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The Montreal Botanical Garden and Insectarium feature children's Halloween activities until October 31.

Kids meet the friendly witch, Esmeralda, and her cat, Abracadabra. Their home, made from plants, is open from 9 am to 9 pm every day, in the Main Exhibition Greenhouse in the Botanical Garden.

Halloween games

Children under 10 years old play hide-and-seek games in the Ghostly Gallery of the Little Monsters Courtyard, an outdoor playground. They can search for Abracadabra, explore the Scarecrow Labyrinth, the mysterious Chamber of Illusions and Ms. Spider's Parlour in the inner courtyard of the Botanical Garden Administration Building.

Kids, four to eight years old, watch Pépo-citrouille in a French-language play. It tells the story of how the pumpkin character discovers the Maya and other Native people as he searches for the origins of his name. Performances are in the Botanical Garden Auditorium.

Pumpkin decorating

Children and adults can decorate pumpkins and squash and bring them to the Botanical Garden Reception Centre from October 3 to 9, between 9 am and 5 pm, and October 10 to 17, between 9 am and 7 pm.

Until October 20, visitors to the website can vote on-line for the best decorated jack o'lantern and the largest pumpkin. Contest rules are on the website.

Great Pumpkin Ball

Professional artists will decorate three huge pumpkins. Visitors can see more than 600 decorated pumpkins between 9 am and 9 pm, October 3 to November 2, at the Great Pumpkin Ball. Hundreds of pumpkins, carved into witches, ghosts and other scary faces, fill Main Exhibition Greenhouse at the Montreal Botanical Garden.

In the reception centre, experts answer questions about the cucurbitaceae family from October 3 to 31, between 9 am and 5 pm, and until 7 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

Last year, more than 10,000 visitors asked questions at the Union des producteurs agricoles kiosk and examined forty different varieties of squash grown at the Botanical Garden.

This year, visitors can pick up squash and pumpkin recipes from Quebec chefs like Roch Desjardins, Patrick Gerome from Auberge le Baluchon, Mario Julien, chef for Le Mirage, owned by Céline Dion and René Angélil, André Loiseau, Carte Blanche chef and Francois Pellerin, chef at Fouquet Fourchette.

Halloween events

The Montreal Botanical Garden and the Insectarium are open from 9 am to 9 pm.

From October 3 to 31, guides bring visitors spider hunting in the Insectarium, from 9 am to 3 pm. Kids learn how spiders weave webs and trap prey during the 10-minute Sneaky Spiders show.

Kids, ages four to eight, learn about spider homes in woods, gardens and homes in the 15-minute Our Neighbours the Spiders presentation. Another 15-minute show tells children The Silky Tale of Ariane the Spider.

Magic of Lanterns Festival

Between September 11 and November 1, the Montréal Botanical Garden will display more than 700 Chinese lanterns at the annual Magic of Lanterns, from 9 am to 9 pm daily. This year's theme celebrates the International Year of Astronomy.

The lanterns in the Chinese Garden of Montréal Botanical Garden were designed in Montreal, constructed in Shanghai and shipped back to Montreal for assembly. The TFT LED Contactless System uses nearly 10 times less energy than regular lights.

Ornate lanterns lit up Chinese festivals as far back as the Han dynasty (207 BC to 220 AD). To follow the movements of the moon through the stars, early Chinese astronomers divided the sky into 28 lunar mansions, and identified each one with an asterism or star pattern, representing 1,464 stars.

On Thursday evenings, visitors to the Montréal Botanical Garden Chinese Garden can look through telescopes, set up by amateur astronomers.