Family Day is the most recent addition to Ontario's holiday calendar. This day has been set aside in February to celebrate and spend time with family and loved ones -- plus it helps break up the long stretch of winter that comes between New Year's Day and Easter!
When Family Day Takes Place:
Family Day falls on the third Monday in February. This means it will always coincide with Presidents Day in the United States. Although Family Day has existed in Alberta since the 1990s, Ontario's first Family Day only took place on February 18, 2008.
- Family Day 2013 - February 18
- Family Day 2014 - February 17
- Family Day 2015 - February 16
Things to Do on Family Day:
The beauty of Family Day is that as soon as you spend time with family, you're automatically celebrating. You can stay home together, visit other families, head out to a park, cook a big dinner together (or just order in) -- the options are really endless. But if you are looking for something more structured to do, consider these Family Day events:
Visit Toronto Attractions Over the Family Day Long Weekend:
Special events and admission discounts for Family Day 2013 include:
- From Saturday to Monday the Toronto Zoo is celebrating by featuring families such as the Western lowland gorillas, the orangutans, the Komodo dragons, the polar bears, the river otters, and others with special keeper talks scheduled each day.
- Casa Loma's special events include a Valentine's Day Brunch on Sunday, ghost tracking on Sunday night, and "Family Day Tea Time for Teddy Bears" on Monday (preregistration required for all events).
- The Hockey Hall of Fame is offering free admission to youth 13 and under on Family Day Monday (must be accompanied by a paying adult; 4 free youth permitted per adult ticket). Youth will also receive a voucher for a free muffin at the Marché Restaurant in Brookfield Place.
- From Saturday to Monday the special Family Day weekend programming at the Royal Ontario Museum is based on the theme "Carnival at the ROM" and includes storytelling, mask-making, performances and more.
- The CN Tower is offering a $99+tax Family Pass (four tickets, maximum two adults) from Friday to Monday.
- The Ontario Science Centre's Family Day Weekend programming includes a live animal demonstration about reptiles, special planetarium presentations, and plenty of hands-on activities.
- On Monday, the Art Gallery of Ontario is turning into the Kids Gallery of Ontario, holding an all-day dance party, running kid-centric tours of the gallery, offering hands-on activities and lowering the price of a Family Pass to $39.
- And on Monday there are many Family Day Activities taking place at City of Toronto Museums, ranging from an an Irish dancing workshop to a chance to dissect on owl pellet. (You can also check out all of the February events at Toronto's Historic Museums to see what else is on throughout the weekend.)
Take in Some Family Theatre:
Another option for the family day weekend is to take in some of Toronto's theater for young audiences:
- There are two shows on at Young People's Theatre during Family Day weekend 2013. Here to Hear is an interactive play about music that's recommended for children in Junior Kindergarten through Grades 3, while The Power of Harriet T! is about the life of Harriet Tubman and is recommended for youth in grades 4-8. On Monday, there are free Family Day pre-show activities for both shows.
- The operatic Sanctuary Song was "inspired by the true story of an elderly elephant’s journey to freedom". Theatre Direct offers public shows on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
- The Wizard of Oz continues at the Ed Mirvish Theatre.
- And Second City presents Family Day Funny, an all-ages sketch comedy show, on Monday only. A portion of each ticket sold will be donated to The SickKids Foundation.
Other Family Day Events:
Harbourfront Centre offers the HarbourKIDS: Skating Festival on Sunday and Monday.
The Beach BIA is hosting Family Sunday in the Beach with food tastings, performances, ice sculpting, and a petting zoo.
The Kingsway BIA is holding a Family Day festival on Saturday, with ice sculpture demonstrations, maple taffy, live music and more.
The annual Family Day Fest returns to Downsview Park from Saturday to Monday. The Family Day Fest is indoors in Studio 3 and offers rides, games and entertainment.
Visit the International Centre near Pearson Airport on Sunday or Monday for Kids-Fest, where there will be indoor inflatables and children's entertainment.
The Marlies are playing a rare Monday afternoon game at Ricoh Coliseum on Family Day, along with a Saturday home game.
Or you can to head to one of the trade shows and exhibitions on during the Family Day weekend:
What Else is Open on Family Day:
Movie theatres should be open, and stage shows beyond those listed above continue as usual (although a number of live theatres usually close on Mondays, so double check any show you're interested in).
If you'd like to shop, the Eaton Centre will be open as will many stores in the surrounding Downtown Yonge area. Outside of the city, Vaughan Mills Mall will be open, as will Square One in Mississauga.
What's Closed on Family Day:
Before the holiday hits you should stock up on food, books, and booze.
Libraries, banks, liquor and beer stores, City of Toronto offices, schools, daycares and many grocery stores will be closed on the third Monday of February. Most malls and other retail outlets outside of Toronto will all be closed on Family Day as well.
Getting Around on Family Day:
The TTC will be running on a Holiday Schedule. This means the buses, streetcars and subways will be running as if it was Sunday, except service will begin around 6am -- much earlier than Sunday service. The GO Transit holiday schedule calls for Saturday service.
Family Day at Local Museums:
In 2013 you can enjoy the following special events at Toronto's historical museums. Admission is pay what you can:
- Colborne Lodge - Family FUNdays on Friday, Sunday and Monday: "Kids will fish for the truth (or legend) about 1813 and High Park".
- Fort York - Family FUNdays on Friday and Sunday, Family Day programming on Monday: "Kids can try an authentic War of 1812 soldier's drill, learn how officers trained with the sword, and experience a game that the Garrison children might have played." Hot chocolate and baked treats available on Monday.
- Gibson House - Family FUNday on Sunday: "Enjoy warm cider in front of the historic kitchen's crackling fire. Children can help to prepare treats for the open hearth. Relax in the parlour and hear the fascinating stories about this family who helped found the town north of York."
- Mackenzie House - Family FUNdays on Friday, Sunday and Monday: "Learn more about the early Black community in Toronto, including those who published newspapers. Print a souvenir copy of Mary Ann Shadd Cary's newspaper, The Provincial Freeman, in our re-created 1850's printshop!"
- Scarborough Museum - Family FUNdays on Sunday and Monday: "Pioneer crafts, snow painting, scavenger hunts, wood stove baking, and hot chocolate for all!"
- Spadina Museum - Family FUNdays Friday, Sunday and Monday: "Join us on Spadina Family Days for a scavenger hunt focused tour and cupcake decorating in the 1930's historic kitchen."
- Todmorden Mills - Family FUNdays Friday, Sunday and Monday: "Enjoy site tours tasty treats prepared on our 19th century open hearth. There will be take-home crafts for children."
And Montgomery Inn has different programming all three days of the Family Day weekend:
- Friday: Family FUNday - "Kids will play tavern games in a restored 19th century tavern. Belly-up to the bar for a free glass of hot cider."
- Saturday Night: The Tethered Heart - "Meet at the Inn's Bake Oven for the launch of a neighbourhood parade and feast moving through the heart of Etobicoke. Stories of migration and memories of home move across borders and boundaries, through the air and across time, travelling through the streets of Etobicoke to touch down on Mabelle Avenue." (Learn more about The Tethered Heart at mabellearts.ca)
- Sunday: Family FUNday - "Bring the family to Montgomery's Inn where you can join the cooks in the historic kitchen and prepare tasty treats over the fire. Drop in activities, no pre-registration required."
- Monday: "Bring the family to Montgomery's Inn for an Irish Ceilidh!" Dancing workshop, treats from the historic kitchen, and story-telling with puppetry.
Get more information on any of these events on the museum section of the City of Toronto website.