Need something to do this weekend? Here are five places around town where you can keep the kids entertained during spring break.
Bloedel Conservatory at Queen Elizabeth Park, 4600 Cambie Street
Let’s face it: if you have kids, spring break in Vancouver means you’ll likely be spending a lot of time indoors listening to the sound of squawking. You might as well do it at Bloedel Conservatory, where the noise of your own progeny will at least blend in with the sounds of the 200-plus free-flying birds, which include red, blue, and dwarf macaws, African parrots, finches, and Chinese pheasants.
Factor in some 500 species of plants from tropical rain-forest and desert climes, and you might even be able to pretend you’ve left our soggy city behind and travelled somewhere more exotic. The City of Vancouver, which owns and operates the conservatory, has put special pricing in place for the month of March: you can get up to two free child admissions with the purchase of a regular-price adult, senior, or youth admission.
And if Bloedel doesn’t satisfy your hankering to look at plants in civic-owned spaces, the VanDusen Botanical Garden is offering the same deal.
Waterfront Theatre, 1412 Cartwright Street; and Massey Theatre, 735 8th Avenue
Several matinees happening this spring break give families the chance to expose their kids to live theatre—and escape the drizzle if it happens to rain. Fortunately, the works on offer are strong enough to entertain parents as well.
Carousel Theatre’s Cat in the Hat (playing at Waterfront Theatre until March 26; see tickets online) is one of those rare renditions that actually lives up to the classic storybook. Based on a popular British adaptation, it’s a lively, colourful take on the story of the cat who brings chaos into a household, playing up its physical comedy. And the acting is top-notch: as our reviewer said, “Mike Stack’s Cat exudes mischievous delight from hat to tail, with plenty of knowing looks and proud tricks in between. Kayvon Khoshkam’s buttoned-down Fish, the story’s advocate for order, is his hilarious foil.”
For older kids, may we suggest giving them their first taste of Shakespeare: Monster Theatre has created a new adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one that’s easily understandable and entertaining, replete with fairies and talking donkeys. Best of all, it’s all staged in the historic Massey Theatre in New West, a classic venue that’s worth the trip. The show takes place March 25 at 2 p.m. and tickets are available online.
In addition, the troupe’s talented Tara Travis, Sydney Hayduk, and Jon Paterson will hold a theatre workshop for kids on March 24, which will walk participants through aspects of story, character,movement, and ore via improv. The workshop takes place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and registration ($25 per child) is by phone at 604-521-5050.
PlayDome at BC Place, 777 Pacific Boulevard
It’s spring break and your kids have no school or homework for two weeks. Not all families can afford to fly out to Disneyland or Canada’s Wonderland—so where do you go in Vancouver for some affordable fun with the entire brood? PlayDome at B.C. Place: it’s not an amusement park, but it is the largest indoor carnival in Western Canada that offers an escape for the kids (and kids at heart) without emptying your wallet.
Running from March 22 to 26, PlayDome will feature over 45 rides and attractions in a brightly enclosed space lit up by flashing lights and energizing music. We’re sure the Alien Abduction ride, where guests experience weightlessness while rotating at a high speed, or the Mini Jets—a ride that lets you soar high—will leave the kids with huge grins on their faces.
When you’re done with the spinning or flying, check out the various midway games that will test your hoop- or dart-throwing skills. These activities are bound to work up an appetite, so be sure to refuel with food items such as mini donuts, hot dogs, pizza, slushies, and cotton candy: fairground favourites that will prepare you for another round of bumper cars in no time. Tickets (from $8 to $49) can be purchased online.
Celtic Village at Robson Square, 800 Robson Street
The St. Patrick’s Day parade may not be happening this year—organizers are citing the rain and diminishing sponsorships as reasons for cancellation—but CelticFest Vancouver has another option for families looking to get in on the green-tinged celebrations.
Visit Robson Square this Friday and Saturday (March 17 and 18) and you’ll find that St. Paddy’s isn’t just about whisky and Guinness: face-painting, street performers, and a jam-picked lineup of Celtic dancers and musicians at the weekend-long Celtic Village festival all make an afternoon (or early evening) of age-appropriate fun.
Three separate stages will play host to some of the most talented artists in the city, including local electronic group Delhi 2 Dublin and genre-bending ensemble the Paperboys. SFU’s award-winning pipe band, as well as several Irish dance troupes, will also be on-site. Once the tots are partied out, you can visit the fete’s artisan market where you can shop Celtic treats and treasures to bring home.
The festival is open from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. on both days. A $10 cover charge will be in effect starting at 7 p.m.
Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour Street
Not that there’s anything wrong with The Lego Batman Movie—and really there isn’t! It rocks!—but you couldn’t ask for much more stimulating programming than what the Vancouver International Film Festival is offering in its March-break matinees this week and next.
Get curious young brains going and build stronger human beings with films like Antarctica: Ice & Sky, a fascinating and poetically shot documentary about French glaciologist Claude Lorius, his gruelling first expeditions to the icy continent, and his shattering discoveries about global warming (March 17, 18, 20, 22, 23, and 24); and the Oscar-nominated, poignant French-Swiss cartoon My Life as a Zucchini, about a child sent to an orphanage after the death of his alcoholic single mother (it’s more hopeful and funny than you think; March 16 to 19).
Also playing are Kedi, a truly captivating cat-umentary about the street felines in Istanbul; and I Am Not Your Negro, Raoul Peck’s bold look at the American civil-rights movement’s bravest martyrs (March 16 and 21).
Find exact times and tickets at www.viff.org/. All films are rated PG.