Do something different this Family Day in Toronto and area

By Christine Davis

One day of the year is designated to families enjoying time together. This year, why not do Family Day a little differently and spend your time outside?
Toronto is offering a few new, free, activities to choose from on Monday, Feb. 19.

Photo:Ontario Place Corporation

Iconic Ontario Place is open again – enjoy this unique lakeside destination for all of your favourite winter activities. The West Island offers a beautiful winter setting to stroll along and catch such attractions as the Winter Light Exhibition, which is open daily from sunset until midnight.

Skating on an artificial ice surface is also offered at Ontario Place’s West Island. Located in the centre of the Commons, the rink features skate rental and sharpening facilities, which are $5 each. Family Day hours will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Cap off your day at Ontario Place sitting by the bonfire. Located on the north end of Cedar Cove, the bonfire is just a short walk from the rink and offers plenty of log and Muskoka chair seating. Operated by Ontario Place Staff, the bonfire will be lit from noon to 4 p.m. on Family Day.

You can also warm up at the newly reopened Cinesphere and enjoy movies in IMAX. Check ontarioplace.com for listings.

Also new this year is The Bentway, a unique space that has transformed a 1.75 kilometre trail below Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway into a skating trail during the winter months. Open daily, The Bentway will be offering free skate rentals, courtesy of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport from 6 to 9 p.m. on Family Day, as well as pop-up skate instruction from West Toronto Skate Club instructors from 6 to 8 p.m.

For a complete listing of rules and pricing, visit thebentway.ca.

Step out of the dark and into the light at the Toronto Light Festival, which, for the second year, will take over the Distillery Historic District to become one of the largest open-air lighting galleries in North America. Artists from around the world have contributed to the thousands of lights on display. Visit torontolightfest.com for more information about this free event.

In Toronto’s Beaches you can enjoy a riot of colour courtesy of Water Stations International Design Competition. This is the fourth year of the competition, which saw four winning designs selected from hundreds of submissions from around the world. They took the Riot theme and transformed the lifeguard stations dotted along the beachfront into interactive art installations. The exhibit, which opens Family Day, features some installations that are more child-friendly than others, so be sure to visit winterstations.com to plan your trip.