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24 Mar, Friday
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Montreal Families

Guided Tour: Montreal Jazz Festival with Kids

Montreal International Jazz Festival 2010
*Note: Photos above taken at the 2009 Jazz Festival*
Schedule: June 25 to July 6, 2010
Cost: Free
Address: Children’s play area located on the esplanade of Place des Arts, open noon to 10 p.m. throughout the fest, rain or shine. Petite Ecole du Jazz shows held daily in Complexe Desjardins, 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. View festival map.

The Montreal International Jazz Festival isn’t just for grownups – organizers make a big effort to make families feel welcome. It’s estimated that 10,000 children participate in various activities each day of the event.

Musical Play Area
On the esplanade of Place des Arts is a large, musical-themed play area for kids that’s open from noon to 10 p.m. It includes an inflatable maze, climbing structure, giant piano keys to walk on, and a large, shaded sandbox that’s full of toys. There is also face-painting and some art and craft workshops for kids. Near the play area, you’ll find changing tables and stroller parking.

It’s a super setup, so unfortunately long lineups form quickly. Last year, we arrived before the play area opened at noon, and were still standing in lines and had to be really careful the kids didn’t get lost in the crowd. We left the area pretty quickly because our guys got tired of waiting around, and they caught sight of the hot dogs and giant popsicles being sold at the kiosks nearby. No contest! Be sure to bring hats and sunblock, because there’s not much shade.

Petite Ecole du Jazz shows
Every day at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., there are Petite Ecole du Jazz shows for kids in the Complexe Desjardins shopping centre across from Place des Arts. This year’s show, held near the food court, features a vocal harmony group, Les Zélèves, plus James Gelfand and his instrumental quartet as well as Ste. Cat, the Jazz Fest mascot. Look out on the festival program for the Jazz Fest des Jeunes performances, which are performed by various local school groups.

Need a pillow?
New this year is a pitstop area for families near the corner of de Maisonneuve Blvd. and Clarke St. (sponsored by Loto-Québec). It’s a grassy spot close to several stages, where cushions are provided.


  • Parents who don’t want to lug their stroller may be interested in buying a friend card for $12, plus tax. With the card, you can borrow a stroller, get sunscreen and a bottle of water.
  • If you’re going by car, note that many streets surrounding the festival are closed. Consult the festival map before you go.

Have you ever taken the kids to the Jazz Festival? Write your own review in the comments section!

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