Tourism Guide: Fun activities for Fall & Winter

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As the weather starts to cool, some people begin to pull out their Halloween decorations and others sip their pumpkin spice lattes, it’s time to start thinking about ways to stay active and keep the family busy during the autumn and winter months.

While hockey, hunting, snowmobiling and trapping are all generally accessible throughout Eeyou Istchee, there are also plenty of other options for entertainment, exhibitions and recreational activities in the Montreal region and other parts of Quebec. Here’s our annual list of suggestions for fall and winter tourism.

In and around Montreal

NHL Hockey

While the NHL regular season doesn’t kick off until October 12, there are a number of pre-season games planned in early October. Pre-season match-ups may lack some of the intensity of regular league play, but they are more affordable and offer the chance to see some young prospects take the ice against NHL competition for the first time. This pre-season there is even a game at the Centre Vidéotron in Quebec City pitting the Boston Bruins against the Montreal Canadiens.

Other pre-season games within reach of the Cree Nation include the Habs and Senators at Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Centre October 1, the Maple Leafs and Canadiens October 6 at the Bell Centre in Montreal and the Buffalo Sabres against the Senators in Ottawa on October 7.

Canadiens or Senators

Habs newcomer Alexander Radulov

Habs newcomer Alexander Radulov in the Canadiens dressing room

La Grande Braderie de Mode Québécoise

If you look up the English translation for “grande braderie” you’ll get results for clearance sale, discount store and rummage sale. La Grande Braderie de Mode Québécoise is all of the above, with an added hint of high fashion, and features clothing and accessories from designers across the province and samples and inventory surplus marked down by 50% to 80%. This year’s discount shopping festival runs October 7-8 in Gatineau, October 20-23 in Montreal, October 28-30 in Sherbrooke and November 4-6 in Quebec City. Anything that survives the four weeks of sales will be available for purchase online from November 25-27.

Grande Braderie website

National Education Fair

Montreal’s Place Bonaventure hosts the 2016 National Education Fair October 13-14 and aims to bring together resources related to choosing education, professional training and planning a career path. Young people and adults are invited to explore their options at schools across Quebec and learn what it takes to gain employment in different featured industries. Construction, security and prevention, video games and visual effects, maritime, metallurgy, natural resources (mining and forestry), automobile servicing and road transport are this year’s highlighted industry sectors.

National Education Fair website

Salon National des Animaux de Compagnie

Animal lovers are sure to enjoy Quebec’s domesticated animal show, which will be in Quebec City October 22-23 and in Montreal November 5-6. Each two-day exposition showcases thousands of animals – including rabbits, rodents, fish and birds – plus national canine agility competitions, a cat championship and pony rides. Tickets range from $10 to $14.

La Grande Dégustation de Montréal

Montreal’s “big tasting” brings together wine producers, distillers, brewers, consumers and connoisseurs November 3-5 at Place Bonaventure to sample and purchase wine, beers and spirits from across the globe. Discover new products, meet the people who create your favourite blends and pick up some fancy gifts for the holidays. This year’s three themes are the wines of Argentina and Chile, Shiraz wine and whiskeys from around the world.

La Grande Dégustation

la grande dégustation de Montréalshaving meat at La Grande Dégustation


Salon des métiers d’art du Québec

For over 60 years Quebec’s craft council has been organizing the province’s biggest craft show every December at Montreal’s Place Bonaventure. Featuring all sorts of fine arts, crafts, artisans and live demonstrations, the Salon des métiers d’art boasts free admission and is some of the best one-stop Christmas shopping you can find in the city. This year’s edition takes place December 8-18.

Salon des métiers site


Montreal is known for its summer festival fervour but Igloofest flips the script by throwing an outdoor musical celebration over four weekends in the middle of winter, complete with a contest for best vintage snow-suit, ice slides, ice bars and igloos. Set in the Old Port, Igloofest 2017 rolls out January 12-February 4 with shows planned Thursday, Friday and Saturday on each weekend from 7:30 pm to 12:30 am. If you’re into electronic music or looking for a fun weekend activity in the city, Igloofest consistently brings together a stellar line-up of international DJs and crowds of fun, energetic people looking to beat the winter blues. The full line-up will be revealed in the coming months.


Igloofest in Montreal's Old Portoutdoor bonfire at Igloofest

Fête des Neiges de Montréal

With a similar schedule to Igloofest – taking place over several weekends January 14-February 5 – La Fête des Neiges de Montréal is a free family event that offers a host of exciting winter activities in Parc Jean-Drapeau. While the full schedule and line-up will be revealed in late November, visitors can expect ziplines, tube sliding, dogsled tours, skating, live kids shows and concerts to be on the menu.

Fête des Neiges website

Le Salon de l’Amour et de la Séduction

Quebec’s major consumer romance show – sometimes called the “Everything to do with Sex Show” – is back for a 23rd year January 20-22, promising “tantalizing stage shows, educational seminars, live erotic art performances, a kinky playroom and a whole lot of shopping.” Groups of friends, couples and single people over the age of 18 are welcome to a festival that promotes sexual health, experimentation and sexual education in an open and playful atmosphere free from judgement. If you’re looking to spice up your love life, get some tips on trying something new or simply step outside of your comfort zone, a day at the Sex Show in Place Bonaventure will certainly not disappoint.

Montreal Sex Show

The Auto Show

Montreal’s International Auto Show is back at Palais des congrès January 20-29, offering a chance to check out some of the world’s hottest rides, see cutting-edge automotive technology in action and talk to auto experts about your next purchase. The Auto Show thinks of everything, including family passes, senior and child discounts, free admission for kids under 6 and child care services for parents who need a break or are getting serious about buying a new automobile. Whether you want to do some research before you buy a new car, van or truck, get the lowdown on potential performance upgrades or vehicle accessories for your current one or simply see the unveiling of 2017’s crop of luxury sport cars, hybrids and sedans, the Montreal Auto Show is the place to go.

Montreal Auto Show

Montreal Boat and Water Sports Show

While February may seem a little early to be thinking about getting out on the water, Montreal’s Boat and Water Sports Show offers marine and aquatic activity enthusiasts the chance to forget about winter and start planning for boating season. This year’s edition runs February 4-7 at Place Bonaventure and offers presentations by boating, sailing, fishing and environmental experts as well as massive showrooms showcasing motors, trailers, docks, navigation technology, water sports equipment and boats of all shapes and sizes – from trawlers and fishing vessels to pontoon boats and luxury yachts.

Montreal Boat Show

Alumacraft Escape 145 with a 60 HP Evinrude motorThe Lund 1650 Rebel XS


Hunting Fishing and Camping Show

The Hunting, Fishing and Camping Show, February 16-19 at Place Bonaventure, usually includes a casting pond, a child’s fishing tournament, duck decoy contests and boat giveaways, tons of product displays and professional seminars on hunting, fishing and the outdoors. The show also offers an airsoft range, shooting and archery simulations, lumberjack shows and other special activities for the avid outdoors person and their family.

Hunting Fishing and Camping Show site

Mistissini tourism at the Montreal Hunting and Fishing Show

Montréal en lumière

Montréal en lumière is a city-wide festival in downtown Montreal that celebrates the city’s culture with performing arts, fine cuisine and fun for the whole family February 23-March 12. Live concerts, theatre, fancy-food outings and a free outdoors site near Place-des-Arts are all part of the schedule, which culminates in a nuit blanche (all-nighter) where local museums, bars, clubs, music venues and restaurants all host special activities until the morning.

The Motorcycle Show

Montreal’s Salon de la Moto rolls into Palais des congrès February 24-26 in anticipation of the first day of motorcycle season that typically kicks off in March. The show features models from industry leaders in a wide range of products, including touring bikes by BMW, road bikes by Harley-Davidson, Indian and Kawasaki, Can-Ams, scooters by Vespa and ATVs built by Arctic Cat and Polaris. The Yamaha Riding Academy gives young ones the chance to suit up in motocross gear and try out some youth-sized dirt bikes, while BMW’s Motorrad booth gives children and adults alike the chance to test drive different motorbikes through virtual reality technology. With a balanced program that offers discounts, giveaways and special activities for men, women and children, the Montreal Motorcyle Show is the place to go for two-, three- and four-wheel enthusiasts of all ages.

Events in Abitibi-Témiscamingue and the rest of Quebec

Festival du cinéma international en Abitibi-Témiscamingue

Back for its 35th year, Abitibi’s international film festival will be held in Rouyn-Noranda October 29-November 3. “A true celebration of cinema and all its forms of expression” this year’s event will screen over 150 films from 30+ countries and feature short, medium and full-length films in documentary, animation and fiction categories. Watch out for world premieres and special celebrity guests at the biggest event of its kind in northern Quebec.

Symposium Gatineau en couleurs

Bringing together 70 painter and sculptors from around the Outaouais region and beyond, Gatineau’s annual fall cultural celebration is at the DoubleTree by Hilton October 28-30. Admission is free and artists will be producing, displaying and selling original works on site. If you’re driving through the Ottawa and Gatineau area for business or pleasure near the end of October, Gatineau en couleurs is your chance to experience the arts and culture of the surrounding region.

Quebec Winter Carnival

One of the biggest winter carnivals in the world and certainly the biggest in Quebec, Quebec City’s Winter Carnival on the Plains of Abraham attracts tourists and locals alike and is scheduled January 27-February 12. Ice sculptures, ice bars, illuminated streets, ice canoe races, parades, giant foosball, skating, live shows and sleigh rides are just a few of the exciting activities planned for this year’s event. In order to attend visitors over the age of eight must purchase an effigy of the festival’s famous mascot, Bonhomme (snowman).

Carnival website

boot hockey at the Quebec winter carnivalQuebec winter carnival sled racing

Carnaval de Lorrainville

On January 28-29 the town of Lorrainville (south of Rouyn-Noranda near the Ontario border) hosts its annual winter carnival where “the streets of Lorrainville are taken over by the joys of winter.” Snow sculpting, dogsledding, tobogganing, inflatables and lives shows are all featured in this year’s event.


Festi-Volant de Grandes-Piles

Located to the east of the Mauricie National Park and right on the banks of the Saint Maurice River, Grande-Piles hosts an annual winter kite-flying festival with this year’s planned for January 29-31. On top of the wide-ranging sizes of colourful kites taking to the sky, Festi-Volant also features ice fishing, paraskiing, a massive tube slide and a Nordic village with tasty treats and other fun attractions.

Winterlude Festival

For three weeks in Ottawa and Gatineau (February 3-20), Winterlude festival celebrates winter and takes over the Rideau Canal and Confederation Park in Ottawa as well as Jacques Cartier Park in downtown Gatineau. Confederation Park holds the launch party on February 3 with live music and an outdoor dance party amongst a host of ice sculptures. Other activities include skating, skating lessons, ice hockey tournaments and a decorated bed race all on the canal. Jacques Cartier Park hosts a huge outdoor snow playground called Snowflake Kingdom which will be open all week excluding Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Winterlude website

Sleigh derby at the Quebec winter carnival

La fête d’hiver de Rouyn-Noranda

Running February 17-19, Rouyn’s winter festival will offer tubing, dog sled and horse carriage rides, a snow maze, foot hockey, a winter footrace and live performances for the whole family in the warmth of a circus tent. Here’s another chance to plan an outing with your kids that makes the most of the winter weather.

Festival Folifrets Baie-James

Chibougamau’s Folifrets James Bay festival features major events, including snowmobile races, evening concerts and a full day of family activities, February 23-March 4. While the full programming has yet to be announced, festival-goers can expect exciting rally and cross country skidoo competitions, great food and music and inflatables, a giant slide, boot hockey, maple pulls, cotton candy and hotdogs plus an outdoor teepee at the Chibougamau Eenou Friendship Centre.


Les Hivernades de Chicoutimi

Chicoutimi’s winter celebration blends traditional activities with dancing, music, snowmobile and ATV rides as well as an outdoor amusement area for little ones that offers inflatables, skating, dog-sledding and horseback riding. February 25-March 5 in the Saguenay region, Les Hivernades promise fun times for the whole crew only a five-hour drive from Eeyou Istchee’s inland communities.

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