Your guide to sensational summer fun – 2011 Edition

When it comes to summer activities, Montrealers are some of the luckiest people around. Whether you love nature, music, sports or history, you’re likely to find a program, festival or event that will delight your family. Many of these activities are quite affordable, so you can boost the quota of summer fun without hurting your pocketbook. Below, you’ll find plenty of ideas we hope will inspire you to get out and enjoy these oh-so-fleeting months of sunshine.

Montreal Canada Day July 1 2011Canada Day at the Old Port

On July 1, 2011, families can celebrate all things Canadian with a day of free activities and entertainment at the Quays of the Old Port. There will be a “village” of inflatable games and visitors can check out shows featuring acrobatic skiing, snowboarding and even motocross. For adults, there will be a yoga zone in front of the Montreal Science Centre and, later that night, an open-air disco where they can dance the night away. Food will be available for purchase throughout the day and the event ends with a huge fireworks display. For more information visit http://celafete.montreal.tv.

Many boroughs have their own Canada Day festivities — we have several listed on our online calendar.

Learn Quebec history at Pointe du Moulin Park in Ile PerrotDelve into Quebec history at Ile Perrot park

The Pointe du Moulin Park in Ile Perrot, which features a working windmill and plenty of green spaces, is offering several activities this summer aimed at teaching families about Quebec’s history. Events will be held on weekends from July 2 to Sept. 9, and are included as part of the park admission fee, which is $18 per car, no matter how many people in the vehicle. (Admission is $15 per car on weekdays.) Upcoming activities include:

July 2: Transport Yourself to Another Time Visitors will be able to check out vintage cars, climb aboard horse-drawn carriages, construct a canoe and try out a rebaska on St. Louis Lake. Lunch and treats will be provided.
July 16: Fun and Games from Yesterday to Today: Learn about puppets, archery, piñatas, limbo, face painting, kites and more.
July 23: City Day Activities and concerts in honour of the city of Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot.
July 30: Delights at the Twilight Visitors can enjoy a happy hour with pizza (by reservation) followed by dessert around a campfire. In the evening, a family-friendly film will be broadcast.
August 13: Camping under the Constellations Star lovers can peruse the skies using wooden telescopes, and visitors may take part in a treasure hunt in the dark. Families are welcome to pitch their tents and stay the night. (Those who stay until the morning will be provided breakfast by the miller and his wife.)
August 20: A Blast of Flavour From the Past Visitors will be treated to corn on the cob, fresh bread and candy. They’ll also make bread and meet a confectioner who will discuss what goes into Ste. Catherine’s taffy.

For more information, visit www.pointedumoulin.com.

Just for Laughs Festival, Montreal, July 5-31, 2011Just For Laughs Festival

Enjoy some humourous moments at the Just for Laughs Festival from July 5-31. At the outdoor site, near lower St. Denis St., families will enjoy free shows, including the Street Art show, carnivals and street entertainers. On Saturday, July 30 at 4 p.m., kids will enjoy a popular parade where hundreds of sets of twins march down the street. The festival also includes a line-up of comedy shows (ticket costs vary) including visits from Canadian Russell Peters as well as Eric Stonestreet from ABC’s Modern Family. For a full list of activities, events, and comedians, visit www.hahaha.com.

Weekend le Monde, Montreal, July 9-17, 2011Travel the world — in a weekend!

Families can experience the culture, food and sounds of Mexico, Jamaica Turkey, China and other countries simply by heading down to Jean Drapeau Park on July 9-10 and 16-17 for the free “Weekends du monde” event. Visitors of all ages can wander four sites (Île Ste. Hélène, Carrefour du Monde, Plaine des Jeux and Place des Traditions) where people from more than 50 countries will show off their food, music, dance, costumes and traditions. The festival site is open noon to 11 p.m. For a complete list of events, visit www.parcjeandrapeau.com.

Redpath Museum Bike Tour, Montrea, July 17, 2011Bike tour explores Montreal

Ever wonder about the history of Montreal’s architecture? The Redpath Museum is organizing a bike tour on July 17 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. that takes families to various sites in the city. The tour will start at the museum then travel west along Sherbrooke St. to the Priest’s Farm, will head up the old Indian trail and stop at Glen McAuslan Brewery for refreshments. Adults can enjoy microbrews while children sip on juice; snacks will be offered too. Finally, the tour will end in ghostly Griffintown at the old Lowny chocolate factory. The tour starts at 859 Sherbrooke St. W., and will take place rain or shine. Cost is $25 for adults, $15 for seniors and students, and $10 for children 12 and over. Advance reservations are necessary, so call (514) 398-4094 or visit www.mcgill.ca/redpath.

Montreal Dragon Boat Festival, July 22-24, 2011Dragon Boat Festival

Experience Chinese culture at the Dragon Boat Festival on July 22-24 at the Olympic Basin. Hundreds of teams from all over North America will compete in races. Children can enjoy live entertainment, arts and crafts and the popular Children’s Drawing Contest. A wide range of ethnic foods will be available and there will also be many vendors and exhibitors showing off their wares. Admission is free, but you must pay for parking. For more information, visit www.montrealdragonboat.com.

Shakespeare in the Park, Montreal, July 28-August 21, 2011Shakespeare arrives at local parks

Repercussion Theatre, which has been staging outdoor productions of Shakespeare’s plays for years, is bringing Macbeth to parks around Montreal from July 28 to August 21. People of all ages, children included, are invited to watch the story unfold, complete with witches, ghosts, thunder, and lightning. Visitors are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. For a complete list of parks and performance times, visit www.repercussiontheatre.com

Expo de St. Hyacinthe, July 28-August 7, 2011Expo De St. Hyacinthe

At this agricultural festival from July 28 to August 7, families can check out farm animals, enjoy amusement park rides and listen to live music. Admission is $15 per day for adults and children and gives access to the site, 25 amusement park rides and many activities. There will be pony rides, faces painters and magic shows. For more information, visit http://www.expo-agricole.com.

Rogers Tennis Tournament, Montreal, August 5-7, 2011Rogers Tennis free family weekend

You don’t have to have any interest in tennis to attend a free weekend of family fun from August 5-7 at Jarry Park. The Rogers Tennis tournament, which will welcome many of the top male players in the world, invites families to take part in several activities during the qualifying rounds of the competition. There will be coaches from a gymnastics club manning stations with mini-trampolines, bars, beams and vaults. Face painters, jugglers and mascots will also be on hand to entertain kids who can also take part in a game of mini-tennis, have dance lessons with Louise Lapierre staff or jump in giant inflatables. And if it is a really hot day, there is a public swimming pool at Jarry Park that you can use to cool off. For more information, visit www.rogerscup.com.

La Fete des Enfants, Montreal, August 13-14, 2011Fête des Enfants

For a 13th year, families can attend one of the city’s largest family events — the Fête des Enfants held at Jean Drapeau Park on August 13 and 14. Admission is free and children 12 and under can enjoy a variety of games, sports, craft workshops, inflatable structures and much more. Parents will appreciate the many family-friendly touches like baby rest stops, bottle-warmers, changing tables, stroller parking, and picnic tables. (Note for those with small babies: high chairs are not available). Families who bring their own food in a cooler will be able to put it in a storage area. For an up-to-date list of activities, as well as information on using public transit to get to the park, visit www.parcjeandrapeau.com.

International Balloon Festival of St. Jean sur Richelieu, August 13-21, 2011International Balloon Festival of St. Jean sur Richelieu

From August 13-21, approximately 100 colourful balloons will take to the skies over St. Jean sur Richelieu. Although you can see many of the balloons from a distance, the festival site offers several activities and events. There will be inflatable play structures, face painting, games and contests for kids as well as a special haunted house for older children and teens. Families can also visit an exhibit that simulates a ride in a hot air balloon or listen to live concerts featuring such artists as Kesha, Marie-Mai and Sean Paul. If purchased online, a nine-day pass costs $39 for ages 13 and up and $13 for ages 3-12 (children ages 0-3 can visit for free). Single day tickets are also available. For more information, visit www.ballooncanada.com.

Irish Family Day, Montreal, August 14, 2011Irish Family Day in August

The second annual Irish Family Day will take place on August 14 in Ste. Julie, south of Montreal. Organized by various Irish community groups, the event will feature various activities for kids including face painting, inflatables, storytelling and hay rides. There will also be sports events such as rugby and Gaelic football. Admission is free and there will be a variety of food available. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the grounds of the Montreal Irish Rugby Club, 707 Rang de la Vallée.

Brome Fair, Sept. 2-5, 2011The Brome Fair

To end the summer with a bang, consider visiting the Brome Fair, which runs from Sept. 2-5 in the Eastern Townships. Admission is $12 for adults and children (free for children 3 and under). This year the fair has some new additions, including a three-times-a-day lumberjack show catered to adults and a science magic show for the younger crowd. There will be a special education zone where children can pet animals and learn more about agriculture and farming. Other activities include a motocross show, pony rides and talent competitions. A variety of food and entertainment will also be available. For more information call (450) 242-3976 or visit www.bromefair.com.

Parc Safari Cool Zone, HemmingfordParc Safari revamps its water park

Parc Safari, located south of Montreal in Hemmingford, has upgraded its “Cool Zone” aquatic centre to include eight new slides and 60 water games, where visitors can cool off after visiting the animals. The zone also features a tube ride, a beach and a wading pool for little ones. This summer Parc Safari offers a new exhibit called the African Walk Plain. Visitors stand on a huge, elevated terrace in the shape of the African continent, where they can see various animals native to Africa and even have a chance to feed some giraffes. For more information on rates and activities, visit www.parcsafari.com.