By STEVEN HOWELL
---- — MONTREAL — Winter: Bring it on!
Montreal’s great outdoors provide some wintertime family fun.
JEAN DRAPEAU PARK
Returning for its second edition, Jean Drapeau Park hosts the Snow Village, a place where everything is made of ice.
Snow sculptures include an illuminated ice hotel, ice chapel, restaurant and bar. This year’s outdoor theme highlights New York City reproduced in ice and snow.
The Snow Village opens for previews Friday, Jan. 4, and officially opens Sunday, Jan. 13. The Snow Village is open Thursdays to Mondays. The day rate (before 8 p.m.) is $18.50 for adults, or $13.50 after 8 p.m. Discounts are available for seniors, students and children. Hotel stays start at $199 a person. Unless there’s a very early spring thaw, the Snow Village continues through Sunday, March 24. For more information, call (514) 788-2181 or visit www.snowvillagecanada.com.
Jean Drapeau Park also hosts the annual Fetes des Neiges, Montreal’s outdoor winter bash, which celebrates a milestone 30th anniversary this year. The event takes place weekends from Jan. 19 through Feb. 3. The festival offers tons of playtime fun, including an NHL regulation-size skating rink, dog sledding, a skating path with great views of downtown, roaming circus characters, a popular inner-tube snow-sliding course and a zip line.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Site access and many activities are free. Paid activities cost $2 for the zip line, $10 for an all-day inner-tube pass and $12 for a dog-sled ride.
Both the Snow Village and Fetes des Neiges are held on Ile Ste. Helene, which is most easily accessed by Metro station Parc Jean Drapeau. By car, take the exit halfway across the Jacques Cartier Bridge. Call (514) 872-6120 or visit www.fetedesneiges.com for more information.
The outdoor Quays Skating Rink at Bonsecours Basin is now open daily through mid-March. You can skate by day or night, with evening skates offering a special musical theme from 7 to 9 p.m. The skating playlist includes Classical Mondays, World Music Tuesdays, Alternative Rock Wednesdays, Romantic Thursdays, Eighties Fridays, Rhythm Saturdays and Francophone Sundays. Skating hours are from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, and until 10 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Daily access costs $6 for teens, adults and seniors, and $4 for children 6 to 12. Season passes and skate rentals are available.
Nearby at the Clock Tower Quay, snowshoe and Scandinavian kicksleds are available for rental from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The fee is $8 for snowshoes and $9 for the kicksled by the hour. Call (800) 971-7678 or visit www.quaysoftheoldport.com to learn more.
Igloofest returns for four weekends of hypnotic DJ, dance and electronica music held at an outdoor club venue at the Jacques Cartier Quay. It’s held Thursdays to Saturdays from Jan. 17 through Feb. 9. Admission (18 and older only) costs $20. Visit www.igloofest.ca for details.
MOUNT ROYAL PARK
Sledding, skating, cross-country skiing (with lessons available), snow tubing, snowshoeing and birdwatching are all available at Mount Royal Park.
The mountain’s winter headquarters, Beaver Lake, offers an outdoor-skating rink as well as a main pavilion. The pavilion offers lockers, equipment rentals and a restaurant. Just adjacent is the inner tube and sledding hill. Access to the skating rink is free, and skate rentals are available. Inner-tube rentals for the day cost $9 for those 12 and older, and $5 for children 4 to 12.
“Snowshoeing by the Light of the City” provides a guided evening snowshoe stroll under the stars. The season’s inaugural stroll starts Saturday, Jan. 5, and continues through Saturday, March 9. The 75-minute-long trek departs at 6:15 p.m. from the Smith House. The activity, open to those 12 and older, costs $17 and includes snowshoe rental and hot chocolate.
Access the Smith House and Beaver Lake Pavilion by car at Camillien Houde Drive at Park and Mount Royal avenues on the east and Remembrance Road at Chemin Cote des Neiges on the west. Call (514) 843-8240 or visit www.lemontroyal.qc.ca for more information.
Steven Howell is the author of Montreal Essential Guide, a Sutro Media iPhone travel app available at iTunes.com.