Winter in Vancouver brings with it a number of fun and educational events and activities. If you’re looking for things to enjoy as a family that not just entertain but also educate, here are a few suggestions.
Chinese New Year Parade – January 28
Last year was the Year of the Monkey, and this year during the Chinese New Year, the festivities will celebrate the Year of the Chicken. From a colourful parade (including traditional dragon costumes and the famous Lion Dance), as well as traditional performers this is a great event for families (and kids of all ages).
Talking Stick Festival – February 16-26
This 10 day annual festival actively celebrates the First Nation history of the area. The festival brings in many local and surrounding elders and artists to demonstrate traditional and culturally significant forms of art, including among other things wood carving and painting; a truly unique opportunity to witness skills that have been handed down for generations.
This year adds an exciting dimension with the WaX Hoks En Shqulawin (Open Your Hearts) Opening Gala featuring music, dancing, and a feast. Both national and international guests will be in attendance for the celebration of Pow-Wow, slam poetry and spoken word segments, and contemporary live performances will provide a unique and intimate insight into First Nation culture, from the ancient to the modern. This is a city-wide event.
Vancouver Aquarium and Wild Family Nature Club – Tuesdays, twice monthly
One of the top family-friendly places in Vancouver, at the Vancouver Aquarium kids can get an up-close and personal look at marine life and ecosystems as they wander through a spacious and lively selection of exhibits. The aquarium takes a lot of pride in illustrating the different biomes that make up the Pacific Northwest, and including a huge variety of sea creatures, from fish to arthropods.
Twice monthly on Tuesdays the Aquarium hosts a Wild Family Nature Club aimed at introducing youngsters to nature – in association with the Canadian Wildlife Federation. Various animals and topics are covered during each session, with a strong emphasis on conservation and learning to live in harmony with the natural elements.
As part of the environmental outreach program for youth, childrens in attendance are also encouraged to start their own nature clubs in their neighborhoods. Whether it’s catching butterflies, backpacking, or taking a closer look at some of the more hidden wildlife in Stanley Park and the surrounding area the events have plenty to offer.
H.R. MacMillan Space Center
Believe it or not, Vancouver has a space center! Located in Vanier Park south of the Burrard Bridge, this interactive center is a gem for kids and adults alike. With replicas of J-2 rockets and a miniature International Space Station (ISS), there’s something for everyone. After touring through the exhibits you can enjoy the onsite planetarium which features a projector named “Harold” (the closest thing you can get to actual space without having to strap into a shuttle). There’s a wealth of educational information to be gleaned, from the formation of stars and planets to the names of well-known (and obscure) constellations. Where else can you touch actual moon rocks in Vancouver?
Science World Nano-Themed Winter Lab – starting December 17
The iconic geodesic dome at the head of False Creek has always been a favorite for kids. In keeping with their philosophy that education should be fun, Science World has launched their Nano-themed laboratory where kids can learn all about the microscopic world – not only what it looks like and how it affects us, but how modern science has also allowed us to find practical applications for small things.
In the “Nose Knows”, join the “Mind of a Snail” puppet show duo and journey into the human body. Or head up to the first-floor atrium and join others in helping to create a structure using nanotubes, while learning how nanotechnology allows us to create incredibly strong things with incredibly tiny parts. Still looking for something to do? One of the most eminent thinkers in history, Isaac Newton, was actually born on Christmas day back in 1642. To celebrate his birthday there’s an entire exhibit devoted to his Laws of Motion – and if you stick around, you might get to meet him one on one. To see how that works, you will need to experience it for yourself.
Whatever your cup of tea, Vancouver is a diverse community of different ethnicities and a hub of educational resources – for this New Year’s resolution, why not treat yourself and your kids to the many educational and entertaining places our city has to offer?