Montreal Bucket List: 7 ultimate winter experiences you have to try!
Don’t like winter? Thoughts of snow and ice make you want to run for the sun? It’s time for a paradigm shift and Montreal’s winter festivities is just what you need to change all that! Embrace it! Experience it! Love it! Welcome to winter. Welcome to Montreal.
When I think of Montreal, I think of summer festivals, the Montreal Expos (childhood memories of trips into the city for baseball and people watching on Rue St Catherine) and bike racing. I have spent more time racing my bicycle in the outlying towns of Montreal with early mornings spent driving across the city to get to the start line than anything else. Sure, we have made the occasional trip to the Marché Jean Talon (fresh food market, gourmet Italian luxuries and traditional french Canadian delicacies at the Marché des Saveurs) for a day out or stop for lunch, but all too often, we drive by! With a top 10 listing in Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Cities to Visit in 2013, I can see I have been missing out.
So…what do you do when the mercury plummets? Go underground to Montreal’s Underground City and shopping district (officially known as Le RÉSO or La Ville Souterraine). Shop the many unique boutiques in town? Cozy up with cocktails or hit the town for a night of dancing at one of the many spectacular nightclubs? What about staring Jack Frost down, snow suiting up and embrace the sub-zero nightlife that has made it’s mark on Montreal?
Embracing Montreal’s Unique Winter Bucket List
Snow Village – what can I say…sleeping in an ice hotel has been on my bucket list forever! When I found out Montreal now has, not only an ice hotel, but the whole enchilada with a full ice themed village, I knew I had to check it out. This is a limited time offer as the hotel melts away every year and has to be rebuilt from scratch for the next season. They also have the Pommery Ice Restaurant to complete this unique package. Like the hotel, it is made completely out of snow and ice. Each year is themed after a different city and 2013 is the year of New York. Check out the amazing packages with the InterContinental Hotel - they are the privileged partner to the snow village! What are you waiting for? This is your chance to spend a night in the ultimate snow fort! (Read my review here: The Night I Slept in an Ice Hotel)
IglooFest – the only music festival of its kind in North America – join thousands as they rock the snow suit with live music over 12 unforgettable nights. The dance party that is IglooFest has been described as an otherwordly spacial experience and is the only one of its kind in North America. With over 70,000 visitors in 2012, the organizers have added another weekend to this sub zero winter festival for 12 incomparable nights. But you don’t have to take my word for it….check out the YouTube video at the bottom of the post….another truly unique Montreal experience! (Read my review: Lights, Camera, Dance: IglooFest)
Mount Royal Park – the jewel of Montreal, Mount Royal Park is a 200+ hectare green space with a view. Popular with the locals all seasons of the year, Parc Mount Royal offers plenty of activities for all ages. Whether you want to build up an appetite or tire the kids out with some traditional winter time activities, Mount Royal Park will let you embrace winter in all her glory! For something special…why not try a night time snow shoe by the lights of the city below!
Horse Drawn Caleche (carriage) - Talk about your old world charm….wouldn’t it be romantic to take a horse drawn carriage through the streets of Old Montreal. It’s like stepping back in time, to the bygone era when the clipity clop of the horses hooves rang out in the old port town. Wrap yourself in a blanket and enjoy a slower pace to life. How romantic.
Bota Bota – I have luxuriated in the Scandinavian Spa (le Nordik) near Ottawa on a number of occasions and can safely say – I am a HUGE fan of the Scandinavian inspired experience. When I started to read about Bota Bota, I quickly saw that they offer a unique twist to their spa experience. Enjoy the energizing properties of the water circuit while, at the same time, being lulled by the natural movements of the St Lawrence River. Bota Bota is in fact an old ferry boat that has found new life as a little bit of luxury at Montreal’s Old Port. The perfect way to end a winter themed holiday. (Read my review: Bota Bota Scandinavian Spa sur l’eau)
Ice Fishing - to be honest, I am no fisherman! I missed my chance in Antigua when my friends spent the afternoon Deep Sea Fishing. They came back with crazy stories from the day and grinned from ear to ear all night, proudly sharing their catch of the day with everyone who didn’t go out on the boat (we can thank the resort chef for cooking their catch- very tasty). When I heard that Pêche Blanche in Old Montreal was expecting somewhere in the vicinity of 30,000 fishermen in the 12 week season, I figured I had better check it out! There are 30 heated shelters and all the equipment you need to experience ice fishing in Montreal – a true nordic experience. Good thing – all levels of fishermen are welcome. It has been a while since I last held a fishing rod. (Read my review here: Ice Fishing Minutes from Old Montreal)
Poutine Week - Feb 1 – 7 – leave it to Montreal to create a week dedicated to one of Quebec’s signature dishes – poutine! Word on the street – 30 restaurants are involved taking this humble Quebec institution to the next level! The race is on for who can make the Top 5 Poutine Makers leader board and which restaurant will win the ultimate glory…Best Poutine in Montreal! This is Montreal’s inaugural Poutine Week. If you are in town – you know you have to try it. It is the quintessential Quebec snack. And to make it even better, a portion of Poutine Week’s sales will go towards the Montreal Canadiens Children Foundation.
So many people shudder when they think of winter. I have to say…I love the Montreal attitude…they get out there and kick winter’s butt! Want to embrace winter – let’s have a party!
- Montreal’s InterContinental Hotel: Hotel Review
- Postcard from the Montreal Bucket List
- Montreal – the most romantic city in North America