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 and deep discount sales hunting piece useful in planning a holiday shopping spree. And for gifting inspiration, be sure to check out my Montreal Gift Ideas piece as well as my review of Coffrets MMM, a unique Montreal-centric box.
November 1 to November 3, 2013
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 9, 2013
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, less if purchased online. Tastings cost extra. At the Palais des congrès (map).
November 9, 2013
St/ Philip's Church's Christmas Bazaar
"...here will be fabulous raffles as well as St. Philip's famous homemade baking, scrumptious candy & fudge, and sweet jellies & jams. You can also find fine hand-knitted sweaters & scarves, linens, one-of-a-kind antiques, furniture, books, elegant jewellery, videos/CD's/puzzles, and many other items suitable for a variety of tastes and budgets. And speaking of taste, be sure to stay for a hearty soup & sandwich lunch..." At St. Philip's Anglican Church (map).
November 20 to November 25, 2013
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 21 to November 23, 2013
OldWIG Vintage Sale
"Treasures, cocktails, music, art and shopping meet in a unique place, [a] vintage pool from the 30’s. Men & Women Clothing + Home Décor & Furnitures!" Free admission. At Bain Mathieu (map).
November 28 to December 1, 2013
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 28 to December 8, 2013
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's Nutcracker Fund for Children, which sends underprivileged children to see the Nutcracker Ballet free of charge. Free admission. At the Palais des congrès (map).
November 29 to December 1, 2013
Fêtes de Vins du Québec
Sample Quebec-made wines on location and purchase hard-to-find favorites on location. Would make great dinner guest gifts. Admission $20, includes 24 tasting coupons, less if purchased online by November 28. At Marché Bonsecours (map).
November 29 to December 14, 2013
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 range from $50 to $275. At Atelier Circulaire (map).
November 30 and December 1, 2013
"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, free for kids under age 12. At the Santa Cruz Portuguese Church Hall (map).