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27 Mar, Monday
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Montreal Families

La Fete des Enfants de Montreal


La Fête des Enfants
Schedule: Aug. 13 through 15, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Location: Parc Jean Drapeau, métro Jean Drapeau, Bus 167
Cost: Free

Kids rule at Parc Jean Drapeau this weekend. The annual Fête des Enfants, from Friday through Sunday, hosts a riot of activities, going way beyond the inflatables-face-painting-pony-ride routine. The event targets children 12 and under, and it’s free, so expect crowds and lineups. Read on for festival highlights and a survival guide.

The Fête offers several new activities this year, including:

  • Skating on a synthetic ice rink (cost: $2 / 20 minutes of skating and skate rental)
  • Parades, including Afro-Brazilian percussion school Zuruba and Chinese dragons
  • Zip lines for younger and older kids
  • Katag sponge sword battles for up to 60 kids at a time
  • Building and painting of 300 cardboard houses (paint and supplies are provided)
  • A hot air balloon will be on the site

There is also a long list of workshops, including:

  • Pinata-making
  • Origami
  • Puppet making
  • African face-paint
  • Chinese calligraphy

And shows:

And open houses:

  • For those who’d like to swim, there’s an open house at the Île Ste. Hélène Aquatic Complex during the festival, with animation, inflatables and trampolines around the pool. Read a guided tour of the aquatic complex.
  • Aug. 15: The Montreal Museum of Fine arts offers free admission to the Miles Davis exhibit, the interactive musical show Fred Piston and his 7 Trumpets will be on at 2 p.m., and there will be a drop-in creative workshop from 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Aug. 14 and 15: The McCord Museum hosts  “seek and find” for kids in the Dream Weavers: Costumes by Cirque du Soleil exhibit, as well as a mask-making workshop from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Regular admission prices for parents.

La Fête des Enfants Survival Guide

While the festival offers an amazing array of activities and services – including indoor breastfeeding and diaper-change areas – it can be overwhelming. The activities are spread out over a large area, you have to keep excited kids from running off, there are lineups everywhere, and not a lot of shade.

  • For kids under 5, get there as early as possible to avoid lineups and meltdowns.
  • Children 5 and up typically handle lineups better than little ones, and will probably get more out of the experience. Pick one or two “must” activities and do them early before everyone runs out of steam.
  • You are strongly encouraged to use public transit to get to La Fête des Enfants, and it is free for families on Aug. 13 and 14, with this pass. When we went, we parked our car near Place des Arts station in Old Montreal and took the metro. Though the website says “it’s so easy by subway”, they probably have not tried getting through a metro station with a double stroller. If you have an infant, consider using a baby carrier.
  • If you have a bike trailer and/or child seats, consider getting there by bike.
  • There are lots of food options, but bring your own water and at least some snacks so that you don’t end up waiting in line for them.
  • The event will be held rain or shine.
  • The site map (below) may help plan your visit.

Screen shot 2010-08-10 at 10.57.24 AM

Images courtesy of La Fête des Enfants.

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