Family Day

Fun and free Family Day activities

We’ve rounded up Family Day activities from the across the country to help you make the most of your day together. Many of them are free, too!

By Blake Eligh

child leaning skating Photo: iStockphoto

It’s an awfully long stretch between the December holidays and spring break and, frankly, we could do with a day off, you know?

Happily, many Canadians have Family Day to look forward to—a long weekend falling in the second or third week of February makes winter seem just a little bit more bearable. The holiday began in Alberta in 1990, and was adopted by Ontario and Saskatchewan. BC families celebrated their first Family Day in 2013, with the holiday falling a week earlier. In Manitoba and PEI, the February holiday recognizes provincial heritage and goes by Louis Reil Day and Islander Day respectively.

Whatever you call it, Family Day calls for some special fun. We’ve rounded up family-friendly activities from the across the country to help you make the most of your day together.

British Columbia (Monday, February 10)

Olympic Games: The action in Sochi is just getting started, so now is the time to relive the fun of the 2010 Vancouver Games at BC Sports Hall of Fame. Olympic sports nuts can check out medals and stand on a real podium, along with more active fun like scrambling up a climbing wall, beating best times on the running track and more. Admission: Adults $15; youth (6-17) $12; kids (5 and under) free. Weekend special admission: Wear your red mittens and admission for kids 12 and under is free! Click here for more information on Red Mitten Weekend at the BC Sports Hall of Fame

Hit the slopes: Many ski resorts offer get-away deals for Family Day weekend. BC residents can save 50 percent off lift tickets at nearly two dozen ski hills across the province at resorts like Whistler Blackcomb, Grouse Mountain and more. Non-skiers will find their thrill at the tubing or terrain parks. Explore groomed trails on cross-country skis or snowshoes. Click here for more information on Canada West Aki Areas Association deals

Skating and hot chocolate: Hit the ice a family free skate at downtown Vancouver’s Robson Square Ice Rink and Plaza. (Note: helmets are mandatory for kids under 12.) Afterwards, warm up with a hot beverage from one of the coffee shops participating in the Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival to sample from nearly 60 of the specialty flavours. Admission: skate rental $4; helmet rental $2 Click here for more information on the free skate at Robson Square

Sleep with the fishes (or the belugas): On Family Day Eve (Sunday, February 9), join the sleepover fun at the Vancouver Aquarium. Learn about the life aquatic, and then drift off to sleep in the underwater gallery room as you watch beluga whales float buy. Better than counting sheep, no? Admission: regular $110; members $88 Click here for more information on a sleepover at the Vancouver Aquarium

Catch a movie: The Victoria Film Festival hosts a morning showing of NFB favourites like The Cat Came Back and throwback Looney Tunes cartoons. Pint-sized basketball fans will love the afternoon documentary, Linsanity, about b-ball superstar Jeremy Lin. Admission: $7 per person per event Click here for more information on Family Day at the Victoria Film Festival

Alberta (Monday, February 17)

Go fishing: The province waives its fishing license fee for Family Day weekend. Drop your hook and see if ice fishing is for you. Province-wide waterways. Admission: Free Click here for more information on Winter Family Ice Fishing Weekend

Winterfête at the Legislature: Plenty of indoor and outdoor fun to be had at the Alberta Legislature. Meet members of the Edmonton Eskimos, go for wagon rides or go on a scavenger hunt through the government building. Admission: Free Click here for more information on winterfête at the Alberta Legislature

Go ice-skating: Eight arenas across the city host a free public skate in the afternoon. Check to see if your local rink is on the list. Admission: Free Click here for more information on free public skating at Calgary arenas

Saskatchewan (Monday, February 17)

Go ice-skating: Head to PotashCorp plaza for a family skating party. (No skates? Don’t worry—the lodge has skates available to borrow.) Warm up with a cozy drink in the Meewasin Skaters’ Lodge. Admission: Free Click here for more information on the Cameco Family Day Skating Party

Art attack: Make a masterpiece at Prince Albert’s Mann Art Gallery. Spend the afternoon creating art of all kinds, decorating a wolf mask, or making wire sculptures. Admission: Free Click here for more information on Mini-Masterworks at the Mann Art Gallery

Get back to nature: For outdoor family fun, head to the Beaver Creek Conservation Area for Family Week at the Creek. Learn all about owls explore the nature trail and make an owl-inspired craft. Admission: Free Click here for more information on Family Week at the Creek

Manitoba (where Family Day is known as Louis Riel Day, Monday, February 17)

Louis Riel Family Day: Head to Portage La Prairie for a full day of indoor-outdoor fun. Families can swim, skate and snowshoe together. There are horse-and-carriage rides and storytelling, and music, too. Hockey fans won’t want to miss the Portage Terriers playing the Winnipeg Blues. Admission: Free, except for hockey game. Hockey tickets: adults $12; kids $5 Click here for more information on Louis Riel Family Day fun

Festival du Voyageur: Winnipeg families love this week-long festival, which features a mascot challenge, a fiddling contest and a torch-lit night walk. Don’t miss the largest living Métis flag. Admission: festival pass: adults $28; kids $10 (day passes are less expensive) Click here for more information on the Festival du Voyageur

Ontario (Monday, February 17)

Hockey for a good cause: Hockey-mad families can cheer on the Toronto Marlies as they take on the Texas Stars at the Air Canada Centre. The game raises funds and books for the Children’s Book Bank, with $5 from every ticket going to the inner city children’s literacy organization. The game sold out last year, so book your tickets now. Admission: $25. Don’t forget to bring a new or gently used book to donate at the door! Click here for more information on the Toronto Marlies Children’s Book Bank Fundraiser

Go fishing: Have you ever wanted to try ice fishing? Drop your hook through the ice as Ontario waives its license fees for the Family Day weekend. Admission: Free Click here for more information on Ontario Family Fishing events

Winterlude: Winter fun in our country’s capitol ends on Family Day. Skate on the Rideau Canal, munch on a beaver tail, or play in Snowflake Kingdom (a giant snow playground). So many activities, so little time. Admission: fees vary by activity; some free events Click here for more information on Ottawa’s Winterlude festival

Snowman Mania: Head to a beach to for winter fun? Absolutely! Play ball hockey, compete in a snowman and snow sculpture contests for a weekend of family fun in Wasaga Beach. Admission: fees vary by activity; some free events Click here for more information on Ottawa’s Winterlude festival

Family Fun Fest: Not prepared to brave the cold? Take it inside with a 30,000 indoor play space at Toronto’s Downsview Park. Bouncy castles, rides, arcade games and more, and you won’t have to wear your parka. Admission: kids two and older $25; adults $8; family pass (2 kids, 2 adults) $50 Click here for more information on Family Fun Fest at Downsview Park

KGO at the AGO: Kids take over Toronto’s usually grown-up art gallery with wall-to-wall crafts, an all-day dance party, family-friendly movies, yoga and more. Keep your eyes peeled—you might just see Frida Kahlo or Pablo Picasso wandering around. Admission: family pass $39 (two adults and up to five youths); kids five and under are free Click here for more information on Family Day at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Prince Edward Island (where Family Day is known as Islander Day, Monday, February 17)

Winter fun in the capital: This citywide party includes events at 13 venues, including glow-in-the-dark bowling, puppet shows, pancake breakfasts and more. Admission: free Click here for more information on Islander Day fun in Charlottowne

Brookvale ski packages: Whether you ski alpine or Nordic, PEI’s Brookvale Winter Activity Park has an Islander Day deal for you, with two-for-one lift ticket and ski rental packages. Admission: adult $18-$22; student (with school ID) $12-$15; child $5-$7. Alpine rental package $18-$22; student $13-$18. Nordic trail pass: adult $9; student $7. Nordi ski rental: adult $11; student $7 **(no rental info for children) Click here for more information on Brookvale Islander Day activities

This article was originally published on Feb 03, 2014

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