Get us in your inbox

Cercle polaire
Photograph: JF Savaria

Where to see Christmas lights in Montreal

If you like to catch the city lit up, use this guide to find out where to see the best Christmas lights in Montreal this winter

Written by
JP Karwacki
Kaitlyn McInnis
Isa Tousignant

Montreal lights up the city for the wintertime holidays — especially in the downtown core — and this is your essential guide. The city transforms into a festive place with glittering decorations around every corner, and it makes for one of the best things to do on Christmas. So bundle up and for a stroll after a full dinner at one of the city’s stellar new restaurants, and enjoy some dazzling discoveries that rival our favourite Montreal attractions.

Full guide to the best things to do in Montreal right now
Montreal Santa Claus Parade 2023: Guide, Route and Street Closures
Best Montreal Christmas markets to enjoy this holiday season

Where to see Christmas lights in Montreal

Place des Festivals transforms into a true winter wonderland starting in November, and unlike most spots on our list, it keeps the Luminothérapie light installations going well into the frostier half of spring. Head to the Christmas Market which stays open from early November through to Christmas Eve and make sure to pencil in a second trip after the holidays; that’s when the Esplanade Tranquille transforms into an illuminated playground designed to give a pulse of warmth to the winter’s short days and dark nights.

Notre-Dame Basilica
Photograph: Susan Moss

3. Notre-Dame Basilica

Old Montreal is an especially magical spot in the wintertime. For one, there are significantly less tourists blocking the sidewalks, and strolling through the empty streets with the Notre-Dame Basilica lit up against the dark, snowy skyline feels exactly like stepping into a feel-good holiday movie. The best light show awaits inside, of course—Aura is a spectacle by the local stage show kings Moment Factory that truly brings the basilica to life.

Place Ville Marie Ring
Photograph: JF Savaria

4. Place Ville Marie Ring

The Polar Circle is an art installation at the base of the Place Ville Marie Ring. Developed in collaboration with Cree artist Jason Carter and M.A.D. collective, this project draws inspiration from the aesthetics of the First Nations and brings the Polar Circle to life in downtown Montreal. As part of the M.A.D. Odyssey, this collaborative effort conveys a message that celebrates the beauty and richness of our environment and indigenous cultures. It involves the creation of three majestic polar bears and eight giant penguins, offering a tribute to Quebec's Nordic nature. The exhibition also aims to raise awareness around climate change.

Dorchester Square

5. Dorchester Square

A popular spot for office workers to lunch in the summertime, Dorchester Square turns into a glistening wonderland come winter. It’s not over-the-top or overly Christmas-themed, but the sparkling lights set against the trees and surrounding high-rises make for a very romantic Montreal park stroll.

Saint-Catherine Street West
Photograph: Marie Deschene / Tourisme Montréal

6. Saint-Catherine Street West

Not everybody likes the hustle of Christmas shopping, but strolling through the lit-up shops and sights on Sainte-Catherine will put even the biggest Grinch in a festive mood. The gleaming shopfronts and pretty decorations overhead will make you whip out your credit card before you even think about it. If it’s chilly, the underground city is bustling and bright too

Complexe Desjardins
Photograph: Eva Blue

7. Complexe Desjardins

Complexe Desjardins is a popular Downtown Montreal commuter mall to get from the green line to the orange line, but the central fountain is worth stopping for—especially during the Holidays, when it becomes the centrepiece in the highly decorated Santa’s village (complete with live sightings of the man himself). Time your visit with the Vegas-worthy light show: the brightly lit Fontaine Boréale jets high into the air as syncopated lights throughout the mall pulse to the beat of classic Christmas tunes.

Centre Eaton
Photograph: Time Out Market Montréal

8. Centre Eaton

Want to see the city lit up without bracing the cold? Head underground and make your way to the Centre Eaton. Alongside the shops and food court—including Time Out Market Montréal—you’ll find a sprawling, interactive Christmas tree with sparkling Christmas lights running through along all five floors.

Château Ramezay
Photograph: Michel Pinault

9. Château Ramezay

For a particularly mesmerizing experience, make your way to Château Ramezay, one of the best things to do in Old Montreal. The historic house and museum dates back to the 18th century, but really glistens in the wintertime when the entire property is decked out in Christmas lights. The Château also offers baking workshops and various holiday-themed activities for families.

 Place Jacques-Cartier
Photograph: Tourisme Montréal, Stéphan Poulin

10.  Place Jacques-Cartier

Old Montreal pulls out all the stops during the Holidays, and though this epicentre of the neighbourhood may be famously touristy, it’s still goddarn pretty this time of year. Follow the illuminated arches that line the streets and indulge in Place Jacques-Cartier’s twinkly twee-ness—you can warm up by one of the open fires, taste maple taffy, buy yourself a wreath or just gaze out at the St. Lawrence River as you cook up your last gift ideas.

McCord Stewart Museum
Photograph: Marilyn Aitken | McCord Stewart Museum

11. McCord Stewart Museum

This downtown history museum holds many treasures, including the famous Ogilvy Christmas window displays, donated when the tawny department store changed hands a few years ago. The warm glow of the mechanised animal scenes enchanted kids since 1947, and still does in its new home from late November to early January.

Village illuminé Desjardins
Photograph: Le Village Québécois d’Antan /

13. Village illuminé Desjardins

It's become an annual tradition for lots of Montrealers to trek out to Drummondville to see this traditional style village, decorated to the nines. Picture the North Pole, Quebec style. There’s lots to see and do onsite, from pretty illuminated houses to a Christmas market, snowball fights,giant slide, ice skating, toy-making workshops and lots of seasonal eats to nosh on.

More of the best things to do around Christmas in Montreal

    You may also like
    You may also like