Trend analysts agree: the real draw of travel, especially after the pandemic, is to experience newness, positivity and unexpected kinds of joy. It’s part of what they call the joyconomy — people’s need to focus on the positive, whether in the culture they consume, the social feeds they scroll or the experiences they seek out. In Montréal, there are joyful things to do around every corner that your delegates (and you) can easily fit into their business trip! Here are 11 unique, only-in-Montréal experiences guaranteed to spark joy.
© Eva Blue
1. Wander car-free streets this summer
One of the most special things about Montréal summers is the activity that buzzes on every street in the city — from the festivals that spill out from performance spaces onto the sidewalk to the actual avenues that close to traffic and give pedestrians, merchants and animators free reign for weeks on end. Just some of the streets to explore this way are Mont-Royal on the Plateau, Sainte-Catherine in the Village, St. Lawrence Boulevard during Grand Prix both in the Plateau and in Little Italy, and of course, Wellington Street in Verdun — recently voted the coolest street in the world!
© Laurène Tinel
2. Zipline along the shore of a picture-perfect river
Montréal’s Old Port is a jewel in the history of not only Montréal, but of Canada. Not only that, it was recently decreed the country’s most Instagrammable location! Walk in the footsteps of the first Montrealers where the city was founded, or better yet, swing through the air! If you have adventurous delegates, organize a team building outing at MTL Zipline and get views of the St. Lawrence River — as well as Old Montréal, Jacques-Cartier Bridge, even Mount Royal — while you zip. Alternatives with just as great a view but a few less harnesses include the Grande Roue de Montréal Ferris wheel or the brand-new lookout point at the Port of Montréal Tower (also a space you can rent for events or meetings).
© Simon Laroche
3. Cycle safely throughout the city
With its 900+ km of bike lanes (so counting!), Montréal was ranked the best bike city in North America. Not only is it easy for your delegates to commute by bike all over the city, it’s also a joy to leisurely cycle through parks, along the river and through all the picturesque neighbourhoods. If you think your guests are more fans than participants, though, introduce them to one of the world-class cycling events, like the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal or the Montréal Bicycle Show.
© Pavillon MR-63
4. Experience innovation at every turn
Montréal was decreed one of the world’s best startup ecosystems, and no wonder — it stood out for its strategic location, highly educated talent, innovative spirit, high level of performance and attractiveness for both entrepreneurs and investors. Reach out to the Business Events Montréal team for the low-down on the latest experiences in store in this city that continually innovates and banks on the next generation — it could be a sneak peek at a cutting-edge cultural pavilion made up of retired metro cars, planned for 2024 by startup MR-63, for example!
© Eva Blue
5. Celebrate cultural excellence
Festivals and events are simply a way of life here, with something grandiose happening literally every month of the year, most of it outdoors, most of it at least partially free. Jazz, comedy, avant-garde dance, history, EDM, poutine — name a season, art form or signature local dish, and there’s a festival for it! Osheaga is a contemporary music festival that has brought Montréal notoriety as one of the 50 best festivals in the world, according to Billboard, while the Montréal International Jazz Festival was named one of the 50 greatest Canadian attractions by Lonely Planet.
© Sarah Erenthal, 2018 - Photo by Anne-Marie Pellerin - Spade & Palacio Tours
6. See colours on every wall
To get a street-level view of Montréal’s rich arts culture, all you’ve got to do is walk around. Street art has become one of Montréal’s core visual identities over the last couple of decades, thanks to the marks left all over the city by intrepid artists like Omen, MissMe, Kevin Ledo, Jason Botkin, the HVW8 and En Masse collectives and so many more. With festivals like MURAL that leave traces of their beautification of the city well after they’re finished for the year, there’s something to see on virtually every block lots of tours available to experience them at their best.
© Laurène Tinel
7. Relish some one-of-a-kind flavours
With more restaurants per capita than New York, Montréal is a gourmand, gastronomic foodie city indeed. From five-star restaurants and carefully prepared dishes from around the world to legendary local diners and street-side food trucks (don’t miss the First Fridays, when dozens of trucks dish out their goods at the Olympic Stadium!), it may take a few return trips to decide on your favourite local eats. The world’s a banquet, and Montréal is at the head table.
© Eva Blue
8. Experience the whole city from within the convention centre
The Palais des congrès is a high-tech, LEED-certified, world-class convention centre that’s always looking to innovate. Introduce your delegates to the entire of city Montréal within the very Palais thanks to Stimulation Déjà Vu, an innovative startup that creates immersive experiences based on the senses. Open five days a week from 10 am to 5 pm, the latest Stimulation Déjà Vu installation is located in the Creative Lab at the Palais and is designed to represent various Montréal neighbourhoods in five distinct olfactive moments. Whether it’s a walk through the Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood or an Old Montréal bike ride, visitors can to “experience” the whole of Montréal in one spot.
© Laurène Tinel
9. Watch the night skies come alive
After dark, Montréal transforms: the bare stone walls of Old Montréal become history projected, while the Jacques-Cartier Bridge lights up in flashes of colour over the St. Lawrence River. Building facades in the entertainment district turn into movie screens, and the power of light to trick the eye gives some of Montréal’s first buildings all new life. And that’s without mentioning the fireworks that light up the sky all summer long! Introduce your delegates to the dark side — it’s lit.
© Tennis Canada
10. Get a front-row experience of exciting sports
Given Montréal’s busy annual sports hosting schedule, it comes as little surprise that we are often named the Top Sports City in Canada, so give your delegates a chance to experience from the inside out. Nothing beats the wow factor of backstage access to the Montréal Canadiens! Or treat your guests of honour to a world-class tennis match, Formula 1 race, soccer match or football game. You could introduce your team to the unusual side of sports by attending underwater rugby, roller derby, the urban ski and snowboard festival Apik or the unique breakdance-and-basketball combination of DISTRIX. The sky’s the limit!
11. Explore the city... underground
WalkScore Index recently named Montréal the second most accessible Canadian city for pedestrians. And the good news is, even when the weather is frightful you can get your walk on in the Underground City! This pedestrian network spanning 33 km of walkways links 2,000 shops, restaurants and services, plus some 40 performance venues, theatres and cinemas, as well as hotels, attractions and museums.