6 Reasons to Winter in Montréal
Winter lovers know aaaall about the joys of wintertime in Montréal. But did you know it’s the perfect spot for winter business meet-ups as well? Even without time to explore the ski trails around the city or luge with the kids on Parc Jean-Drapeau, there are winter adventures and rich cultural offerings happening right downstairs from your hotel that only require an hour or two of free time. Business and pleasure – combined.
1) Two words: Old Montréal
What makes Montréal different from the whole rest of Canada? Old Montréal. This neighbourhood on the shores of the St. Lawrence River is dripping with history and European charm, with most of its architecture unchanged since the 1700s and yet amazing amenities at every turn. From fine dining to only-here designer shopping, this is the ideal spot to kill a break between meetings. Book a walking tour with Spade & Palacio and explore the most ornately decorated Basilica in the province, as well as cobblestone streets, lit-up historic squares and the Old Port – the sites for a skating rink, fireworks and outdoor dance parties during winter.
2) The majestic mountain
Montréal’s pride and joy, Mount Royal is a beautiful snow-blanketed bump at the heart of the city was landscaped by Frederick Law Olmstead, of Central Park fame, and is animated with loving attention by Les Amis de la Montagne four seasons a year so every Montrealer, resident or temporary, can fully take advantage of its natural bounty. Think snowshoe adventures, cross-country ski trails, winter hikes, skating on a twinkly pond, three restaurants and a warm Chalet at the top to cradle a steaming cup of hot chocolate. Book an activity with Fitz & Follwell and you can even rent additional gear like beanies, mittens, boots and parkas!
3) Incredible festivals
The city of festivals is true to its name: there isn’t a season in the year that isn’t animated with street happenings, light shows, feasts and fun. At the end of February and into March, Montréal en lumière is one of the largest winter festivals in the world, with a unique program that combines performing arts with gastronomy (outdoor ice slides, Ferris wheel and illuminated art included), plus a full night of exquisitely original discoveries during Nuit Blanche, where cultural spaces around the downtown core stay open all night to offer thousands of visitors outlandish free programming. This concept is so popular, it’s begun spreading into other cities across Canada.
4) Fine food for days
If there’s something Quebec knows through-and-through, it’s joie de vivre! In terms of dining that translates into a rich restaurant scene with everything from elevated comfort foods to meat-loving decadence (here’s looking at you, Au Pied de Cochon) to fine French dining experiences and flavours from around the globe. Aside from the slew of special food events, the hotbeds of amazing choices every day of the year surround all major hotels, from downtown to Old Montréal, while other popular hoods like the Plateau Mont-Royal, Little Burgundy, Little Italy and Mile End are accessible within a 10-minute cab ride.
5) Jaw-dropping views
Mount Royal, the Olympic Stadium, the lookout at Place Ville-Marie… the vantage points to see Montréal’s splendour are plentiful, but La Grande roue de Montréal offers truly the most unique experience so far. Ride the highest observation wheel in Canada right in the heart of Montréal’s Old Port, 60 meters above ground at its highest. Located between the city and the river, this brand-new attraction on Île Bonsecours runs year-round, whatever the weather, from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. thanks to heated gondolas. Book for your group and treat yourself to panoramic views of the city, the St. Lawrence River, and, on occasion, fireworks displays.
6) The underground scene (literally)
Montréal’s famous Underground City is the world’s largest underground complex, making the perfect setting for a warm and comfortable time on those days when winter is just too wintry. And did we mention it links to 4,000 hotel rooms and several metro stations? Discover its shopping options solo, get a guided tour or to add a little adventure, sign your group up for the JPdL International Underground City challenge: Armed with maps, a series of questions and their own common sense, teams race through this maze and travel to different locations to correctly answer as many questions as possible.