Montreal, the city of festivals, puts on a festival for the kids every year at Parc Jean Drapeau. This year we decided to take Aidan.
My first piece of advice for people thinking about going (next year, it’s over for this year) is to arrive early, and leave early. We arrived around 10am and it was fairly quiet, but when we left at 1:30 there were hoards of people in the park with many more arriving.
My second piece of advice, if you have a small child, is to take a stroller; I’m glad we did. The festival is huge, covering most of the park, so there is much walking involved. We started in the area for toddlers, where Aidan took a foot-powered car for a drive around a “mail route” to deliver a piece of “mail” in the appropriate “mailbox”. Being the mailman has been a favourite game of his for a while so he liked that a lot.
Then we found a place where teenage girls were constructing elaborate buildings from cardboard boxes which were then being randomly painted by small children. Aidan, in oversized paint shirt, spent a creative 20 minutes painting a box in red, blue and orange.
After washing the paint off Aidan’s face we headed over to the “Petit Ferme” where we met hungry goats, a sleeping cow, dozing sheep, chickens, bunnies and a slightly pissed off llama. We also sat in a big blue tractor for a few precious seconds before it was the next kid’s turn.
On the way to find lunch we had to stop at the “Ile de sand” so Aidan could dig for a while, even though the organisers had inexplicably failed to provide digging implements. It was the biggest, and probably cleanest sandbox he’d ever been in though.
We were intrigued about lunch because the guide told us it was international fare, including food from Brazil, Mexico, Europe, Africa, Quebec and Haiti. A lot of the food turned out to be variations on hot-dogs, like the “afrodog” and the “eurodog”, although the Haiti tent did have grilled pork and chicken, and the Mexico tent was selling Mangos made to look like flowers. We had eurodogs, washed down with iced tea and followed up with an ice cream.
We had one more stop to make before we took the now slightly cranky boy home. We’d promised him a fire engine, so we went looking for the fire engine, which happened to be right on the other side of the park. Eventually we found it, and Aidan sat in the back seat and both front seats, and got to try on a fireman’s helmet before the fireman noticed and took it away.
After I dented that we were going to the festival, he warned me to watch out for pedophiles, but I was actually very impressed with the number of police and security people in attendance, not to mention the volunteers taking care of lost children and of the general running of the event. The distinctive volunteer t-shirts could be seen everywhere and we never felt unsafe or saw any dodgy looking men. Well, there was that one guy, but he turned out to be one of the official clowns…