Family Events, Money Matters, Parenting

Enjoy the break without breaking the bank

Feeling a little strapped for cash this December?  Looking for some free or low-cost activities for you and the family to keep you busy over the break? You’re in the right place. I’ve put together a list of  family friendly winter activities that are sure to put a smile on your face without breaking the bank!

  • Catch a family-friendly flick: For just $2.99 per person, you can enjoy holiday favorites on Sunday Mornings with Cineplex Family Favorites! This December, Polar Express and Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas will be playing in theatres across the city.
  • Visit the Toronto Christmas Market: Admission to the Christmas Market in the Distillery Historic District is FREE between Tuesday-Fridays and features tons of great activities (including live music and entertainment) for the whole family.
Girl in a tobaogan

“Tobogganing Fun,” CC Image Courtesy of Anthony J on Flickr

  • Throw on a few extra layers and go tobogganing: Once the snow begins to fall, tobogganing is one of the favorite winter activities for kids. Check out this list of the top 10 places to go, or find your own in your neighbourhood.
  • Escape to planet ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) for an intergalactic adventure featuring hands-on activities and new video games. There’s discounted admission after 4:30pm and extended hours over the holiday break!
  • Visit one of Toronto’s Museums for a range of holiday events including Christmas at Colborne Lodge, Gingerbread Cookie Decorating at Gibson House and the Holiday Market and Gift Sale at Montgomery’s Inn! Admission fees range depending on the museum and the event, but most are under $10 per adult and $5 for kids.
  • Check out your local Public Library for free children’s activities including; movie days (many locations), comic book workshop (Barbara Frum Library) and Make a Wild Thing craft session (Toronto Reference Library). Use the TPL website to select your local branch and browse through their upcoming programs or events, or stop by in person!
  • Go for a dip:  Who said you can’t go swimming in the winter? What better way to get out of a winter-funk than to hit the pool and go for a dip! Check out the leisure swim times at your local pool.
  • Hit the slopes at one of Toronto’s two ski hills, Earl Bales Park and Centennial Park (weather permitting!). Lift tickets cost $30.00 per day and rentals are available!
  • Attend Winterfest on Dec. 18, 19 & 20th for photos with Santa for pets,  the Ultimutts Stunt Dog Show, a chance to discover the Arctic at the Museum of Inuit Art (MIA), and free musical performances at the Toronto Waterfront! There will also be a FREE BeaverTails® Pastry-Eating Contest… could there be ANYTHING better???
  • Enjoy the free Christmas concert at Toronto City Hall on Dec. 24th at 11:00am featuring  All The King’s Voices the Toronto Beaches Children’s Chorus and the Toronto Mass Choir

I hope you’ve found something here that peaked your interest – if you end up checking out any of the events above, be sure to let me know what you thought!

Wishing you and your family a fun and relaxing Winter Break 🙂


Emma Helfand-Green

Emma is in her second year of the Master of Public Policy program. She recently completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph, studying psychology and political science. When she is not blogging for the Family Care Office, you might find Emma volunteering at the Hart House theatre, working hard (or hardly working) at the Robarts Library, or spending quality time with her cat, Goose.



Hi Emma,
Thanks for another helpful post. My kids are hoping for some snow for their first Canadian Christmas but I think we may have to wait a while with this unseasonable sun we’re having!

You might want to note that ROM is free for students on Tuesdays:

The other way of getting free admission to ROM is through the amazing Public Library network. If you are a member (free to join, just take ID with your name and address on) you can get free MAP passes. They are valid for three months and give you plus one other adult and up to five children free entry to a range of Toronto attractions including the ROM, zoo and Aga Khan museum. Each library gets a limited number of passes each week so make sure you know when they release them (ours is on Saturday morning, for example) as some of the attractions are very popular. More details at:

Emma Helfand-Green

Hi again, Emma! Thanks so much for these ideas – they are super helpful! I didn’t know that the library had museum passes.

Enjoy your winter break!


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