I thought we have a lot of festivals in Toronto but then I realized that Montreal has WAY more than we do. The city of Montreal probably receives more visitors because of its many festivals, than any other Canadian city. As with many North American cities, the number of festivals peak in the summer but they happen all year-round in this French city. We had no plans to hit any of the festivals but we found ourselves in the middle of it all, eating candy floss and grabbing meats from Shwartz’ and snapping pictures of things happening around us.
If you’re looking for some festival inspiration be sure to check out the Montreal Tourism site which has plenty of info on all the happenings in the city. During our recent visit to Montreal we stayed at the Hyatt Regency which was centrally located and enabled us to bump into many festivals during our three day stay in the City of Saints. For me, this is one of the charms of the city and what draws most of us back. It’s rare for us to re-visit a city and yet over the past ten years, I’ve been to Montreal at least ten times! Three years ago we took Little Monkey when we enjoyed casually exploring the city and this year we went to checkout Canada’s largest Beer Festival with the kids.
We didn’t have any plans besides hitting up Mondial de la Biere and yet we found ourselves at four festivals! How does that even happen? Only in Montreal, my friends. Only in Montreal! This city is alive with street festivals and delicious food vendors paving the main streets at all hours of the day. We started our stay by watching the Francofolies Music Festival from our bedroom and the kids stayed up late into the night (much to our dismay) rockin’ away. The largest music festival in the French speaking world took place all weekend long across numerous venues and public stages. Ford Canada had sponsored the festivities so we kept seeing cars and mini hockey pop ups that allowed kids to interact at. We walked all over the downtown core and kept bumping into live music which the kids loved. That said, the main events looked rammed and while our hotel room did give us a great view and enabled us to listen to some great acts (and some noisy ones!), do keep in mind that if you have a light sleeper, you may want to stay AWAY from the festivals. Ours enjoyed staying up late and don’t usually go to bed early so it wasn’t a big deal for us.
We also stumbled upon the Eureka! Festival which was a celebration of science. Right by the old port an entire square was dedicated towards engaging kids aged 4 to 15. We saw bubbles being blown, musical instruments being taken apart and plenty of fun. Little Monkey and Baby Boy were a bit young for the activities but they enjoyed running around and watching the other kids.
Having followed the Tourism Montreal’s Instagram account I knew that the 3rd annual Mural Festival taking place during our visit. Over the course of 11 days, artists from 8 countries created 50 pieces that will decorate the many walls down Saint-Laurent Boulevard for the rest of the yeear. Public were able to watch the creations as the artists worked away and the street was closed off for vehicles during our visit. Pedestrians walked the boulevard, watching the installations and on the Saturday evening the street was alive with music, candy floss stations and many happy people. There was a great energy and many families were out and about. I LOVED it!
I’m quite certain that there were more festivals happening during that weekend (there was mention for a Fringe Festival!) but that was all we had time to explore. All the festivals we bumped into were free to enter and because they were outdoors, we were able to easily navigate our stroller through the streets. For me, Montreal’s charm lies in the great food and drink offered and the surprising festivals that greet us on each and every visit.