The time has come – our family’s first trip to PEI’s Jack Frost Festival is almost here and it’s time to start packing!
Since I was planning to make a list anyway, I thought I’d type it out and share it to hopefully help your family, too.
(Please note: This list was made in advance of the 2019 festival; we’ll do our best to update 2020 information when it’s available, but the basics should stay the same and the links to our sources should help you, as well. Our family is being gifted the experience of our VIP hotel package and festival attendance in exchange for sharing our adventure with you; all opinions are our own. Jack Frost 2020 takes place February 14-17.)
We’re arriving Friday evening, just as the festival opens. Our VIP hotel package at Delta Prince Edward by Marriott grants us access to both the Indoor Playland at the Eastlink Centre and the Outdoor Snow Kingdom at the Charlottetown Event Grounds at 5pm, an hour before the public opening, which is fantastic for getting a few rides done before the lines get longer!
The Indoor Playland is open until 8pm on Friday, while the Outdoor Snow Kingdom is open until 9m, so we’ll hopefully have enough time to explore each a bit. (Though if the kids are also keen to just curl up in the hotel room after a swim in the pool, we’ll indulge in that option, too – especially since there are bedtime snacks delivered to the room!)
Saturday is going to be a full day of fun! We’ll start things off with a character breakfast at the hotel, as well as make time for the Meet & Greets with PAW Patrol’s Rubble and Dora the Explorer and the Imagination Movers. We are SO excited to finally see these amazing performers live, along with the other festival musicians, Silly Robbie, Kobbler Jay, and The Music Man, Michael Pendergast. (Please remember: these were the 2019 guests; we’re waiting to see who’s coming for 2020!)
The Indoor Playland features bouncy castles and a petting zoo, both of which will be huge hits with our kiddos. We’ll likely spend some time here in the morning, then focus on outside!
The Outdoor Snow Kingdom looks incredible, with ice slides (no sleds needed, with some JUST for toddlers, which is fantastic), a tube run, an obstacle course, live ice sculpting, and more. Practical information to know: there are food vendors (I see Tim Hortons and Papa John’s, two of our kids’ favourites, on the map!), a warm-up tent with baby changing station, port-a-potties, and live music.
Saturday night there’s an awesome event happening downtown (Victoria Row & Queen Street) that we’re really looking forward to attending! Aurora is a free family event featuring ice sculpting, DJs Dekz and Lonely Kid, buskers, an interactive snowboarding demonstration by Snowboard PEI, and more. It begins at 6:30pm and ends at 8:30pm with fantastic fireworks planned!
On Sunday, we’ll do a final round of everything and make our way home – though the festival grounds are open until 6pm, with the Outdoor Snow Kingdom remaining open for the holiday Monday, so there is lots of time for everyone to enjoy the festival.
So, what do we need to make this all happen? Here’s what I’ve got; please, let me know if I’m forgetting anything!!
I’ve been encouraging the kids to wear a thin pair of cotton/spandex gloves under larger shell mittens, to try to keep hands as warm as possible this winter, so we’ll each have at least two pairs of mitts/gloves.
We’ll also have our warm hats with ear flaps, and our cotton neck warmers.
Then there’s snow pants for ALL of us – parents included! – so that we can all participate fully in the snow fun.
Warm boots, too, of course!
I’m going to bring t-shirts, zippered hoodies, pants, and double socks for each of us. The forecast is thankfully mild (single digits mostly, woo hoo!), so I’m not going to invest in hand or foot warmers, but we might need to switch our socks for the inflatables.
A sturdy backpack to carry all the items I’m sure the kids will be handing over, asking us to carry.
Glow sticks/bracelets for a little extra fun!
I plan on packing our backup pairs of boots, snow pants, and jackets and leaving them in the van’s trunk, just in case. (The upside of having a van is that it’s easy to over-pack for short trips!) The forecast is calling for temperatures above zero on Saturday, which will be our main day spent outside, so there’s a good chance we’ll get pretty wet playing. A backup pair of snow gear is never a bad idea — if there’s room!
Whether it’s for the fireworks or the live shows (or the blender at home), our kids always like to block loud noises. We were gifted Baby Bandz for each child when they were born; awesome gift, as they run about $30 and last for years!
Skates and CSA-approved helmets
While the festival itself doesn’t have a skating option, Charlottetown has a lot of outdoor recreational skating rinks listed on the city’s website (updated with current conditions and locations). Our daughter has been LOVING skating on outdoor rinks this winter, so again, since we have the space, we’ll pop the skates and helmets into the van in case we want to take some time to explore the city (though with the lineup of festival events and attractions, there’s really no need!).
I checked with the festival organizers to be sure; sleds are not necessary! The ice slides are created to be used without having to lug your sled around, and tubes are provided for the tube run. Helmets on the slides are also not necessary, though obviously if you’re welcome to if you’re worried about little heads.
I’m always terrible about remembering what to pack for a hotel stay, but now that I’m making this list, hopefully our travel will be even smoother from now on! In addition to the usual fun jammies and our clothes, here’s what else I’m bringing:
- Flip flops for trips to the pool and breakfast
- Swimsuits and towels
- Snacks for in the room
- Activity books and small games
- Phone chargers, toiletries, clothes, the usual weekend away stuff
- Cash (Most people I know don’t keep much cash on hand these days, but at events like this it’s always a good idea! There is an ATM listed as being available at the festival site, but I’d rather come prepared and skip the extra charges and possible complications.)
Some other important things to know:
- Children two and under are free to attend Jack Frost!
- Plan ahead to take advantage of early bird pricing; you might even get your bridge pass included! Tickets are available on-site if you make a last-minute decision to attend, though.
- All tickets are final sale; there are no refunds. Things go ahead, rain or snow.
- The Outdoor Snow Kingdom has port-a-potties, food, and beverages in a warm-up tent. There is also an ATM on site.
- Looking to avoid the crowds? The Festival organizers suggest heading to the Indoor Playland on Friday night (6-8pm) and Saturday night (4-7pm) and the Outdoor Snow Kingdom on Saturday night (5-8pm) and Sunday afternoon (2-5pm). VIP passes also give you access to everything one hour before the public opening; these are only available by booking an all-inclusive family hotel package through the festival partners.
For more details about the festival, check out their FAQ page!
More ideas for experiencing Charlottetown with kids
We’ve also loved searching through downtown for Eckhart the Mouse. He’s the star of a children’s book “The True Meaning of Crumbfest” by Islander David Weale. There are statues of Eckhart scattered around downtown; it’s fun to find him poking out in various places!
The city’s Market opens at 9am on Saturday; it might be tricky to fit in during this Festival trip, but it’s always nice to visit.
One of our last trip’s to the city introduced us to Victoria Park, a lovely space in the city that looks magical in the winter!
Also on our to-visit list is Small Print Board Game Café, a lovely looking spot that’s family friendly and full of fun!
We’ve heard amazing things about Owl’s Hollow in Charlottetown. It’s a toy store with a café and indoor play space! Certainly keeping it on our list of places to visit!
And if you still need more ideas, read Discover Charlottetown’s awesome list of ways to love winter in the city! You might also want to check out Winter Love PEI’s website for a list of events that help folks embrace the season.
Watch our social media channels and follow along as we enjoy our first family vacation to the Jack Frost Festival and Delta Prince Edward by Marriott; you can find us on Instagram and Facebook. We’ll be back to update this site with details, too!
Wanna join in the fun? It’s not too late! You can buy individual and family passes for the weekend or just one day ON SITE; it’s a great day-trip from Moncton if you’re not interested in an overnight hotel package! (Regular online pricing is also available until 11:59pm on Valentine’s Day – great savings, as the on-site prices are more. Full details here.)