Montréal spring break activities for families
This article was updated on February 1, 2019.
Spring break happens near the end of winter here in Montréal, usually in March, so kids can slide down snowy hills and ice skate, discover nature’s wonders at the Space for Life, play games indoors and stay active and entertained with all kinds of special activities.
Activities for the whole family
By early March, there's still time to enjoy classic Montréal winter activities, from sledding on the mountain to bird watching at the Montréal Botanical Garden and ice skating next to the St. Lawrence River at the Natrel ice skating rink or next to the Olympic Stadium at Les Jeux d'hiver. Downtown sparkles with winter festival MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE from February 21 to March 3: enjoy excellent food, culture activities, the Art Souterrain exhibitions and a free outdoor site at Place des Festivals, where everyone can ride a Ferris wheel, go ice sliding, roast marshmallows and play with the high-tech Illuminart projections. Stay out past bedtime during epic all-nighter Nuit Blanche à Montréal on March 2, with activities for all ages in venues across the city. Among the many free things to do this winter in Montréal, play video and board games in a fun atmosphere during Montréal joue, from February 23 to March 10. Wow the kids with a bird's-eye view of Montréal from the top of the Montréal Tower at Olympic Park, on the tallest observation wheel in the country, La Grande Roue de Montréal, or from 46 floors above downtown at the Observatoire Place Ville Marie.
Toddlers, pre-schoolers and beyond
A wild experience for all ages, the Space For Life museums bring a global bounty of natural wonders into the city. Thrill younger kids with the hundreds of butterflies, moths and caterpillars at the Montréal Botanical Garden’s Butterflies Go Free event, from February 28 to April 28. Identify insects at the Insectarium and explore the mysteries of the universe in an exhibition and immersive films at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium. Meanwhile at the Ecomuseum Zoo, spot over a hundred animals native to Québec – like bears, otters, wolves, hawks and caribou – in large outdoor spaces and an indoor area, and be a zookeeper for a day during spring break. Kids can climb aboard historic locomotives and hear stories all about trains at the Exporail museum. Take playtime up a notch at indoor parks just for kids: Bouge Petit Café on Papineau, not far from central Montréal find Kazoom Café, KidzillaFun and play centre Ubisoft World. And pick up the best Montréal bagels for a snack on the go.
Elementary school kids
Outdoors, try ice skating and snow-shoeing or just play in the playgrounds of Parc La Fontaine, Mount Royal Park and Jarry Park. Along with the archaeology and history complex Pointe-à-Callière's kid-friendly exhibitions Pirates or Privateers? comes a week of spring break activities outdoors, including a maple sap collecting challenge and an interactive quiz game. Or skate indoors at Atrium Le 1000 downtown and go swimming and bounce around in the aquatic playground at the huge Olympic Pool. Beyond the city centre explore nature at beautiful nature parks like Bois-de-Liesse, Pointe-aux-Prairies, l’Île-de-La-Visitation and Cap-Saint-Jacques. And be sure to visit a cabane à sucre for a traditional Québécois meal and sleigh ride during the late-winter and early spring sugar shack season.
Shows and museums
Among the many indoor family activities in Montréal throughout the year, this spring's signature circus show Coups de coeur thrills from February 20 to March 2 at La TOHU circus centre, the Montréal International Children's Film Festival sparks young minds from March 2 to 10 and kids’ favourite Disney characters put on skates for DISNEY ON ICE! presents Mickey's Search Party show at the Bell Centre from March 7 to 10. Join free spring break workshops and tours among other special activities at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The Montréal Science Centre is a must for educational entertainment, from their interactive Indigenous Ingenuity and Human exhibitions to big-screen adventures in the IMAX® TELUS Theatre. And budding fashionistas will love seeing Barbie as herself and as celebrities through the decades at the Barbie Expo downtown. Head to the Canadian Olympic Experience to find out just what it takes to be a high-calibre athlete in a hands-on way by trying out (in virtual reality) sports such as bobsleigh, fencing and freestyle skiing. Then, learn more about Canada's Olympic history through a thrilling exhibition!
Pre-teens and teens
Rock climbing is a physical challenge and a mental workout no matter what your age – let kids scale the walls at Centre d'Escalade Horizon Roc indoor climbing centre, featuring the Acro∞Parc high-ropes obstacle course. Climb into the cockpit of the Aerosim Experience full-scale flight simulator and fly around the world for a while. Or find out what it’s like to jump out of a plane at indoor wind tunnel SkyVenture Montréal. Catch some serious air with every jump at state-of-the-art trampoline park iSaute. The St. Lawrence River rapids may still be frozen, but the waves never stop at indoor surfing centre Oasis Surf. For teens with a need for speed, race over to Action 500 Karting & Paintball, the largest indoor go-cart centre and paintball arena in Canada, or Vortex Racing, where racing simulators offer up to 2.5 Gs of force. See how video game skills transfer into real-life accuracy at massive bowling, billiards and laser tag centre BoulzEye and downtown’s laser-tag lair Laser Quest. Experience how combat meets archery in an intense game of DodgeBow or learn how to fight like a Jedi at The Force Academy. Play glow-in-the-dark mini-golf at Putting Edge or opt for sports of a different stripe at the Ministry of Cricket & Other Homeless Sports. Engage in some serious mind games as you work together to get out of tricky scenarios at A/Maze Montréal, Missions Morpheus, Échappe-Toi Montréal and Escaparium escape games. And when the day is done, refuel at these great family-friendly restaurants.
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.