By STEVEN HOWELL
---- — MONTREAL — Père Noel is coming to town.
With the holiday season officially under way in Montreal, here are some ways to enjoy some seasonal cheer north of the border.
First up is Pointe a Calliere’s perennial holiday favorite, “Who is the Real Santa Claus?” Attendees will meet costumed actors who play different versions of “Santas” from around the world. It’s an opportunity to mingle with Melchior; chitchat with Babushka; hang about with Black Peter; and share a tale or two with the man in red himself, Santa Claus. The activity is held Dec. 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23 and 26 through 30. English tours are at 12:45 and 3 p.m. at 350 Place Royale. Admission costs $18 for adults, $14 for seniors, and $38 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 for details.
La Tohu, Montreal’s premier circus arts venue, presents its holiday family show “Timber!” Dec. 18 through 31. Presented by the circus troupe Cirque Alfonse, the family-friendly show combines acrobatic lumberjacks, traditional Quebec music and some pretty sharp axes. Tickets start at $28. La Tohu is at 2345 Jarry St. E. Call (514) 376-8648 or visit www.tohu.ca for more information.
The Centaur Theatre presents its annual “Urban Tales,” seasonally nontraditional, original cabaret-style stage works for mature audiences only. The show is held Dec. 12 through 15 at 453 St. François Xavier St. Tickets cost $22 for adults. For questions, call (514) 288-3161 or visit www.centaurtheatre.com.
Things get all warm and cozy with Chateau Ramezay’s seasonal event “Around the Fireplace ... Holiday Traditions.” Each of the museum’s five fireplace mantels are thematically decorated as Yule logs, Christmas trees, stockings, Advent calendars and vintage greeting cards. “Holiday Traditions” runs through Jan. 6. The museum is at 280 Notre Dame St. E., and admission costs $10 for adults. Call (514) 861-3708 or visit www.chateauramezay.qc.ca for details.
Just down the block, Sir George Etienne Cartier National Historic Site presents “A Victorian Christmas,” a look at Montreal holiday celebrations circa the mid-1800s with guided tours led by live costumed characters. Another seasonal activity, “At the Christmas Table,” offers tips on Victorian-era holiday entertaining. The events are held weekends through Dec. 23. Admission costs $7.80 for adults. The site is at 458 Notre Dame St. E. Call (514) 283-2282 or visit www.pc.gc.ca for more information.
“Saltimbanco,” one of Cirque du Soleil’s original productions, marks its 20th anniversary with a colorful return engagement at the Bell Centre Dec. 19 through 30. Tickets cost $57 to $139 and are available at www.evenko.ca.
Place des Arts is also hosting a number of holiday shows. Les Grands Ballets Canadiens presents the holiday favorite “The Nutcracker” on various dates Dec. 13 through 30. Adult tickets range from $28 to $71. Visitors can also ring in an elegant New Year with “Salute to Vienna,” an annual orchestral tradition always held on the afternoon of Jan. 1. Admission is $54 to $99. Call the Place des Arts box office at (514) 842-2112 or visit www.pda.qc.ca for tickets.
The Rialto Theatre Foundation presents the yearly classic “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens with nine performances from Dec. 13 through 23. Tickets cost $25 for adults and $20 for students and seniors. The performance is at the Rialto Theatre, 5723 Avenue du Parc. For show times and details, call (514) 770-7773 or visit www.rialtotheatre.ca.
The Montreal Botanical Garden offers a festive and colorful holiday event called “Christmas is Knocking at the Door,” where the main exhibition greenhouse is decked out with lush and lavish seasonal floral decorations from Dec. 7 through Jan. 6. This weekend is also a good time to visit the venue as it hosts its annual green-inspired Christmas Fair with 20 vendors setting up shop at the reception center. The fair runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday. The garden is at 4101 Sherbrooke St. E. Admission costs $17.75 for adults, $16.75 for seniors, $13.50 for students, and $9 children 5 to 17. Call (514) 872-1400 or visit www.ville.montreal.qc.ca/jardin for details.
Steven Howell is the author of Montreal Essential Guide, a Sutro Media iPhone travel app available at iTunes.com.