MONTREAL — Montreal’s got hustle, bustle and some quality holiday down time.
Here’s how to have some fun this season.
First up, Pointe-a-Calliere, the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History, presents its annual holiday meet-and-greet called “Who is the Real Santa Claus?” The event explores how the holidays are celebrated all around the world with costumed actors who play different versions of “Santa” including St. Nicholas, Lucy, Befana and Santa Claus himself. The activity starts at 12:50 p.m. Dec. 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 24, 26, 27, 28 and 29. At 350 Place Royale. Admission costs $20 for adults, $16 for seniors and $42 for a family of four. Youth and student prices are also available. Admission includes access to all exhibitions. Call (514) 872-9150 or visit www.pacmusee.qc.ca.
Most appropriate for the holiday season is “Toys,” an interactive exhibition for the young — and young at heart — at the McCord Museum. Designed for children ages 3 to 9, this year’s fourth edition features a collection of vintage space-themed toys dubbed “Mission Cosmos,” where young visitors can help a scientist find his way back home. The McCord Museum is at 690 Sherbrooke St. W. Admission costs $14 for adults, $10 for seniors (65 and over) and $8 for youths 13 to 30. Admission for “Toys” is free for children 12 and younger. The McCord is open to the public for free from 5 to 9 p.m. every Wednesday evening. Call (514) 398-7100 or visit www.mccord-museum.qc.ca.
Things get all warm and cozy with Chateau Ramezay’s annual seasonal event “Around the Fireplace ... Holiday Traditions.” Here, each of the museum’s five fireplace mantels are all thematically decorated as Yule logs, Christmas trees, stockings, Advent calendars and vintage greeting cards complement the New France holiday mood. “Holiday Traditions” runs through Jan. 5. In addition, a family activity baking workshop is held from 1 to 3:45 p.m. weekends throughout December as well as Dec. 26 through 30 and Jan. 2 through 5. Museum admission costs $10 for adults, at 280 Notre Dame St. E. Call (514) 861-3708 or visit www.chateauramezay.qc.ca.
St. Joseph’s Oratory offers “Rock/Paper/Chisel — The Creche in Essence,” a new holiday exhibition that offers an array of delicate hand-crafted nativity scenes created in paper by Quebec artist Claude Lafortune. The exhibition continues through April 21. Museum admission costs $4 for adults. The Oratory also presents the Petits Chanteurs du Mont Royal’s boys choir annual Christmas concert in the Crypt Church for free at 2 p.m. Dec. 22. St. Joseph’s is at 3800 Queen Mary Road. Call (514) 733-8211 or visit www.saint-joseph.org.
The Montreal Botanical Garden offers a festive and colorful holiday event called “Christmas Season with Flair,” where the main exhibition greenhouse is all decked out with lush and lavish seasonal floral decorations beginning tomorrow through Jan. 5. This year the space pays tribute to the rustic Nordic nature of the province complete with five 10-foot-tall Christmas trees highlighted by a magical flight of six life-sized reindeer made from recycled materials.
The next two weekends are also a good time to visit as the Botanical Garden hosts its annual green-inspired Christmas Fair with 20 vendors setting up shop at the reception center offering unique gifts, including organic, biological and ecological products, artisan-produced chocolate, honey and ice cider, and art, clothing and accessories created from recycled objects. It’s held Dec. 6 through 8 and 13 through 15. The Botanical Garden is at 4101 Sherbrooke St. E. Admission costs $18.75 for adults, $17.50 for seniors, $14 for students and $9.50 for children 5 to 17. Call (514) 872-1400 or visit www.espacepourlavie.ca.
Fireworks aren’t just for summer, anymore. The Old Port of Montreal hosts “Fire on Ice,” 20-minute themed pyrotechnic shows accompanied by popular movie soundtrack music at the Quays skating rink on Bonsecours Island at 8 p.m. Dec. 14, 21, 28, and Jan. 4, as well as a special midnight schedule on New Year’s Eve.
And speaking of the rink, the ice skating season at Bonsecours Basin is now open for the season. For more information, visit www.quaysoftheoldport.com.
For one-of-a-kind holiday gifts, Salon des Metiers d’Art du Quebec at Place Bonaventure features unique art and high-end handcrafts created by 400 artisans. It runs beginning tomorrow through Dec. 22. Admission is free, at 800 De La Gauchetiere St. W. Call (514) 861-2787 or visit www.salondesmetiersdart.com.
Steven Howell is the author of Montreal Essential Guide, a Sutro Media iPhone travel app available at iTunes.com.