Family-friendly summer festivals in Montréal
Almost all of Montréal's summer festivals welcome families, but several are tailor-made for kids big and small. From live music to circus shows and video games, family-friendly festivals in July and August know how to mix entertainment with fun and educational activities for all ages.
Parks and entertainment
Summer festivals big and small make their homes in the city's parks and green spaces – with lots of room to move and play, they're the perfect places for family entertainment. In Parc Jean-Drapeau, just a short metro ride away from downtown, family-oriented event Week-ends du monde celebrates Montréal’s cultural diversity with music, dancing, food and fun from July 6 to 7 and July 13 to 14 – it's also one of the many free things to do this summer in Montréal. The park also hosts massive festivals Osheaga Music and Arts Festival in early August and HEAVY MONTRÉAL in late July – both with free entry for kids age 10 and younger when they're with an adult (the decibels run high, so bring hearing protection!).
At Jardins Gamelin in the Quartier des spectacles downtown, watch dozens of circus artists perform during international festival MONTRÉAL COMPLÈTEMENT CiRQUE from July 4 to 14 – the festival also features indoor shows, performances on Saint-Denis Street and activities and performances in neighbourhood parks around the city. In Parc La Fontaine in the Plateau neighbourhood, Haiti on Fire! fills the park with music, theatre, dance, literature and more from July 22 to 28. And let the kids stay up late to see innovative fireworks set to music for L’International des Feux Loto-Québec, on Wednesday and Saturday nights from June 29 to July 27 – watch from the Old Port's Clock Tower Beach and nearby green spaces or get close to the action at La Ronde amusement park.
Music for families
In Place des Festivals' grassy event space, Festival International Nuits d’Afrique brings the best of African and African-influenced music to Montréal from July 9 to 21, with live music as well as storytelling, instrument demos and dance for all ages. The OSM Classical Spree is all about free and affordable classical music concerts, many specifically for families, from August 7 to 11 – listen to music and participate in workshops at Place des Arts, Complexe Desjardins and along Sainte-Catherine Street, as well as Grand Opening Concert Verdi’s Great Requiem on August 7 at Olympic Park. Electronic music and digital arts festival MUTEK welcomes families to its outdoor shows in Place des Festivals from August 20 to 25. And gather under the Rosemont-Van Horne overpass in Mile End for Mile Ex End Montréal, a festive and family-friendly weekend of indie-rock, hip hop and more live music from August 30 to September 2. For lunch or dinner, try some of Montréal’s many great places to eat with kids in Montréal, and, of course, locally made ice cream and other frozen treats!
Fun and games
Comedy festival Just For Laughs welcomes hundreds of comedians to the city and gets kids giggling with a playful kids zone, entertainers, a street festival and a parade in Place des Festivals, from July 10 to 28. And the Mondial des Jeux Loto-Québec festival challenges players of all ages in video games, board games, physically challenging activities and more from July 18 to 29. And just outside the city in the Montérégie region, the International Balloon Festival of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu fills the sky with 125 hot air balloons – go for a ride, listen to live music and more from August 10 to 18.
Community and culture
Montréal weaves together multiple cultures – and summertime sparks a celebration of that wealth of diversity. Montréal's Caribbean communities bring food, entertainment and family activities together at A Taste of the Caribbean from July 11 to 14. The Montréal First Peoples festival spotlights Indigenous and First Nations culture in outdoor performances in Place des Festivals as well as in family-friendly workshops, film screenings and talks from August 6 to 14. Montréal Pride includes free outdoor performances as well as a family-focused community day in the Village from August 8 to 18. Held at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Montreal in early August, Matsuri Japon features a kids craft zone, traditional Japanese dance, music, taiko drumming, martial arts, food and more in an all-age, community-minded atmosphere. And Montréal’s Italian Week Festival showcases the city's Italian culture from August 9 to 18 in Little Italy, with outdoor performances, vintage cars, a dessert contest and more.
Robyn Fadden, blogger
Robyn Fadden is a Montréal-based writer and editor who searches out city secrets, new bands, life-changing art and things to do with her perpetually active kid. Robyn has covered major events for HOUR, MUTEK, ARTINFO, CKUT 90.3FM and more.