Wonderful winter activities for families in Montréal

Robyn Fadden

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.

Updated on January 21, 2021.

Bundle up and get ready to have some serious family fun this winter in Montréal. Ice skating, sledding, snow tubing and all kinds of winter activities and festivals make outdoor adventuring lively and memorable.

Note: Due to current public health directives, some businesses and attractions may be temporarily closed or may have reduced hours or services. We recommend that you call or visit their websites to get the most up-to-date information. For more details on the current situation in Montréal, click here.

 

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Winter playtime in the parks

Along with Montréal's many festive winter holiday activities in December, the city serves up all kinds of fun for families throughout the winter season. Go walking in the woods or sledding down the hills in Mount Royal Park and other major parks. It’s even easy to go ice skating as a family in Montréal, no matter anyone's skating skills: dress warmly and rent ice skates at the refrigerated Beaver Lake rink in Mount Royal Park, where you can also rent sleds, snowshoes and cross-country skis and go on expert-led park tours.

Skate around the tree-lined Parc La Fontaine ice skating rink in the Plateau neighbourhood or skate on the pond at Parc Jarry, not far from Jean-Talon Market. Explore the sprawling wintery grounds of the Montréal Botanical Garden and try out the cross-country ski paths of Parc Maisonneuve next door. Escape across the river to Parc Jean-Drapeau, hosting a special program of winter activities, including a new ice skating rink Patinoire Radio-Canada OHdio – if you don’t have your own equipment, rent it on site! Also try out cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on the trails of Parc Maisonneuve and Parc Jean Drapeau. When it’s time to re-fuel, head to some of Montréal’s great places to eat with kids in Montréal. And when kids inevitably ask for hot chocolate, why not go for the best hot chocolate in Montréal?

City sights and sounds

This year’s Luminothérapie outdoor art installation features 10 bright and colourful artworks throughout the Quartier des spectacles until March 14, including Loop zoetrope pods, animated video project Index on the façade of the Pavillon Président-Kennedy, and the inflatable shadow-theatre spheres of MoonGARDEN. While throughout Old Montréal from Wednesday to Sunday nights, use a smart phone to find the history-illuminating projections of Cité Mémoire. And watch for new ways to have winter fun this season too, from creative “winter stations” in neighbourhoods to a historic snowshoeing trail in Parc Jean-Drapeau.

From March 4 to March 28, the city's signature winter festival MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE makes winter feel more than welcome – at festival headquarters in the Quartier des spectacles, you'll find live music, theatrical and circus performances, fascinating art and all kinds of food, drink and activities, and luminous artworks.

Museums, nature and culture

 

Kid-friendly museums and galleries abound in Montréal – some even offer free entry to kids 12 and under, along with free weekend workshops all winter and spring break activities in early March. When museums reopen this winter, explore the many kid-friendly artworks at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, see history from a new perspective in interactive exhibitions at the McCord Museum and Stewart Museum, and play games, do science experiments and even journey into space at the Montréal Science Centre. . 

At the Ecomuseum Zoo, spot over a hundred animals native to Québec – like bears, otters, wolves, hawks and caribou. Barbie fans can see her style transformations through the decades at the free Barbie Expo  downtown, while hundreds of celebrities and historical figures are rendered lifelike in wax at Grévin MONTRÉAL. For those obsessed with trains, go full steam to Exporail / The Canadian Railway Museum.

In March, discover the wild artwork of annual event Art Souterrain in the maze-like Underground Pedestrian Network. And take a break with a book at Librairie Drawn & Quarterly (one of the city's many great bookstores), at the Grande Bibliothèque downtown or any of Montréal's kid-friendly libraries.

Family day trips

For the adventurous family, explore Montréal's major nature parks, like Parc-nature du Cap-Saint-Jacques and Parc-nature de l'Île-de-la-Visitation, or explore the regions around Montréal on a day trip out of town. Among the excellent places to ski, snowboard, cross-country ski and snowshoe, check out Centre de villégiature Tremblant and other mountains in the Laurentians or in the Eastern Townships. Whether you’re in the city or the countryside from late February to early April, be sure to partake in a true Québécois tradition: the sugar shack. Eat sausages, pancakes, tourtière and so much more until you’re full, and go for a horse-drawn sled ride or a peaceful walk through the maple woods.

Robyn Fadden

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.

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