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Shake off the winter chill, put down that mug of hot chocolate and celebrate February's long weekend with your family outdoors. Here are five cool ideas to get the party started.

Victoria Day is the unofficial kick-off to summer. Canada Day’s got fireworks and warm-weather backyard barbecues in the bag. Meanwhile, the civic long weekend in August welcomes lazy cottage visits and dockside sippers.

But a Family Day long weekend? Let’s just say that when it pops up on the calendar in chilly February, many Canadians still aren’t sure how to celebrate it with the same devotion as their summertime breaks.

Luckily, many attractions are launching special February long weekend activities in 2017 that will inspire even the most ardent winter skeptics to embrace the snow and ice (or at least find indoor family-friendly activities).

Lace Up Your Skates

Nothing says winter fun like throwing on a pair of skates and gliding (or wobbling) on the ice. Skating is a great way to encourage the whole family to drop the screens and get active together too. This Family Day, RBC presents free Family Skate Day at rinks across Ontario and in Calgary, Alberta. So grab the family, neighbours and friends and join in the fun.

Learn more about Family Skate Day and rinks near you.

Snowshoe at Sunset

Explore the winter landscape and learn how to trudge across deep powder without sinking – as shadows deepen at sunset. Crawford Lake, a conservation area just west of Toronto, is offering guided hikes for families with children aged 5 to 13 on Saturday, Feb. 18 starting at 4 p.m. Search for animal tracks then settle in around a toasty campfire with hot chocolate and roasted marshmallows. No need to bring your own snowshoes. They’re provided.

Learn more about hitting the snowshoeing trails at Crawford Lake.

Hit the Slopes or Chill

Chase some powder and plan a quick escape with the whole family in tow. Plenty of ski resorts in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario are offering special Family Day Weekend rates and activities this year.

Take family-friendly Apex Mountain Resort, a 30-minute drive from Penticton, B.C., and known for some of the lightest champagne powder snow around. It’s giving Alberta residents 50 per cent off lift tickets on Family Day Monday. Just show a valid Alberta driver’s license at the ticket window.

Learn more about affordable skiing with tots in tow.

Or after hitting the slopes on skis or snowboard at Blue Mountain near Collingwood, Ont., families can tour the Village by horse and wagon, head off on a scavenger hunt, or move and groove at a family dance party.

Learn more about this family-friendly après experience.

Get Cultured

Had enough snow to last you until next year? The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) celebrates Family Day by transforming itself into the Kids’ Gallery of Ontario for a day. Help your children snip, cut and tape their own kites together with materials in the Gallery School. Then hit a family yoga class together or build cities and forts out of massive blue blocks in the Imagination Playground.

Learn more about play and art at the AGO.

Live out east? Families in Halifax can spend Nova Scotia Heritage Day at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic (look for the big, blue wave beside the building), the Museum of Natural History or the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. All are free on February 20.

Learn more about free museum visits in Halifax.

Did You Know?

Family Day is not a statutory holiday, so only three provinces celebrate it on Feb. 20, 2017: Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan. British Columbia observes Family Day on Feb. 13 this year.

Other provinces celebrate a long weekend on Feb. 20 too, but they go by different names:

  • Manitoba = Louis Riel Day
  • Nova Scotia = Heritage Day
  • Prince Edward Island = Islander Day