October 18, 2013 — Sizzling with festivals and festivities on almost every street corner, Montréal summers serve up many flavours of fun. But Montréal did not make Lonely Planet’s list of the “happiest places on earth” based on fun in the sun alone. Montréal’s renowned festivals and nightlife, as well as its world-class restaurants, shopping and shows, make it an ideal spot for a Christmas holiday or a New Year’s Eve celebration with friends.
Celebrate good times
After snagging a souvenir bauble, revel in the festivities of Merry Montréal, Old Montréal’s holiday festival. Gaze at the breathtaking fireworks blazing up the sky at Telus Fire on Ice and enjoy the magical activities, street entertainment and wandering carolers. Taking place every Saturday night from December 14 to January 4, Telus’ Fire on Ice is a musical fireworks display that lights up the winter sky over the historic Old Port. With fireworks, a countdown, and music for dancing under the stars, Old Montréal is also a great place to ring in the new year.
When you’re ready to warm up, head over to the Balcon Cabaret Music-Hall and dance. Soul, Motown, Disco and Pop music are featured in the holiday special, which runs from November 23 to December 21 and includes dinner and a show. In addition to a soul-flavoured New Year’s Eve celebration, the Cabaret a ‘60s pop night on December 30th to get the festivities started early.
Numerous Montréal bars, restaurants and hotels have specials to help guests celebrate the New Year. Consult the Tourisme Montréal blog for recommendations.
Eat, drink, and be merry
As Christmas approaches, Montréal’s restaurants brim with holiday cheer. Those in Old Montréal offer “La Grande Tablée des Fêtes,” a holiday dinner menu that gives you more than a taste of the city’s flair for food—at a fixed price. Restaurants in the city’s Old Port also benefit from the historic character of the place: the warmth of real wood fires and old stone chimneys will make you want to linger over your meal just a little longer.
Of Montréal’s restaurants, one is especially appealing for a Christmas or New Year’s celebration because of its bubbly name: the Champagnerie. Thursdays through Saturdays starting at 7pm, a live DJ helps to set the mood in this chic urban tavern. Oysters, ribs, salmon tartar, and creative cocktails are all on the menu, which also features specials for groups and tasting plates.
Fun in your free time
If Montréal’s night-life doesn’t get the best of you, head out in your free time to take in the other sides of the city. A tour with Guidatour will reveal the secrets of Christmas in Old Montréal from the past to the present. Explore the museums, including the exhibition devoted to the Beatles at Pointe-à-Callière. Or take in a circus show—an experience that is quintessentially Montréal. Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai will be performed at the Bell Centre and Les 7 doigts de la main will have performances of Traces at TOHU throughout the holiday season.