Although Christmas will be a bit strange this year with the given state of the world and all, it doesn’t mean you can’t find some activities around Montreal to get you in the holiday mood. Despite the strange times, we have managed to compile a list of covid-safe, social-distanced Christmas activities to enjoy in Montreal this year to get you in the holiday spirit.
The Atwater Christmas Market
If you are searching for a unique Christmas present, fresh ingredients for a holiday meal, or a real Christmas tree, look no further than Atwater’s Christmas Market. On top of the normal outdoor market, which is now covered in freshly cut Christmas trees that give off a delicious pine smell, there is a 50-kiosk, lit-up, magical Christmas-only market across the street. To enter the Atwater market, you will need to wear a mask, and you may have to wait in line to access the Christmas market, depending on the time of day.
Follow Santa Claus
If you are looking for a fun activity to keep your family entertained while Christmas shopping downtown, consider joining in on the “Follow Santa Claus” scavenger hunt that is being put on by Montréal centre-Ville. If a store-front game of iSpy, riddle solving, and good ole jolly fun isn’t convincing enough, participants of the challenge will have a chance to win one of many prizes, which add up in value to over $20 000.
Stroll Through Decorated Streets
While you are downtown for a day of Christmas shopping, wait until 17h00 or so when it starts to get dark, to stroll through less crowded streets lined with Montreal’s incredible display of Christmas decorations. Some of our favorite spots are the Old Port, Place des Arts, St Catherine’s Street (and surrounding downtown stores), and of course, the old Ogilvy’s Christmas “moving toys” window display now featured outside of the McCord Museum on Sherbrooke Street.
Christmas in the Park
Christmas in the Park has supported local artists and brought joy to Montrealers’ lives for over 25 years. Even though it can not be hosted in the various Montreal parks this year, you can still tune in virtually this year to keep the tradition alive. Check the event’s website to see the incredible local music lineup set for this year’s online event.
Cut Your Own Christmas Tree
Though quarantine has given us the perfect opportunity to cozy up inside watching holiday movies with a mug of hot chocolate, you will need to leave your house and get some fresh air and exercise at some point this holiday season. Between the smell of fresh pine, the definitely cold and potentially snowy weather, and the rewarding final result, cutting down your own Christmas tree is the perfect socially-distanced activity to enjoy with your family this year. Luckily for us, there are actually many options for farms to cut down your own tree near the city, just make sure to check the websites before you head out to confirm if you need a reservation and ensure they still have trees left.
6. Visit Omega Parc
Just over an hour from downtown Montreal, you can visit a Canadian safari that will make you feel hours away from the city. Between caribous and raindeers to bison and bears, Omega Parc has just about every Canadian animal you could think of, which you can see from the comfort of your vehicle.
7. Go Skating
Although not technically a Christmas activity, if you are looking for a fun, wintery recreation, consider grabbing a pair of skates and heading down to your local outdoor skating rink and being in Montreal, you probably won’t have to go too far since almost every park has one. If you don’t have a pair of skates, head down to the Beaver Lake skating rink or the Bonsecours Basin’s rink, which is actually open on Christmas day, to rent a pair. To finish off the perfect winter day, grab a warm cup of hot chocolate from any of Montreal’s wonderful (and likely holiday-decorated) cafes.
Even though many of Montreal’s Christmas activities have been canceled this year, the city certainly delivered with the magically decorated “Jardins d’Hiver” in Place des Arts. From now until January third, the Quartier des Spectacles will feature an array of beautiful lights, a huge Christmas tree, three Christmas parade floats, and various holiday-themed characters.
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9. The Great Enchanted Tour of Montreal 2020
To encourage Montrealers to support local businesses this winter, Montreal has once again transformed the city into a Christmas wonderland. What the city is calling the “Great Enchanted Tour” includes the “Jardins d’Hivers,” Place Des Arts decorations, Atwater’s authentic Christmas Market, and finally, the (for the first time) decorated Jean-Talon Market. If you happen to be downtown gift shopping, try and hit all of the spots on the “The Great Enchanted Tour of Montreal 2020” to get a full dose of cheery, holiday spirit.
10. Visit Illumi
If you have been having trouble getting into the holiday spirit this year, there is no better way to jump-start that magical Christmas feeling than visiting the Illumi light show. In addition to the large “Illumi” Christmas tree and the “winter wonderland” light exhibit which features an ice castle, there are 16 other awe-inspiring light exhibitions that you can safely visit with a ticket, either within your car or on foot.
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