Family Day is a very new holiday. Ontarians celebrated the first Family Day in 2008, established by then-premier Dalton McGuinty, a promise from his 2007 campaign for re-election. It was proclaimed that the third Monday in February would be Family Day, a statutory holiday across the province. Many other provinces have adopted this holiday as well, though some have given it different names – Louis Riel Day in Manitoba, Nova Scotia Heritage Day in Nova Scotia, and Islander Day in PEI. Family Day celebrates the importance of families for people and communities. As such, there are many events and activities for you to do with your entire family, bringing multiple generations and limbs of the family tree together to have fun. In London, there are a number of both indoor and outdoor Family Day events, depending on your tolerance of winter temperature and weather. All are exciting, engaging, and a fantastic way to spend the day with your family!
Educational and Fun Activities at the London Children’s Museum
Celebrate togetherness, have fun, and get educated all in the same place! This Family Day, the Children’s Museum is inviting families of Londoners to explore, play games, make art, and learn! There are a number of activities throughout the museum to enjoy, from the Early Years play space for the smallest ones in the family to the “I Wonder” station for the most curious! All day, you can partake in supersized games. Massive versions of the childhood games you love are free to play in the museum. Try not to topple a giant Jenga tower and satisfy your enormous appetite in a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos where you are the hippo! It’s an absolute riot! Feeling artistic? From 10:30 to 4, you can get creative in the Collaborative Art Lab. Create a masterpiece that captures everything you love about family! The London Children’s Museum has so many things to do and explore this Family Day. If you’ve got kids that are full of curiosity and energy (which honestly sounds like every child I’ve ever met), this is the perfect place to take them!
The Eldon House is London’s oldest residence. Barely a single thing has changed since the nineteenth century. This historic site used to be the home of the Harris family, and still contains may family heirlooms, furnishings, and treasures that belonged to them. Explore their family history with your family! Only on Family Day, the Amazing Corbin’s Grand Flea Circus will be performing in the drawing room of the Eldon House. Flea circuses were popular entertainment way back when the Harris family still lived with in the house. Well-trained “fleas” perform tricks and feats on a miniscule scale, which dazzled the folks of the nineteenth century and will dazzle your and yours this Family Day! Just because your kids have the day off school doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be learning. Experience history first hand by strolling through the Eldon House this Family Day!
Play a Few Rounds of Bowling
Bowling is great for Family Day because you don’t have to be good to have fun. Your whole family can grab a lane and take part in a friendly competition. It’s a fun, physical activity that requires little to no talent to enjoy, and since nobody in your family is probably a pro-bowler (unless you’ve got an uncle in a bowling league or something) you’re all on equal ground. Whether you go with five or ten pin, you’re bound to have a good time chucking the ball down the lane. Try to beat your personal best score, or just do your best not to lose to your little cousin that uses bumpers. For a full rundown on all of SKB’s favourite bowling alleys in London, check out our Best Bowling Alleys list!
Go See a Movie
Going to see a movie in the theatre is a tried and true Family Day activity. Pile into a car and head to your theatre of choice to watch the newest blockbuster with the whole family! Our personal recommendation for your whole family’s viewing entertainment is the Lego Movie: The Second Part. Released earlier this month, this follow-up to the smash hit Lego Movie is great for everyone of all ages. Appropriate and engaging for the kids while still being legitimately entertaining to adults, it’s a rare opportunity for the whole family to enjoy a movie-going experience. There are two Cineplex theatres in the city if you want to cash in your Scene points – Silver City in Masonville and Cineplex Odeon Westmount, which also has a VIP (19+) cinema if your Family Day doesn’t include any children. There’s also the Imagine Cinemas right in the heart of downtown. If you’ve got a bunch of family across London coming to the movie, the Imagine Cinemas has the perfect central location for everyone to meet at. The Landmark Cinemas on Wellington have the comfiest seats of any theatre in the city. Their big, plush recliner seats make it a destination for many Londoners because there’s nothing worse than getting distracted from an awesome flick because you can’t get comfortable.
Make Maple Syrup at the Kinsmen Fanshawe Sugar Bush
Brave the cold on Family Day and head out to the Kinsmen Fanshawe Sugar Bush in Thorndale and you’re in for a fantastic, syrupy day. If you head out early and are one of the first fifty families to enter the sugar bush, you even get to tap your own tree! After the trees are tapped, you get a demonstration of how the syrup is made, try some samples maybe. Combat the chill by sitting at a campfire and chowing down on a plateful of the famous hot pancakes dripping with their maple syrup. For just $2 per person (or $10 for a car load), it’s one of the most financially friendly activities on top of being the tastiest. Fresh, real maple syrup is unlike anything else, especially if you tapped the tree yourself!
Boler Mountain is one of our favourite winter destinations. We’ve detailed all of the fantastic things you can do at Boler Mountain in our Best Winter Activities list, and all of that remains true, plus some extra special Family Day activities. With extended hours on the weekend of Family Day, you and your family can enjoy everything Boler has to offer for even longer! Sunday night, there’s a tubing special. Tickets are required to be purchased in advance for this event, just as a heads up. So, if you want to go tubing from 6-9PM on Sunday, keep your eyes peeled for tickets on their website. To finish off a long, happy Family Day of sliding down the snowy hills, there will be a firework display at 9PM on Monday. It’s a wonderful way to end the day.
The Ska-Nah-Doht Village and Museum and the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority invite you to come out and strap on some snowshoes this Family Day (assuming the weather co-operates). LTVCA staff will teach you everything you need to know about snowshoeing, from its history to a practical lesson! Then they’ll send you on your way down the woodland trails for a lovely winter hike. Explore the Ska-Nah-Doht village, a recreation of a longhouse village from a millennium ago. There are 18 outdoor exhibits to explore. It’s physically active, fascinating, and educational!
Skate at one of the Awesome Rinks
Skating is a great family activity. No matter if you or your kids are just learning, or you’re practically ice dancers, it can be a great experience for the entire family. There are a bunch of really great spots to go skating this Family Day, both indoor and outdoor. We personally prefer outdoor – if you’re going to be cold, you might as well get some fresh air while you’re at it. If you’re looking to skate for free, both Victoria Park and Covent Garden Market have quality rinks that cost nothing to skate on. These downtown spots are great because after your skate, there are so many options to warm back up. Perhaps a coffee or hot chocolate would do the trick. Storybook Gardens is also a great spot for skating, plus they’ve got extras. They’ve always got the Beavertail stand up and running, offering warm, crispy fried pastry with a plethora of toppings to choose from. On Family Day, they’re also offering an all-day pancake breakfast served by a campfire! Plus, you can take a ride on a horse-drawn wagon around the park. There is an up-front cost to get into Storybook Gardens, but once you’re in, you’re guaranteed to have a wonderful time with your family. If you’ve never gone, check it out this Family Day!