There's magic in the air and the jingle bells are ringing — wait a minute. It's not Christmas, so what's going on? You're not hallucinating, you're just in Blainville on Montreal's North Shore, taking in the town's Christmas in July celebrations.
During your visit, you'll cross into an illuminated tunnel that'll transport you to a Christmas playground complete with elves, lit-up trees, and other giant decorations including a 25-foot-tall Christmas tree.
There is also a traditional Christmas market, so you can buy your gifts early. VERY early.
Blainville residents have even decorated their homes with Christmas lights to really immerse visitors in the Christmas spirit.
The site is open by reservation only during three time slots: 8:30 p.m., 9:15 p.m. or 10 p.m. You will have 45 minutes to stroll the area and take in all the wonderful sights.
Median condo prices in the Montreal area are up 20% compared to last August, according to a report by the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers (QPAREB). But some areas saw even bigger price increases.
The report looked at several general areas within the greater metro area, including Montreal Island, the North and South Shore, Laval, and the MRC of Vaudreuil-Soulanges.
Of these, the report shows the North Shore saw the biggest increase in median condo prices between August 2020 and August 2021 with a 27% jump.
The QPAREB used data from Centris for the report and calculated median prices by dividing "all transactions into two equal parts: 50 percent of transactions concluded at a lower price than the median price and 50 percent concluded at a higher price."
The association noted that "some transactions may be excluded from the calculation to obtain a more meaningful median price."
Why You Need To Go: The Joe Beef Christmas window will make you stop in your tracks — and, yes, that is a train track pun because it features a moving train. Perfect for feeling like a kid again... specifically, a kid on Christmas morning.
Why You Need To Go: The ultimate, most iconic Montreal window display — like Macy's is to New York or Galeries Lafayette is to Paris. While there are no longer window displays at the actual Ogilvy's, which has since merged with Holt Renfrew, the mechanical masterpiece lives on in the form of a museum installation.
The Mill in the Forest dislpay can be seen to passers-by on Sherbrooke Street. The Enchanted Village is closed this year due to COVID-19.
Why You Need To Go: This innovative local children's theatre put together an incredible animated window display this year. Les Fenêtres Fantastiques is described on Facebook "like cabinets of curiosities where strange creatures [and] artifacts [...] seem to live in a mysterious attic." You can even use your smart phone to connect to an accompanying audio track.
Check Facebook for the schedule because the installation is not active everyday, and you can only see it until January 17.
Why You Need To Go: You'll find a more traditional take on a Christmas window at this housemade Italian pasta spot. This one's for the purists who want an elaborate portrayal of the Christmas story, including the classic nativity scene.
Why You Need To Go: Maybe we're cheating with this one because the decorations are around the windows, rather than inside them. But they're still windows, and they're still decorated for Christmas and they're far too magical to go without seeing.
Why You Need To Go: This painted window at Librairie Racines, a bookstore specializing in the stories, culture and living conditions of racialized people, has us wondering why every other depiction of Santa seems to be a fat, white dude. We love this portrait by local artist MALICIOUZ.
Check out our list to find out what's open and closed over the holidays. But make sure to check local listings and websites for the most up-to-date information. We also recommend calling to verify any information you find online.
Most banks are closed on December 25, December 28, January 1 and January 4. Many banks will also close on December 26 and January 2. Check your local branch for details.
Most malls and retail stores are open on Christmas Eve, though some have reduced hours. Beginning on Christmas Day, non-essential businesses including malls and retail stores are closed until January 11.
Many grocery stores are open on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day with reduced hours, but some locations are closed on December 25 so check the website and then call ahead to your local store. Grocery stores are essential businesses and will be open throughout the lockdown period.
Most major pharmacies, such as Pharmaprix and Jean Coutu locations, will be open on December 25. Use the store locator online to double-check whether hours have changed at your nearest store. Pharmacies are essential businesses that will remain open throughout the lockdown period.
Most of the city's public markets are open during the lockdown period but closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, as well as on January 1 and 2. Note that some businesses at the markets may differ in schedule, so contact your favourite merchants directly.
Alcohol & Cannabis
The SAQ will remain open from December 26 to January 10 inclusive, according to Facebook. Locations will be closed on December 25 and January 1.
The SQDC will also remain open throughout the holidays and lockdown. However, SQDC stores will be closed on December 25 and January 1, and have reduced hours on December 24, 26, 31 and January 2.
Recreation & Culture
Due to COVID-19, cultural facilities are closed until further notice. The schedules of sports facilities that are still open during the pandemic vary depending on the borough. Check the schedule of the specific facility before heading out.
Libraries are solely open for contactless lending, according to a holiday schedule.
The STM is running with modified hours on the following legal holidays: December 25, December 26, January 1 and January 2. "Please consult the legend that appears below your bus schedule or your Planibus," says the STM website.
Accès Montréal offices, as well as city permit counters and écocentres, are closed from December 24 to January 4 inclusively.
The collection schedule for garbage, bulky items, recyclables and composting will change during the holiday season. You can search your postal code to find out more.
Natural Christmas trees will be collected throughout the month of January. Select your borough to find out the specifics.
The activities of the municipal court will be modified during the holiday season. You'll find details on the City of Montreal website or by calling 514-872-2964.
COVID-19 Testing Sites
Some locations are open with modified hours on December 25, December 26, January 1 and January 2. However, other locations are closed. Check Santé Montréal's testing webpage to find out where and when you can get tested.
When: Until January 31, 2021, subject to online availability
Address: 2805, boulevard du Souvenir, Laval, QC
Why You Need To Go: There is nothing like getting lost in a completely different universe, entirely designed of lights. You can walk or drive through and take in the 20 million lights they've installed this year.
Why You Need To Go: Whether in the borough of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie or Verdun, many residents have decorated their homes. A walk around your home is a must during the holiday season and it's all the more splendid when it snows.
Why You Need To Go: In the heart of Old Montreal are the Montreal en Fêtes urban installations. An online event will showcase the prominent public figures of 2020 and various musical performances from this spot, but there's also plenty to see in-person.
Visit the enchanting showcase The Mill in the Forest at the McCord Museum
When: Until January 10
Address: Victoria Street, outside the McCord Museum (690, rue Sherbrooke O., Montreal, QC)
Why You Need To Go: Every holiday season since 1947, the mechanical storefronts of La Maison Ogilvy have made Montrealers dream. To continue this tradition, and to the delight of passers-by, the McCord Museum has made it an outdoor exhibit.