Montréal – A European Experience

Nestled in the eastern province of Quebec is the port of Montréal.  If you haven’t visited Montréal get ready to experience a thoroughly modern, 350 year old city.  A big part of Montréal’s appeal is its European feel, flavor, and flair.  There are hotels to fit every budget, taste and occasion, and restaurants, bars, cafés, and food markets to satisfy every taste and craving. Montréal is also a party city, holding music, fashion, entertainment, dance, food, and art festivals all year long.  With its festive and European feel, and many destinations grappling with over-tourism, Montréal is an ideal choice.  The big ships can’t get it in, making it the logical choice for small ships in the luxury, niche and expedition segments.  It adds to Montréal’s draw as an exclusive destination.

Montréal delivers in every season.  Winter has abundance of outdoor parties, high-tech light shows, Christmas markets and creative gourmet food. Montréal’s best restaurants offer cozy spots to warm up and have a good meal.  Visitors can enjoy the many winter festivals, sip a signature cocktail by the cozy glow of a fireplace, wander through fascinating art galleries and museums, shop for one-of-a-kind gifts at professional craft fairs, don a snowsuit and sled down the mountain with locals, go ice skating in Parc La Fontaine or next to the St. Lawrence River, or snuggle up in one of the many hotels decked out for the festive winter season.  The Christmas Markets are some of the best outside of Europe!

Spring gives birth to bursts with color, helping Montréal step out of the festive beauty of winter and into a celebration of springtime. The Botanical Garden is home to hundreds of butterflies, there are interactive musical swings in the entertainment district, and Spring Break soirees. Spring-fever kicks into high gear with an abundance of festivals, starting with the Blue Metropolis literary festival, Papier art fair and the annual Cirque du Soleil big top shows, followed by music festivals Les Francofolies and the Piknic Electronik.  In early June there is the Mural Fest, the Montréal St-Ambroise Fringe Festival and so many more.

Summer celebrations heat up Montréal with the height of festival season. Montréal festivals are so unique because each one reflects an aspect of the city’s own creative culture and diversity infusing major doses of international flavor. There are countless festivals from May through August; Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, Just For Laughs comedy festival, Osheaga, MUTEK, and Nuits d’Afrique to name a few.  Summer is also the season for internationally renowned festivals celebrating music, the arts, theatre, fashion, sports and pro racing.

Just as spring brings bursts of color, autumn in Montréal is a color palette announcing the arrival of cooler weather and abundant harvests to inspire gathering with family and friends. Fall is an action-packed sequel to summer’s frenzy, with its own calm moments in the midst of Montréal’s round-the-clock entertainment. Every night of the season brings a new band, dance troupe or award-winning film to the city, while outdoor venue Jardins Gamelin invites passers-by to see free performances and sample food-truck specialties until mid-October. By day you can explore Montréal’s colorful Mount Royal and abundant farmers markets.  At night visit the Botanical Garden with its magical lantern lights or cozy up with apple cider in a secluded spot.

Je me souviens, the official motto of Quebec, literally translates to “I remember.”  After a visit to Montréal, you’ll never forget.

This post was written by cruise industry expert, Shannon McKee, founder of Access Cruise Inc. Access Cruise Inc is a Miami based cruise marketing and sales consulting group, specializing in product and business development within the cruise industry.