Free things to do in Ottawa this Family Day

Looking for something to do with the kids on Family Day? We have a few ideas for you.

A roundup of fun, free activities for the whole family this Family Day

The Rideau Canal Skateway will be open on Family Day if the cold weather holds. ((Pawel Dwulit/Canadian Press))

Looking for something to do with the kids on Family Day?

Although malls, most grocery stores and all Ottawa Public Library branches will be closed Monday, Feb. 19, there are still plenty of options for fun activities for the entire family.


Family Day will be the last chance to check out the annual Winterlude festivities. OC Transpo at the Sociéte de transport de l'Outaouais (STO) will offer a free shuttle service on Monday linking Winterlude's official sites at the Crystal Garden in Confederation Park, the Rideau Canal Skateway and the Snowflake Kingdom in Gatineau. 

Liam and Lisa McKennirey visited Confederation Park in downtown Ottawa on the final day of Winterlude festival last year. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

Free skating 

There are plenty of free skating options for the whole family on Monday. 

Mayor Jim Watson's annual skating party continues this year at city hall's Sens Rink of Dreams, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The party will include free hot chocolate, outdoor and indoor activities and some special guests.

Coun. Jody Mitic will also hold an annual skating event for his constituents. This one takes place at Blackburn Arena from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m with refreshments including hot chocolate and pizza. 

The Parliament Hill skating rink will be open on Family Day. You'll need to book a spot in advance — you can reserve space for up to six skaters at a time — to get onto the ice. 

And don't forget the rinks at Lansdowne Park, Ben Franklin Place and the Rideau Canal, which will remain open for skating past Feb. 19, weather permitting. 

Mayor Jim Watson's annual Family Day skating party starts at 11 a.m. at the Sens Rink of Dreams next to Ottawa City Hall. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC Ottawa)

National Arts Centre

The National Arts Centre is the place to be for kids and parents who love storytelling, puppetry and music. Fringe Festival favourites the SNAFU Dance Theatre will be offering three showings of Table Top Tales and sharing stories of family, friends and the adventures and challenges of growing up. Parents and children will be invited to shar stories from their own families.

This is a free event, but you can get advance tickets at the NAC box office or online. Show times on Feb. 19 are at 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Free arcade play at House of Targ

The pinball and perogie palace on Bank Street will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Family Day for a pizza and perogi party, with 25 classic arcade games including Ms. Pac-Man and Donkey Kong all set to free play. 

Royal Canadian Mint 

The Royal Canadian Mint at 320 Sussex Dr. will be open for Family Day and guests will have the opportunity to take pictures with the Million Dollar Coin and gold bar. Free tours will be available all day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. No reservation is required.  

Free with admission

Many museums will be open for Family Day and offering special events, demonstrations and workshops included with admission.

Family Day on the Farm at the Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum will feature homemade bird seed feeders, rabbit care and butter making demonstrations. The museum's outdoor ice rink — for humans only — will be open for skating as well. 

The Canadian Museum of History is holding craft workshops and Inuit storytelling that weaves together traditional knowledge and modern ideas as part of its Far North Family Day offering. Crafting will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and storytelling takes place at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. in English and at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. in French. 

The Canadian Aviation and Space Museum is also open for Family Day with activities and demonstrations including magic tricks with Thomas Cadabra, a printmaking workshop and a zoom to the moon participatory space show for young children.