This is our post from 2016, for info on the activities happening from February 21st-March 3rd, 2019, CLICK HERE! Many of the outdoor events are the same like the Milk Family Fun Zone, the ferris wheel and zipline, and the big slide.
After we had such a fun time visiting the Luminothérapie installation last month, I knew we’d come back to experience Montréal en Lumière at Quartier des spectacles/Place des Festivals when it opened.
February 18 to March 5, 2016, Montréal en Lumière is one of the largest winter festivals in the world and celebrates lighting design, music, theatre, amazing food, entertainers, and much more. It also features the immense Nuit Blanche on March 4th with 200 mostly free activities throughout the city.
We chose to visit the free outdoor site which is located at Place des Festivals’ public space on Jeanne-Mance as well as along Rue Ste-Catherine and in front of Place des Arts.
We found amazing street parking just outside the entry gates on Ste-Catherine (parking under Complexe Desjardins is also quick and easy and last time cost us $11). We got there just after the site opened at 5pm (it opens at 2pm some days, check the hours HERE), when a lot of people were leaving work. I think street parking is going to be loads harder to find on the days when the site opens at noon.
Walking through the gates, we were just in time to see the first show from Le Bloco, a Brazilian percussion group, right in front of Espace Casino de Montréal. What an invigorating start to our experience! In this Tiki-styled area, you’ll also find live ice-carving (the little one can never get enough chainsaw ice-carving action!), as well as all sorts of food and a spot to try out surfing (though only for those 12 and older).
I’d looked at the Outdoor Site Program beforehand and had an idea of what we would see, and what might interest the boys.
“Alright, who’s going on the Zip-line??”
“Noooooo!” was the terrified reply from the 3-year old.
Ok, so the 2-block ride did look a little petrifying! If we’d come without kids I think I would have tried it. Maybe…
We walked around and both boys were amazed at the flashing, turning ferris wheel, and craned their necks to watch the zip-liners going above us.
We stood in line to try out the virtual painting at the Artlux activity where I got “painted”. We were then able to have it printed out next door at the Boite Bell, where my big boys stood in line to try out the 3d virtual glasses (and got free hot chocolate) only to be told at the end of their wait that it was for 10 and older. Awwwwww
Walking past the amazing aroma of adults and kids roasting marshmallows and sausages on the Braseros, we decided against standing in the ferris wheel line and instead headed over to the Milk Family Fun Zone which is up the steps of Place des Arts. Lots and lots of steps so it’s not very stroller-friendly!
Up here you’ll find giant games including snakes and ladders, huge lite-brites where we made abstract designs (“It’s a helicopter! See?”), tic-tac-toe, bean bag toss, and our favourite activity: the Milk Mini Slide. It was quiet, with not many kids, so the line up to the slide was only about a 2 minute wait. The two big boys were off watching people careening down the BIG slide (all 110 metres!) so just the little one and I lined up. Realizing I had a dilemma of who was going to catch him at the end of the slide, I asked the animator at the top to wait before sending him down and dashed down the stairs and along to the end. They seem pretty used to that request and she waited until I she saw me and sent him down. “Woohooooooooo!” was all I heard, and judging by his huge, proud grin, he LOVED it. Some parents went down with their little ones on their laps, as it’s a really fast run.
While my 7-year old was actually tall enough for the big slide, the line was a bit too long and everyone was hungry. There are food booths along Ste. Catherine including the grilled cheese and milk booth, and a maple syrup booth. But both boys saw the McDonald’s sign (argh) and wanted that. But, it was sort of nice to take a break and sit and take off our coats. If you’re looking for a quick spot to eat indoors, there’s St-Hubert, the food court in the mall, or tons of other options east and west along the block.
After that pick-me-up, we headed back outside, got some “you’ve both been really good” maple syrup lollipop treats for the boys, watched a fire juggler, and then stood under the glow of the ferris wheel (which by about 7:30 had a huuuuuge line) and watched the Polar Jam show. Music, dancing and fire. What more could two little boys ask for??!
We stayed almost 3 hours and yet didn’t even have time to see everything, like the Kongzi exhibit and the Illuminart L’îlot de chaleur. It was well past my boys’ 7pm bedtime, so sadly we had to head home.
In the car on the drive home I asked them what they liked the most, expecting it to be the slide, but they both answered “The ferris wheel!”
“But we didn’t even go on it!” I replied.
But what they both liked was just being able to see it and the experience and vibe of the whole place.
This was definitely a highlight of our winter and I’m happy we attempted it with the kids. They were happy, excited, and today…tired!
Besides the free outdoor events, there are TONS of concerts, circus acts, and shows going on inside and outside. Have a look at the official website HERE for all the info. And this FAQ page will answer your questions about hours, bathrooms, restaurants etc.
*The site is closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so make sure you check the days and hours before going!