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06 Oct, Thursday
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Montreal Families

Winter fun at Parc Jean-Drapeau

Set aside a few weekends this winter because the Société du parc Jean-Drapeau (SPJD) has just announced its lineup and it is chock full of fun children’s activities.

New this year is the addition of a 500-metre long refrigerated and mechanically maintained Skaters’ Trail. Accessible every day and lit up in the evening, get ready to do some fancy footwork, because some nights DJs will have you boogying along the path to dance-worthy tunes.

Other activities include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, fat biking, sledding, and hiking.

Planned for December 18, 2021 to March 6, 2022, 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.

Activities for the whole family

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 trying out fat bikes for the first time on the introductory trails.

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 clinics for those interested in learning the more advanced skate-skiing technique. A third circuit on Île Notre-Dame covers 5.4 kilometres and will welcome experienced skiers to its trail where public art displays and heritage buildings are interspersed with nature. 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.

And if you want something a little more low-key, quiet Snowshoe tracks 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, pause the outdoor activities and shake off the coats during some indoor time at the Biosphere. This environmental museum will showcase three exhibitions throughout the winter months including “Species without borders” and the brand new interactive “Ecolab” for young and eager scientists.

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: snowshoe and cross-country ski rentals are free for children aged 5 to 17 residing on the island of Montreal and who are accompanied by an adult.

Safety and sanitary measures

Because the activities are outdoors and deemed to be of an “open-activity” nature, vaccination passports will not be required.

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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