northern exposure

From cabarets to igloo raves, The Nomadic Boys show us the cool side of Montreal

rainbow sidewalk

Montreal is the cool kid of Canada. She’s sassy, dresses well, loves her festivals and, most of all, adores her gays.

As well as being the biggest city in the Quebec province and the country’s second-largest city, Montreal also has one of the largest villages in the whole of North America. Visiting as a same-sex couple, we felt completely safe and welcomed wherever we went across the entire city. GayCities contributors The Nomadic Boys left Canada with a longing to return and could even see it as a place to settle one day.

Here are their recommendations…

1. Queer village

Selfie over Montreal's gay village rainbow balls
Selfie over Montreal’s gay village rainbow balls

One of the largest and most beautiful villages in all of North American, Le Village features multiple bars (including great stripper clubs), hotels from boutique to Bed & Breakfasts, rainbow sidewalks and amazing french food. Rest up at Bed & Breakfast Du Village after a night out at Le Stud.

2. Festival-Mania

via Igloofest Montréal
via Igloofest Montréal

Montreal is famous for festivals, there is one for everything, whether it’s comedy, k*nk, or electro music. There are several taking place almost every month of the year.

Even during its extremely harsh cold winters when temperatures average 5 degrees Fahrenheit (-15 Celsius), there’s huge outdoor festival Igloo Fest taking place at Montreal’s Old Port Jan 18 – Feb 11.

Igloo Fest has become famous as “the coldest music festival in the world.” During the festival, every weekend features a large electro music party, as well as a unique #Iglooswag “winter wear” competition, in which contestants show off their one-piece winter outfits.

Other travel-worthy festivals in Montreal:

Love Festival

Biggest Circuit Fest in the city

Montreal

Black and Blue Festival

Sensational mega party

Montreal

3. Kiss on top of Mont-Royal

Mont-Royal
Mont-Royal

Montreal is named after Mont-Royal, which is a 765 foot high triple-peaked hill in the heart of the city. It is the iconic symbol of the city, and locals use it as a focal point to get their bearings.

The peak of Mont-Royal is easy to reach. It’s either a 30 minutes hike up from downtown, or a short drive up. The best point is the Belvedere Observatory for the best views of the city.

We first saw Mont-Royal in the gay web series called Montreal Boy – some strings attached, which is about a guy from New York hooking up with a local Montreal guy and spending a weekend together exploring the city, falling in love. Check it out – it’s very cute and will give you a flavor of gay life in Montreal.

4. Pride

If you’re here during August, you’ll want to check out Pride. It engulfs the entire city. Everyone – straight, families, visitors, etc. – gathers to watch or march in the colorful parade, and then all congregate to party in the village afterward.

The most impressive part about it is that all political figures join in the parade and celebrate as well. The handsome Disney-like-Prince-leader of Canada, Justin Trudeau led the way with the leader of Quebec province on his one side, and Montreal’s mayor on his other. We’ve yet to see a Donald Trump/Teresa May equivalent taking place in any other pride events we’ve been to (we’re not holding our breath).

5. Visit the Musée des Beaux-Arts

Art display outside one of Canada's finest museums in Montreal
Art display outside one of Canada’s finest museums in Montreal

Montreal is a city of art. There’s always numerous outdoor displays featured across the city, usually outside of the Fine Arts Museum (Musée des Beaux-Arts). This museum is also one of the most prestigious of the city and the most visited in Canada.

We definitely recommend devoting a half day to exploring it. It’s massive, spanning several buildings and crosses the street as well. It features both Canadian artists and contemporary art, with some pretty impressive exhibitions like the Jean Paul Gaultier Love is Love. Other popular ones include Picasso’s “Meeting in Montreal” and Leonardo da Vinci’s “Engineer and Architect”.

6. Watch a strip show

Seriously it’s a thing.

Stock Bar

The boys don’t keep their clothes on for long 1171 Rue Sainte-Catherine E · Montreal, QC H2L 2G8
(514) 842-1336
Website

Every local we asked about where to hangout in Montreal, at some point told us we had to see a strip show. True enough, the boys are really stripCampus and Stock Bar are two of the best.

But this says more about the city’s history of being more liberal and accepting. During the prohibition era in the USA, people would flock here to buy cheap alcohol, and the bar scene flourished as a result.

Even today, laws here are generally more relaxed compared to most parts of North America. So in the case of strip clubs, touching is allowed, and the strippers are more daring than pretty much any city in the U.S.

The Nomadic Boys, Stefan and Sebastien, are a gay couple who quit their jobs in London in 2014 to travel the world. They write about their discoveries and experiences with the gay scene as well as stories from gay locals they meet in each new city they visit. Check out their vlog from their trip in Montreal for Canada Pride:

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