5 Free Things to Do with Kids in Vancouver in June

Coquitlam's Teddy Bear Parade. Photo: Festival Coquitlam

One of the best things about summer in Vancouver is the uptick in free things to do, from the free festivals this month that appeal to everyone (check out our list of 20 Unmissable Vancouver Events in June 2012) to free fun for families with kids (and the young at heart of all ages), including June’s Pacific Rim Kite Festival in Vanier Park, Coquitlam’s Teddy Bear Parade and free admission to the Burnaby Village Museum!

5 Free Things to Do with Kids in Vancouver in June 2012

1. Free Admission to the Burnaby Village MuseumMay 5 – September 3, 2012
To celebrate the 100th birthday of their famous 1912 wooden carousel and their 1912 interurban tram, gate admission to the Burnaby Village Museum is free for the entire summer 2012 season! That means visitors can explore this outdoor 1920s village—home to a working blacksmith and lots of authentic 1920s shops—for free and pay just $2.30 per carousel ride!

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5 Free Things to Do with Kids in Vancouver in June

Vancouver International Children’s Festival 2012 Starts May 29

"The Itch of the Golden Nit" at the Vancouver International Children's Festival 2012.

A massive crowd-pleaser since its inception in 1978 and one of the largest children’s festivals in all of Canada, the annual Vancouver International Children’s Festival returns to Granville Island with six-days of theatre, live entertainment, puppetry, music, and more from May 29 – June 3.

The theme for 2012 is “Celebrate Our Stories,” and along with traditional theatrical techniques (on-stage shows), the Festival engages audiences of all ages with innovative performances on Aquabuses (!), in and around Granville Island’s duck ponds (the inspired “Quack Attack”), through hands-on activities, and with cooking classes at Edible Canada.

Highlights of the Vancouver International Children’s Festival 2012 include:

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Vancouver International Children’s Festival 2012 Starts May 29

Maplewood Farm – A Farm “Petting Zoo” for Kids

Girl and goat meet at Maplewood Farm. Photo: Maplewood Farm

Kids love animals, but there aren’t a lot of options in Vancouver for getting your kids up-close-and-personal with animals that aren’t someone’s pet (the skunks trolling your neighbourhood after dark don’t count). There’s the amazing Vancouver Aquarium, of course, and the Greater Vancouver Zoo (in Aldergrove), but neither let the kids touch the animals. For that, you have to go to Maplewood Farm in North Vancouver.

The only remaining farm on the North Shore, Maplewood Farm may be best described as a “petting zoo” for farm animals; it’s a popular Vancouver kids’ attraction aimed at children under 10. Home to over 200 animals and birds, Maplewood Farm lets kids pet the goats, feed the rabbits and ducks, and visit cows, sheep, horses, pigs, chickens, and birds. It’s likely to be the closest your urban kid gets to an actual farm experience, and it’s just 20 minutes away from downtown Vancouver.

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Maplewood Farm – A Farm “Petting Zoo” for Kids

New, Free App for Finding Family Activities in Vancouver: OnTheGoKids

About a week ago, during Afternoon Tea at VanDusen Botanical Garden’s Truffles Cafe, I met Annemarie Tempelman-Kluit: Vancouverite, mom, and the founder of yoyomama, a parent- and kid-related resource for families across the Lower Mainland. As a busy, on-the-go parent, Annemarie knew first-hand how frustrating it can be to find things to do with the kids on any given day (I feel her pain!), so she and yoyomamma created “an app for that:” OnTheGoKids, a free iPhone app for finding kid and family activities in Vancouver.

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New, Free App for Finding Family Activities in Vancouver: OnTheGoKids

Vancouver Easter Events & Egg Hunts 2012

Easter egg hunt at Fort Langley. Photo: Fort Langley National Historic Site

Easter is fast approaching—it falls on Sunday, April 8 this year—and some of Vancouver’s best Easter events, like VanDusen Botanical Garden’s A-Mazing Egg Hunt, have already sold out! But never fear: There are still lots of fabulous, fun ways to celebrate Easter in Vancouver, from train rides and Easter egg hunts to free family activities.

1. Easter in the Park: Easter at the Stanley Park Miniature TrainApril 6 – 9, 2012
The Stanley Park Miniature Train, which famously goes all out for the holidays with its Christmas-themed Bright Nights and Halloween’s Ghost Train, opens every April just to celebrate Easter. Festivities include train rides, Easter egg hunts, visits with the Easter Bunny, puppet shows, and more. Bring your own Easter basket to collect the eggs!

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Vancouver Easter Events & Egg Hunts 2012

Inside the Burnaby Village Museum & Carousel: Family Fun 1920s-Style

Burnaby Village Museum. Photo: Dana Lynch

There’s a lot of talk about “kids today” and how difficult we assume it must be for them to imagine a world without cell phones, Xboxes and the Internet, i.e., a world that existed before they did. Since that same line of thinking has been in vogue forever (Didn’t Moses make the same complaint after they reached the Promised Land?), I don’t personally put a lot of stock in it. But if you do believe that, how’s this for a rejoinder: Show “kids today” what history was like by taking them to it.

That’s basically the idea behind one of Greater Vancouver’s greatest family-friendly museums, the Burnaby Village Museum, which recreates life in small-town British Columbia in the 1920s.

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Inside the Burnaby Village Museum & Carousel: Family Fun 1920s-Style

Top 5 “Hands-On” Vancouver Museums for Kids

Vancouver has a wealth of museums and galleries, but while any and all can appeal to a range of adults and older children—from art lovers to history buffs to true-crime fans—not all Vancouver museums are fun for younger kids, especially kids who aren’t old enough to “look but don’t touch.” For kids ten and under, being able to interact with the exhibits, to explore with their hands, to run around, is quintessential to their enjoyment of any given space. Luckily, Vancouver has several museums that offer exactly the kind of imaginative play that appeals to the youngest visitors.

Top 5 “Hands-On” Vancouver Museums for Kids

1. Science World British Columbia
One of the best indoor attractions in Vancouver for younger kids, Science World is chock full of interactive exhibits that help kids learn and explore the world of science; it’s also the only Vancouver museum with a designated play area for kids 1 – 3 years old (Kidspace). The featured exhibits—like this month’s Medieval Mayhem—always offer some type of interaction and the permanent Eureka! physics gallery is a veritable playground for all ages, where even the youngest tots can dance on keyboards, launch balls into the air, spin on turn tables, and play “invisible” harp strings.

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Top 5 “Hands-On” Vancouver Museums for Kids