As the air gets brisker and the school year gets busier, it’s tempting to want to stay indoors more often; however, Montreal’s never-ending calendar of fall festivals, events and activities indicate that the city doesn’t stop for anything, and neither should its residents. Here is a list of four fall activities to check off this October.
Montreal Botanical Garden
From Sept. 4 to Nov. 1, the Gardens of Light event at the Jardin Botanique de Montreal provides some much needed color to the increasingly gloomy days. Every year, hundreds of elaborately designed lanterns in various shapes and sizes bring the garden to life. Apart from being an amazing spectacle of colour and light, the event also serves a deeper purpose—to honour the commencement of the Moon Festival, an important tradition in several East Asian countries that celebrates the harvest moon as a symbol of peace, prosperity and family reunion. While the gardens are usually crowded on the weekends, it is an ideal place to relax and connect with nature, right in the middle of the city, among thousands of exotic plants from around the world. It is also convenient to opt for the Space For Life visitors package, which gives access to the Biodome, Insectarium, and Planetarium, making for a holistic and enriching experience combining nature and science.
There’s no better way to celebrate the start of a busy school year than to take one last excursion to one of Quebec’s peaceful orchards. Apple picking usually runs from mid-August to late October, and is definitely worth the short drive out of the city. Apart from stocking up on fresh apples, many orchards offer events and activities to make the experience all the more fulfilling. Whether it’s going on a tractor ride, visiting the petting zoo, or exploring a hay maze, there are several ways to enjoy the rustic charm. Orchards are also perfect for picnics—the scenic locations provide an idyllic setting for an outing with family and friends, and the colours are great for photography. La Ferme Quinn, Le Verger Labonte, and Les Vergers Petits et Fils are just a few of the farms that deliver a unique apple picking experience. For those concerned about transportation, there are many McGill student organizations, such as McGill’s International Students Network, who plan apple picking events and provide transportation.
La Ronde Fright Fest
For many people, October is just a 30-day countdown to Halloween. Some go trick-or-treating, others throw wild parties, but almost everyone gets into the true, spooky spirit of the holiday. At Montreal’s downtown amusement park, La Ronde, Halloween is a month long festival, starting from Oct. 3 and lasting until Nov. 1. As the sun goes down, the park transforms into the set of a scary movie with zombies and vampires roaming the streets and museums, creepy doll houses, and sinister prisons. Visitors can also take a walk through Maison Rouge: Labyrinth of Terror, an all-new attraction this year that guarantees a spine-chilling adventure. Fright Fest 2015 is recommended for those seeking a new and unusual way to celebrate Halloween, and gain an exhilarating, multi-sensory experience.
Festival du nouveau cinema (Montreal International Festival of New Cinema)
The Festival du Nouveau Cinema presents a refreshing amalgamation of film and technology to visitors from Oct. 7 to Oct. 18, featuring films from all corners of the globe. With movies ranging from edgy and tear-jerking to dramatic and inspiring, viewers can be rest assured that they will find something to suit any preference. Cinema aficionados will be especially delighted by the supplementary events that create a heightened experience such as workshops, installations and meetings with filmmakers. Some of the highlights this year are Gaspar Noe’s Love a provocative exploration of physical relationships, and Jaco van Dormael’s equally controversial Le Tout Nouveau Testament about a 10-year-old girl who is God’s daughter and Jesus Christ’s sister. The festival is enhanced by its settings in interesting historical venues like the Hydro Quebec Agora, allowing participants to explore Montreal along the way.