1. Marché des Possibles You’ll find this fantastic weekly market and cultural event, programmed by POP Montreal, nestled among the fir and pine trees at this shady park at the corner of Bernard Avenue and St-Dominique Street in Mile End. Though the marché runs on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from June 17 to August 7, weekend days are the most kid-friendly, with free fun for tiny ones planned on Saturdays and Sundays starting at 11 a.m. Some highlights include yoga for kids on Sundays, a collaborative mosaic to paint and indigenous programming (including a hoop dancer) at night on July 1, a bubble dance party on July 16, and a kids’ karaoke session from 5 to 6 p.m. on July 22. In terms of food and drink, there will be fare to purchase from market vendors, chefs coming to cook on Friday and Saturday nights and food trucks, too. It’s also a licensed space with a bar and biergarten, so adults can partake if they wish while their kids have a blast in this super-creative space.
When: June 17 to August 7 (Fridays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.) More info: popmontreal.com
2. Festival International de Jazz de Montréal This festival is a Montreal institution filled with musical performances for all ages, but there are a few free activities geared specifically to kids. Every day from noon to midnight, families can visit the brand new version of the Rio Tinto Alcan Musical Park at The Esplanade in the Place des Arts, which features tons of fun, interactive elements designed to teach little ones about music, including a giant piano with keys big enough to stand on and a musical climber. The Family Club, open from noon to 10 p.m., is at the same location as the park and includes a water play feature in the shape of a record player and workshops, crafts and activities for kids. At 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m, La Grande-Place at the Complexe Desjardins hosts the interactive musical show La Petite École du Jazz.
When: June 29 to July 9 More info: montrealjazzfest.com
3. Mini Rogers Cup If you have a tiny tennis fan at home, be sure to bring her to the Mini Rogers Cup! It all begins with a press conference, which takes places at 11 a.m. on July 21, and ends with the cup finals, which take place on July 23 and 24. Both events are held at Olympic Park. At the press conference, kids will be able to hit balls around and participate in other activities with a player from the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA)—Montreal hosts the WTA for the Rogers Cup this year from July 22 to 31 at Uniprix Stadium—and a rising local tennis player. On the weekend, it’s time for the finals, where they’ll be able to watch kids (under 12 in Ontario and under 10 in Montreal) compete for the top title. There are no tickets required, so anyone can enjoy the matches—and the press conference—for free!
When: July 21, 23 and 24 More info: couperogers.com
4. Les JumOlympiques at Just For Laughs Get ready for tons of fun at the Twins Parade, which is a hilarious annual part of the Just For Laughs festival. This year’s theme is JumOlympiques, so get ready to see lots of athletic antics. The parade kicks off at 4 p.m. at the corner of De Maisonneuve Boulevard and Jeanne-Mance Street and finishes at the Place des Festivals, where there will be costume contests for the hundreds of participants, and it’s free!
When: July 23 More info: hahaha.com
5. Montréal Complètement Cirque (Montréal Cirque Festival) Montreal becomes the site of circus fun for 11 days in July. As part of this festival, there are a number of ticketed shows at venues in the area, but there are also free events for your family to enjoy. Head on over to Saint-Denis Street (which will be closed to traffic between Sherbrooke Street and Sainte-Catherine Street throughout the festival), where you’ll be treated to amazing feats by Les Minutes Complètement Cirque at the corner of Emery Street and Saint-Denis Street every night, except July 11, at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. These acrobats with their bright red umbrellas have few limits in terms of where they perform—you’ll even find them on top of buildings! When their show is complete, they lead the crowd to the big aerial acrobatics show, Fracas, which is performed every night, except July 11, at 7 and 10 p.m. at Place Émilie-Gamelin. Then, from July 12 to 17, there will be at least seven types of activities, including trapeze, trampoline, tightrope and hula hooping, which everyone can try out on Saint-Denis Street starting at 5 p.m. And that’s just a taste of what will be happening throughout the festival!
When: July 7 to 17 More info: montrealcompletementcirque.com
6. Au Sommet Place Ville Marie There’s nothing quite like seeing the city you live in from way up high. Thanks to a major renovation of the top three floors, you’ll soon be able to take your kids up to the 46th floor of Place Ville Marie, the iconic building co-designed by famed architect Henry N. Cobb in the early 1960s, to take in a 360-degree view of Montreal from the observation deck. On the floor below, you’ll find a multimedia exhibit about the city called #MTLGO. The cost is $13 for kids ages six to 12, while kids under six get in free!
When: Opens end of June More info: ausommetpvm.com/l-observatoire
7. Monarch Odyssey at the Montréal Insectarium The end of summer means that it’s time for many monarch butterflies to begin their journey to Mexico, which takes about two-and-a-half months! Since 1994, the Insectarium has been participating in a program where they raise and tag monarch butterflies as part of a research project. Everyone is invited to come by on several days in late August and early September at 2:30 p.m. (for the English show) to see these beautiful pollinators off once staff have tagged them. This event is included in the price of regular admission. Note: Rainy days mean that Monarch Odyssey will not run for the day.
When: August 20, 21, 27 and 28 and September 3, 4 and 5 More info: calendrier.espacepourlavie.ca
8. Six Flags La Ronde Montreal is home to the largest theme park in eastern Canada, and it’s packed with fun for all ages—little ones ages two and under get in free! There is a little kids’ section called Ribambelle’s Land, plus plenty of family-friendly rides. If your older kid loves roller coasters, check out the Vampire, which now zooms backwards. Plus, this summer marks the debut of a new part of the park called Avenue Aventure, which features two new rides: Phoenix and Gravitor. There’s also a new virtual-reality coaster (note: kids ages 12 and under can ride this but may not wear the Gear VR headsets).
When: Open every day through August and weekends until early November More info: sixflags.com
9. Lego Imagine Nation Tour It’s going to be brick city for three days at the Palais des congrès de Montréal, which is the site of the city’s stop on the Lego Imagine Nation Tour. It’s basically a Lego lover’s dream. Kids will be able to jump in and build whatever their hearts desire in the Brick Pit, which is filled with thousands of bricks, get some tips from a Master Model Builder in the Master Builder Lab, try out new Lego video games, take a picture with 20 life-sized models built out of Lego (including an eight-foot-tall Avengers model!) and turn their creation into a game by building a pre-set model, scanning it into a gaming experience and playing with it. And that’s just a taste of what’s available for Lego fans! Tickets for each session (there are five times to visit over the tour stop) are $28.50. There will also be a lounge area to eat in if you’d like to bring your own meals and snacks.
When: August 12 to 14 More info: legoimaginenationtour.com
10. International Balloon Festival of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu Canada’s biggest hot-air balloon festival takes place in this city southeast of Montreal. The main attractions are the gorgeous balloons, which your family can check out during evening flights at the fairground and in the mornings at eight parks around the city (hot-air balloons can only fly at certain times during the summer). You can also book balloon flights for an extra cost. Participants must be at least four feet tall to ride in the balloon, and pregnant women are unable to go along for the flight. Back at the fairground, your kids can bounce around at Planète Ballon, which is the world’s largest inflatable park, enjoy midway thrills at the Ride Zone and so much more! Activities and entertainment (there are a number of musical performers playing) are included in the cost of entry, but Ride Zone tickets are extra.
When: August 13 to 21 More info: ballooncanada.com
11. Exporail, The Canadian Railway Museum Take a trip to Saint-Constant, Quebec, just a 30-minute drive from Montreal, to thrill your little train fanatic. Your kids will be able to climb aboard a number of trains in Exporail’s collection, as well as take a little tour on its outdoor miniature railway or in its vintage streetcar. And then there are the model trains: While there are 160 vehicles and more than 1,000 miniature trains in Exporail’s permanent collection, you may want to visit on August 20 or 21, when the much-loved exhibit A Great Passion for Model Trains is on. More than 20 exhibitors from Ontario and Quebec will be sharing their passion for model trains by presenting their miniature vehicles (complete with landscapes). There will be interactive elements, too, including a Lego workshop.
When: All year round More info: exporail.org