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Staying in town for March Break? Top 10 things to do

Last Updated Mar 15, 2018 at 5:44 am EDT

Giant pandas at the Toronto Zoo. Photo credit: TWITTER/@TheTorontoZoo

March is a busy month with the start of daylight time, the arrival of spring, saying goodbye to the Toronto Zoo pandas, and the Easter long weekend. And to top it off, March Break kicks off this weekend.

While some families will be heading out of town for March Break, others will be spending the week in the city. If you are looking for something to do, below are 10 suggestions. The City of Toronto is also offering various camps and programs, as well as indoor and outdoor skating, drop-in programs, swimming, and activities at historic sites and museums.

Need-to-know for planning

As you plan your staycation, keep in mind there is a subway closure the next two weekends for TTC work. This weekend, subways won’t be running in Line 1 between St. Clair West and Union stations. Shuttle buses will only be running between St. Clair West and Spadina stations. Then, the weekend of March 17 to 18, service will be shut down on Line 3 from Kennedy to McCowan stations. Shuttle buses will run between Scarborough Centre and Kennedy stations.

And a reminder that clocks spring forward at 2 a.m. Sunday, which means you lose an hour of sleep. But the good news is that spring is around the corner, arriving at 12:15 p.m. on March 20.

Top 10 things to do

Panda farewell at Toronto Zoo
If you haven’t seen the giant pandas yet, the week of March Break will be your last chance to do so before they move to the Calgary Zoo. Da Mao and Er Shun arrived in Canada on a 10-year loan from China in 2013. Two years later, Er Shun gave birth to Panpan and Jia Yueyue. The plan was for the pandas to stay for five years in Toronto and then live in Calgary for the next five. The giant panda exhibit closes at 6 p.m. on March 18, so make sure to say your goodbyes. While you are there, visit the one-horned rhino calf and Aldabra tortoises. If you are not too scared, check out the new Asian Carp exhibit. During March break, you can also get a behind-the-scenes look at what zoo workers do.

A day to be Irish
A week before St. Patrick’s Day, it’s a day for everyone to be Irish in spirit. The annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade starts at noon on March 10 from the corner of Bloor and St. George streets. It heads east on Bloor, south on Yonge and west on Queen, ending at Nathan Phillips Square. Spectators are asked to bring a non-perishable food item. The Toronto Paramedic Association and Toronto Paramedic Services will be collecting donations for Daily Bread Food Bank along the parade route.

Kids get their own TIFF
It’s a great March Break event for young film lovers. It’s the 2018 TIFF Kids International Film Festival with films designed for children aged three to 13. Organizers say the 10 days of programming are designed to inspire and empower kids through the discovery of filmmaking and animation. It runs from March 9 to 18 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

Beach getaway with paint
If you are not able to head to a warm destination for March Break, not to worry. Your child can have the beach come to them. All they need is paint and some imagination. At Paintlounge, they can paint their favourite things from the beach, like starfish, turtles, palm trees, and footprints in the sand, and incorporate them into one canvas. The young artists will also learn various painting techniques. The cost is $30 (HST not included) per 16-by-20-inch canvas. The paints, supplies and smocks will be provided. The workshop is recommended for children aged five to 12, and they must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Say it with music
Children soak up music everyday — whether we sing them to sleep, teach them nursery rhymes, have the radio or iPod on in the car or at home, or play a tune using wooden spoons in the kitchen. Most kids are inherently drawn to music, which is why the songwriting workshop at Todmorden Mills is right up their alley. The workshops, which start March 11, are tailored to children aged nine and up and are led by a songwriter-in-residence. They can also continue to develop their songwriting skills after March Break. The cost is included with regular admission to Todmorden Mills, and the admission is waived if they return for consecutive sessions. Space is limited, so register by calling 416-396-2819.

Time travel to pioneer days
It’s a time-travel-tastic March Break at Black Creek Pioneer Village. The village is open between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday to Friday, and between 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the weekend. Children under 14 are free all week long (up to four children with the purchase of an adult ticket). Among the fun activities: solving mysteries, delving into the world of maple syrup, and checking out the heritage buildings and artifacts.

Light and reflection at AGO
Children will be dazzled with the magic of light at the Art Gallery of Toronto. They can make a lantern of light, play with light and shadow, create a futuristic city, and do other fun activities. The March Break extravaganza runs March 10 to 18 and is free with general admission. If you were planning to get tickets for the Infinity Mirrors exhibit, you may be out of luck since there is a long queue for tickets. But, a new batch of tickets will be released on March 27, so you can try again after March Break. The AGO is warning visitors to be aware of possible ticket scams for the exhibit.

The Last Jedi at Ontario Place
Star Wars lovers are invited to the Cinesphere at Ontario Place this March Break. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is screening on the Cinesphere’s 10-storey screen until March 18. For those not into Star Wars, leave your favourite nerd at the Cinesphere and spend some time exploring the lakeside destination. Not only is there ice skating, but also snacks, an outdoor bonfire and 12 art installations created by local artists.

Vikings descend on the ROM
Travel back in time to the Viking era. Experience Norse life with re-enactments and talk with explorers, warriors, farmers, and artisans about their lives. You can also create your own jewelry like the skilled artisans. The ROM’s March Break programming runs March 10 to 18 and also includes other activities like scavenger hunts and learning to camp. All of the activities and live performances are included with the price of admission.

Casa Loma goes medieval
March Break is getting medieval at Toronto’s only castle. The theme of the week is Imagine Dragons and they’re not joking — visitors will be greeted by a huge, fire-breathing metal dragon sitting on the terrace. You can also travel down the 800-foot underground tunnel to the stables to visit medieval stallions. If the weather doesn’t co-operate, there is an indoor bouncy castle, arts and crafts and face-painting. Standard admission rates apply.