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Beach offers local escape - Metro US

Beach offers local escape

Finding a way to enjoy Family Day isn’t incredibly difficult. Still, when noses start turning up at couch surfing, bank-breaking tourist traps or aimless meandering around malls, options tend to wane.

While it seems odd to say in mid-February, think of heading to the Beach.

The Beach BIA Family Day festival is quickly becoming one of Toronto’s favourite February holiday hotspots, thanks to a vast array of both outdoor and indoor events, nearby shops, eateries and entertainment for everyone.

Currently entering its third year, the festival takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Kew Gardens (2075 Queen St., east of Woodbine Avenue) on Feb. 15, overflowing to embrace the entire Beach community. As an added bonus, all festival events are free.

“We jumped on the opportunity as soon as the holiday became official,” says Deborah Etsten, executive director of the Beach BIA. “We recognized that there are a lot of families with young children in the Beach, and this would give them something to do close to home.”

Despite its local focus, the event embraces Hogtown’s entirety. This year’s newest additions include animals brought in from the Bowmanville Zoo and the amusing Fashion Faux Paws Beaches Dog Fashion Show (1 p.m. in the Kew Gardens Bandshell). The Kew Rink will also be open for free skating from noon-4 p.m., with event sponsor BMO offering free hot chocolate to revellers. Games, an outdoor DJ and the Where’s Buddy Scavenger Hunt open to all children round out the external attractions.

Those needing something a bit warmer are invited to visit the variety of indoor events held at the Waverley Baptist Church (129 Waverley Rd.) and Beach United Church (2 Bellefair Ave.), which bookend Kew Gardens.

Waverley hosts arts and crafts activities, face painting and Rona’s Little Helpers woodworking, while Beach United will have two entertainment stages featuring Juno Award nominee Mary Lambert, The Grilled Cheese Band, Dean The Reptile Guy, Tricky Ricky The Magician, and more. Vendors will also offer their own entertainment via bands and/or author readings while satiating the pangs of hunger that naturally kick in after so much fresh air and excitement with various specials.

For more information, visit BeachBIA.com. Travellers’ caveat: Street parking is available but limited. Visitors are encouraged to take public transit, taking the 501 Queen Streetcar Eastbound, exiting at Lee Avenue.

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