Guided Tour: The Great Pumpkin Ball and more at Montreal Botanical Gardens
Montreal Botanical Gardens Great Pumpkin Ball and Fall Activities
Cost: Adults: $13.50, children 5 to 17 $6.75, children 2 to 4, $2, free for age 0 to 2.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
Address: 4101 Sherbrooke St. E. (view map)
Parking: Pay parking in lot outside; $5/hour, $10/day.
Our most recent visit to the Botanical Gardens to check out the Great Pumpkin Ball and other fall activities was a success. What's great about the fall setup is the variety of activities – there's lots to keep young children busy for a few hours on a chilly morning or afternoon. Dress warmly and plan to go on a day when it's not raining – some of the better activities are outside.
The Great Pumpkin Ball: Held in the main greenhouse, this is a display of hundreds of decorated pumpkins (done by both students and adults). We were barely in the door when our 2.5-year-old spotted a Spiderman pumpkin and a Lightning McQueen pumpkin.
Although the pumpkins are creative and well-decorated, they don't keep young kids interested for that long. We did the circuit in less than 10 minutes. There is also an immense, 1,000-pound pumpkin on display, and a costumed witch named Esmeralda who tells the kids about her cabin. You can bring a decorated pumpkin and enter it a contest. Click here for details.
Little Monsters Courtyard (targeted at ages 4 to 8, but fun for our 2.5-year-old as well)
This is where our kids had the best time – playing several outdoor games for around 30 minutes. Located beside a walkway that leads to the Insectarium, an area is set up with several games including a "squash squeeze" (don't worry, it's not messy), sack races, tug of war, a mini labyrinth made of bales of hay, and a small climbing apparatus with wiggly bridges. Our five-year-old loved a game where you use a broom to roll a squash along the ground, challenging dad to several contests.
The Insectarium is about a five-minute walk from the Botanical Gardens main pavilion. This month, it hosts special 10- and 20-minute sessions on spiders. We didn't catch any of the sessions, but the kids were interested in looking at the various live spiders and insects on display; the 2.5-year-old needed a bit of coaxing but was mostly into it. We stayed about 20 minutes.
Buzzground, mini-train and lunch
After warming up in the Insectarium, younger kids can go back outside and get active again at the Buzzground, a playground that was built earlier this year. (Read I Spy Montreal's guided tour of the Buzzground) Close to the Buzzground, you can catch the mini train, which circles the grounds every 20 minutes or so. For lunch, there's an on-site cafeteria-style restaurant close to the main pavilion which has nice sandwiches (fig and cheese, for example), salads, etc.
Children's Play: La Famille de Pépo-Citrouille
There's a 30-minute children's play about pumpkins for ages 4 to 8, daily in the main pavilion during October. We didn't catch it during our visit, but click here to find out the schedule.
You may want to do an evening Botanical Gardens visit to see the Chinese Lanterns, which are absolutely beautiful. In our experience, the kids are less interested than adults, though, and it can be very crowded (ie: hard to get through with a stroller, etc.). We will save it for next year.