like most festivals it is held at Place des Festivals and as a mix of free and paid events.
This is Montreal take of Coachella, so get your flower crown and festival attire ready! This massive 3 day concert takes place at the Parc Jean-Drapeau in August. Be sure to buy your tickets in advance!
If you are a heavy metal and hard rock music fan, then Heavy Montreal is for you! The festival is held at Parc Jean-Drapeau around early August.
THE event for Electronic Dance Music (EDM). This yearly festival also brings artists from other genres like pop and hip hop artist. ÎleSoniq spans for only 2 days and it is held at the Parc Jean Drapeau around early to mid-August. Be sure to buy your tickets in advance!
Celebrate gay pride in the city at the parade or at parties in different venues. Most of the activities are around Montreal's Gay Village. This parade, like other pride parades across the World, aims to promote LGBTQ+ rights and solidarity.
Located in the heart of shopping district, this festival is for all the fashionistas of the World. Spanning for several days in mid-to-late-August, this event is for you to see the upcoming trends and get to know local designers.
The OSM, the Montreal Symphonique orchestra, features more than 31 indoor concerts and a multitude of free activities. This is the opportunity to reconnect with classical music and masterful performances. The event takes place in the first 2 weeks of August.
Montreal’s Italian week, celebrate the Italian heritage of many Montrealers with food, music and film!
A festival that aims to do a cultural bridge between the first nations and other cultures, to learn more about traditions through arts, music, film and food. The festival is at the Place des Spectacle for the first 2 weeks of August.
This is one of the last festivals of the summer. Here you will be able to see World Class cinema from across the World. Working in the film industry, this is obviously one of my favourite events. You can either see films in theaters (you might get a chance to see a film in an old theater like the beautiful Imperial) or see a free movie under the stars.
Phew that was a lengthy section!
2. Relax in a park
Montreal has beautiful parks to discover and relax among nature. They are also perfect to cool down the Summer heat!
Of course, the most popular park is our mini mount, the Mount Royal. The mountain has many bike and hiking trails with astonishing point of view of the city. This is a must visit in the city! Before or after you go up the mountain, enjoy a picnic next to Beaver Lake to relax by the lake.
Every Sunday, head to the Tam Tams for Drum circles and DJs.
Our second most popular park is the Botanical Garden. It is one of the biggest parks on the island and it is full or lush plants and greenhouses. It takes you from the enchanting Bonsai garden to the dry cactus of the desert that will make you feel like you are in Mexico. After the botanical garden, you can go to the Insectarium, the planetarium or the Biodome, to see cute animals like Penguins!
This is a 2 island-park (Saint Helen's Island and the artificial Notre Dame Island) located near Montreal, you can access the park using the subway system. These islands, known for Ile Saint-Helene where the F1 takes place, are home of a fort, La Ronde amusement park, the Casino, an Olympic swimming pool, a beach and the Biosphere. And of course, it hosts many of the events we talked in the first section like the F1 and Osheaga.
The Biosphere is like an eco-museum and hosts exhibitions about environmental protection. Once the sun sets, you can admire this globe in different coulours. You can learn more here.
This is by far my favourite spot in the city! Here you can walk, run, cycle, skate and kayak along the canal. You get to see the busy city and be at nature at the same time. The most popular route takes you from Old Port to the Atwater Market. But if you like nature and being close to the water, keep going west until you hit Parc René-Lévesque! It will make you feel like you are in a small town with a marina.
Parks scattered around the city
My favourite is the Westmount Park, located in the posh and high end neighbourhood of Westmount; this park was designed by the urban planner that did Central Park in NYC. Don’t forget to visit the greenhouse; it will transport you to the tropics! Then wander around the neighbourhood to admire the Victorian architecture of these gorgeous houses.
3. Montreal Sidewalk Sales
These fairs are all summer long, you just need to check out the different locations to know when these are happening. This could be the perfect opportunity for you to fill your suitcases with souvenirs or clothes designed here! During the sidewalks sales, some of the biggest and busiest streets in the city are closing to become pedestrian and are full of food stands and other activities like street performers.
Mont-Royal avenue, also nicknamed as the Avenue, closes the first weekend of June on about 2km, so get ready to hunt those deals and enjoy the festivities.
“Grand Prix Petite-Italie”, is the Little neighbourhood street fair and takes place during the Grand Prix Weekend. It features vintage cars like the first Fiat 500, and delicious food stands with Cannoli and gelato!
La Grande Fabrique is the biggest outdoor gathering of Quebec creators! In conjunction with Etsy and other local creators, this street fair promotes all the local talent for 2 days on Sainte-Catherine et Ontario Est.
If you are looking for less touristy areas then you should check out the Verdun's Promenade Wellington street fair at the beginning of June.
Le Marché de possible, located in the hip Mile End Neighbourhood, is a public open-air space featuring a free programming with musical performances, screenings of films and much more! In the park, you will find a bar and a biergarden, a craft market and delicious food. The fair is at 5635 rue St-Dominique (corner Bernard) from June to July.
At the end of August, for 3 days, the Mont-Royal avenue closes again but this time it showcases artists from the city. The street faire is called RU.
All summer long, Sainte-Catherine Street closes at the Montreal Gay Village. Here you can enjoy arts exhibits, pop-up sales and more. Plus the street looks beautiful with the rainbow decorations hanging. Here you also have great restaurants for you to enjoy.
Mtl en Arts is held during the last week of June and features art. It is the largest open-air exhibition in Eastern Canada. It extends over a one-kilometre.
The biggest and most popular sale of all is the Saint-Catherine sidewalk sale in the middle of downtown. The street is closed for about 10 blocks and it is the perfect place to do your shopping spree and low prices! It takes place mid July. You also have some food stands and activities so you can keep shopping!
To close down summer The "BLVD" street sale is your last chance of nice temperature and crazy events happening on the city. This sale is what closes all the festivities of the summer.
4. Eat and drink
After you have chosen which festival you will attend during your stay in the city, you need to eat! Montreal is THE foodie city and we love to eat and brag about our bagels and poutine. Montrealers are a happy bunch, we consider ourselves Bon Vivants! We love to hang out on a terrace (this is how Montrealers call the outdoor patios or rooftops), enjoy a drink or eat at one of these many places to enjoy the summer.
If you are looking for one of a kind terraces (outdoor patios) head to my other article. Here you will find a great cafe hidden at one of the viewpoints of the Mont Royal or a cool co-working space doing happy hours all week. You can also check out the different terraces in the Old Port and the Satosphere. La SAT is a Societe des Arts and Technologies and has amazing 360° creative experiences. The place also has a great terrace with one of the coolest restaurants on the island.
Montreal has some signature dishes like bagels, smoked meat and poutine. You cannot leave the city without tasting these 10 must-eat Montreal food. What a better way to beat the heat than to crack open a cold one? The city has more than 20 microbreweries and many more craft beer bars. You can read my hand picked guide.
We love poutine so much that we even have a festival for it! The festival has more then 40 different types of poutine, to vegan to fancy garnish like duck. The festival usually takes place in August in the Old Port.
Now, let’s talk about Ice Cream! Summers in the city can be extremely hot and you will want to freshen up with some delicious ice cream. My favourite place is Dalla Rose as they make sweet homemade ice cream and they also have vegan ice cream! This is the place to go, if like me, you are lactose intolerant or vegan. Kem CoBa is the most popular place in the city and it gets crazy busy, you can wait around 15min in line. This artisanal shop has some Asian influences and is right by the famous Fairmount bagels. So can do these 2 must try places in 1 stop. Bilboquet is another famous place and they have several shops around the city.
Go discover a farmers market like Jean Talon and Atwater. The Jean Talon market is the biggest farmers market in the city, I did a food walking tour there, and you can read more about in this article. My favourite is the Atwater market with all its flowers and food stands at the back. This is a great place to eat or grab things to do a picnic and visit the canal which is only 2min away. The market is constructed under the Art Deco style. Plus it is located between two great neighbourhoods, Saint-Henri and Little Burgundy. My new favourite hangout spot is the Canal Lounge, a small boat on the canal transformed into a bar. If you are visiting around mid July, you need to try the Quebec strawberries! You can easily find them at the market, the are full of flavours, small, juicy and sweet!
Do you love food trucks? Then I have the perfect place for you! Every first Friday of the month, the entire food trucks squad gathers at the Olympic Park in the summertime. It's a free admission to the site but you will pay for you food. The First Fridays get VERY BUSY, you have been warned! The other days of the week, the food trucks are scattered around downtown and the neighbourhoods La-Petite-Patrie & Outremont.
Who doesn’t love fireworks? Luckily we have ton throughout the Summer!
The first opportunity that you have to see the fireworks is during la Saint-Jean on June 24th, then 1 week later for Canada Day on July 1st. This does not end here, we have an annual fireworks international competition.
The Loto-Québec International Fireworks Competition is home of the largest fireworks competition in the World! The competition is held at La Ronde and runs every year between July 1 to August 4. Every year, a country has its own night and showcases its pyrotechnic show alongside music.
The best places to see the fireworks are Village au Pied-du-Courant, The Mount-Royal Summit, The Old Port, and of course La Ronde.
6. Go to La Ronde
La Ronde is 6 Flags amusement park that only opens during Summer, from May to October. This amusement park offers more than 40 rides and attractions. Who said that you need to be a kid to enjoy amusement parks? The park has many thrilling rides like the Golliath or Ednör!
If you are a sports fan, then the city also has a bunch of sport activities to attend. No, we don’t play ice hockey during the Summer months.
The F1 Grand Prix is the flagship sport events. The race is held on the first week of June and last for around 3 days including the tryouts. The race is usually followed by a concert and other types of car racing.
The Rogers Cup is the renowned tennis tournament that brings players like Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal to Montreal each year. The tournament is in the IGA stadium and is held during the month of August.
Our sports teams are not our forte, but it still can be a fun thing to do in the afternoon! The Alouettes are the football team of Montreal. Remember that in Canada we play Canadian football so the rules change a little from the US ones. L’Impact is Montreal soccer team that plays in the MLS. To see the games don’t forget to check the dates as they might be playing abroad!
So how are you going to spend the Summer in Montreal?
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