The 13 most awesome, munchkin-friendly, relatively painless activities happening in the city this month.
Events selected by bunchfamily.ca
1. Bundle up, fill a thermos with hot chocolate and learn about Scarborough’s wildlife during a guided nature hike in Rouge Park. Dogs are welcome on most days.
Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays all month. Find meeting points at rougepark.com. 905-713-6038. Free.
2. Alice in Blunderland, a pantomime take on the fantastical favourite, puts a Toronto spin on familiar characters—Rob and Doug Tweedledumb steal the show.
To Jan. 7. Red Sandcastle Theatre, 922 Queen St. E., 416-845-9411. $10–$25.
3. Sit down to a four-course farmers’ market feast at the Dufferin Grove Friday Night Supper. The Duff’s dinners are chock-full of families—and if you’ve never been, attending is a must. Work off the calories with some rink time.
Jan. 6. 13, 20 and 27. 6 p.m. Rink clubhouse, 875 Dufferin St., 416-392-0913. $13 suggested donation.
4. Chop wood! Build forts! Cook outdoors over an open fire at Evergreen Brick Works Chimney Court.
Saturdays all month. 550 Bayview Ave., 416-596-7670. $5 suggested donation.
5. Like Green Day? Want your kid to like Green Day? Take them to the Green Day rock opera, American Idiot.
Ages 12 and up. Until Jan. 15. Toronto Centre for the Arts, 5040 Yonge St., 416-733-9388. $62–$180.
6. In the Ontario Science Centre’s Garbage Art workshop, old bike tires and other junk are transformed into beautiful objects. Far more fun than working with Popsicle sticks. Kids under 14 must be accompanied by an adult.
Jan. 15. 770 Don Mills Rd., 416-696-1000. $13–$20.
7. Usher in the Year of the Dragon with LunarFest’s amazing displays of illuminated lanterns.
Jan. 20–24. Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000. Free.
8. The young’uns will love watching big trucks crush little trucks at the Monster Jam. And it might surprise you to find that you will, too. Really, it’s oddly satisfying.
Jan. 21 and 22. Rogers Centre, 1 Blue Jays Way, 855-985-5000. $20–$125.
9. Because the nighttime is the right time to learn about nocturnal predators, the Toronto Botanical Garden leads its Owl Prowl forest hike on a dark, wintry evening. Also cool: Kids can dissect an owl pellet.
Jan. 21. 6:30 p.m. 777 Lawrence Ave. E., 416-397-1341. $10.
10. This musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes is meant for munchkins—so, no, the emperor does not appear in the buff.
Jan. 21, 22, 28 and 29. Solar Stage Children’s Theatre, 100 Upper Madison Ave., 416-368-8031. $12.
11. The Toronto Public Library has a wackload of Family Literacy Day programming. Our pick: an afternoon with the authors of the Picture It picture books, who’ll read a story and help kids create drawings to go with it.
Jan. 28. 2 p.m. McGregor Park branch, 2219 Lawrence Ave. E., 416-396-8935. Free.
12. Mush! Check out the dog-sled races at the Kortright Centre for Conservation. If your kids subsequently decide to strap the family pet to a toboggan, that’s not on us.
Jan. 29 and 30. 10 a.m–4 p.m. 9550 Pine Valley Dr., Woodbridge, 905-832-2289. Kids under 15 free, adults $6.50.
13. Oh, snap: This month’s Family Sunday workshop at the AGO is all about photography.
Jan. 29. 12 p.m.–4 p.m. 317 Dundas St. W., 416-979-6648. Free with general admission.
Mini trend: teeny, weeny backyard rinks:
Here’s something that suburban hockey moms and dads have known for years: While community centres offer exceptional rinks, both indoor and out, nothing beats having your own private ice patch on which to learn how to skate (or refine that triple toe loop). It’s the winter equivalent of having a pool, and neighbourhood families will flock to your home on weekends and evenings, turning it into a hub of activity. Sure, our downtown backyards may be a fraction of the size of our suburban pals’, but when a kid is just learning to skate, they don’t need more than a couple of metres of gliding space. Plus, smaller yards make the dash inside for hot chocolate and hot toddies that much quicker. With just a plastic tarp, a couple of wooden planks and a whole lot of flooding from the garden hose, kids and parents can avoid the schlep to Nathan Phillips Square or Harbourfront’s Natrel rink and get unlimited ice time. And with the availability of backyard rink kits (Jiffy Rink and EZ Rink are both carried by Canadian Tire), the backyard rink has come to small city yards.