There’s no way around it … Montreal winters are long! The frigid temperatures and constant falling snow might make you want to curl up by a fire and hibernate, but there are so many fun winter activities for families to do that can help bring a new appreciation for the season.
1. Winter Backyard Games
As long as everyone’s dressed for the weather, there’s tons of fun to be had just outside your back (or front) door! Snow soccer, hopscotch, tag, treasure hunts, bubble blowing and more. Check out 29 different games kids can play in the snow.
2. Family Game Night
Unplug the Play Station, hide the video games, and stash away the iPads, at least for one night. It’s time to help stage a comeback for the old-fashioned family game night. Read this article about the best board games for families.
Or check out this feature story by a local teenager who explains how to play Dungeons & Dragons.
For those of you who just can’t stay away from your gadgets, here’s a list of some great family game night apps that’ll keep you entertained for hours at a time. The best thing is that they’re all completely free, so download an app – or three!
3. Movie Marathon
Stay in your PJs for the day, make some popcorn or treats, then snuggle into the couch and take turns choosing a movie to watch. If you need some recommendations, check out Common Sense Media’s list of Best Family Movies. You can use the age filters to find the perfect pick.
4. Set up a Hot Chocolate Bar
This ‘heaven in a cup’ can be even more fun when garnished with marshmallows, candy canes, whipped cream, cookies … whatever you fancy. If you’re looking for inspiration on how to set up a hot chocolate bar, Moms & Munchkins has some great ideas.
5. Build a Snowfort
Go big, go small, or go tall … just get building that snowfort! Light it up, beautify your walls with food colouring, or decorate it with flags and garland.
For Montreal families, it can become an even bigger event because, once again, Sport et Loisir de l’île de Montréal is inviting everyone to have fun and stay active outdoors by participating in this year’s Snow Castle Challenge.
6. Make Snow Angels
Find some clean, deep snow, plop down on your back and flap your arms and legs … how easy is that? Somehow, this activity also provides easy smiles to everyone involved.
Never made a snow angel? Check out how via Blippi Toys above!
7. Head to an outdoor skating rink
From city rinks and ovals, to neighbourhood-tended ice trails, Montreal’s outdoor skating spaces are some of winter’s most sought-after destinations.
8. Give snowshoeing a try
There are so many places to try out snowshoeing around Montreal. SEPAQ lists all the parks with trails along with snow conditions. And All Trails has an article about the most popular spots that includes trail maps, reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers.
9. Day of Tobogganing
Grab your helmets, mitts & hat, toboggans or snow racers and enjoy a day of fresh air, exercise, and the thrill of zooming down one of the terrific toboggan hills around Montreal.
If you’re looking for a smaller hill closer to your home, check out these great neighbourhood sledding spots.
10. Visit a Museum
Montreal is home to so many wonderful museums that offer family-friendly activities and programs. Check out Space for Life which includes the Biodome, Biosphere, Insectarium, Botanical Garden and Planetarium Rio Tinto Alcan. This year, Space for Life is offering an all-access passport that will provide holders with unlimited visits to the country’s largest natural science complex for one price.
If you have a budding artist in the family, consider visiting the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Train lovers (young and old) will enjoy Exporail. History buffs can get their fill at Pointe-a-Calliere and the McCord Museum. Finally, with the Montreal Science Centre reopening, kids can enjoy four permanent exhibitions.
If any of these museums are closed due to COVID, remember that most offer activities on their websites, Facebook pages, or even on YouTube.
11. Play tourist in your own city
Winter is a wonderful time to get out and explore the city. Many local attractions host family-friendly events to enjoy, outdoor winter celebrations are in abundance, and skating and tobogganing are celebrated in every borough. Even better, the STM allows kids to ride for free on city metros and buses all year long, so it’s easy to venture into new neighbourhoods.
12. Make Frozen Water Balloons
Seriously, these frozen orbs look so beautiful and will add lovely bursts of colour to the white of winter. The kids will have so much fun making these and placing them around your yard.
For easy-to-follow instructions, check out this Cabin Life article.
13. Put on a Puppet Show
Another great way to while away a frigid day in the house is to spend some time making puppets to put on a show. If you’re looking for a little inspiration to help get your production off the ground, check out PBS Kids’ great how-to list.
Grab an enchanting book, a blanket, and a cup of hot chocolate (see recipe above) and enjoy a quiet storytime. You might enjoy one of these books that entice kids to frolic in the snow or, perhaps, books that ignite a child’s imagination.
15. Get creative in the kitchen
Let the season inspire you to have some fun in the kitchen. Give some of these recipes a try:
Melted Snowman Sugar Cookies by Life Made Delicious
Snowflake Shortbread Cookies by Betty Crocker
Easy Snowman Cupcakes by Your Cup of Cake
Cute & Easy Polar Bear Oreos from In the Kids Kitchen
16. Make some winter crafts
Snow days and freezing temperatures may force us indoors from time to time. On those occasions, you’ll need to pull out that arts & craft box to keep the kids busy. Thankfully, Easy Peasy and Fun offers up a slew of Winter Crafts for Kids of all Ages. Snowflakes, snowmen, winter landscapes, penguins, polar bears and more.
17. Enjoy winter activities at Montreal large parks
Get outside, enjoy the brisk air, and stay active at Montreal’s network of large parks by taking advantage of a variety of sports activities being offered throughout the winter months: hiking, snowshoeing, sledding, cross-country skiing, fat biking, and more.
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18. Host a cooking class for the kids
Never underestimate your kids’ ability to learn new things! Having them in the kitchen with you while you prepare an evening meal helps them understand simple cooking techniques, measurements, and time management … all while having fun with you. Adapt each task to your child’s age and explain as you go, allow them to help choose the menu and perform some of the steps, and don’t forget to taste along the way.
If you’re looking for some sanity saving ideas and simple recipes that the kids can help with, check out My Kids Lick the Bowl.
19. Try cross-country skiing
20. Take a virtual trip
Thanks to modern technology, you don’t have to travel far to enjoy a family vacation. In fact, any comfy seat will do. Check out some of these amazing virtual tours of attractions that are popular with families:
For an even larger selection of destinations, attractions, museums, and more, visit Lonely Planet for its list of the best virtual tours to explore the world from home.
21. Host an indoor beach party
Dig out those colourful towels, sunglasses, hula-hoops, and inflatable pool toys to set the scene. Pop on some Beach Boys music (or any other music your kids love) to set the mood. Enjoy playing some summery games like the Limbo, hopscotch, or do a scavenger hunt (hide sea shells or other beach items). Plan a simple beach day menu … hot dogs, sandwiches, fruit kebabs, lemonade, and ice cream are all real hits. A beach party at home is just the thing to warm our winter-weary minds.
22. Do a winter family photo shoot
Family – check! Camera – check! Winter activities – check! All you need now is a little inspiration to create amazing photo keepsakes. Check out these 50 Family Photoshoot ideas to try out this weekend from diys.com. Find best practices for focal points, colour vs. black & white, funny themes, interesting locations, wardrobe ideas, and more.
23. Get creative with snow paint
Fluffy, white snow is the perfect blank canvas for creative little ones. Check out this easy snow paint recipe from Best Ideas for Kids for hours of outdoor fun.
24. Build a blanket fort
If you have blankets, sheets, pillows and chairs, you have the makings of an easy and inexpensive fort or club house. Grab your teddy bears and have a ‘tea party’, relax with a favourite book, do a little colouring, try to make shadow figures on the walls, play a game of cards, watch a movie on your tablet, have a picnic … the options are endless.
25. Make a snowman
Celebrate winter this year by rolling, building, and decorating an awesome snowman. To add a little more incentive, the City of Montreal will once again be hosting a Snowman Building Contest, and all kinds of snow sculptures are eligible — from traditional to animals.
26. Visit a library
Libraries are not solely about books anymore. With weekly programs and activities, craft corners, toy and game lending services, movies, and more, visiting your local library is a great activity to add to the weekly calendar.
If your local library is closed due to COVID, remember that most offer fun activities on their websites, Facebook pages, or event on YouTube.
27. Organize an indoor or outdoor scavenger hunt
If you’ve never tried one, scavenger hunts are seriously fun, no matter what your age. They can be done just about anywhere, encourage kids (and grownups!) to boost their observation skills, and are even educational. They are also a great way to encourage outdoor play and boost creativity.
Above are two scavenger hunts you can try at home … one indoor and one outdoor. Just click each image to open a full-sized, printable PDF.
28. Check out a winter festival
With winter in full swing, many communities in and around Montreal organized several festivals so that you can make the most of the snow-filled days. These festivals feature different winter activities from skating and tubing to sleigh rides, musical performances, culinary treats, and fireworks. So bundle up in your warmest gear and go enjoy the snow, no shovelling required!
Make sure to visit our online calendar in January & February to find all the festivals happening this year.
29. Winter “Spring Cleaning”
This is a great activity just after the holidays … in with the new, out with the old. Do a little de-cluttering and organizing to start the New Year off on a good foot. This might even be a good time to introduce age-appropriate chores for your kids. Donate unused or unwanted toys, clothes, and other home items to local charities.
30. Play a game of street/ball hockey
Every Montreal parent will recognize the universal call “Car/Auto”. This familiar refrain means a game of street hockey is underway. Grab your sticks and a ball/puck, invite your neighbours, borrow a net and get moving. Hockey fans of all ages will enjoy this activity.
You don’t have to travel far to enjoy birds’ entertaining antics. They can be found in backyards, at local parks, and perched on balcony railings! Learning about birds and their homes, understanding their different calls, and experiencing the natural world is an experience that adults and kids can share together. You can even make your own bird feeder to place in your yard.
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32. Frozen Suncatchers
Enjoy a little outdoor time collecting bits and pieces of nature such as leaves, twigs, pine needles and berries. Add in some colourful items from the house like lemon or orange slices, cranberries, green herbs, etc. Place your chosen items in a plate (tinfoil works well) and pour some water in. Place one end of some string or twine into the water with the remainder left free. Set the plate outside to freeze overnight. And, VOILA! You now have a lovely suncatcher to admire all winter long.
33. Make a Winter Memories Scrapbook
Be sure to take photos of all the family activities you did throughout the Winter, then create a wonderful 2021/22 memory book as a keepsake.