Is it the fact that the drinking age is only 18? Is it the after-hours clubs that stay open until 10am? Is it that you can find every type of subculture within one city? What underground secrets do locals know that makes Montreal the best place to party in North America?
After all, Montreal doesn’t have the tall towers of Toronto or the beautiful scenery of Vancouver. But once you’ve tasted the ‘joie de vivre” (the joy and excitement of life) that is flowing through the brightly painted streets, in the locally brewed beers, and in the buzz of live music and delicious food, you’ll realize Montreal has something truly unique. What is it that brings the city together? It is the sensation of belonging in an ever-evolving diversified community where anything is possible.
There are more ways than one to party in Montreal. Grab your mates and check out these 13 explorations of Montrealers favourite ways to party.
Drinking age is only 18.
We’ve got to start here. With the youngest legal drinking age on the East Coast of North America, Montreal attracts party-goers from far and wide. Montreal gets the reputation of a party city for a good reason as it has the highest number of bars and restaurants per capita in all of Canada (and the second highest in North America, after NYC). Read on for 12 more ways to go wild in Montreal.
After hours clubs open until 10am.
If your night is good enough to go well past sunrise, Montreal can cater to your needs with music and dancing until 10am. Explore Crescent Street, Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Rue Saint-Denis, the Old Port of Montreal, Mont Royal and the Gay Village for top clubbing and nightlife destinations. One thing to note is that nightclubs can only serve alcohol until 2:45am (for a 3pm cut off). The after hours clubs that are open until 10am are for other types of activities… (like dancing) that don’t require a liquor license. So don’t bother asking for a beer there.
Tam Tams & Mary Jane
This is more of a well-known pastime in Montreal, and it happens above ground on a mountain, where hundreds of people from widely diverse backgrounds come together for the pumping sounds of beating drums. If you can imagine 60-70 drummers jamming together, with hippy-esque dancers jiving along, you’ll also find another one of Montreal’s favorite side-culture passtimes. It is not uncommon to see a man dressed in a little red riding hood tunic selling green brownies and edibles while the crowd basks in a swirling cloud of Mary Jane. Find it at Mont Royal on a Sunday in the summer time.
Live action role-playing is huge in Montreal and it even got a TV series made about it. If dressing up in medieval costumes and running around town with swords sounds like your way to party, there’s plenty of local LARP groups you can join. If you didn’t know how hard these guys like to party, check out this video and get tempted to try something new.
A costume shop older than most Canadian cities
Whether it’s time to party at Halloween, LARPing on Mt Royal, or just getting kitted out for a dress-up club night, this is a place worth visiting. Ponton Costumes opened in 1865 (that’s 20 years older than the City of Vancouver)! Check it out: www.pontoncostumes.com/en
Now that you’re all dressed up, it’s time to take it all off! It’s just like regular karaoke, except by the end of the song you must have your clothes off (or most of them at least). If you’re thinking thar this is really weird and kind of awkward, you’ll soon experience the cheering and camaraderie that comes with people displaying their fullest confidence no matter the size or shape of their bodies. With a bar packed full of supportive outgoing people, this is surely a unique night out!
Axe throwing range
Throwing a curve ball into the mix, or actually throwing an axe into the mix, may seem like a strange way to spend a Saturday night (I don’t think they’d actually suggest mixing axe throwing and cocktails), however this surely gets your heart racing. Think about mixing Vikings with Lumberjacks (you could even dress like one). The Rage Academy has fun and professional instructors that can awaken your inner warrior and get the adrenaline pumping. They also have laser tag, go carting and bowling in the same location. Visit www.rageacademy.com for more details.
With over 32kms (20 miles) of interconnected tunnels beneath the city of Montreal and around 500,000 people using them daily in winter, there’s got to be some epic things to find down there. Along with shopping malls, museums, universities, banks, hotels and metro stations, head out on a nighttime hunt for the gems like:
Check out the awesome MtlBlog for a guide to the underground art festival: http://www.mtlblog.com/2014/03/10-things-you-need-to-do-at-montreals-underground-city-art-festival/
Underground independent movie theatre
Finely-crafted independent art films, documentaries, film festival breakouts and the occasional box office hit are curated wonderfully here, and rotate weekly: www.facebook.com/cinemaduparc/reviews
Underground boxing rings
Yep, these are real life fight clubs! But they’re certainly are not in the public spectrum of the cities well-known underground tunnels. Standing out front of what looks like an abandoned church a little birdy whispers the secret password that gets you down into the basement where 40 – 50 year old men are boxing… for fun (and probably money). Ooops, just broke the first rule of fight club. Shhhh. This one you’ll have to find the location on your own.
This is the real secret underground and not many people know how to access them. But those that have wound their way down there have captured the eerie and beautiful scenes of life below the city – Check out these stunning photos: http://undermontreal.com/images/underground/ And maybe just keep in mind that these are under your seats and streets as you’re sipping cocktails and slugging beers.
The actually accessible secret caves
This is somewhere you can take your mates and show off that you’ve found one of the most unique things in the middle of the city: caves. Yep, actually put a helmet and headlamp on, don’t hit your head, caves. At the center of Park Pie IX in St-Leonard lies the entrance to the Cavernicole Cave, a historic site that was first discovered in 1812.
Not-so-secret-but-very-awesome bars worth checking out
By now you’ve figured Montreal has some pretty awesome and slightly off beat things to check out, so you’ll want to put these on your list too. How about a Japanese speakeasy, a 70’s time warp disco dance floor, a Mexican video game bar or a Haitian voodoo inspired New Orleans cocktail lounge. You’re in for the strangest pub crawl of your life!
This weekly electronic music festival happens every Sunday in the summer on the grassy slopes of Parc Jean-Drapeau with local and international DJ’s and producers turning one of Montreal’s favorite city parks into a festival, every single weekend! By the time you’ve ticked off the entire list above and reached Piknic Electronik you’ll have hopefully realized the wonderful and eclectic ways Montrealers like to party!
Come join the party! Samesun Montreal is your host in the city center with budget shared hostel rooms and fancy private suites for students, travelers, professionals, and LARPers.