After the long, dark, rainy (and this year, snowy) winter here in Vancouver, the recent sunshine is a welcome sign that spring is nearly here. Crocuses and tulips have begun to emerge and the much-loved cherry blossoms are in bloom – just in time for spring break.
With most school districts in BC running a two-week holiday from class, there’s plenty of time ahead to get the kids out and about for some fun, fresh air, and maybe even a bit of learning. On a cozy budget? No problem. We’ve rounded up a collection of free events, activities, and ideas that are no (or low) cost.
Photo: Dóra Varga-Lencsés
The Vancouver Art Gallery runs a family fun day every Sunday, but if you haven’t had a chance to check it out, maybe spring break will provide the perfect opportunity. The events run noon to 4 pm, with interactive activities for the whole family. In Art Agents, kids can explore, chat and play in the exhibition spaces. In the Making Place, they can try their hand with different materials, processes and ideas that are also on display. It’s a great way to introduce kids to art. Free for children 12 and under when accompanied by an adult. Activities are designed for ages 5 to 12, but all ages and abilities are welcome to participate.
Enjoy a big-screen night with a free family movie event on Thursday, March 19, at the City Centre Community facility, at 5900 Minoru Boulevard in Richmond. The event is part of the ongoing community movie series and is free for the whole family. This month’s movie will be the recently released live-action version of Aladdin, and the movie is shown on 20-foot screens with surround sound. Free refreshments while supplies last, and the event is all ages.
A hit throughout the year, the Burnaby Village Museum is a particular treat during spring break. With free admission and unique events and activities throughout the day, the spring break fun runs from March 16 to 27, 11 am to 4:30 pm daily. Carousel rides are just $2.65 each. Kids can take part in scavenger hunts and try their hand at a variety of old-fashioned games and activities. Note: the carousel closes daily from 1:30 to 2 pm.
Travel even further back in time at Fort Langley, and explore life in the mid-1800s. Try your hand at shaping metal in the blacksmith shop or barrel making, learn about the work of the Hudson’s Bay Company and day-to-day life in the fort. Adult admission fees apply but youth 17 and under are free.
Head out to historic Steveston for a special spring break event at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site. Special activities include a “Mystery in the Museum” with a detective kit and clues to be found throughout the cannery. Youth 17 and under are free, must be accompanied by an adult.
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Geocaching just keeps getting more and more popular. Use clues and the GPS on your phone to help locate secret “caches” anywhere in the world. But don’t take the treasure home! Hide it again for the next group of hunters. There’s tons of information online to get started and yes, there’s an app for that now too. It’s a great way to get out and be active, and to explore your local community – or further afield! There are thousands of geocaches throughout the Greater Vancouver region just waiting to be discovered.
Penzer Park in Langley is one of the area’s most popular destinations. There’s a bike park with jumps, a basketball court, skate park, a climbing area for kids, and a full-sized parkour course with walls, obstacles, swinging bars and much more. If the kids have some steam to blow off, Penzer Park (at 19914 47A Avenue) is the way to go.
Make your own tour and take in the splendour of the season with this interactive map for the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival. The magical beauty of the cherry blossoms is sure to enchant kids of all ages. The map includes a round-up of more than 2,500 locations of ornamental cherry trees, including about 50 different types with everything from pink to blush to pure white cherry blossoms. The map shows what’s in bloom and when (based on previous years, until updates are made through the season.)
Science and Nature
Head out to the Museum of Surrey for a free, all-ages drop-in family event running on the Tuesday through Friday each week of spring break. This frosty party includes dress-up fun, polar crafts, cool games, outside play, and more. While there, enjoy the new Arctic Voices exhibit. The museum is open regular hours but the arctic activities run 1 to 4 pm March 17, 18, 19, 20 and 24, 25, 26, and 27th.
Explore the environment, animals, insects and more at the Surrey Nature Centre at Green Timbers, with regular free drop-in activities that run throughout the spring break period. Kids can borrow activity backpacks, take part in the fishing rod loan program, or enjoy the Nature Story Time, daily at 10:30 am. A special Discovery Days event will run on March 20 from 10 am to 2 pm and a Nature Walk will be taking place on March 21 (10 to 11 am for all ages, 2 to 3:30 pm for 13+).
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