What’s Happening Family Day Long Weekend


Family Day is filled with endless possibilities, making it hard to choose just one activity. Luckily, Barrie and the surrounding areas are hosting multiple events in celebration of this special day. The best part is, many of them are free!

Before we jump into the activities, let’s take a look at the history of Family Day …

How Family Day Weekend Started

Ontario didn’t always have a three-day holiday weekend in February. We used to go all the way from Christmas to Easter before getting a long weekend. It wasn’t until 2007, when Dalton McGuinty made it a campaign promise that if he were to be re-elected as Premiere of the Province, he would create a provincial holiday in February.

The reality is, most of us celebrate and spend time with our family all year round. But it’s nice to have a long weekend dedicated to forgetting about our day-to-day responsibilities and enjoying time together. Especially in the middle of winter.

Family Day Activities In Simcoe County

If you aren’t sure how you want to spend Family Day 2023, here’s a list of things happening all over the region this weekend …

1. Barrie’s Family Day Winter Adventure

The City of Barrie is hosting a Family Day Winter Adventure from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Barrie Community Sports Complex (2100 Nursery Road, Midhurst).

Start your day with exciting activities, including axe throwing, kicksledding, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and broomball. Or try your hand at skating, snowshoeing, and tobogganing.

Once you’re ready to take a break from the cold, warm up by the bonfire or participate in some craft-making. All activities are offered for free, making it the perfect family-friendly event for this special day.

2. Family Day At Simcoe County Museum

On Family Day, embark on an adventure through the 300+ acres of the Simcoe County Museum. Head out on the 1 km skating trail, snowshoe in the forest, or hurt down the toboggan hill.

Admission is:

$8 for adults
$6 for youth and seniors
$5 for children
FREE for preschoolers and museum members.

All activities for the day are included in the event admission. Snowshoe rentals are available for free but you’ll have to bring your own skates, helmets, skate assists, and toboggans.

3. Nature In Winter Pop-Up

Discover the wonders of the natural world during winter with the Nature In Winter Pop-Up at Sunnidale Park from February 17th to 20th. The event includes a self-guided tour with QR-coded videos and information provided by the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority. The codes can be found around the playground area and along the path to the feeder.

Once you’re done learning, join the Great Backyard Bird Count at the designated feeder station located on the path behind the Dorian Parker Centre, at the edge of the forest. On-site instructions will be provided to guide you through the participation process.

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn and appreciate the beauty of nature during the winter months.

4. Barrie Rec Centres

On February 20th, the Allendale Recreation Centre, East Bayfield Recreation Centre, and Peggy Hill Team Community Centre will be offering an array of drop-in activities from 6 AM to 9 PM. Activities include fitness classes, public skates, open swims, hockey, and more.

To view the schedule, visit barrie.ca.

5. MacLaren Art Centre

This Family Day, the MacLaren Art Centre will be hosting a Celebration of Diversity. The celebration will be held in two parts, with the first event taking place at the MacLaren from 10 AM to 1 PM. Here, families will be able to tour the current exhibitions and participate in a printmaking class led by Kim Brett. Using techniques like monotype, stamping, and collagraph printing, families will have the opportunity to create special family portraits.

The second part of the celebration will be held at Shak’s World Community Centre from 12 PM to 3:30 PM. During this event, families will join in on an art project followed by live entertainment.

RELATED: Support Shak’s World by grabbing a pink shirt and wearing it February 22 …

6. Free Fishing

In Ontario, you have a few opportunities to fish without a license, and this weekend is one of those rare chances. So, make the most of it and enjoy fishing without having to obtain a permit.

Keep in mind that you’re still required to abide by certain rules, such as:

  • Catch limits outlined in your conservation license
  • Size limits and protected areas
  • Fishing regulations in place

If you don’t have fishing equipment, take advantage of the TackleShare program available through the Barrie Public Library or other loaner sites.

7. Free Paintball At Barrie Paintball

Experience the thrill of paintball this Family Day, with a free day of play at Barrie Paintball. On February 20th, from 11 AM to 5 PM, enjoy all the excitement of paintball without paying for equipment or entry. Just pay for paint, which is available at a discounted price of $120 for a case of 2000 (regularly $160).

Be sure to arrive early to avoid any wait times, as equipment reservations are not permitted on Family Day.

8. Hot Cocoa Trail

Heat up your Family Day weekend with the Downtown Hot Cocoa Trail!

From February 18th to 19th, get cozy with a cup of delicious hot chocolate at over 25 locations during the Downtown Hot Cocoa Trail. Each stop will offer a unique twist on the classic treat, as well as a chance to win a $250 Downtown Barrie prize pack with every purchase! So before you head out for a day of fun, warm up with a sweet and indulgent drink.

9. Family Day Fun At Horseshoe Valley

Get ready for a fun-filled Family Day celebration at Horseshoe Valley. On February 18, grab your friends and family for a thrilling night of glow tubing and grooving to a live DJ. From 6 PM to 9 PM, families will receive a complimentary glow stick with their tubing passes.

From February 17 to 19, take a magical moonlit snowshoe adventure. The one-hour tour includes snowshoe rentals, headlamps, and warm beverages by the fire. The tours depart at 7 PM and 8 PM from the Main Chalet’s Alpine Rental Centre.

To wrap up the weekend, join Andrew Hutt for a lively Family Day Live On The DJ Deck event on Monday, February 20 from 12 PM to 7 PM.

10. Skate Escape At Friday Harbour

Get ready for an exciting experience this Family Day with Skate Escape at Friday Harbour. Enjoy activities like ice skating in the Piazza, live music performances, and the thrilling pay-per-use Harbour Skate Trail.

Once you’ve had your fill of fun outdoor activities, head to the cozy chalet cabins for a treat or enjoy a warm cup of hot chocolate and signature cocktails in the luxurious warming lounges.

11. Snowman Mania

From February 17 to 20 head to Snowman Mania, taking place in Wasaga Beach. The festival grew from a simple snow-building competition and now offers a variety of events and activities for all ages.

Experience the excitement of fire-spinning performances, mesmerizing fireworks, and an inflatable maze. Try your hand at kicksledding and axe throwing, enjoy a magic shows, or cozy up with a cup of hot chocolate in an igloo. Take a stroll through the Snowman Mania Illumination Trail, go on horse-drawn carriage rides, get creative with toolbox building and crafts, and play indoor games.

There’s really something for everyone to enjoy at Snowman Mania!

Services Affected By Family Day

On Family Day, Barrie Transit will be running according to its regular Sunday service. You can find more information on their schedule by visiting myridebarrie.ca.

Note that there will be no curbside collection for garbage, organics, or recycling in Barrie on this holiday. Collection for the rest of the week will take place one day later. Learn more at www.barrie.ca/CurbsideCollection.

City Hall will be closed for the holiday.

If you’re planning on visiting downtown Barrie, note that parking (both on-street and in lots) is free on all statutory holidays. However, parking enforcement at the waterfront operates 24/7/365, so residents must display their permits. If you’re a visitor, parking is $10 per hour, with a daily maximum of $50. Visit www.barrie.ca/Parking for more information.

RELATED: What’s open and closed on Family Day …

There’s lots to do this family day so, make sure to take advantage of all the fun and excitement that’s waiting for you and your loved ones.