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No matter the time of year, there is always something going on in Montreal. While the majority of the city’s events take place in the temperate summer months, residents also warm themselves up at winter festivals that celebrate art, music and fine dining in the City of Saints.
Festivals in Montreal are usually well attended and reflect the influence of French culture, as well as its position as a global city that hosts a cosmopolitan blend of people from all over the world. These are just a few of the annual events in Montreal that expats can look forward to.
Annual events in Montreal
Montreal International Auto Show (January)
Expats with a passion for cars will be in their element at the Montreal International Auto Show. The show generally lasts for 10 days in mid-January and is held at the Palais des Congres de Montreal convention centre.
Fête des Neiges (January to February)
This outdoor winter festival is held from late January to early February at Montreal’s Parc Jean-Drapeau. The event is great for children as there are dog-sledge rides, snow sculptures and people dressed up as polar bears. This festival is like a winter wonderland and includes a hockey tournament and live shows. It is something not to be missed.
Montréal en Lumière (February/March)
Montreal lights up for 10 full days during this magical festival. Expats can watch light shows, taste fine food and wine, and see concerts and exhibitions in downtown Montreal.
Montreal International Children’s Film Festival (February/March)
Perfect for expat families, the entire festival is dedicated to children and features films from all over the world. Kids also have an opportunity to meet many of the actors that appear in the films and will also be able to attend various workshops.
Blue Metropolis (April)
Also known as The Blue Met, this is Montreal’s international literary festival. It lasts for five days and attracts writers, actors, journalists and musicians. Literature in English, French, Spanish and many other languages can be found, so it is an event not to be missed for expats who miss speaking and reading in their mother tongue.
Festival Accès Asie (May)
This festival takes place during Asian Heritage Month and celebrates Asian culture in Canada. Expats can experience Asian dance, art, music and literature from dozens of Asian countries. This is a great way for Western expats to experience something new and for Asian expats to get a taste of home.
Montreal International Jazz Festival (June to July)
The Montreal International Jazz Festival is one of the world’s largest jazz festivals. Music lovers are spoilt for choice, with around 3,000 jazz artists and hundreds of concerts. Many of these concerts are free outdoor performances, making the beautiful music accessible to everyone. Fans can also view these concerts online.
National Hockey League (September)
Ice hockey is a huge part of Canadian culture and Montreal is no exception. The National Hockey League is a big event in the Quebec sporting world and millions of people tune in to the games on television or go watch them live at the various arenas around the province. To really experience Canada’s favourite sport, expats are encouraged to get involved as much as they can and perhaps go watch a game or two.
Montreal Festival of Nouveau Cinema (October)
Promoting alternative approaches to film, the festival showcases the work of new and unknown filmmakers. This festival embodies Montreal’s passion for film and is a great way for expats to discover the city’s growing film industry.
Are you an expat living in Montreal?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Montreal. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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