With winter just around the corner, our thoughts turn to ways to warm up on a cold day. Don’t shy away from the snow and ice, there is nothing like a skating date to warm you up to Montreal’s winter lifestyle. Variety is key to a Montreal winter vacation, ranging from the club scene, to quiet local rinks in every city quarter.
Photo by craigemorsels
Among the post popular spots is Beaver Lake. Atop Mount Royal, the city’s namesake and best viewpoint, is a frozen man-made lake. With a nearby chalet for putting on your skates and warming up with a nice hot chocolate, this is prime skating territory for locals and tourists alike. The mountain is easily accessible by car or bus, and offers more than just skating; long walks through the woods, cross-country skiing, spectacular views, bird-watching, and a historic cemetery.
All around the bottom of the mountain, slopes are cleared for sledding and protected from the streets by hay stacks. You really can’t miss them, try corner of Mt-Royal and Park Avenue, with cafes and restaurants so close by you could practically slide over. Mount Royal offers a day full of energetic activities to keep you from catching cold.
Come winter, the Quays of the Old Port become the Quays Skating Rink. Open 7 days a week until 9 or 10 pm, bright lights, disco and DJ themes (Jazzy Wednesdays, Electronica Thursdays) let you pick your musical mood. With the dome covered Winter Bar available right on the rink, you can skate in for a drink and warm up. Admission prices are around $5 and skate rentals are available. Check the ice conditions before heading out at the Quays website.
In the deepest of January’s cold days, head out to the Quays for Igloofest, an evening outdoor rave with thumping beats and mulled wine. Without a doubt the best spot to check out retro snowsuits and get the blood pumping. Dressing in layers is a must.
The best local secret is the Parc LaFontaine with picturesque bridges and ponds cleared for skating. Located between Sherbrooke and Rachel street, corner avenue Parc LaFontaine (Metro Sherbrooke), the meandering networks of ponds replace the dizziness of skating in a circle, and discourage shinny (informal hockey games) unlike local municipality rinks. Areas for hockey are separated here, so you never fear showing for a leisurely skate only to hear the familiar sound of sticks and pucks hitting the boards. Skate rentals and sharpening available on site and access to the rink is free. Call ahead to check ice conditions and opening times (dial 311 locally for information).
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