With a February long-weekend already here or fast approaching for many of us across Canada, it’s the perfect time to plan for a day that the whole family can enjoy.
February 13 marks Family Day in British Columbia, while Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario, celebrate on February 20. In Prince Edward Island, the February 20 holiday is Islander Day; in Nova Scotia, it’s Heritage Day; and in Manitoba, it’s Louis Riel Day. Head further north to Canada’s territories and on the last Friday in February, Yukon Heritage Day celebrations will be underway.
Kid-approved, wallet-friendly activities
Regardless of what we call it, one thing we’ll all have in common is an extra day for some winter family fun. And if you’re anything like us (still recovering from holiday spending), finding some low or no-cost activities will be a key factor in deciding how to celebrate.
Here’s a sampling of kid-approved, wallet-friendly holiday activities that our family has tested over the years:
Choose-Your-Own Outdoor Fun. It’s as simple as it gets, but our family loves to spend our downtime outside being active. Usually, we just pack up our skates or sleds, and of course a thermos of hot chocolate, and hit some free public ice or a favourite tobogganing hill.
If there is some outdoor music and a warm up station, even better. With the right kind of snow on a warm-ish day, we are also just as happy to commit an hour or two to making a family of snowpeople and snowpets, or even building our own igloo or quinzee in the backyard.
Family Day fun indoors and outdoors
Plan a Game Day. Be it Wii, Scrabble Jr., or old-school faves like Operation and Candyland, there can be something for everyone on Game Day. We can usually get through three games over an afternoon, so everyone gets a turn playing their pick.
We’ve recently added puzzles to the Game Day mix, and even our 5-year-old is surprisingly up for tackling 500–1,000 piece puzzles as a team. Add a warm fire, some background tunes and a bowl (or two) of popcorn, and you are set for a cozy, low-key day together.
Get Your Craft On: I like to surprise my kids on a holiday with the painting supplies I keep under lock and key, and a couple of blank canvases each (available and inexpensive at any dollar store). These one-of-a-kind masterpieces make great gifts down the road, but I also like to hang a few on our own walls for keepsakes.
My kids also love getting a roll of fancy patterned masking or duct tape, and free access to the recycling bin. Letting their imaginations run wild with an engaging, messy craft is always worth the clean up and resulting headache over finding a place to store all of their creations.
Museum Day: Many galleries and museums across the country offer free admission on the February long weekend, making it a perfect choice for exposing your kids to some local art and culture, while staying warm and dry.
For example, in honour of Heritage Day in Halifax, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, and the Museum of Natural History will all be open and free of charge. Even better, free admission means you can feel just fine about staying as long or as short as the attention spans of the youngest members in your family allow, making it both a stress- and cost-free day out on the town.
Festival Fun: there are so many cities that host winter festivals over the February long weekend, it’s a natural choice for any family that likes to combine their outdoor time with music, kid-friendly activities and good food.
Winnipeg’s Festival du Voyageur, Toronto’s Family Fun Fest, Winter in the Wild Festival in Algonquin Park, Family Après at Whistler’s Olympic Plaza, and the Sourdough Rendezvous in the Yukon, are all examples of culture-rich, family-friendly celebrations that will make you grateful for the snow, fresh air and community camaraderie.
Mini Break Away: A long weekend, even in winter, can be a nice time to take a short trip out of town. And it doesn’t have to be far away, or costly, to be fun. From where we live, Lutsen Mountains Ski Resort in Minnesota is only a 2-hour drive, so a long weekend gives us time for one long day on the hill, and two whole days to recover.
Family Camps are another excellent, lower-cost way to get away with the whole family, with the bonus of having all your activities organized and meals taken care of. Check out the YMCA or Girl Guides of Canada websites for examples of affordable, fun-packed Family Camps happening this February long weekend.
However you choose to celebrate and make the most of a winter long weekend away from work and with your family, I do recommend trying my absolute favourite February activity: flipping the calendar ahead to March and starting the short and sweet countdown to spring.