The magic of the holidays in Montréal
A walk along the cobblestone streets to admire the Christmas decorations in Old Montréal is like taking a trip back in time. “It’s like being in Europe!” exclaimed a tourist who had just arrived from Chicago the night before. She’s not the only one enjoying herself. On December 31, the whole area will be one big party. Some 150,000 revellers are expected and the streets will be closed to traffic for the occasion from 7 a.m. December 31 to 7 a.m. January 1.
Notre-Dame Basilica on Place d’Armes offers visitors moments of wonder and contemplation. Before the traditional Christmas Eve mass at 7 p.m., 9:30 p.m. and midnight on December 24, the majestic building will host a Christmas concert by Marc Hervieux on December 20. And every afternoon at 2:30 p.m. from December 27 to 31, head organist Pierre Grandmaison will play the most beautiful Christmas carols.
Just a few steps away, the shop window of Noël Éternel on Rue Notre-Dame is filled with ornaments, wreaths and Christmas village figurines year-round. “Each year, I buy a new ornament,” said Sylvia, who came with her husband, a retiree.
At the big Christmas market in the middle of Place des Arts, small cabins offer gift ideas and the aroma of churros fills the air. Near the churro fryer, a couple warms up with some mulled wine. In her little house, Mrs. Claus chats with a family from Cornwall who are spending a few days in the city. The lighted train runs through the middle of the crowd. In front of the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, a choir sings Christmas carols.
A little further down the road, the Marché Bonsecours is all aglow. On December 31, it will host a large and popular banquet of foods of yesteryear, including pea soup, tourtière, pouding chômeur and sweets for everyone.
On Place Jacques-Cartier, the lighted arches welcome passersby, tourists and revellers. At the nearby Quai Jacques-Cartier, the big New Year’s party will be held on December 31 featuring Mes Aïeux, Garou and Daniel Bélanger.
For the grand finale of Montréal’s 375th anniversary, the Jacques Cartier Bridge will be lit with flamboyant colours at midnight on December 31. From the Quai de l’Horloge and the Quai Jacques-Cartier, ring in the New Year by taking in the show, followed by the traditional fireworks.
In celebration of the New Year, Montréal’s metro will be free all night long from December 31 to January 1.
Grande finale of Montréal's 375th anniversary