Montreal's Fête des neiges: What to look forward to

Despite a slow start to the winter season, Montreal’s Fête des neiges kicks off for yet another year this weekend.

Winter carnival at Parc Jean-Drapeau kicks off today, runs every weekend until Feb. 7

Montreal's Fête des neiges, an annual winter carnival, kicks off this weekend at Parc Jean-Drapeau and runs every weekend until Feb. 7 (Parc Jean-Drapeau)

Winter may have taken its time to arrive, but Montreal's Fête des neiges is kicking off right on schedule this weekend.

For its 33rd year, the winter festival will take place at Parc Jean-Drapeau every weekend from Jan. 16 to Feb. 7.

Yan England, longtime spokesperson for the festival, sat down with host Mike Finnerty on CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

The comedian, actor, and producer talked about why Fête des neiges is worth the weekend trip.

15-metre zip-line
Two children fearlessly zip-line from the Biosphère. (CBC)

"We have the highest movable tower in the world for a zip line," England said, allowing the festival to offer four downhill cables with different heights. 

For thrill-seeking zip-liners, England says the highest cable is 15 metres high and 200 metres long.

Ice Skating with a 'romantic' view
Ice skaters enjoy Parc-Jean-Drapeau's refrigerated skating path. (Gilles Proulx/Fête des neiges)

"If you want to skate but you don't have your own skates, we've got places to rent them," reassured England.

He added that no matter the weather, a refrigerated rink will assure constant skating.

"But the cool thing is that after 5 p.m., the view of Montreal is beautiful," he said. "It's romantic!"

Big Bang Bulle
The Big Bang Bulle activity turns Fêtes des Neiges participants into human bumper cars. (Parc Jean-Drapeau)

One of England's favourite attractions is the Big Bang Bulle, which essentially looks like human bumper cars.

"It's this huge plastic bubble, you get into it and it's kind of like playing sumo soccer. And you know, if you have some sort of tension in the family, you can deal with the tension right there."

Fun for children
Fête des neiges features interactive shows with classic cartoon characters, including Caillou. (Parc Jean-Drapeau)

The annual winter event is a favourite for families. Aside from classic carnival attractions — tube sliding, Ferris wheel, bouncy castle — Fête des neiges also includes live interactive shows with classic cartoon characters.

On opening day, England says the childhood-favourite Caillou will be there.

Fun for adults
Fête des neiges spokesman Yan England says the weekend event is also fun for adults, including hot wine, food trucks, and live shows. (Parc Jean-Drapeau)

England says the weekend event isn't just a good time for children.

"We've got some hot wine. We've got shows. We've got food trucks. There's really a huge variety of things to do and enjoy." 

He says Fête des neiges is an ideal spot for a first date. "You've got to be original," he goaded.

Fête des neiges opens Saturday, Jan. 16 and will run every weekend until Feb. 7. There is no entry fee. The site opens from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.