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27 Mar, Monday
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Montreal Families

Winter fun at Parc Jean-Drapeau

It gets cold in Montreal in the winter, but instead of dreading (or avoiding) it, choose to celebrate the season in all its snowy glory. Whether you’re interested in cross-country skiing, sledding, or meandering along a skating trail, Parc Jean-Drapeau has activities to offer everyone. The Société du parc Jean-Drapeau (SPJD) has just announced its lineup of activities for this winter and it is chock full of outdoor fun for the whole family.

New this winter

The 500-metre skating trail has been redesigned and improved to maximize the magnificent views of the river and downtown Montreal. The course is also now more suited to beginners — so bring along the little ones. The refrigerated and mechanically maintained path will be open all winter long and illuminated in the evening, guaranteeing an unforgettable winter experience.

Fatbikes are returning as an initiation activity, but now have an improved and more interesting route with a view of the river. Bike rental is available and visitors can take this opportunity to explore a new winter activity.

Take advantage of your visit to not only observe the winter fauna and flora of the park but take part in the winter bio blitz — an activity where naturalists and the general public will team up to carry out a quick biological inventory of a corner of the park

Activities for the whole family

Planned for December 23, 2022, to March 5, 2023, the seasonal activities will get underway as soon as the skies grace us with enough snow. So grab the kids and head outside to do a wiggly, giggling snow dance, because the fun starts when the flakes start flying.

On my bucket list for this season is trying out the park’s toboggan hill with its spectacular backdrop of Montreal’s skyline, hiking the island in hopes of seeing some feathered and furry winter residents, and grabbing a hot chocolate of course.

For those wanting to tour around the two islands that make up the large park, three cross-country ski trails will be traced and maintained, with tracks for different skill levels. On Île Sainte-Hélène, beginners can travel a 300-metre trail, while nearby more seasoned skiers can test their mettle on an 800-metre circuit. The Ski de fond Montréal organization will also be hosting introductory clinics for those interested in learning the more advanced skate-skiing technique. A third circuit on Île Notre-Dame covers 5.7 kilometres and will welcome experienced skiers to its trail where public art displays and heritage buildings are interspersed with nature. The trails are easily accessible from the metro station and parking lots P1, P2 and P5. A locker room with waxing tables will be available for visitors at the Pavillon de la Tunisie.

Once again this year, a climbing wall will be turned into an ice wall, where climbers accredited by la Fédération québécoise de la montagne et de l’escalade (FQME) can tackle this adrenaline-pumping sport just minutes from the city. Those interested in trying it out can purchase yearly or daily memberships from the FQME.


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And if you want something a little more low-key, quiet snowshoe trails will allow nature enthusiasts to observe the park in a whole new way, and a walk up Mont Boullé near the Tour de Lévis will provide a great setting for visitors to take a contemplative and memorable stroll. Bird feeders set up in the wooded areas near the Biosphere, Pavillon de la Tunisie, and Floralies Gardens will give visitors a peek at nuthatches, chickadees, and woodpeckers.

Warm-up and slow down at the Biosphere

If you’re needing to thaw out tender toes for a while, head over to the Biosphere. This environmental museum features special events and activities, including the virtual reality experience – Plastisapiens.

Plan to stay the day

Food concessions, hot drinks, and rental equipment on-site will make planning visits that much easier. Families must bring their own sleds and crazy carpets for the toboggan hill, but they can rent skates, cross-country skis, fat bikes, snowshoes, snow scooters, skate supports, and even helmets. And good news for families: skate rentals are free for children aged 5 to 17 residing on the island of Montreal and who are accompanied by an adult.


For more information about winter activities at Parc Jean-Drapeau, visit parcjeandrapeau.com or follow the action on social media @parcjeandrapeau.

Address: 67 Macdonald, Montreal, H3C 6A3
Accessible by public transit: Yes (Jean-Drapeau metro station). The metro station is located right in the heart of the park and is the easiest way to access the activities.
By car: If you are coming by car, you can reach the park using the Jacques-Cartier Bridge or Concorde Bridge (Bonaventure Expressway, Pierre-Dupuy exit.) Parking rates are 1 hour $4.50, 2 hours $9, Daily rates $11.
Phone number: 514-977-9328

All photos courtesy of Parc Jean-Drapeau.

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