The Montreal Jazz Festival is the largest jazz festival in the world. That means hundreds of performances, tens of thousands of fans packing the streets, and a city full of accommodation options. So how do you navigate it all and minimize the hassle? Here are our pro tips to make sure you get the most out of Montreal.
1. Hit the Street
Many streets are shut down in the downtown area so forget about using cars or taxis. Rent bikes at downtown rental stations, hop on the metro, or do it the old-fashioned way and stick to walking. There is too much going on to get stuck in traffic.
2. Study the lineup
Make your own schedule of concerts to see. To do this you have to know the lineup front to back, so to get to studying!
3. Map it out
Get familiar with the Montreal metro map. It’s the best way to get around the city and will be especially useful if you choose accommodations that aren’t within walking distance of the venues.
4. There’s more than downtown
If you think you’ll need a break from the crowds, choose a hotel or Airbnb outside of downtown but along a metro line. Little Italy and Plateau are both popular Airbnb neighborhoods just west of downtown along the orange metro line. Find accommodations in Plateau and Little Italy. Check out our Montreal Jazz Festival complete guide for more ideas on where to stay.
5. Practice your French
Don’t assume everyone speaks English! You will find signs in English and, if desperate, finding an English speaker isn’t too hard. However, learn a few key French phrases and be prepared to use them.
6. Eat right
Concert going can make you hungry. A rite of passage in Montreal is trying poutine, an artery-clogging creation of french fries covered in cheese curds and gravy. If you’re looking for cuisine at high level check out restaurants Garde Manger and Le Bremner.
7. Wear comfortable shoes
If you’re planning on attending the outdoor concerts, be ready to stand. The highest of your high heels should stay at home. Or save them for Montreal’s nightclubs.
8. Go out at night
Montreal is known as Canada’s best party city. Many of the top nightclubs are in downtown, not far from Quartier des Spectacles (the main venue neighborhood).
9. Be adventurous
With over 3,000 artists scheduled, you have to roll the dice and go see someone you’ve never heard of.
10. Be patient
The world’s largest jazz festival, no matter how well organized it is, will move slowly at times. Be ready for lines and crowds. But don’t worry, the music and general scene are more than worth it.