Montreal is the place to be during the summer—its true beauty and romantic atmosphere simply cannot be captured during the winter months. Whether you are taking summer classes, working a job, or simply enjoying a break from studying, there’s always something exciting for you to do. As a student, the cost of exploring the city can sometimes feel constraining but the good news is it doesn’t have to be! With Montreal’s diverse arts scene and endless parks, it’s hard to be bored and easy to stay on a budget. The McGill Tribune has scoured the city and web and found the most unique–and enjoyable–free events in Montreal to explore this summer while saving money, so you don’t have to.
Happenings of the city
Volunteer for Alive375
Get involved in the excitement of celebrating Montreal’s 375th birthday! Apply online to be a part of the Alive375 anniversary team and get involved in incredible events, such as La Grande Tournée, Montréal Avudo, The Giants, Les arts de la rue, and Montréal Symphonique. Learn more about the events here.
Watch the sky light up
Every summer since 1985, Montreal has been host to the International Firework Competition, the largest fireworks competition in the world. From July 1 to August 5, watch firework shows starting at 10 p.m. for free anywhere from Parc Jean-Drapeau to the Old Port.
Try this in your free time
Stop and smell the roses
Visit the Floralies Gardens at Parc Jean-Drapeau this summer–left over from the 1980 Floralies Internationales horticultural fair, Parc Jean-Drapeau features 25 hectares with mini-botanical gardens and monumental works, part of a free public art exhibit. Make sure to pack yourself a picnic to make a day of your visit!
Bixi around town
There’s no better way to explore the exciting streets of Montreal than on a Bixi bike. Get out and enjoy a free 30-minute ride through the city’s bike paths on the last Sunday of every month all summer long—maybe you’ll stumble upon a new brunch place in a different neighbourhood along the way.
Sing your heart out
On the last Saturday of the month from May to September, bring your favorite duet partner to public open-air karaoke, organized by Héroes de Karaoké. From 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Parc du Portugal on the corner of Boulevard St-Laurent and rue Marie-Anne, this will be the perfect place to let your hair–and guard–down.
Get your heart rate up
If the gym is not your thing, Anytime Fitness Plateau is offering free bootcamp sessions at Parc des Amériques–on the corner of boulevard Saint Laurent and rue Rachel–every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. during the month of May. The parc is a beautiful spot to work out and you’re guaranteed to make some new, albeit sweaty, acquaintances.
Montreal Jazz Festival
Ranked as the world’s largest jazz festival by Guinness World Records, this year’s Montreal Jazz Festival will be hosting over 140 artists from June 29 to July 8 throughout venues downtown! If you’re not up to pay to see the headliners–think Bob Dylan, Anderson Paak, or John Coltrane–the festival offers many free jazz concerts at various locations in Montreal.
Mondial des Jeux
Located in the Quartier des Spectacles, Mondial des Jeux offers a free outdoor game area for people of all ages. From July 15 to 30, head down to the Mondial des Jeux from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends to participate in video games, play board games, and get your heart rate up!
Just For Laughs
Every July, Montreal’s downtown hosts the largest comedy festival in the world, Just For Laughs. With headliners such as Trevor Noah and Ali Wong, this year’s festival is not one to miss. If you’re not up to paying the admission fees to see these and more comics, make sure to celebrity-watch around Places des Arts on rue Sainte Catherine. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, another option is to volunteer for Just For Laughs–save some money, gain some experience, and maybe have a convo or two with a celebrity.
Montreal's MURAL Festival
For the fifth year in a row, Montreal will be hosting the incredible MURAL Festival, going on from June 8 to 18 and featuring artists such as 1010. During this time, a walk down Saint Laurent Boulevard will be met by a plethora of food trucks, clothing vendors, and kiosks, while 20 new muralists such as Ola Volo and Mono Sourcil add their artworks to the existing 50 on the boulevard.