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Friday, December 21, 2012

Things to do over the holidays in Burlington, ON

It’s a wonderful time of year: there’s a chill in the air, Christmas music playing at every turn, and we are all reminded of just how lucky we are to spend the holidays with our loved ones, even if it does result in a Griswald-esque season of frenzy. This being said, when Johnny Mathis wrote ‘It’s Beginning to Look A Lot like Christmas’, the wisdom of the lyric “and Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again” has stood the test of time. It can be so difficult to find a way to keep the little ones entertained over the holiday season! Luckily, we’re happy to provide you with a list of recommended activities that are sure to keep the kids healthy, festive and MUCH too tired to stay up past their bedtime, no matter how many reindeer they hear on the roof.

This season Burlington is bustling with fun and physical activities that are perfect for the whole family: visit Rotary Centennial Pond at Discovery Landing or your local arena for free skating sponsored by Tim Hortons, or take a trip to Glen Eden to hit the slopes! And don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for special gym & ice holiday rates, courtesy of the Parks & Recreation ‘Winter Break in the City’ program!

Another great location for spending a day outdoors is Bronte Creek Provincial Park where you can not only avoid the Mayan apocalypse, but also enjoy skating on their giant outdoor rink (skate rentals available), and if mother nature cooperates you can toboggan, enjoy the ski trails or Snowshoe.  The playbarn is always open and a great distraction for kids of all ages.  Don’t forget that their Homestead Christmas runs until December 23rd.

Time-travelling not your thing? Visit the Royal Botanical Gardens for a more contemporary celebration! Check out the RBG’s Christmas train set, stay for storytime and then head outside for a winter hike. You can even steal a little bit of time for yourself (and maybe a ‘holiday-sized’ brandy-and-eggnog) after dropping the kids off at one of the garden’s Winter Discovery Day Camps on January 2nd, 3rd and 4th!  And surely after all the time you will have had to relax, you’ll have all the energy in the world to take the family to Crawford Lake for a snowshoeing or cross country skiing expedition, Hilton Falls on December 22nd for Christmas on the Trails  or a hike at Mountsberg where you can learn about majestic birds of prey. Or—if you like the idea of a wintry escape with animal friends but prefer fur to feathers—don’t miss your chance to take a horse-drawn wagon ride through Mountsberg’s beautiful landscapes, followed my marshmallow roasting over an open fire starting January 12th. Bring your blanket and your camera, this is sure to be a beautiful family memory!

We know what you’re thinking: that all sounds amazing but what if the weather is bad? I can only keep the kids occupied with paper cutout snowflakes for so long!  Fear not, fellow Burlingtonian! Buy your tickets now for Aladdin at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre! This pantomime is geared towards kids but fun for all ages: be a part of the show with this interactive theatrical experience.

And while many of us will be heading back to work after the holidays, school aged children are off for another week which means trying to find fun activities to fill their days.  The Museums of Burlington are a great way to spend the day exploring the history of Burlington and two of it’s famous residents – Joseph Brant & the Irelands. If you kids are more interested in the arts consider a visit to the Burlington Art Centre which is home to the world’s largest collection of contemporary ceramics.  Plus they have recently opened the Creative Hub - the BAC Creative Hub located just off the Brock Lobby. Drop in and get creative.  Desks and chairs, art supplies, activity sheets and art books to inspire, and display space for artwork are all available. Free. Open to all ages during BAC hours.  On January 6th from 2-3pm you can participate in a free Guided tour led by a trained docent.  Plus there is a very cool exhibition in the Lee-Chin Family Gallery - Zoom: New Works by Reinhard Reitzenstein. The artist has a large visual representation of the Higgs boson particle (referred to in the media as the God particle) and electrons suspended from the ceiling, as well as photographs of oceans, landscapes and close ups of moss-wrapped stones dripping with moisture on the walls - from vastness to sub-atomic events.  Both the museums and the art centre are closed the week of Dec. 24-Jan. 1 and open regular hours starting January 2nd.

Of course, we would be remiss if we did not also relay the many choices for a family friendly New Years Eve. Visit the New Years Eve Hoopla at Conservation Halton for activities for the whole family including a wagon ride, puppet show, and a scavenger hunt, or enjoy the celebration at Central Park, where you and the family can look forward to free skating, a Mad Science activity station, games, and two fireworks displays.  You can also head to Bronte Creek Provincial Park who will be celebrating New Year’s Eve with some howl'n going on! The Park Naturalist will be leading evening hikes where visitors will learn to howl like coyotes and then gather round the bonfire for the Countdown for Kids!

If your little ones are getting to be not-so-little and have reached the dreaded “I can’t be seen with you in public!” age, send them off for a New Year’s Eve party of their own at Velocity, where kids between the ages of 8 and 14 can celebrate with a live DJ and free pizza in a safe, supervised environment. Finally, if after all this the kids have any energy left whatsoever, bring them over to Tansley Woods Community Centre on New Years Day from noon to 4pm where the fun continues! FREE swimming, a soccer skills workshop, a Wii games room, crafts and all sorts of entertainment make this party a must!

Remember to check the Burlington Events Calendar for new events, because there is always something new and exciting happening in Burlington! We wish you a fun-filled, safe and festive holiday season, and a happy New Year!

If you are looking for a listing of what is open & closed over the holidays visit our homepage for a downloadable PDF

Wishing you a very Happy New Year from all of us here at Tourism Burlington!

TourBurl Girl Elyse

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