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Montréal Botanical Garden – Space for Life / Jardin botanique de Montréal – Espace pour la vie
Photograph: © Claude Bordeleau

Best things to do on Boxing Day in Montreal

Sure, there’s lots of shopping, but the best things to do on Boxing Day in Montreal go way beyond that

Isa Tousignant
Written by
Amie Watson
Isa Tousignant

UPDATE, winter 2022: From classic Boxing Day sales to fried chicken and bubble waffles—two things that should probably always go together—to a rock show that city’s best music venues, a flower-filled greenhouse and some of the city’s best speakeasies and cocktail bars, your Boxing Day will be stacked with activites. If you want to get out and about, there’s skiing in Montreal and ice skating to get in on as well.

Full guide to Christmas in Montreal

The best things to do on Boxing Day in Montreal

Shop Boxing Day sales
Stéphan Poulin

1. Shop Boxing Day sales

Remember how you didn’t buy that dress/television/game/gadget you wanted on Black Friday? Now’s your second chance, because Boxing Day (or week) sales can be the best discounts of the year. Montreal’s major shopping centres including the Eaton Centre, Place Montreal Trust and the entire underground path between them, as well as the Rockland Centre, Place Alexis Nihon and the Marché Central with its big box outlet shops; all of them are open. If you’re willing to travel a bit further, there’s Quartier DIX30 and Carrefour Laval as well. People still camp out for discounted high-price items, so if you want that new tablet before they run out, get caffeinated and get out there.

Go skating at Parc Lafontaine
Photograph: Alison Slattery

2. Go skating at Parc Lafontaine

Skating is always free at Parc Lafontaine, but rentals cost $10, a luge costs $8 and you can even rent a skating walker for the kids for $4. Forgot your hat, mittens or foot warmers? You can buy those on-site, too. The rink is open from 10:30am to 8pm  from Monday to Friday and 10am to 8pm on weekends. Check the website to keep track of opening dates in the early and late season and to find out about the condition of the natural ice on the day that you plan to go. If it isn’t open on a particular day, check out the many other options on our guide to ice skating in Montreal.

Eat your way across "Chinatown West"
Photograph: Hot Star - Large Fried Chicken / @HotStarLargeFriedChicken

3. Eat your way across "Chinatown West"

If you followed the Time Out guide for things to do on Christmas in Montreal, you might already have slurped noodles or dumplings in the best restaurants in Chinatown, but you probably didn’t check out Chinatown West near the Guy-Concordia metro station in the student-friendly Shaughnessy Village. Thanks to Concordia University’s large Asian student body hungry for authentic eats, the area has some of the most delicious Korean, Taiwanese and regional Chinese eats in the city: Option include—but are far from limited to—longstanding favourites like Aunt Dai with sweet and spicy eggplant and cumin beef to Taiwanese fried chicken at Hot Star, Korean barbecue at Sam Cha, Hong Kong bubble waffles at Zoe Dessert and milky bubble tea at Presotea. If any of them are closed, you’ll find another for just as cheap and just as delicious just down the street. Look for lines and steamed windows.

Catch a movie
Photograph: Krists Luhaers

4. Catch a movie

Faced with another seemingly endless day of talking with your family? Offer up the plan to join the crowds heading to the latest big budget film in IMAX or 3D at downtown Montreal’s two largest English language movie theatres instead, either at the Scotiabank Cinema or the Cineplex Forum, or the Quartier Latin Cinema for French films. Buy your tickets online in advance to make sure you get seats. It turns out that lots of people dislike talking to their families as much as you.

A visit to the Botanical Garden
Photograph: © Claude Bordeleau

5. A visit to the Botanical Garden

The 10 indoor greenhouses of the Botanical Garden are open year-round. They include a fern greenhouse an arid regions greenhouse full of cacti and succulents (ingenious things), as well as an orchids and aroids garden. And if you want to learn about the things that eat the plants you spent all afternoon surrounded by, stop into the newly renovated Insectarium, next door—the kids will love all the creepy crawlies.

Explore Mont-Tremblant
Photograph: Courtesy Tremblant

6. Explore Mont-Tremblant

The most famous ski destination in Quebec, Mont-Tremblant has 78.4 km of ski slopes with 95 runs, 1164 snow cannons and 18 acres of ramps, rails and jumps. It’s one of our favourite spots when looking for skiing in Montreal. With a good mix of easy, moderate and difficult runs, it’s got something for everyone, including great après-ski options in the Mont-Tremblant village.

Warm up in microclimates at the Biodome
Photograph: Commission canadienne du tourisme

7. Warm up in microclimates at the Biodome

When the weather outside is frightful, there’s no better place to be than the tropical rainforest at the Biodome. The state-of-the-art facility lets you walk through four microclimates complete with more than 4,500 animals and 500 plant species. Snow will be the furthest thing from your mind – at least until you walk through the Subpolar Regions of the Americas room. Don’t worry, the ice is behind glass walls, so you’ll stay warm while watching those awfully cute penguins. It’s one of the best things to do in Montreal, hands down.

Visit the Science Centre
Photograph: Freddy Arciniegas | Montreal Science Centre

8. Visit the Science Centre

With interactive exhibits and an educational IMAX theatre, the Science Centre is an awe-inspiring destination for all ages on Boxing Day. Whether you’re learning about volcanoes or blasting off into outer space, you’ll be plenty entertained. There are separate tickets for IMAX films and museum admission. Word to the wise: Two IMAX films here cost less than a single ticket to an IMAX feature at the Scotiabank theatre downtown. Education and savings, now that’s a Boxing Day sale!

Hit up some local markets
Photograph: Alison Slattery

9. Hit up some local markets

Jean-Talon Market and Atwater Market, Montreal’s two largest public farmers markets, are both open on Boxing Day and easily accessible by metro (Jean-Talon metro and Lionel-Groulx metro, respectively). Whether you’re grabbing some local ales from the downstairs Quebec beer room of the Fromagerie Atwater, picking up some carrots or curry powder for your turkey leftovers plans, or buying a crunchy-crusted homestyle apple pie to bring to your family’s Boxing Day party—it could be a thing!—these markets have you covered.

Winter-themed cocktails at Coldroom and Miracle Montreal
Photograph: Alison Slattery | Two Food Photographers | Tourisme Montréal

10. Winter-themed cocktails at Coldroom and Miracle Montreal

Montrealers love cozy nooks and tasty beverages. When those two things come together, it’s a Christmas miracle (or in this case, a Boxing Day miracle)! At the Old Montreal bar Coldroom, some of the city’s best bartenders will be on hand to make you cheeky seasonal creations with plenty of eggnog, buttered rum and nutmeg-spiked Falernum. The speakeasy bar is also responsible for Miracle Montreal, a holiday popup with its own special menu of drinks and food.

Order a Winter Margarita at N Sur Mackay
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/N Sur Mackay

11. Order a Winter Margarita at N Sur Mackay

Holiday drinks aren’t all about mulled wine or hot chocolate, though they’ve got those here too. What’s rocking our world these days is the Winter Margarita, though, at Shaughnessy Village cocktail bar N Sur Mackay. The vintage décor makes for lots of dark corners to snuggle up in while the welcoming bar is the perfect place to make a new Boxing Day friend, all while your exceptional bartender adds that coconutty touch to this sunny cocktail punched up with rosemary and lime. A winter getaway in a glass.

Read a book in a warm café
Photograph: Le Dépanneur Café / @depcafelive

12. Read a book in a warm café

While major coffee chains will be open, you could also head to more interesting neighbourhood-based cafés with the best coffee in Montreal. One of our favourites is the bohemian Depanneur Café in the Mile End, where there’s a natural wines menu alongside the coffee, not to mention delectable eats. If yesterday’s feasting still left you with room, try a breakfast sandwich marrying Swiss cheese with egg, mortadella, arugula and marinated jalapeños.

Warm up from on high on the Grande Roue
Photograph: Courtesy Eric Bouchard

14. Warm up from on high on the Grande Roue

Combine a leisurely stroll through the Old Port—or a skating session complete with disco music—with a toasty 20 minute tour in one of the heated cabins of La Grande Roue de Montréal. Each cabin fits up to 8, so you can bring family members—if you so choose. Pick cabin 42 for an extra luxe experience with leather seats and a glass floor, giving you even MORE of a 360° view of the city.

Stroll up the mountain
Photograph: Michael Descharles / Unsplash

15. Stroll up the mountain

Get out and get moving a little after yesterday’s festivities on the city’s largest playground. Mount Royal has got tobogganing, skating, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails, but it’s also great on foot at a leisurely pace. Stop into the Belvédère at the lookout for a hot chocolate, or better yet, bring your own thermos.

Keep the party alive in the streets
Photograph: Merry Montreal

16. Keep the party alive in the streets

Still got the fire in ya? Head downtown, where Montréal en Fêtes is keeping things festive all the way to New Year’s Eve. Pick one of the 3 free outdoor sites—Place Jacques-Cartier, Dorchester Square or Square Victoria—and find free live music, entertainment, fire pits, hot beverages and lots of family fun.

See the lights at the Notre-Dame Basilica
Photograph: Moment Factory

17. See the lights at the Notre-Dame Basilica

Close off the twinkly lights season in style with a mesmerising light show by the immersive experience kings, Moment Factory. Their show at the Notre-Dame Basilica, AURA, gives drama, suspense, awe and beauty in the form of coloured light mixed with organ music and timeless architecture, all within the city’s most visited attraction ever.

More of the best things to do around Christmas in Montreal

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