Of course, it’s easy to love Montreal in the summer time. This vibrant city is filled with festivals, outdoor bars, parks in bloom and opportunities to go to the beach in the Old Port. But just around the corner of the calendar, it can look like a whole different world. Montreal can be described often as two distinct cities: Summer Montreal and Winter Montreal. For those that brave out the temperatures that can reach minus 30-40 degrees Celsius, will see a unique city filled with opportunity and adventure.
People who prefer Montreal in the summer often shun the freezing cold of deep winter, overlooking a bounty of opportunities for exploration and fun. Winter in Montreal can be beautiful; don’t just hide in Montreal’s underground city, or hibernate the winter away.
Discover Montréal’s winter gems with these top 5 activities:
1. Mont Royal
The views from the top of Mont Royal (locally referred to as ‘The Mountain’) on a crisp, sunny morning with snow all around are stunning. You can explore the The Mountain on cross-country skis, surely a unique way of exploring any city.
2. Les Habs
Winter is the season for Canada’s most famous and decorated professional sports team. I am of course, talking about the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League (NHL). Since 1993, when Les Habs (as they are locally known) won their last Stanley Cup, the whole city has been waiting for them to win their 25th. That’s 24 NHL Stanley Cups wins! No other team even comes close to that total.
Some say the atmosphere in the city goes up and down with the Habs, which means that all home games are heavily anticipated. The atmosphere at the Bell Centre when they play is unparalleled (and especially so when the Boston Bruins or the Toronto Maple Leafs, their biggest rivals, are in town).
3. Montréal en Lumière
The Montréal en Lumière (Montreal in Lights) festival lights up Montreal with artistic installations and snow-based activities for two weeks in February and March. It is centered around the Nuit Blanche (White Night), which covers the entirety of the downtown area with exhibitions, live music, and designs. Stunningly, most of the activities on this night are free! This means that everyone is welcome to join in with the fun and to be a part of the camaraderie associated with winter life in Montreal.
4. Ice Skating in the City
No one can argue the novelty of visiting the ice rink in the City Center. Every Canadian city must have at last one and Montreal has over a dozen! There’s one in most corners of the city and it makes the parks come to life while everything is frozen. It’s a good reason to enjoy hot chocolate to warm up afterwards.
At this point, you may be thinking…
This is all well-and-good, but surely the cold puts a bit of a damper on all these festivities?
Well, it can be, but only if you let it. In reality, we have a vibrant community here that enjoys getting through the tough winters together. Even when your bike looks like this…
And, speaking as an expat here who arrived from the warmer climates of the U.K. I’m going to put it out there and say that Montreal’s cold winter is not as bad as some people make it out to be. In Montreal, with the right clothes, you can guard against temperatures as low as -40°C. The cold here is a dry cold. This means that you just have to wear layers, a big coat, and strong boots to keep you warm.
In the U.K. or the West Coast of Canada it is warmer in the winter, but also much wetter. In such climates, wearing layers and a big coat makes you sweat and, because of this, you often get colder. This means there is no way to guard against temperatures that are only around 0°C.
Once you’ve got all the tips on how to prepare for a winter in Canada, you’ll find that Montreal in winter is a city of fun, adventure, and somewhat amazingly, outdoor activities.
Perhaps, nowhere demonstrates this as well as…
5. Snow Village
During the Winter, enterprising Montrealers build a luxurious bar, restaurant, and hotel out of snow, which is open to day-visitors who just want to enjoy food or a drink in what is effectively a large igloo. Talk about using the cold and the snow as an advantage to make a stunningly innovative tourist attraction!
In a sense, this is what winter in Montreal is all about – the snowy cold bringing new and unique opportunities for the kinds of fun that are simply not available in other cities.
Join us at Samesun Montréal this winter for fun group activities to make the most of everything this city has to offer.