Exams are close on the horizon; and before you know it, they’ll merely be a painful memory. With the long-awaited end of Winter semester, some of you might be homesick and itching to get back to your family and friends. Others might be shackled to school for another month (or two), earning some summer credits. Still others might be hanging around a little longer to finalize living arrangements for next year. Finally, there are some of us who live in this city year round. Whatever your situation, having chosen to attend McGill, you should commit at least one summer to discovering the exciting summer life Montreal has to offer.
Montreal is beautiful in the summer. Needless to say, the weather is categorically different from what you’ve gone through in the past few months. With humidity, temperatures in Montreal range from 25 to 40 degrees Celsius. Also, the city’s apparent population doubles. By about April—current, unpredictable weather aside—the drudgery of snow and gray skies are replaced by warmth and equally warm people. Montrealers seem to crawl out of hibernation and fill the streets, alongside tourists who come in droves. You’ll see a lot more people than you’re used to while walking along major streets and relaxing in parks. Montrealers are a friendly bunch, and you’re bound to meet new people if you give it a try.
In addition to the relaxation, there is also a lot to do here. Montreal attracts a considerable amount of tourism around the summer months for a number of reasons, among them: the festivals. This city is home to the largest Jazz festival in the world. Even if you’re not an enthusiast, Place des Arts is spectacular when JazzFest rolls around, it is not to be missed. In years past, a number of major artists have put on free shows in the Quartier des Spectacles; and based on personal experience, they are a must-see. This summer you can look forward to more than 450 free outdoor performances as part of the JazzFest. Other major festivals include Just For Laughs, the Fantasia Film Festival, Osheaga, and the Montreal International Fireworks Competition, the largest of its kind. Did you know there are fireworks displays in Montreal at least once a week from the middle of June to the beginning of August? Now you do.
Only minutes away from campus, Mount Royal park is a great place to spend any and all of your free time this summer. Every Sunday a drum circle forms around the George-Étienne Cartier Monument, a tradition called Tam-Tams that dates back to 1978. If you haven’t seen it already, you should find time to experience this staple of Montreal culture. On any given day you’ll find thousands of people on either side of Avenue du Parc. It’s a great place to catch some rays, hang out with friends or read a book. Fun fact: In Quebec, alcohol can be consumed in parks if it’s part of a meal. Picnic away, my friends.
If you’re looking to get some exercise, you’ve got your pick of outdoor activities. You can go virtually anywhere in the city by using the city’s extensive bike paths. You can also bike, blade, or walk along the St. Lawrence river by the Old Port. For joggers, Mount Royal is a great place to go for a run, and don’t worry about getting too hot—the trail is covered by a thick layer of trees. Also, the McGill recreational facility remains open all summer, and memberships are offered at a special rate.
You also might want to find a job in Montreal. Universities offer many work opportunities for students over the summer. If you’re lucky you can find an administrative or research position on campus. McGill also hosts a number of summer camps for children, and they are staffed by McGill students; if you’re looking for a fun summer job, look no further. Otherwise, a lot of businesses are looking to hire students over the summer, although for jobs outside McGill, French language skills tend to be a requirement. If you’re feeling confident with your French, however, you might want to apply to work at a restaurant, which tend to get really busy when tourists come around.
You’re at McGill, so that must mean you know Montreal’s got a nightlife. Many McGillians leave in May, but the nightlife only gets better from there. Think about it—school’s out, and it’s nice and warm outside; what’s bound to happen? You’ll find everything from a busy club scene, open-air bars, and parties on the roof when the sun sets over the city.
Finally, for the sports fans, the Montreal Impact hosts games at the Saputo Stadium all summer long. Recently promoted to Major League Soccer (MLS) the Impact is currently near the top of the standings. Tickets are relatively inexpensive, and the ambiance at the Saputo is great, with or without alcohol. If you prefer football, starting in June, the Montreal Alouettes play in our very own Percival Molson Stadium, though it’ll cost you a little bit more than a Redmen game to get in.
Summer’s almost here, so whether you’re making a plan to fill your schedule with local activities, or find yourself looking for a bit of excitement one dull afternoon, keep these tips in mind for a truly Montreal experience.