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Toronto Zoo

Get Set for Summer: Family Time

SUMMER IS SYNONYMOUS WITH FAMILIES AND THERE’S NO SHORTAGE OF THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN THE CITY.

LeviathanJuly7-2 copy

Take your family for a ride the Leviathan at Canada’s Wonderland this summer.

The Toronto Zoo is always a hit with kids of all ages. Home to more than 5,000 animals from more than 450 species, there’s an extra special reason for a visit: the arrival of eight new animals, including two giant panda cubs named Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue, four white lion cubs, an Indian rhino calf, and Juno the polar bear cub. Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is likewise a popular destination for families to explore nine different galleries featuring more than 13,500 sea creatures such as jellyfish, octopus, pufferfish, stingrays and more.

Would-be architects and designers can let their imaginations run wild at Legoland Discovery Centre, where they can build their own race cars and test its aerodynamics, or be inspired by a recreation of Toronto’s landmarks completely in the brick form. Ever wonder what happened with Emmett and his friends after The Lego Movie? There’s a new 4D movie exclusively that catches up with Wyldstyle, Unkitty and MetalBeard. Learning and play go hand-in-hand at the Ontario Science Centre through its interactive exhibits on astronomy, geology, nature, human anatomy, technology, music and more. Currently, a special travelling exhibit, The Science of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! is on display with experiments, challenges and touchable specimens that delve into the oddities associated with Ripleys, from how illusions work to how to swallow a sword safely.

Getting to Centreville Amusement Park is part of the fun; the picturesque ferry ride over to the Toronto Islands is bound to get everyone in the mood for a day of rides like bumper boats, twirling tea cups, and the log flume. The attraction, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, also boasts a petting farm with the likes of an alpaca, llama, pygmy goat, and a mini donkey and pony. Thrill seekers love the rides at Canada’s Wonderland, which counts the country’s tallest and fastest roller coast, Leviathan, among its 200-plus attractions. There are more tame rides at Planet Snoopy and Kidzville for wee ones, plus a 20-acre waterpark. New this year are two interactive rides: Flying Eagles for little ones and Skyhawk for adults, who can make 360 degree turns from 135 feet up in the air.

EAT Combine an activity with a meal at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament, as knights on horseback joust before King Don Carlos and Princess Catalina in an epic battle. The King’s favourite meal—chicken, potatoes, corn, and tomato soup—is served as guests watch the clash between the East and West sides.

The scope of Pickle Barrels menu is enough to make it a family-favourite—there are several hundred items on the menu ranging from grilled cheese and chicken fajitas to pasta and French toast—ensuring that even the fussiest of eaters can be appeased. Step back in time at The Old Spaghetti Factory, which is chock-full of vintage details including a 100-year-old carousel and even a streetcar that you can dine in. The fare is classically Italian with offerings like lasagna, ravioli and spaghetti with meatballs. More upscale Italian fare can be found at Terroni—and a more fitting environment for older kids—with crispy, thin crust pizzas, panini sandwiches and pastas; there’s also a patio for al fresco dining at their original Queen West location.—Linda Luong Luck

Get excited for summer with these other action-packed itineraries:

Get Set for Summer: Cheer on the Hometown Team

Get Set for Summer: Culture Vultures

 

16 Things to Do for March Break 2016

A WEEK OFF FROM SCHOOL IS EVERY CHILD’S DREAM, BUT PERHAPS LESS THRILLING FOR PARENTS WHO NEED TO KEEP LITTLE ONES ENTERTAINED AND FROM CRYING OUT “THERE’S NOTHING TO DO” FOR THE UMPTEENTH TIME. HERE ARE 16 KID-APPROVED IDEAS FOR HAVING FUN THIS MARCH BREAK IN TORONTO.

The TIFF Bell Lightbox hosts digiPlaySpace for the fifth year, which engages children through interactive play involving animation, robotics and more. (photo: courtesy of TIFF)

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Weekend Roundup: April 6 to 8

Friday: See Hudson the polar bear, then enjoy some Easter-themed family fun (photo courtesy of the Toronto Zoo)

Friday, April 6
Treat the kids this long weekend with a trip to the Toronto Zoo. In addition to admiring animals from around the world, including a brand new baby polar bear named Hudson, kids can take part in the annual Easter Egg-Stravaganza, which offers a lineup of fun activities as well as the Beary-Bunny Easter Parade at noon and 2 p.m.

Hilarious comedy troupe The National Theatre of the World brings back its side-splitting Carnegie Hall Show to The Second City. The award-winning improv production features four of Toronto’s best comics acting out scenes based on mundane everyday activities. Also enjoy special performances of dance, Burlesque and even acrobatics.

Calling all music lovers! Grammy-nominated British duo The Ting Tings are set to rock the Phoenix Concert Theatre tonight, in promotion of their latest album, Sounds from Nowheresville. Perhaps you’ve heard of their hit, “Shut Up and Let Me Go”?

Saturday: Examine the patterned works of Marlis Saunders at the Design Exchange

Saturday, April 7
There are more than 100 colourful works to view in Marlis Saunders’ exhibition, entitled Stop, Drop, Repeat, at the Design Exchange. The German-Canadian artist is recognized as a pioneer of the Bauhaus school, and her patterned works are exemplars of that style.

A response to the classic play A Raisin in the Sun, Clybourne Park is a story of race and real estate set in a Chicago neighbourhood and spanning two generations. The dark comedy starts out in 1959, as a black family looks to move into an all-white neighbourhood, then fast-forwards to 2009, when a white family moves into the same house in what has become an all-black area.

Enjoy homegrown drama as renowned Canadian playwright Daniel MacIvor brings Was Spring to the Tarragon Theatre. It’s a story of three generations of women who confront each other about a tragic event from their past.

Sunday: Ajax and Little Iliad is on stage at Harbourfront Centre

Sunday, April 8
The latest production in Harbourfront Centre’s popular World Stage series, Ajax & Little Iliad sets out to define the “theatre of war” for civilian audiences. Only 30 seats are available for each performance of this intimate show; each audience member listens through a pair of headphones for a truly personal experience.

The end is near! The end of the Royal Ontario Museum’s Maya exhibition, that is. After calling the institution home for the past four months, the Maya: Secrets of Their Ancient World mega-show moves on Monday. Take advantage of your last chance to discover priceless Mayan artifacts, learn about their sophisticated rituals and explore the mysterious end-of-days legend.

And if you don’t feel like venturing into the kitchen this Easter weekend, Toronto has plenty o’ places that’ll do the work for you, especially for that most comforting of meals—brunch. Check out some of the restaurants offering a holiday-Sunday repast here.

Get a Peek at the Toronto Zoo’s Adorable New Addition

Photo by Ken Ardill, Toronto Zoo Volunteer

Can’t make it to Churchill, Manitoba, to see the polar bears in their natural habitat this winter?

Maybe you can mosey over to the Toronto Zoo instead, to see its newest addition—this irresistibly adorable polar bear cub that was rejected by mama bear. (more…)

Weekend Roundup, July 8 to 10

Friday: Grab some prix fixe grub at Brassaii and other Summerlicious restaurants

Friday, July 8
Sample the food of your favourite restaurants in the city—or discover a new favourite—when Summerlicious begins this Friday. Dine for less with specially created prix-fixe menus at over 100 eateries throughout the city such as Canoe, Pangaea, and Brassaii.

Experience the eclectic sights and sounds of Mexico as the Corazon de Mexico arts fiesta begins its weekend-long stint at Harbourfront Centre. Traditional and modern performances happening along the lively waterfront include cumbia musician Celso Piña and high-energy salsa band Sugar Heat. If the dancing makes you hungry, make sure you grab some authentic Mexican tostadas with lime and chia agua fresca. (more…)

Weekend Roundup, June 24 to 26

Friday: Show Aretha Franklin some respect at David Pecaut Square

Friday, June 24
Start the weekend on a high note as the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, opens the TD Toronto Jazz Festival with a free show at David Pecaut Square. The festival continues until July 3, and promises performances by the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Branford Marsalis, and even hip-hop outfit The Roots.

One of the largest GLBT celebrations in the world, Toronto’s Pride Week begins this weekend with events throughout the city. Tonight the Gladstone Hotel hosts a Gay-Straight Alliance Dance Party, with DJs including Cosmic Cat and Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning, spinning tunes. The festival culminates with the annual Pride parade on July 3.

Enjoy an evening of timeless classics and traditional swing-jazz numbers at a Roy Thomson Hall performance by the Glenn Miller Orchestra. Directed by renowned trombonist Gary Tole with special guest Susie Arioli, the big band’s setlist includes all-time favourites like “In the Mood,” “Moonlight Serenade” and “Chattanooga Choo Choo.”

Saturday: Sway to the sweet sounds of folk crooner James Taylor

Saturday, June 25
The sweet sounds of acoustic folk music fill the open-air Rexall Centre at York University as James Taylor makes an appearance at the BlackCreek Summer Music Festival. Fans of the Grammy-winning troubadour can expect to hear his hits including “Fire and Rain”, “You’ve Got a Friend” and “Carolina in my Mind.”

Cheer on all the competitors at the 23rd Annual Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival. The two-day event at Centre Island offers multicultural food and entertainment, plus more than 180 teams paddling teams competing for glory.

Calling all cycling enthusiasts! Join the fun at Mountain Equipment Co-op’s Bike Fest in the Distillery Historic District, featuring clinics and seminars, demonstrations, a scavenger ride and even live local bands.

Sunday: Les Chiclettes and other francophone artists perform at Franco-Fete.

Sunday, June 26
Round out the weekend by celebrating Canada’s other official culture at Harbourfront Centre’s Franco-Fete. The city’s only francophone festival presents a bevy of family-friendly performances, culinary demonstrations and much more. Très bien!

The Toronto Zoo marks the occasion of the International Indian Film Academy Awards being held downtown with it’s own Bollywood party. The festivities include music and dancing for children, as well as storytelling, henna tattoos and more.

Welcome the start of summer with a 1920s-style garden party at Spadina Museum: Historic House and Gardens. Guests can marvel at the mansion’s decor—recently restored to its Jazz Age heyday—dance to jazz rhythms, enjoy period-appropriate refreshments, and even solve a murder mystery.

Weekend Roundup, May 20th to 22nd

Friday: Gluck's Orfeo is enthralling (photo by Dan Rest/Lyric Opera of Chicago)

Friday, May 20
Follow the critics’ raves to the Four Seasons Centre, where the Canadian Opera Company stages the heart-wrenching Orfeo ed Euridice. Compsed by Christoph Willibald Gluck, this opera tells of Orfeo who, after losing his beloved Euridice, literally goes to hell and back to find her.

Take a scenic drive west of Toronto to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, where two new plays begin previews. Shakespeare’s classic Richard III tells the dark story of a man trying to seize the English throne by dispatching all those who stand in his way. For something a little lighter, the Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Jesus Christ Superstar brings the story of Judas Iscariot to life through rock opera.

Running to May 29, Inside Out, the 21st annual Toronto LGBT Film and Video Festival, screens throughout the city. Tonight at 9:30 p.m. (at the TIFF Bell Lightbox), catch Bloomington, a story about a television actress who begins to question her sexuality while trying to lead a normal life as a freshman at Bloomington University.

Saturday: See Aussie troupe Circa among many other acts at Harbourfront Centre (photo by Leif Norman)

Saturday, May 21
Celebrate the weekend at Harbourfront Centre, which hosts the Toronto International Circus Festival, a three-day event beginning today and featuring extraordinary circus artists from the around the world. Catch eye-popping acrobats, gravity-defying rope walkers, fire-eaters, clowns and much more.

What’s black and white and coming back to the Toronto Zoo? Endangered African Penguins! The zoo’s new 6,000-square-foot penguin exhibit opens today with a state-of-the-art underwater viewing area so you can come face to face with the penguins.

Also starting today, the Alice in Wonderland experience takes over Black Creek Pioneer Village with events like a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, a “Through the Looking Glass” Maze and the Queen of Hearts’ Field of Games. Families can also enjoy all that the historic village has to offer, including farm animals, Victorian dancing lessons, and the interactive history centre.

Sunday: See cosmopolitan indie artist Lykke Li at the Phoenix (photo by SpoiltCat)

Sunday, May 22
The unique sounds of alternative rock-pop artist Lykke Li pervade the Phoenix Concert Theatre on tonight. Influenced by her nomadic past—having lived in Portugal, Sweden, India and New York City—Li’s quirky use of harpsichords, flutes and Theremins makes her music all the more mesmerizing.

The Kids’ World Energy Festival wraps up today at the Evergreen Brick Works, with family-friendly activities focusing on renewable energy, climate change and the science of energy. Together, parents and kids can learn what they can do to contribute to a sustainable future.

Celebrate the long Victoria Day weekend by catching some fireworks. Weather permitting, Canada’s Wonderland offers a show starting at 10 p.m., or make your way to Ashbridge’s Bay on Monday at 9:45 p.m. for a dazzling display of lights over Lake Ontario.

Weekend Roundup, May 13th to May 15th

Friday: See Diego Matamoros in The Aleph (photo by Cylla von Tiedemann)

Friday, May 13
Get a glimpse into the mysteries of the underworld in The Aleph, Soulpepper Theatre Company’s version of Jorge Luis Borges’s 1945 short story. This thought-provoking adaptation is crafted by Canadian theatre artists Diego Matamoros, Daniel Brooks and Michael Levine.

The cycle of life—from Bar Mitzvah to death—is presented through Jewish musical-theatre songs in the world premiere of To Life, presented by the Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. Filled with love and humour, this unique musical references Broadway hits such as Fiddler on the Roof and the work of Eddie Cantor.

The Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival continues this weekend with the opening of another of its many exhibitions—Kaid Ashton’s Exploration, on display at artsy West Queen West café, The Mascot.

Saturday: Usher offers a powerhouse performance (photo by Marco from Houston)

Saturday, May 14
Are you ready to burn? Multi-platinum artist Usher turns up the temperature at the Air Canada Centre tonight with his signature R&B hits such as “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love” and “Burn.” The night starts off on the right note with a special guest set by Akon.

The competition heats up at BMO Field when Toronto FC takes on the Chicago Fire. Be sure to offer some extra applause for TFC forward Joao Plata, just voted MLS Player of the Week.

Ornithology enthusiasts are encouraged to flock to the Toronto Zoo for International Migratory Bird Day. Bring your binoculars and participate in guided bird-watching tours of the Rouge Valley, then check out the displays set up by bird-related organizations in the Conservation Connection Centre.

Sunday: See "Vicky" the steam train, one of the stars of The Railway Children

Sunday, May 15
Catch the train as the newly built Roundhouse Theatre opens its doors this morning. Visitors to this 300,000-square-foot venue that houses The Railway Children can get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the unique stage design, see the production’s vintage steam train up close, ride a miniature locomotive, and discover the heritage trains within Roundhouse Park.

In the thrilling conclusion to the National Lacrosse League’s season, the Toronto Rock challenge the Washington Stealth for the 2011 Champion’s Cup at the Air Canada Centre. Last season, Washington defeated Toronto to win their first cup in franchise history. This time around, the Rock and their fans are certain to be hungry for revenge!

Enjoy a spirited show by the Esprit Orchestra—featuring violinist Marie Bérard—this evening at Keorner Hall. The program includes a world premiere performance of composer Chris Harman’s latest work.

Weekend Roundup, May 6th to May 8th

Friday: Get acquainted with The Railway Children (photo by Simon Annand)

Friday, May 6
All aboard! Start off the weekend by catching newly opened play The Railway Children. This stage story follows of three children reduced to poverty who try to make the most of their new circumstances. Taking place at the Roundhouse Theatre—built near a historic train depot near Union Station—the set features an 85-ton vintage steam locomotive from England.

In the spirit of Cinco de Mayo, head to the Tequila and More: Spirits and Cocktails Show, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, to learn what tequila is all about. Starting at 4 p.m. and continuing through the evening, the event features live Latin jazz, tequila and mescal tastings, cocktail mixology competitions and more

Taking cues from two works based on the myth of Orpheus, Toronto Masque Theatre presents the Masques of Orpheus tonight at Enwave Theatre. In keeping with the troupe’s “arts in fusion” motto, the classic French La Descente d’Orphee aux Enfers by Charpentier will be performed alongside Orpheus and Eurydice by Canadians James Rolfe and Andre Alexis.

Saturday: See science in action

Saturday, May 7
There’s a whole lot of learning goin’ on today, as the nationwide Science Rendezvous takes place, and includes activities and events across the Greater Toronto Area. Ryerson University offers exciting demonstrations in chemistry; the University of Toronto has hands-on activities with top researchers; and the Ontario Science Centre features a special presentation: 50 years of Human Spaceflight—Past, Present and Future.

Raise your glass and kick off the week-long Salut Toronto Wine & Food Festival. Fun and educational, the festival features unique events (through to May 14th) with leading chefs, winemakers and food producers on hand. Today, the Global Pinot—Chasing the Heartbreak Grape event offers an afternoon wine tasting with certified wine experts from Reds Bistro & Wine Bar.

It’s now or never! Bullet for Adolf, written and directed by Woody Harrelson, takes the stage one last time at the University of Toronto’s Hart House Theatre.

Sunday: Take Mother's Day tea at Spadina Museum

Sunday, May 8
Celebrate this Mother’s Day with a handful of fun events taking place throughout the city. Among them, Black Creek Pioneer Village offers two options for Mother’s Day within its family-friendly historical heritage village: a buffet brunch or afternoon tea. Similarly, visitors to the recently restored Spadina Museum: Historic House & Gardens are invited to partake in an afternoon cream tea plus tour. At the Toronto Zoo, take mom to meet other mothers like Ngzoi the gorilla, Polly the baboon and Mya the cheetah.

Perfect for families, the classic tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears is performed as an interactive musical at Solar Stage Children’s Theatre—today, and on weekends during May.

At various venues through to May 15th, the Toronto Jewish Film Festival screens 118 films from 21 countries that reflect aspects of Jewish identity and diversity. Three of this year’s top films highlight the “Three Lennys”: Lenny Bruce, Leonard Bernstein,and Leonard Cohen.

What’s Happening in Toronto for March Break

MARCH 14 TO 18 is March Break in Toronto! Still trying to plan your week of family fun? Check out our run down of special events and activities at Toronto’s top attractions. (Regular admission prices and hours apply, unless otherwise noted.)

The kids will be in awe of all there is to do during March Break in Toronto (photo by limaoscarjuliet)

Throughout the week at the Art Gallery of Ontario, families can enjoy performances inspired by the Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts exhibit as well as a dozens of free March Break activities that are included with the price of regular admission. March 14 to 18, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free admission for kids under 5.

Dive into March Break at the Royal Ontario Museum as the museum explores our blue planet with its latest showcase, Water: The Exhibition. Experience the interactive 10-foot-tall multimedia display, create water-themed crafts, learn about ancient marine life from museum curators, and even see live animals. Visit after 4:30 p.m. for $10 off admission. March 12 to 20, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Stay warm at the Toronto Zoo by venturing into its tropical pavilions—including the newly refurbished African Rainforest Pavilion, complete with new chameleons and ring-tailed lemurs. Families can register for the zoo’s twice-a-day Playtime Forest education program, with 1.5 hours of activities and crafts for $4 per family member. March 12 to 20, 10:30 a.m. to noon or 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.

The Hockey Hall of Fame gets March Break started off right: on Monday, from 10 a.m. to noon, kids can meet and pose for photos with Toronto team mascots like Carlton the Bear of the Maple Leafs. Throughout the week, children can challenge themselves with hands-on interactive activities like goaltending, shooting, play-by-play broadcasting, and more. March 12 to 20.

For a medieval-style March Break, head to Casa Loma—the estate turns into an enchanted castle for a Princesses and Pirates extravaganza. A musical performance by Cinderella and the Little Mermaid, followed by a meet-and-greet, take place four times daily. Get dressed up in costumes for a photos, meet Prince Charming in the great hall, or enjoy a pancake breakfast or cupcake party. March 14 to 19.

If you’re looking to save, check out the events for families, children and teens at the Toronto Public Library. Guests like musicians and scientists liven up the day, as do such activities as movies, crafts, and storytelling for kids, plus skateboarding, hip hop, DJ-ing and games nights for teens. March 12 to 19.

Enjoy a truly Canadian experience at the Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival, where families can partake in an hour-long maple syrup walk, and enjoy face painting, wood carving demonstrations, entertainers, sap sampling, horse-drawn wagon rides, pony rides, and a petting zoo, all day long at Bruce’s Mill Conservation Area. March 14 to 18.

At Black Creek Pioneer Village, families get a hands-on look at olden-days revelry. Start with a pancake lunch, then take a ride on a horse-drawn wagon, sing along with the village’s Mumblypeg band, learn how to make maple syrup, take a Victorian dance lesson, and warm-up in the Pioneer Play Area. March 12 to 20.

Have a magical time at the Wizard World Indoor Family Fun Park, starting  for March Break at the Better living Center at Exhibition Place. The fun park includes 150,000 square feet of indoor fun: food and drinks, professional stage shows, 20 carnival rides, free loot bags for kids under 12, arts and crafts, a petting zoo, and much more. March 13 to 20.

Don’t forget Spring Fling, Canada’s largest indoor carnival, at the Rogers Centre. Enjoy the midway with rides, family entertainment, and exotic animals throughout the week. All-day ride tickets are $20. March 11 to 18, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Weekend Roundup, March 11th to 13th

Friday: The Kodo Drummers of Japan bring their forceful rhythms to the Sony Centre

Friday, March 11
Enjoy the dazzling showmanship and primal rhythms of the world-famous Kodo Drummers of Japan as they take the stage for the Toronto stop of the group’s 30th-anniversary tour. This dazzling display of speed, dexterity, precision, and muscular endurance takes place tonight at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.

The Canadian Music Week Film Festival—just one of many events comprising Canadian Music Week, from March 9 to 13—screens today and Saturday at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. The festival showcases 10 features and a handful of shorts, including rock docs, concert films, band biographies, and musicals.

Dog lovers and pet owners are advised to make tracks to the Purina National Dog Show, which opens today at the International Centre in Mississauga, and features hundreds of purebred canines strutting their stuff in competition. A number of vendors are also on-hand with the latest in doggie gear and accessories.

Saturday: Janet Jackson offers an intimate, all-hits concert

Saturday, March 12
Ms. Janet Jackson herself strides onto the Sony Centre stage for her international “Number Ones, Up Close and Personal” tour. The accomplished singer is set to perform top tracks from her Number Ones album in a personal, intimate setting.

Stroll through the bustling streets of Kensington Market on the Kensington Foodies Roots Walk, which has been featured on CNN and in National Geographic Traveler. From 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., you’ll be able to savour the diverse foods from the ethnic markets, stalls and restaurants.

Start March Break on a high note by making your way to the Toronto Zoo. Starting today and continuing through the week, the zoo offers additional family-fun activities, events, and keeper talks.

Sunday: Enjoy a day at Spring Fling

Sunday, March 13
An excellent daytime activity to kick off your March Break is Spring Fling, Canada’s largest indoor carnival. Enjoy the midway with rides, family entertainment, and exotic animals. All-day ride tickets at this Rogers Centre event are $20, and the fun continues to March 18.

Satisfy Harry Potter fantasies at the Wizard World Indoor Family Fun Park, which opens today and runs to March 20 at Exhibition Place’s Better Living Centre.  The park features 150,000 square feet of indoor fun: food and drinks, professional stage shows, 20 carnival rides, free loot bags for kids under 12, arts and crafts, a petting zoo, and much more.

Put on your best green outfit and shamrock buttons to engage in a little Irish revelry. The Toronto St. Patrick’s Day Parade begins today at noon. The annual procession starts at Bloor and St. George streets, marches east to Yonge, and then south toward Nathan Phillips Square.

Fun on Family Day

Ontario’s Family Day holiday falls this year on Monday, February 21, and offers an excellent opportunity to experience Toronto with your loved ones. Some of the city’s top attractions are even offering special family-oriented deals and programs!

Tim Burton is featured at the TIFF Bell Lightbox (photo by Derek Frey)

MOVIES! Family fun is free for the whole long weekend at the Tiff Bell Lightbox. Take the kids to see some fantastic films and explore the world of Tim Burton at the venue’s huge exhibition dedicated to the famous filmmaker. You can also see stand-up/cabaret artist Shawn Hitchins for a hilarious singalong featuring hits from the latest and greatest movies.

VISTAS! View the city from new heights at the CN Tower, which offers discounted Family Day admission. Be sure to stand on the iconic needle’s glass floor hovering 1,122 feet above street level, or go even higher to the Sky Pod and gaze kilometres into the distance. The attraction also offers a “Himalamazon” motion-theatre ride and the thrilling 3D movie Ultimate Wave Tahiti.

AFRICA! Among the thousands of diverse artifacts on display at the Royal Ontario Museum, your family is certain to be captivated by its display of contemporary pieces by Ghanaian artist El Anatsui. For Family Day, the special exhibition is supplemented by musical performances, films, drumming workshops and even a scavenger hunt through the museum’s comprehensive African rooms.

FEET! Kids can be honourary detectives at the Bata Shoe Museum during its weekend of family fun. Hunt for unique shoes throughout the space to earn a Shoe Detective certificate, try on some of the museum’s craziest shoes, and paint a mini clog to take home.

Harbourfront Centre's Natrel Rink (photo by Jennifer Hart)

SKATING! Make tracks to Toronto’s waterfront for a whole day of wholesome activities, as Harbourfront Centre hosts a family skating party with live music plus special guests including superhero characters, dancers, sock monkeys and Canadian Olympic athletes Jayna Heffors and Greg Westlake. Craft workshops help kids make their own mementos to remember the day by.

FINE ART! Discover some of the world’s most wondrous visuals at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Ask for a family activity bag at the ticketing desk to make your journey through the gallery even more enjoyable. There’s even a kid-focused exhibition, Animal Tales, which offers children the opportunity to share stories and create their own creature drawings.

ANIMALS! Walk into the wild at the Toronto Zoo and discover some fun facts about animal packs and how they work as families—just like us! The zoo’s indoor pavilions feature exhibits on family trees and conservation, too.

HISTORY! Step into Casa Loma and partake in an old-fashioned scavenger hunt with Dora the Explorer. Kids can meet Dora in the library, and see other costumed characters while searching for treasure inside Toronto’s famous castle. For a more regal experience, youngsters can see what it was like to be a knight in the middle ages, courtesy of the Barrie Swordplay Association.

See how tornadoes form at the Ontario Science Centre (photo by Carsten Peter/National Geographic)

HOCKEY! Head to the Hockey Hall of Fame and receive free admission for up to four children with the purchase of one regularly priced adult. Kids will also receive a free muffin voucher from Marché—the better to keep their energy levels up! The museum features interactive activities in the NHLPA Be A Player Zone, as well as numerous artifacts, including hockey’s ultimate prize, the Stanley Cup.

SCIENCE! Heat up inside the Ontario Science Centre with the institution’s newest exhibition, Nature Unleashed, which demonstrates how earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, and tornadoes occur from the inside out. Kids of all ages can also marvel at the world’s largest mammals in the Whales/Tohora exhibit, or sit back and enjoy one of three mind-blowing Imax films.

MARILYN! The McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg opens two special exhibitions in honour of the American film legend Marilyn Monroe. Guided tours, film screenings, music and other special programming is scheduled to help shine the spotlight on the shows and their superstar subject.