BY BROCK SUTHERLAND
Parents! February 17 is fast approaching—and with it, that mild head-scratcher of a statutory holiday, Family Day. If you’d rather not see your loved ones whiling away a perfectly useful day in front of the television, Toronto’s myriad attractions are eager to host you and the kids for everything from artistic activities to animal-related shenanigans. Scroll downward to reveal a full spectrum of creative ways to get out and take advantage of Family Day.
MAKE IT TO A MUSEUM
The natural world makes up, naturally, a large part of the Royal Ontario Museum‘s programming, especially during ROM Biodiversity’s Wildlife Family Day Weekend, which boasts live animal demos, crafts, storytelling and other activities: partake in a meet-and-greet with birds of prey and bats; learn about the conservation of endangered species through the museum’s educational and breeding programs; create your own animal-silhouette scene; make a serpentine bracelet; and let your imagination run wild after listening to animal tales from around the world.
Dragging crayons along the wall is still likely to be frowned upon, but otherwise the kids get to take over the Art Gallery of Ontario for full day of family fun. In addition to the fun of the AGO becoming the KGO, the gallery’s shop is offering a 20 per cent discount on all purchased over $50, and kids under five eat free in the cafeAGO with the purchase of an adult meal.
Join the city’s biggest footwear fetishists for some sneaker-y fun. Over the course of the Family Day long weekend, the Bata Shoe Museum is offering all manner of arts-and-crafts activities, included with regular venue admission.
HAVE A DRAMATIC DAY
Young People’s Theatre is currently staging Christopher Duthie’s one-man show, n00b, about a boy who feels his parents don’t understand his interest in gaming. Viewers of the play on Family Day can also participate in a scavenger hunt, take in a pre-show backstage tour, and engage in theatre workshops for all ages.
Seeking theatrical fare that’s a bit more lighthearted? The Second City is staging Princess Polly and the World’s Smallest Ninja, a hilarious musical adventure for younger patrons (and their parents, too).
History is given a dramatic spin at the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre—the Winter Garden, half of the world’s only remaining operational double-decker theatre, is celebrating its 100th year, and on Family Day, patrons can join a free 11 a.m. tour of the facility. Among the sights to see: samples from the world’s largest collection of vaudeville scenery; the theatre’s original Simplex Silent Film Projector; and a dressing room filled with artifacts from the time period.
EVEN MORE FUN AND LEARNING
It turns out that February is not only Black History Month; at the Toronto Zoo, it’s also polar bear month! The zoo recently welcomed a cute little polar bear cub to its family. Ogle it on Family Day, and then participate in fun and educational activities designed to help raise awareness about protecting the iconic yet vulnerable animal.
Sometimes families engage in petty tiffs. On Family Day, engage at TIFF, which has scheduled screenings of a number of unique films for kids, plus numerous drop-in activities: experiment with animation, create a shadow-puppet show on the big screen, and much more.
Embrace winter’s chill at the Evergreen Brick Works as you glide around the venue’s outdoor skating rink. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, order a slice of fresh-from-the-wood-oven Pizzeria Libretto pizza, and then set off on a special nature and heritage hike around the Brick Works’ grounds. Parents can even get a little liquid relief from the little ones at GoldiBOCKS and the Three Beers, a gathering of Ontario craft brewers and pop-up food purveyors.
Instead of taking the tykes to see the Lego movie yet again, head north to Vaughan to play with the real thing. Legoland Discovery Centre offers many brick-tacular Family Day experiences—from a race car workshop to tower-building activities—designed to teach children about architecture, engineering, art and more.