Montreal in the summertime is a place full of colour, energy and excitement, and nowhere is that more evident than in the Village, home of the city's annual pride festival (Fierté Montreal), which takes place next weekend.
Last year's festival saw thousands of revellers from around the world gather in the Village to celebrate the 10-day event that culminates in a parade down René Levesque Blvd. Roughly bordered by Ontario St East to the north, René Levesque to the south, St-Hubert St. to the east and Avenue Papineau to the west (according to Google Maps—the boundaries are vague), the neighbourhood’s main drag—Ste-Catherine St. Est—is transformed into a pedestrian mall during the summer months. If you’ve visited St. Catherine St. East already this summer, you’ll no doubt have noticed the rainbow-coloured balls strung up above a kilometre-long stretch of the bust street—an entrancing art installation now in its penultimate year.
If you can't make it to the festival, fear not: there’s still plenty that makes this neighbourhood (the biggest “gay village” in North America!) worth checking out—at all times of the year, but especially this summer, while the magical canopy of colour still hangs (for the last time ever!).
As you take a stroll down Ste-Catherine’s car-free streets, be sure to stop at one of the neighbourhood’s many terrasses—a full kilometre’s worth. The road remains closed off to motor vehicles until late September, so get in while you still can! Walk off your meal on nearby Amherst St., which is home to a slew of eclectic antique and vintage shops.
In addition to the art overhead, you’ll also find Galerie Blanc along Ste-Catherine. Blanc is a free open-air gallery that aims to make art fully accessible to the general public 365 days of the year.
If nightlife is more your thing, the Village offers an array of bars and clubs to suit any taste or preference, some of which you’ll find open at all hours of the night (morning?)—whether you’re searching for a wild night out or a classy cocktail with friends. If you’re looking to be entertained, check out a show at Cabaret Mado, the namesake club of host Mado Lamotte—renowned local drag performer and reigning queen of the Village.
The fun never stops in the Village, but the pedestrian-friendly playground that is Ste-Catherine Est in the summer does. Get your fun in before the cars return and the rainbow balls come down!