Burlington in the winter. You can bet there is going to be snow. You can bet that it will get cold. But with a little bundling up it can be absolutely magical for the little people. The sparkling lights, festivities, snowmen, and friendly folks make Burlington an incredible place to spend your winters as a child. Of course, we totally understand the family trip to Disney World for a little warm winter break, but there are so many great, free, things to get up to, all over this city that you may find you don’t want to escape.
Let’s start off with that quintessential Canadian Winter pass time, skating. There’s no hockey if you don’t first learn to skate, and Burlington is full of arenas and skating programs to help get you and your little one up to speed. Now, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Tim Horton’s owns all the rinks across Canada, and that’s because our national Timbit purveyor has been sponsoring free skating for young and old for more years than anyone can remember. Just keep in mind that children six years of age or younger need to wear a CSA approved helmet while out on the ice.
If you’re looking to truly make this into a slice of Canadiana for the kids, Burlington Rotary Centennial Pond is the perfect spot. In the warmer months, it’s a reflecting pool overlooking the waterfront, but when it freezes over, we have a magical iced pond with a gorgeous winter lake scene in the background. It’s always free of charge and skating runs every day from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m, from December to March, weather permitting.
#2. Trumpeter Swans
How amazed will your children be to visit the winter home of the majestic white trumpeter swan! It’ like a little piece of fairytale coming off the page right there in our own backyard.
Nearly extinct not that long ago, this beautiful bird spends its winters in at the LaSalle Park waterfront in Burlington due to the park’s rare swan habitat.
Maybe as a special bonus have Disney’s Ugly Duckling and some hot cocoa waiting when you get home for your new little ornithologists.
#3. Got Science?
A perfect opportunity to get your kids involved in science of all kinds. Guided by library staff you and your kids will learn some fun and basic hands-on experiments. Located in the program room at the New Appleby branch of the Burlington Public Library on Friday, January 04, 2019 from 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
It’s a right of passage for every kid growing up in southern Ontario. Once you’re old enough, you grab a bunch of friends and set off, sled in hand, and spend the day whizzing down hills and climbing back up. Completely free and incredibly invigorating. For the younger kids, Mom or Dad may be needed to show them the ropes and reassure them when they take that inevitable tumble.
So much a part of life here in Burlington that the City maintains six official Tobogganing runs.
- LaSalle Park, east of the parking lot
- Tyandaga Golf Course, at hole No. 4, on the west slope
- Central Park, the hill northwest of Community Garden
- >Brant Hills Park, southwest of tennis courts
- Nelson Park, east side of the park, north of Centennial Bike Path
- Lowville Park, the hill on the southwest end of the park.
Full details can be found here under the Tobogganing tab.
#5. Snowman Contest
Albeit it seems pretty obvious, when there is snow on the ground, make snowmen. However, sometimes the kids need a little push to get them off the screen and out into the world. And in Burlington, in winter, we are likely to have snow.
Have a look around your house for old hats, scarfs, and accessories that can be pressed into snowman detail. Place these items in a box and have the kids pick one item at a time (preferably without looking at the thing they’re choosing). When the box is empty everyone has their tools, and the competition can begin. The best part is that, is that as the judge you can watch from inside the house, and there is no rule against having a cup of cocoa while you observe the shenanigans.
#6. Burlington’s Lakeside Festival of Lights
With winter bringing the sun down ever earlier, it’s the perfect time to take the kids to the Burlington Lakeside Festival of Lights. Over 60 installations to amaze and set your imagination alight. Going from November 30, 2018, until January 8, 2019, the lights come on at 4:30 PM every day and blaze through until 11 PM. Plenty of time to get the children back home for bedtime and dazzling dreams.
Of course, this one will require the basic baking supplies, but making cookies with your kids is a perfect winter activity when the weather is just a touch too cold or the kids have just warmed up from some time in the snow. Once the dough is ready, turn over shaping responsibilities to the little folks. Get your children to give their cookies a holiday shape and see what comes out when they’re baked. Usually, one of the best parts of being a parent is listening to your children attempting to explain their creative endeavors. No matter what they look like, you end up with some holiday cookies for the family, and the house smells delicious.
#8. Festival of Trees
What’s better than a beautifully decorated Christmas Tree? How about a whole lot of them! The Festival of Trees is on now in the lobby of the Burlington Performing Arts Centre and runs through to December 20, 2018, when the trees will be raffled off. The kids will love walking through all the sparkly trees, and you just might get some great ideas for the fur sitting in your own living room.
Admission is free, and doors are open seven days a week from noon until 4 PM. However, if you feel like one of those trees belongs in your home, you can buy a raffle ticket and hope for a Christmas miracle.
#9. Family Sunday Open Studio at the Art Gallery of Burlington
When it’s too cold outside, and you’ve had enough of being at home, the perfect place to drop in is the Art Gallery of Burlington! Bring the kids to AGB’s FREE drop-in art studio in the Kids’ Creative Hub. The team there offer up ideas and provide some inspiration to encourage children of all ages to get in touch with their arts and crafts skills!
Children must be accompanied by parents or adult caregivers. The Open Studio runs every Sunday from 1 – 4 PM and all are welcome!
#10. Emoji Pillow
For kids over seven, this is the perfect thing to engage their creative side and keep them entertained in those days just after the New Year. Happening January 3, 2019, from 3 PM to 4 PM at the Alton branch of the Burlington Public Library. The best part is there is absolutely no sewing required. Your kids will love creating their own stick on emoji pillow and having a custom built throw pillow for their bedrooms.
For a full list of events happening at the Burlington Public Library, click here.
#11. BONUS: Get Out There and Explore
There are so many exciting things for kids to do in Burlington and the Halton Region all throughout the year. And, while there is plenty of activities for low or no cost, living in our great little city, bordered by Lake Ontario and the Escarpment, means one of the easiest and affordable things to do is get out there and take in the natural beauty all around us! What child won’t look back and appreciate everything they could do growing up in our amazing little town. The Winter is definitely no exception. The brilliant lights of the Holiday season, the natural beauty of the ice on the lake, so many adventures await!
A couple of spots to get started exploring with the kids: