These all-too-common frustrations, and the sense of powerlessness and inadequacy they instill, are what fueled me as I put together this list of Montreal Christmas shopping musts. What Christmas fairs are best bets for those of us with no time to scour every bazaar on the block? Which ones have the most artisans/gift ideas gathered in one spot? Are they located near major shopping centers, or at least a Metro station? How original and compelling are their wares? Are prices affordable, at least with regards to some items?
Here's what I found, all listed below. And for those new to the city, you might find my Montreal shopping centre rundown useful in planning a holiday shopping spree. And for gifting inspiration, be sure to check out my Montreal Gift Ideas piece. It's chock full of gift, uhm, ideas.
November 2 to November 4, 2012
Annual Gem and Mineral Show
The 53nd annual show and sale of semi-precious gems, jewelry, sculptures, pearls, beads, fossils, tools, and minerals involves more than 100 dealers on site. Admission $7, $6 for seniors, $5 for students, free for kids 12 and under accompanied by an adult. At Place Bonaventure (map).
November 8 to November 10, 2012
Montreal Wine Show: La Grande Dégustation
If you've only got time for one wine event all year, THIS is the one to go to. Over 1,200 wines, beers and spirits available to sample on the premises. And you can buy imports too, sometimes as little as one bottle for a great deal. A prime place to stock up on on hard-to-find wines that will dazzle Christmas dinner guests. Admission $15, three-day passport $30. Tastings cost extra. At the Palais des congrès (map).
November 10 to November 18, 2012
OldWIG Vintage Sale
Count on access to over 200 000 items, “including pieces acquired from the closure of the Centre National du Costume back in 2005. Apparel & accessories for men & women from 1920 to 1980.” Free admission. At 6550 St-André (map).
November 14 to November 19, 2012
Salon du livre
Meet your favorite French writers and find the perfect bookworm gift at North America's largest French literature gathering. Admission $8, $6 if purchased online, $6 seniors and students, free for kids 12 and under accompanied by a parent, $12 per full festival passport (photo required). At Place Bonaventure (map).
November 22 to November 24, 2012
Collectif Art Lab Expo and Sale
Find the perfect Christmas gift with over 100 pieces on sale for roughly $100 each, a bargain in the art world. Part of the proceeds go to Centre Philou, a Montreal charity that helps children with disabilities. Free admission. At (map).
November 24 to November 25, 2012
"The bazaar features traditional arts and crafts, Buddhist literature and ritual objects, clothing, jewelry, as well as a sample of Himalayan cuisine and cultural performances." Admission $5, seniors/students $3. At the Santa Cruz Portuguese Church Hall (map).
November 29 to December 9, 2012
Marché Casse-Noisette / Nutcracker Market
From beauty products to wine accessories to designer ready-to-wear, expect a fairly high-end Christmas shopping experience with affordable-yet-chic finds here and there. Proceeds go to funding Les Grands ballets Canadiens de Montréal. Free admission. At the Palais des congrès (map).
November 30 to December 2, 2012
"The Fair is a festive occasion showcasing both utilitarian and decorative objects. You will also find vintage, contemporary or classic styles in jewelry, fashion accessories, and clothing for women, men and children." Free admission. At the Biosphere (map).
November 30 to December 2, 2012
Souk @ SAT
Offbeat plushies, unique accessories, exclusive but affordable housewares, designer apparel, and more, all made by local professional designers and artisans. Free admission. At the SAT (map).
November 30 to December 15, 2012
Know of a loved one who's always wanted original art on their walls but just can't afford the hefty price tag typically associated with fine art? Bring that special someone with you to Prêt-à-Emporter, look around and watch them. Is there a piece that speaks to them? You'll know there is when they can't look away or keep coming back for another peek. But when they do turn their back, get the artist's card, ask them to reserve it for you long enough for you to get back to the kiosk without said loved one noticing, do whatever it takes to snap it up! All pieces are guaranteed to cost $150 or less. At Atelier Circulaire (map).