10 Affordable Family Activities

Published on November 28 2017

The holidays are magical, but let’s face it, they can be expensive! Here are a few suggestions for things to do with family and friends that will add some magic to your December without breaking the budget.


Welcome Christmas

We’ve had our first snowfall, sleighbells are tinkling in the distance, and Santa Claus is on his way. Young and old alike are invited to welcome the jolly old elf at several activities organized throughout the Outaouais.

Noël dans le Vieux-Aylmer
Christmas in Old Aylmer


Santa Claus Parade

The beloved Santa Claus Parade returns on Saturday, December 2 beginning at 6 p.m. on Principale Street in downtown Aylmer. After the parade, stroll through the Old Aylmer Christmas Market, featuring local crafts, entertainment and a toasty bonfire.

When: Saturday, December 2 at 6 p.m.

Where: Principale Street, Aylmer

Admission: Free


Crédit Yves Elou Légaré


Christmas at Place de la Cité

A tree lighting ceremony, an early-evening performance of the Christmas show Mon Arbre de lumière for the little ones, music by DJ Golden Flame for the older crowd, and hot chocolate for everyone—sounds like a good time! Come celebrate the closing of Gatineau 2017 in a holiday setting.

When: Saturday, December 9 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Where: Place de la Cité (570 De la Cité Blvd.)

Admission: Free


Christmas Markets

December is the time to check out the many Christmas markets in the area, particularly the 100% Made in Outaouais Christmas Market at the Promenades de Gatineau from December 1 to 24. For more suggestions, see my list of Top 10 Christmas markets for locally made gifts.

100% Made in Outaouais Christmas Market

When: December 1–24

Where: Promenades de Gatineau

Admission: Free


Explore Our Museums

DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition at the Canadian Museum of History

Are you a fan of Shrek, Madagascar and Dragons? If so, you’ll love the special exhibition DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition, celebrating 20 years of animation. Discover the secrets of digital animation from sketch to screen through interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, scale models and more.

On the opening weekend, pose for pictures on the red carpet with DreamWorks mascots!

When: December 8, 2017 to April 8, 2018

Where: Canadian Museum of History

Admission: Included with museum admission

Adult $20 / Family $50 (4 people)


Musée canadien de la nature
Canadian Museum of Nature


Movie – Museum Alive 3D at the Canadian Museum of Nature

Did you enjoy the movie Night at the Museum? Embark on an adventure through the Natural History Museum in London in the 21‑minute film Museum Alive 3D.

When: Saturdays and Sundays until December 17

Where: Canadian Museum of Nature

Admission: $4 per person in addition to museum admission

Adult: $14 / Child (age 3–12): $10 / Student (age 13+): $12

(Screenings in English and French.)


Musée des Sports
Gatineau Sports Museum


Gatineau Sports Museum

Are you a sports nut? Discover the new Gatineau Sports Museum, where you can learn about the history and evolution of sports in the Outaouais region.

When: Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1:30 to 5 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m.

Where: Gatineau Sports Museum (61 Laurier Street, Gatineau)

Admission: Free


The Joys of Winter

Les lumières de Noël au Canada
Christmas Lights Across Canada


Christmas Lights Across Canada

The 33rd edition of Christmas Lights Across Canada, a favourite local tradition, kicks off on Thursday, December 7 at 7 p.m. with an illumination ceremony on Parliament Hill. Stay afterwards to enjoy the magical winter lightscapes multimedia show projected on the Parliament Buildings.

When: December 7, 2017 to January 7, 2018

Where: Parliament Hill

Admission: Free

Festival des lumières aux Chutes Coulonges
Coulonge Falls Park Festival of Lights


Coulonge Falls Park Festival of Lights

In the Pontiac sector, the Coulonge Falls Park Festival of Lights runs every Saturday in December. Admire over 10,000 twinkling Christmas lights and follow the lighted path to the waterfall.

When: Saturdays in December and every day during Boxing Week (December 26–30)

Where: Coulonge Falls Park

Admission: Adult: $10 / Child: $6 / Family (2 adults + 2 children): $32


Festival des jeux de Gatineau
Gatineau Playground Festival


Playground Festival

Escape from the frightful winter weather and discover 67,000 square feet of inflatable structures, sports, trampolines and many other activities at the third annual Gatineau Playground Festival.

When: December 27–30, 2017

Where: Branchaud-Brière Complex (499 Labrosse Blvd.)

Admission: Advance: Child (age 3–15): $14 / Adult: $6

At the door: Child (age 3–15): $18 / Adult: $7


Crédit CCN - NCC
Credit CCN - NCC


Outdoor activities

We complain about the cold and snow, but sometimes the best way to beat the weather is to get out there and enjoy it. From snowshoeing at Lac Beauchamp to cross-country skiing in Gatineau Park or skating on the Rideau Canal, there are lots of ways to have fun in winter!

Cross-country skiing, skating, hiking

When: As soon as weather allows

Where: Gatineau Park, Lac Beauchamp, Rideau Canal Skateway

Admission: Free to under $20, depending on location. Family rates available.

* Equipment rental available on site.

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