1/10 Montréal Fireworks Festival
Montréal’s prestigious annual fireworks competition returns this summer, with some amazing pyromusical spectacles promised by the eight competing nations. Grab a blanket and a viewing spot by the Old Port, and watch in wide-eyed wonder as the night sky explodes overhead. Musical themes range from a tribute to U2 to The Four Seasons.
Shows in the competition run Wednesday and Saturday nights from 22 June–3 August 2013.
2/10 Complètement Cirque
Montréal is rightly proud of its reputation as the world’s premier circus destination, and its circus arts festival cements this with 12 days of wild acrobatics, awesome contortions, balancing acts and general clowning around. The festival attracts renowned circus troupes from across the globe, including the ubiquitous Cirque du Soleil, and outdoor shows are free. Various restaurants in the city have hooked up with the festival to offer fun, circus-themed menus for the kids.
The Montréal Complètement Cirque runs from 3-14 July
3/10 SkyVenture Montréal
Defy the laws of gravity and experience the sensation of a free fall skydive in a secure environment at Skyventure Montreal. You’ll face a cheek-stretching, 175km per hour airstream inside the 45-foot tall vertical wind tunnel, but it actually feels more like floating than falling. Anyone aged four years or older can take part, with full training and the chance to ask lots of questions before you fly. Children can enjoy the thrill of flying solo or as part of a group skydive with family and friends.
4/10 Montréal en Lumière
Montréal en Lumière is one of the biggest winter festivals in the world, with most kid-friendly activities taking place in the Quartier des Spectacles entertainment district. One ride on the illuminated urban slide and giant ferris wheel and they’ll forget all about the sub-zero temperatures.
Next year’s festival is from 20 February–2 March, 2014.
5/10 Just for Laughs
Although much of its programming is aimed squarely at adults, the largest comedy festival in the world – it hosts 1,700 artists from 19 countries around the world – has plenty to offer families, including street performers, mime artists and storytelling shows. But best of all is the super-cute Twins Parade, featuring hundreds of sets of costumed twins and triplets marching through the streets.
Just for Laughs runs from 12–31 July 2014.
Part of the Space for Life scientific complex, the Insectarium houses North America’s largest collection of arachnids, beetles, butterflies and other little critters. Learn how fireflies glow, why scarab beetles eat dung and why some insects sing, or visit the outdoor BuzzGround discovery space, with insect-themed games for kids up to 12 years.
7/10 Mount Royal Park
Better known as ‘the mountain’, Mount Royal Park is a paradise for kids in any season. Insummertime, rent paddleboats on Beaver Lake, cycle one of the many trails or just kick back in the sunshine with a picnic. Winter sees the park come alive with ice-skaters, toboganners and adventurous types ice-sliding in inner tubes down the mountainside. All equipment is available to hire onsite.
8/10 Aquatic Complex
Parc Jean-Drapeau’s seasonal Aquatic Complex is one of the best in Canada, with a competition pool, diving pool and recreational pool. It also caters for little ones with a gradual slope and cushioned rubber mat. This summer will see the arrival of trampolines and water games, and every Saturday there are huge inflatables installed in the water.
9/10 La Ronde
La Ronde is Canada’s second-largest amusement park and a perennial favourite of thrill-seeking roller coaster fans. Test your bravery on the super-fast Goliath, or the stand-up coaster Cobra with its 360-degree vertical loop. Prefer something less stomach-churning? Little ones can take the elevated mini-rail for a gentler way to see the park.
Also part of Space for Life, the Biodôme is a fantastically engaging attraction, with recreations of various ecosystems including a tropical rainforest and a seasonally-changing maple forest. Kids will love the close-up wildlife encounters, so keep your eyes peeled for penguins, buck-toothed beavers and cheeky tamarin monkeys.
British Airways flies from London Heathrow to Montreal; from £597 return.
Travel time: A flight from London takes 7 hours and 25 minutes.