The Calgary Zoo's Penguin Walk is a popular spectacle (photo: Calgary Zoo)

What to Do on Family Day Weekend 2017 in Alberta

By AMA Staff

The Family Day weekend is, naturally, an amazing time to get out and enjoy Alberta with those closest to you. Whether you’re looking for outdoor excitement, cultural activities or just good old-fashioned community get-togethers, there’s much to do across the province!

LEARN HOW TO ICE FISH, WABAMUM LAKE
Family Day weekend offers an excellent chance to spend quality time on a frozen lake, waiting for that fateful tug on your line. From February 18-20, anglers need not have an Alberta Sportfishing Licence to land the likes of arctic grayling, bull trout or northern pike in any of Alberta’s waters. Or maybe you’ll hook a lake sturgeon, which is among the most ancient (and largest) of freshwater fish species. Want to learn but don’t know how? Starting February 1, register for the Kids Can Catch event to be held at Wabamun Lake on Family Day Saturday.

CHECK OUT THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE, ACROSS ALBERTA
Holy bat trap! Stave off long-weekend boredom by catching The Lego Batman Movie, which sees Lego Batman and Robin join forces with a whole host of characters, including Batgirl, Barbara Gordon and Alfred Pennyworth, to save Gotham City from the Joker’s hostile takeover. AMA members save on Cineplex and Landmark Cinemas movie tickets when purchased at AMA centres.

PLAN A ROAD TRIP TO A SMALL TOWN, MORINVILLE
The beauty of Morinville’s Snowman Festival is that it has everything you could want in a winter celebration—a pancake breakfast, hay rides, hot chocolate, even a cabane à sucre—without having to shell out wads of cash. The activities start Sunday at 9:30 a.m. and go steady until 2 p.m. There’s also a free fishing derby at Morinville Fish and Game Pond (since it’s Family Fishing Weekend, you don’t need a licence). At 3 p.m., head to the Morinville Community Culture Centre (9502 – 100 Avenue) for a free Disney matinee. The fun is repeated on Family Day Monday: a three-on-three hockey tournament is planned at Heritage Lake, along with kid-friendly craft sessions, a photo station, skating and a roaring open fire.

SKI ALBERTA’S LARGEST NON-MOUNTAIN RESORT, RED DEER
If exercise is nature’s stress reliever, then hitting the slopes in Red Deer looks like a cure for the winter blahs. AMA members save 10% on all full-day passes at Canyon Ski Resort, Alberta’s largest non-mountain ski resort. The 28-hectare property is in a valley along the Red Deer River and boasts a vertical drop that’s almost twice that of most local hills. About half of the 18 runs are black diamonds, favouring intermediate and advanced skiers. There’s also night skiing Wednesdays through Fridays.

Family Day Weekend 2017 Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery
Get up close and personal with Alberta art and history at the Red Deer Museum and Gallery

BE A PART OF CANADIAN ART, RED DEER
For almost 10 years, Vancouver-based photographer Tim Van Horn has been travelling across Canada, photographing everyday Canadians to create a giant mosaic Canadian flag. This weekend, visitors to the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery can have their photograph taken by Van Horn as part of his monumental Canada 150 project, which will be unveiled August 7. You can also try your hand at print making two ways: slap shot hockey and bumper prints made by print by riding a tricycle. While you’re at the MAG (as locals call it), check out the Group of Seven exhibition on display until March 12.

DISCOVER THE DINOSAURS, DRUMHELLER
One of the world’s premier palaeontology museums, the Royal Tyrrell Museum houses an internationally renowned collection of dinosaur fossils, including childhood favourites such as Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops. Stop to admire Albertosaurus, too. It’s the species whose skull first brought the dinosaurs of the badlands to light. AMA members save 10% on admission.

HAVE SOME GOOD OLD-FASHIONED WINTER FUN, GRANDE PRAIRIE
Family Day in Grande Prairie means checking out the annual Winterlude Family Day Celebration at Muskoseepi Park. All of the event’s popular outdoor offerings are set to return on February 20, including sleigh rides, skating, snowshoeing and sledding. Indoors, there’s even more family-friendly entertainment. And it only costs $5 per family.

WATCH A PENGUIN WALK, CALGARY
What’s black and white and waddles all around? The penguins at the Calgary Zoo! You can catch the funky fowl during the winter penguin walk, on now through to the end of February. Every morning at 11, zookeepers take resident king penguins for a stroll as exercise for the birds, who normally walk up to 30 kilometres per day in the wild. Humboldt, gentoo and rockhopper penguins also call the zoo home. AMA members save 20% on regular admission.

SOAR TO NEW HEIGHTS, CALGARY
What kid isn’t fascinated by planes? See how Western Canada’s earliest aviators got off the ground at The Hangar Flight Museum (formerly the Aero Space Museum of Calgary). This former drill hall houses 20-plus aircraft—like a 1956 Cherokee II glider and an Avro Lancaster bomber—plus artifacts spanning a century of Canadian flight. AMA members save 10% on admission.

EXPLORE THE ART OF THE GRAPHIC NOVEL, CALGARY
Graphic novels, which combine illustration and long-form storytelling, are increasingly appealing to young readers. Head to the Glenbow Museum for Power in Pictures: the Outside Circle and the Impact of the Graphic Novel. The exhibition is the product of a series of workshops that paired Urban Society of Aboriginal Youth teens with Calgary illustrator Kelly Mellings. Admission to the gallery is free on Family Day.

LEARN ABOUT FISH, WILDLIFE & AQUATIC ECOSYSTEMS, CALGARY
If you’re angling for a fishing adventure closer to home, the Bow Habitat Station in Calgary celebrates Family Day with its annual Family Fishtival. Enjoy a fun-filled day of outdoor (and indoor) activities, including magnetic fishing games, marshmallow roasting, snowshoeing around the wetlands and identifying wildlife tracks. Outdoor activities are free. Indoor activities are $5 per person.

Family Day Weekend 2017 hockey calgary hitmen whl
Jakob Stukel and the Calgary Hitmen face off against the Edmonton Oil Kings on February 17 (photo: Calgary Hitmen)

CHEER FOR YOUR TEAM IN THE BATTLE OF ALBERTA, CALGARY
Founded in 1966, the Western Hockey League (WHL) has become a top training ground for future NHLers. The 2016-17 season is in full swing, with Alberta’s home teams continuing to power through tough opponents. On February 17, watch the Calgary Hitmen take on the Edmonton Oil Kings at Calgary’s Scotiabank Saddledome. Look to winger Jakob Stukel to lead the scoring charge in the Battle of Alberta. AMA members save up to $12 on tickets purchased at Calgary AMA centres.

SEE SNOWMOBILES RACE AGAINST THE CLOCK, ALBERTA BEACH
For 38 years, Alberta Beach has been throwing one heck of a snowmobile and ATV festival. Snomo Days draws hundreds of participants and spectators from across the province. The festival kicks off Saturday with a snowmobile poker rally. Ride 90 kilometres of groomed trails while picking up playing cards to make the best poker hand. Don’t have a snowmobile? Hop aboard a horse-drawn wagon for a free ride around Beachwave Park. The festivities continue Saturday night with an ATV & snowmobile parade along the shoreline, plus a spaghetti supper and fireworks. The festival’s highlight, though, is Sunday’s snowmobile drag races, one of the largest such events in the province. Watch riders reach top speeds on a timed course.

TAKE A TRIP TO THE NORTH POLE, EDMONTON
Edmonton’s northerly location makes the Edmonton Valley Zoo the perfect Arctic Ambassador Centre for Polar Bears. Head to the Arctic Shores exhibit to learn all about polar bears, climate change and how to help protect the bears. There aren’t actually polar bears at the zoo, but kids won’t mind, what with so many chances for up-close encounters with other Arctic species—seals, sea lions and wolves, oh my! Family Day activities on February 20 include polar bear crafts, an indoor scavenger hunt, airbrushed animal tattoos, hands-on science experiments and free family photos. AMA members save 10% on admission.

MAKE IT OFFICIAL AT THE ALBERTA LEGISLATURE, EDMONTON
Family Day Monday draws Albertans of all stripes to the provincial legislature, which hosts myriad holiday activities. Performers such as The Great Balanzo, Dan the One Man Band, Ron Pearson Magic and Historical Rap Battles take over the Main Stage inside the renovated Edmonton Federal Building. Think you know your Alberta history? Put on your thinking cap and take part in a history hunt through the Alberta Legislature Building. Or stop by the Borealis Gallery (in the Edmonton Federal Building) to see the Great War exhibit. You can also take part in traditional aboriginal games and activities.

DISCOVER HOW FUN SCIENCE CAN BE, EDMONTON
You don’t have to know anything about the popular video game to enjoy the Angry Birds Universe: the Art & Science Behind a Global Phenomenon exhibition at the TELUS World of Science–Edmonton. Just bring your curiosity about all things science. The hands-on immersive experience is all about physics, geometry and engineering. Get ready for fun-filled activities like zip lining, stop-motion animation video-making and a laser maze, to name a few. AMA members save 10% on regular admission at the TELUS World of Science–Edmonton.