Why Montreal is the Best Summer City
What does your city do best? Some cities might pride themselves on their food, their architecture or their local sports team. When it comes to Montreal, I could easily make an argument for any of those subjects but in fact there is something else that really sets this city apart and that no other city can come close to. In this town, we do summer better than anywhere else. So here I submit the best things to do in Montreal in summer!
Montreal has a summertime energy that is hard to describe. Electric, contagious, euphoric… These are all good words but they’re only the tip of the iceberg. Be in wonder of the varied and energetic nightlife scene. Hedonistic. Turn any corner and be wowed by an impromptu festival. Enchanting. Stroll through a park and be astonished by the lush beauty. Beguiling. Allow yourself to be mesmerized by the casual and safe atmosphere that reigns in the streets. Seductive. You almost can’t escape the feeling that summer was made for this city and that this city was made for summer. One thing is for sure, you have not experienced a true summer until you’ve experienced one in Montreal. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
The best way to see Montreal, by far, is on two wheels. You need to get on a bike and check out the carefully crafted Fitz Tours that will connect you with the city like no other experience. First of all, the expert guides are a wonderful wealth of information and you can also cover much more ground than on foot so you’re sure to get a great understanding of what Montreal is all about. Above all, you’ll see why Montreal is often considered the best cycling city on the continent. Innovative!
Visit the Gay Village and Montreal Pride
Just prance down rue Sainte-Catherine in the village, under the shadow of the amazing art installation aptly titled 18 Shades of Gay and you’ll feel the love. Lined with artworks, this area turns into a pedestrian zone for the summer months so that you can enjoy it to its full potential. This city is a place of acceptance that celebrates diversity and inclusion. For 10 days in August, the city showcases this pride by putting on the largest gathering of the sexual and gender diversity communities in the French-speaking world. The Montreal Pride events calendar is as varied as the communities it showcases in the end it all gets capped off with a massive parade. C’est fabuleux!
Stroll down a Green Alleyway
Something amazing is happening to the alleyways of Montreal. These little streets giving onto the intimate back yards of our homes are going green. While the frontal main streets have long been lined with trees, the alleyways were in desperate need of some love and greenery. Enter the idea of turning them into little garden oases. This brilliant idea is often built and maintained by the surrounding neighbours, though it is funded by the city. The recipe of mixing a community of neighbours with a common goal is a perfect summer cocktail. Although plentiful, these alleys are scattered throughout the city, it might be a good idea to have a guide bring you to the nicest ones. The Fitz Hoods & Hidden Gems Bike Tours will bring you there and give you the full immersion into Montreal’s local lifestyle. Delightful!
Check out some Street Art
Montreal is an untamed artist’s mecca. One of the most creative things to do in Montreal in summer is to check out the 11 day long and wildly popular Mural festival, dedicated to urban art in all its forms. Every month of June, the festival stretches along the true spine of the city, Boulevard Saint-Laurent. As the sun sets, festival turns into a massive party as artists and their admirers come together to turn the city walls into monumental works of art. You want music? They’ve got that, from big names to small local faves. You’ll probably want some food, right? They’ve got that too because nothing matters in this town unless there’s food to be had. And due to its reputation as one of the best gatherings of its kind in the world, it’s almost too kewl. The best part is that you can visit all these murals outside the scope of the festival, whenever you decide to visit the city! You can also have an expert show you the most impressive ones by going on a Street Art Tour.
If you like pretty things that go boom in the night, you’ll want to put this on your list. The international fireworks competition during the month of July lights up the city sky every summer by showcasing the best fireworks displays from around the world. Different countries compete for the title as they show off their pyrotechnical talents for the discerning Montreal crowds. People line the waterfront and take over the majestic Jacques Cartier bridge that closes to car traffic so that the people can have the best seat in the house. Hypnotizing!
Go see a show at the Quartier des Spectacles (Festival Quarter)
In this little neighbourhood you will find the highest concentration of arts and culture in Canada. Over 80 cultural institutions and performance spaces are identified with symbolic red lights (which are a nod to the hood’s seedier days). Likewise, the streets themselves are full of entertainment. First of all, the Montreal International Jazz Festival (the world’s biggest) and then another festival, the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival (also the world’s biggest) both fill the streets with free outdoor shows. The list of back to back and often simultaneous happenings in this neighbourhood is probably too long to mention here. As a result, Montreal has earned the title of world capital of festivals. But above all, this part of town will be a revelation that will leave you wondering why other cities don’t come close to being as entertaining as Montreal. Flabbergasted!
Hand out at a Pop Up Space
Pop up shops are so 10 years ago. In contrast, setting up temporary public spaces is forward thinking. It takes a pop up village like Au Pied du Courant (At the Foot of the Current) to make you understand how important community, the arts and experimentation are to a city. Like an open air lab, it makes you re-imagine how we use public spaces. Consequently, it seems like everybody who visits this space leaves inspired. Hopefully, as a result, the city at large will benefit. This is one of the funnest things to do in Montreal in summer! Les Terrasses Roy is another great example of reimagining public space. It turned a regular street into an inviting and inclusive space where community is formed around urban agriculture. Inspiring!
It’s a little bit inspiring, a little bit insane and a whole lot of amazing. Maybe it’s because of the long winters. Or maybe it’s due to the cosmopolitain mixing of cultures. It’s almost certainly also because of the locals’ love of life. Who can say for sure what brings out the summertime energy in Montreal. Exuberant! Vibrant! Creative! One thing, though, is for sure… No other city does Summer better.