You know what makes summer so amazing in Montreal? No, not the beautiful weather, and no, it's not the fact that you can legally drink and chill in the park. Yes, those are amazing features of the season, but what truly makes summer exceptional are all the festivals.
But really, it's all of the free events that are a part of said festivals that make summer truly amazing. I mean, where else can you have fun all summer long and not have to spend a cent? Exactly, nowhere but here.
So to prepare you for the summer season, and to keep your wallet nice and hefty, we've compiled next to all of the annual festivals which will cost you zero dollars. Some are only hosting free events, others are completely gratis, but all are going to be worth checking out.
1. Festival Accès Asie
Celebrating the art, history, and culture of Asian peoples, Festival Accès Asie hosts an array of free exhibitions and performances for you to check out.
2. Shakespeare In The Park
Bringing classic theatre to the sunny outdoors, this year's production of Shakespeare In The Park will be The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, produced by an all-female cast. Be sure to check out when the troupe will be performing at a park nearest you.
3. First Fridays
The first Friday of the month 'til October
Montreal's monthly food truck festival (the largest in Canada!) may not feature free food, but the entrance is entirely gratis. That'll at least get you to see the live music performances hosted at the Olympic Park for the event.
4. Festival TransAmériques
May 26-June 9
Dance and theatre come together for Festival TransAmériques, along with plenty of parties, shows, and exhibitions you can check out for zero charge.
5. Montreal Anarchist Bookfair
May 28 & 29
An organized event like a bookfair may seem counterintuitive to anarchy, but hey, it's a thing in Montreal, and you can check out the Anarchist Bookfair without the need of a ticket. Books will cost you, but a lot of those political pamphlets come free! (yay?)
6. Montreal Museum Day
Thirty of Montreal's museums will be free, all day, with special buses taking you all around the city. Get cultured on the cheap.
May 30-June 8
Showcasing the creative works of young, local artists, OFFTA hosts a series of free exhibitions throughout the festival.
8. Montreal Fringe Festival
June (exact dates TBA)
While the theatrical performances aren't free (for the most part), Fringe does give you films, concerts, dance parties, and special events at no charge. Expect more details when the official date and lineup drops.
9. Mural Festival
Taking over Saint Laurent street (and coinciding with the annual side walk sale), Mural Fest will let you see amazing works of artistry created by some of the world's most esteemed street artists. Throw in free parties and you see why this festival has become a favourite in only a few short years.
10. Suoni Per Il Popolo
Even though this multidisciplinary music festival only has a few free shows, that still counts in our books, so check out some fresh talent at Suoni Per Il Popolo when you can. And it's not like the actual tickets are all that expensive anyway.
Free concerts are abound at this music festival which showcases some of the best artists the province has to offer. Head to Place des Arts, see a free outdoor show, and enjoy summer.
12. Grand Prix
Yes, the Grand Prix race itself isn't free, but all of the activations and many of the special events held around the city definitely are. So even if you aren't really into cars, capitalize on all the free action to be had at Grand Prix.
13. Saint Jean Baptiste Day
Otherwise known as La Fête nationale du Québec (or simply "Quebec Day" in the MTL Blog office), Saint Jean will see all of Montreal come alive with free events and parties. Of particular note is the annual parade.
14. Montreal Baroque Festival
See some incredibly captivating and surreal musical performances during the Montral Baroque Festival, with shows taking over some of the city's most iconic settings. Best of all, a lot of the shows are totally free.
15. Montreal Jazz Fest
June 29-July 9
One of the best parts about July is the free concerts held for Jazz Fest. While the list of free shows has yet to be unveiled, given this year's setlist of artists, we can't help but already be excited.
16. International des Feux Loto-Québec
Better known as the Montreal Fireworks Festival, this international gathering of pyrotechnicians will light up the sky with multicoloured palettes every single week. Best of all, gazing upon the festival's fiery works of art will cost you nothing at all.
17. Montreal Circus Festival
Just head to Saint Denis street during the city's circus festival for an array of high-flying performances and activities to enjoy, with no cover charged. There are also a variety of other free events to be held throughout the festival, all of which are worth checking out.
Montreal's Caribbean festival, Carifiesta, always brings the energy for the annual street parade, the longest running of its kind in North America. Of course, attendance is free, as is a variety of other events to check out during the festival.
19. Week-Ends du Monde
July 4 & 5, July 11 & 12
Every summer, Parc Jean-Drapeau transforms into a multicultural playground, with an array of different nationalities showcasing what makes their culture unique. Entrance is free, but all of the delicious food isn't, which is one of the main reasons I go, tbh.
20. Festival Nuit D'Afrique
A majority of shows presented by Festival Nuit D'Afrique are actually free, giving you tons to during this annual summer showcasing of talented artists.
21. Haiti en Folie
The 2016 lineup of events for Haiti en Folie has yet to be released, but the festival usually has more than a few outdoor shows that are free entrance, so mark it on your list.
22. Just For Laughs
In all honesty, the best JFL shows cost a pretty penny, but there are a ton of free spectacles held inside of Place des Arts during the festival.
23. Under Pressure
Take in more summer street art action during Under Pressure, five days of energy that will transform downtown Montreal with murals.
24. Italian Week
August (exact dates TBA)
Celebrate your Italian heritage (or just pretend) during Montreal's annual Italian Week. Taking over Little Italy, there will be tons to do, see, watch, and eat during the festival, with many events entirely free.
25. Montreal Pride
From the parade to the TD Dance Zone area, Montreal Pride brings the city alive every summer (with plenty of rainbows included, of course), with citizens able to enjoy all the energy for free, aside from ticketed events, obviously.
26. Montreal International Tango Festival
Love to tango? Or maybe just watch? Then head to the "Moonlight Tango Evening" event held by the Montreal International Tango Festival, the first free event to be announced for the tango-fest. Hopefully others will be labelled "free" too, so you can meet more of your tango-needs.
27. Matsuri Japon
No entrance fee will be charged at the 15th edition of Matsuri Japon, a festival dedicated to Japanese culture in all its forms, from food to dance.
28. Festival Mode & Design
Take part in the world of high fashion during the many outdoor shows held during the Montreal Festival Mode & Design, not to mention all the activations held at Place des Arts for the event.
29. 18th-Century Public Market
Venture back in time during Pointe-à-Callière's 18th Century Public Market, and while enjoying all the old-timey fun, appreciate that you're alive in the 21st century.
30. Festival OUMF
A mish-mash of activities, from art to breakdancing to unicycling, make up OUMF's festival lineup of events, many of which will be the low, low price of free!