How do the people of Montreal celebrate Thanksgiving? For those of us who grew up with the American concept of the holiday, when families gather together to have a roasted turkey dinner and, in some cases, a taste of dysfunction, learning how Montrealers spend their Thanksgiving weekend may come as a shock. For Montrealers, Thanksgiving is simply one long weekend to spend as one pleases.
Oh, some Montreal families indeed do the feasting thing, but there is no set rule or tradition telling them how they should spend Thanksgiving weekend. Thus, many of them take off to do their thing. So, if you happen to be in Montreal this coming weekend – that is, October 7 to 10 – here are five things you can do aside from expecting an invitation to a turkey feast.
Party at the Black & Blue Festival
Black & Blue Festival, the world’s biggest LGBT-friendly dance party, is happening this weekend, from October 5 to 11. The main event is dubbed “Stardust,” and it will be held at the Centre Pierre Charbonneau at the Montreal Olympic Park. Party all night and dance to remixes by world-famous DJs like Danny Howells, Morabito, Marc Paquet, Tracy Young, Danyul, and many others. Not to miss are the Festival’s other club events, such as the Blue Moon Leather Ball, the Bears and Friends Grand Party, and the Twinkle Party.
Go leaf peeping
Montreal is one of the best places in the world to enjoy the fall foliage. Not only do the leaves on the trees turn orange, yellow, and gold, but Montreal’s sugar maples and sumac trees transform into a rich, flaming, deep red in autumn. Autumn is a fine time to go out for a picnic or a stroll in Montreal and engage in leaf peeping.
Where should you specifically go leaf peeping in Montreal? There are plenty of places in the city to view some spectacular autumn foliage, but the one that instantly comes to mind is none other than Mount Royal Park. The park sits on Mount Royal, the mountain that gives the city its name, and it’s considered the crown jewel of Montreal’s green spaces.
See the Montreal Botanical Gardens’ Gardens of Light.
If you’re leaf peeping in Montreal this Thanksgiving weekend, you should try to swing by the Gardens of Light at the Montreal Botanical Gardens. At dusk, the park’s Japanese and Chinese gardens are lit up with fantastic lanterns featuring distinctly Asian designs. This year’s theme is Beijing’s Forbidden City, where you will be treated to displays of lanterns mimicking the life and times of ancient Chinese emperors.
Of course, the Montreal Botanical Gardens has many charms beyond the Gardens of Light. After all, it is one of the biggest botanical gardens in the world, covering 75 hectares and home to at least 22,000 species of plants, 7,000 species of trees, 200 species of birds, and a family of foxes. You can admire the gardens’ beauty and majesty any time of the year.
Who says you have to wait for October 31 to get your fix of Halloween scares? In Montreal, the whole of October is Halloween. If you like the adrenalin rush that comes with being frightened out of your wits, you’d find it a-plenty in Montreal even as early as Thanksgiving weekend.
You can roam Old Montreal at night to hunt for ghosts and ghoulies as part of a ghost tour or on a self-guided tour. You can dress up like the shambling undead and participate in the Montreal Zombie Walk. Or you can head on to the La Ronde Six Flags theme park and dare your friends to explore the haunted houses and attractions of its annual FrightFest. Take your pick.
Catch the OFF Jazz Festival.
If you’re a lover of jazz music and you happen to be in Montreal this Thanksgiving weekend, you’re in luck. Jazz will be playing at many of Montreal’s bars and concert halls from October 6 to 15, thanks to the city hosting the 17th OFF Jazz Festival. This year’s Festival will be headlined by renowned jazz acts like Quattro Venti, the Olivier Babaz Trio, and Chaosmos. Atlantic singers Maggi Olin and Christine Jensen will kick off the Festival with a concert at Cabaret Lion d’Or. There will also be free concerts during Thanksgiving weekend at Resonance Café.
Eating a roast turkey dinner isn’t the only thing you can do in Montreal on Canada’s Thanksgiving weekend. Relax, have fun, and happy Thanksgiving/Columbus Day.