When the going gets cold, many Montrealers get going… to Parc Jean-Drapeau. Situated on picturesque Île Ste-Hélène in the Saint Lawrence River just south of downtown Montreal, Parc Jean-Drapeau plays host to a seasonal flurry of winter activities, not the least of which is the annual “celebration of snow”…
The 2014 edition of the Fête des Neiges, this year over four weekends from January 18 to February 9, features an expanded range of outdoor events including an aerial adventure course, three 400-foot long zip-line cables, an enormous human foosball table, ice slides, a skating trail, tobogganing, and curling at the Stewart Museum. The wee ones get respect as well with colourful and continuous entertainment courtesy of the Polar Circus, while the “Small Paws” village features a mini-car circuit and small slides among other diversions. Inflatable games, ice sculpture, ferris wheels? They’ve got that too. And new this year are free evening performances each Saturday by well-known musical artists.
Parc Jean-Drapeau is also home to a number of other happening hibernal past-times, including the ever-popular teletraction snowboarding and skiing. For the uninitiated, teletraction sees snowboarders and skiers pulled by a cable (think waterskiing, but on snow) through a course with ramps and obstacles. Equipment rentals are available, and it all takes place on weekends beginning January 17 through March 9, as well as the week of Spring Break. Consult the schedule for times and rates.
For folks who want a little Great White North authenticity with their outdoorsy activities, dog-sled tours are offered Friday to Sunday from January 17 to February 23. Two types of tour are offered – a 15-minute initiation tour and a one-hour tour for the hardcore musher – as well as, new this year, a VIP experience that allows one-hour tour participants access to the dog kennels and the opportunity to help feed and/or hitch the huskies.
If you’d prefer to traverse the icy wilds at your own pace, extensive, easy-level cross-country skiing trails have been groomed through wooded areas and alongside the Saint-Lawrence. The trails are free to use and open on weekends from January 17 to March 9. Cross-country skis, and a range of other equipment, are available for rental courtesy of the Ecorecreo depot located onsite at the park. In fact, you may want to consider grabbing some snowshoes for the two-hour, scenic guided snowshoe tours that leave several times a day on the aforementioned dates. How’s that for Canadian, eh?
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