Spring in Burlington Ontario

Spring in Burlington Ontario
Discover Burlington this Spring

Friday, August 26, 2011

Children's Festival 20th Anniversary

As a relatively new parent, it shocked me a little that I hadn’t been to Burlington’s Children’s Festival before, despite living here most of my life.  To be fair, when it first began, 20 years ago, I was already 16 – perhaps a bit too old for the festivities at that age.
Now that I’ve been blessed with a 1 and 3 year-old (although when they wake up screaming at 3 a.m. they don’t exactly feel like blessings), it was time for me to put aside my usual dislike of crowds and show my little munchkins a good time!  I packed up some snacks while my fearless husband loaded the kids and our all-terrain stroller into the car.
This year’s theme was Pirates & Princesses, so I knew we’d be guaranteed to see things that would entrance and impress my 3-year-old daughter Hannah all day long.
Day 1 took place on the Burlington beachfront; a fitting location given the annual “Discover Sandcastles” competition was underway!
Day 2 took place in equally beautiful Spencer Smith Park and brought with it more entertainment, kids activities and freebies than we had the time or energy to take in!  I knew early on that it was going to be very challenging to sum up the whole 2 days in just one article.  You can see tons of photos and video in the clip I’ve included if you want all the stunning highlights!

#20 The memories - Guest Blogger Victoria
To help narrow things down, and in honour of the Festival’s 20th Anniversary, I thought it would be fitting to share with you our Top 20 Favourite Things from this year’s fantastic event!
1. The Weather.  Nothing would ruin an outdoor festival (not to mention a sandcastle) quicker than rain, but Day 1 was full of warm sunshine and the few drops we saw on Day 2 were barely noticed by anyone – least of all the kids!
#3 Balloons!
2. Ample Parking.  All you parents out there with your arms full of strollers and toddlers and baby bags and sippy cups know that the closer you can park to your destination, the better.  Both days we had no trouble at all finding free parking right next to the action.
3. Balloons.  Nothing keeps a small child happily preoccupied better than a helium-filled balloon...and we didn’t even see that many floating away into the sky!  There were also amazing balloon animals by Cindy of Brilliant Balloons to wow kids of all ages!
4. Tattoos.  I didn’t realize they even made “girlie” pirate tattoos, but the proof is still proudly being displayed on my daughter’s right arm 3 days later. 
5. Crafts.  I was in heaven watching my daughter go nuts with popsicle sticks, glue and glitter knowing that I wouldn’t need to clean up anything when she was done! 

#7 Entertainment
6. The Kids Marketplace.  Often, at big events, you can get overwhelmed by sponsors and vendors, but this one was full of local organizations that provide great kids activities, like martial arts, music and gymnastics programs.  We got great ideas, and met the instructors in person, which was a really helpful experience as we decide what makes the most sense for our kids this fall.
7. The Entertainment.  From pirates showing off their swordplay skills, to talented musical acts, to the hilarious Puppet Tamer Pirate Tim, we were entertained non-stop the entire 2 days.  
8. Outdoor Movie Night.  Day 2 finished at night with an outdoor screening of Pirates of the Caribbean.  While it started a little too late for my tots to stay up for, it’s a wonderful way to spend a summer evening along the waterfront.
#10 The Face Painting
9. The Food.  From freshly squeezed lemonade to corn-on-the-cob with dozens of “corndiments”, to the always-popular french fry and ice cream trucks, there were lots of tasty treats to be had.
10. Face Painting.   This was definitely my daughter’s favourite thing about the festival.  The blue eyeshadow gave me 80’s flashbacks of myself that I’d rather forget, but she looked utterly adorable!
11. Exploring.  The kids got to roam around a shiny red firetruck, run through a pirate-themed city bus (I loved seeing my daughter in the driver’s seat), and hop in and out of a real police car.  I’m hoping that’s the only time I see my kids in a cop car!  The huge inflatable pirate ships & obstacles courses were a big hit too!
12. Toy Cars.  The Hot Wheels interactive display was really cool!  Once the kids pushed past all the dads who were reliving their youth, they had a blast seeing the latest and greatest innovations in toy cars & tracks. 
13. Princesses and Pirates.  They were everywhere!  From the entertainers to the sandcastles to festival-goers old and young, everyone was in the spirit and got dressed up in some excellent costumes.  
14. The Parade.  What better way to showcase all the pirate & princesses in their glory than by letting them parade around the Festival on Day 2, waving to the crowds as they walked by!  Letting kids “be” in a parade pretty much guarantees a never-ending sea of smiles, and that’s just what we saw all around us.
#16 The Parks - Beachway Park
15. The Atmosphere.  It was so relaxed, so full of positive energy, and brimming with happy families!  Laughter is contagious and we sure caught our fair share!
16. The Parks.  The play areas at both Beachway Park and Spencer Smith Park are truly outstanding.  There are swings and slides and unique climbing challenges for kids of all ages.   On a hot day, nothing beats the water-jets at Discovery Landing.
17. It’s Free.  Free!  Enough said.
#19 The Sandcastles - AMAZING
18. It’s Local.  Nothing’s better than taking the kids to a 2-day event full of fun that is just a few blocks away from your own home.  Especially these days with the price of gas putting a serious dent in many summer travel budgets!  
19. The Sandcastles.  Amateurs and professionals equally impressed us with amazing sand sculptures, castles, pirates, and more!
20. The Memories.  As any parent will tell you, finding quality time to spend with the family seems to be the hardest struggle we all face these days.  The memories we made over these 2 days will definitely last a lifetime. 
We can’t wait until next year! 

Update for 2012 - Theme is Jungle Safari & information can be found here

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