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Tag Archives: Fun for Kids

Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremonies

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As I mentioned earlier today, one of my favorite things about Christmas is the lights! Cities and communities all over the world are decorating their towns with holiday decorations and are kicking off the season with a tree lighting ceremony. In many places, you can expect a variety of fun festivities in addition to a grand evergreen, such as Christmas carols or live reindeer. Grab your hats and mittens and take your family to a tree lighting near you!

Austin, TX

Christmas Tree Lighting - Austin, TX
Photo credit: Downtown Austin Alliance

Make your plans to head into downtown Austin this Saturday, December 3rd, to participate in the Holiday Stroll. You’ll want to get there early because there’s much fun to be had! Shop the farmer’s market for holiday gifts at 5pm, then lift your voice and join the holiday sing-a-long at 6pm. Just as you’re getting warmed up, you can see the tree light up at 7!

Dublin, OH (Columbus Area)

The tree in Historic Dublin will be lit tonight! Brace yourself for an enjoyable evening, as kids can see live reindeer and visit with Santa, plus adults will enjoy watching artisans carve an ice sculpture. If that wasn’t enough to entice you, perhaps the free hot chocolate will—yum!

Geneva, IL (Chicago Area)

Christmas Tree Lighting - Geneva, IL
On Friday, December 2nd (tomorrow!) the jolly folks in Geneva, IL are putting on a spectacular holiday celebration. Santa Lucia’s arrival kicks off the festivities at 6pm, followed by Santa Claus himself who will light the tree. Stick around and roast some chestnuts, enjoy music from strolling carolers, or go for a carriage ride with your sweetie.

LEGOLAND California – Carlsbad, CA

Christmas Tree Lighting - LEGOLAND California
LEGO™ lovers in California will want to visit the LEGOLAND resort to see the giant Christmas tree made from thousands and thousands of bricks! Positioned near the entrance to the park, stop by to see this big tree come to life with twinkling lights every day from now until Christmas Day.

Marana, AZ (Tucson Area)

For those of you in the the metro Tucson area, hop in the car and take a short drive over to Marana for their tree lighting ceremony on Saturday, December 3rd. Fun for the whole family, the celebration starts at 3pm with performances by a youth choir, dance troupe, and more. Then at 6:30pm, the much anticipated Christmas light show will begin!

Mt. Pleasant, SC (Charleston Area)

Christmas Tree Lighting - Mt. Pleasant, SC
For 21 years, the folks in Mt. Pleasant, SC have been celebrating Christmas with an annual holiday parade. This year the festivities begin on December 11th at 5:30pm when the town’s Christmas tree will be lit. The tree lighting will be followed by a display of fireworks, and then the holiday parade will proceed through the streets. Want to find a good spectator spot? Click here to find out where exactly the parade will travel.

Philadelphia, PA

Christmas Tree Lighting - Philadelphia, PA
Roasted chestnuts, hot cocoa, and Christmas carols are just some of the fun things you’ll enjoy at this tree lighting ceremony. Rittenhouse Square is home to Philadelphia’s largest Christmas tree, so when the 5,000+ lights start glowing, it’s truly a sight to behold. Clear your schedule, because these festivities are tonight, December 1st!

Trafalgar Square – London

Christmas Tree Lighting - Trafalgar Square
In keeping with tradition, the grand evergreen in Trafalgar Square hails from Norway. Tonight, the Christmas tree will be lit at 6pm by a few folks, including the Norwegian Ambassador. If you miss this evenings’s festivities, you can mark your calendar for the Blessing of the Crib on December 4th or Carol Singing on the Square throughout the month.

#OptOutside with Your Dog and Support the ASPCA

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#OptOutside with Your Dog

Last November, the outdoor recreation and sporting goods retailer REI did something rather unheard of. On Black Friday, they closed all of their stores and paid their 12,000 employees to spend time outside. They dubbed this campaign #OptOutside, and they encouraged everyone else to join them in the great outdoors instead of at the shopping mall. What a refreshing idea!

This year I’m thrilled to report that REI has partnered with Subaru, and together they are inviting dog lovers to #OptOutside with their pups this Friday. I simply cannot think of a better way to spend a day than being outside enjoying nature with my best friend—my basset hound—so I’m all for this. If you need help deciding what to do with your pup, check out REI’s list of dog-friendly activities.

To make this campaign even better, if you post a photo of you and your doggie out in nature with the hashtags #OptOutside and #MakeADogsDay, Subaru will make a donation to the ASPCA.


The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) was established 150 years ago, making it the oldest humane society in the United States. As the President & CEO of the ASPCA Matthew Bershadker said, their “focus is to get pets out of shelters and keep them in homes, while increasing the protections of animals under the law. We are helping to shape a society that continuously improves the lives of animals.”

True to their motto—“We are their voice”—the ASPCA strives to make lives better for animals in a variety of ways. They work with the government to enact and enforce animal protection laws, perform spay/neuter operations across the country, run an adoption centre in NYC, transport animals to shelters, save animals from horrible conditions, and much, much more. Working to protect those who have no voice is a noble mission indeed.

I truly hope that everyone will venture outdoors with their dogs this Friday to pause and enjoy the beauty of nature. If you do, don’t forget to post a photo on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook using the #OptOutside and #MakeADogsDay hashtags to help raise money for the ASPCA! Additionally, if you want to give more to the animals, you can always donate to the ASPCA in honour of a loved one or host a Holiday Campaign.

Donate to the ASPCA

A Special Grinchmas Musical

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grinch-musical-logoIf you love the movie, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, then I’m sure you’ll be as excited as I was to learn about this musical production! Max the dog, Cindy Lou Who, and the green man himself will be on stage delivering a heartwarming performance the whole family will enjoy.

The talented troupe of Whos brings Dr. Seuss’ classic holiday tale to life with joyous music. Amidst the lineup of merry tunes, you can expect to hear some favorites, such as “Welcome Christmas” and “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” This grand production of How the Grinch Stole Christmas will leave you filled with the Christmas spirit! Here’s a little taste of what you’ll see:

To catch a show near you, take a peek at the list below. And, if you live near Nashville, TN, you’re in luck because the musical will be performing at Opryland all season long!

Nashville, TN

Grand Ole Opry
November 18–December 25
For tickets and information, click here.
Want to have breakfast with the Grinch? Get the details here.

New Orleans, LA

Saenger Performing Arts Center
November 22–27
For tickets and information, click here.

Durham, NC

Durham Performing Arts Center
November 29–December 4
For tickets and information, click here.

Cleveland, OH

Playhouse Square
December 6–11
For tickets and information, click here.

Washington, D.C.

National Theatre
December 13–31
For tickets and information, click here.

Can’t attend a local show, but want to experience the magic of the musical? Get the Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical soundtrack on iTunes or Amazon.


Go for a Spin at a Pop-Up Rink Near You

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It’s that time of year when ice rinks are popping up all around. We’ve hand-picked a few popular ones to highlight today that are located in large cities. As one might expect, most of these pop-up rinks charge admission, but some lucky souls can get in for free! So round up your troupe, gather your friends, or grab your honey’s hand and head to over to pop-up ice rink near you for some festive fun.

The Rink at Park Tavern – Atlanta, GA

The Rink at Park Tavern - Atlanta, GA
In midtown Atlanta, the ice rink at Park Tavern is a go-to spot for a gliding-good time. The rink is fully enclosed and temperature regulated, so it’s heated—or air-conditioned if Atlanta’s experiencing warm winter weather. While skating, you can enjoy music that plays over the speakers, and when you need to rest your feet, have a seat at a table and gulp down some hot chocolate. The last day to skate is February 15, 2016, so get your tickets today. They are available to purchase here.

The Rink at Park Tavern
500 10th St NE
Atlanta, GA 30309

Admission: $15–$20
Skate Rental: Included!
Hours, Monday–Friday: 4:30pm–12am*
Hours, Saturday & Sunday: 11:30am–12am*
*Adults only: 8:30pm–12am

Ice Skating on the Plaza – Austin, TX

Ice Skating on the Plaza - Austin, TX
Well, this is something I’ve never heard of before—skating on a roof! Yup, that’s right, at a Whole Foods store in Austin, Texas you can skate on the top of a building! Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? If you live within driving distance of Austin, head on over to the Plaza and take your turn spinning around this rooftop rink.

Know this before you go: Friday nights and weekends are always open to the public, but weekdays may be booked for a private event. To confirm that a weekday is open to the public, call Guest Services at this store.

Ice Skating on the Plaza
525 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78703

Admission: $10
Skate Rental: Included!
Hours: 10am–9pm

Union Square Ice Rink – San Francisco, CA

Union Square Ice Rink - San Francisco, CA
In the heart of San Francisco, you can find a pop-up rink in Union Square. One unique feature about this rink is that they have a mobile app, so tech-savvy skaters can jump in the “virtual queue” instead of waiting in line. I’m sure you’ll enjoy spending that time scouting out some hot chocolate in the square!

While the rink is open now until January 18, 2016, you may want to go ahead and buy your tickets online as certain times are already sold out.

Union Square Ice Rink
333 Post St
San Francisco, CA 94108

Adult Admission: $11
Children Admission: $7
Skate Rental: $6 (On Wednesdays, rent your skates for free, thanks to Bank of the West!)
Hours: 10am–11:30pm (Closes at 9:30pm on December 31st.)

Southwest Rink at Skyline Park – Denver, CO

Skyline Park Ice Rink - Denver, CO
Skating at Skyline Park is free—yippee! And, renting a pair of skates is only $2, or free if you’re a student (just show your MY Denver Card). With rates like this, it’s the perfect opportunity to come out again and again all winter long. Since the rink is open until February 15, 2016, there’s no rush to cram in your skate sessions before Christmas. 😉

Southwest Rink at Skyline Park
16th St & Arapahoe St
Denver, CO 80202

Admission: Free!
Skate Rental: $2
Hours: Varies by day. Click here for details.

Winter Village at Bryant Park – New York, NY

Winter Village at Bryant Park - New York, NY
Photo Credit: Chris Huggins. License: CC by 2.0

The Winter Village at Bryant Park is the only rink in New York that offers free admission! Since there’s no fee, it’s an inexpensive way to entertain all your relatives who are visiting. Or if you work nearby, you can pop over for a quick twirl on the ice during your lunch break! With the rink being open until March 6, 2016 you’ve got plenty of time schedule a slippin’ good time!

Winter Village at Bryant Park
Located in Midtown Manhattan between 40th & 42nd Streets
and Fifth & Sixth Avenues
New York, NY 10018

Admission: Free!
Skate Rental: $15–$19
Hours: 8am–10pm

Ice Rink Canary Wharf – London, UK

Ice Rink Canary Wharf
For our British friends, plan on visiting the ice rink at Canary Wharf. It is home to London’s only skate path and can proudly say it’s one of the city’s largest rinks. The trees surrounding the area are beautifully lit with fairy lights which add to the magical holiday feel. If you’d rather watch the icy action from the sidelines, you can make yourself comfy on the viewing terrace. The rink is open until February 27, 2016.

Ice Rink Canary Wharf
Canada Square Park
Canary Wharf
E14 5AB
08456 531 431

Adult Admission: £14.95
Child Admission: £9.95
Skate Rental: Included!
Hours: Varies. See here for details.

Swimming in a Water Wonderland

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This holiday season, you can see ol’ Saint Nick dive into the deep and swim with the fishies at an aquarium near you. We’ve hand-picked a few locations around North America, but he may be making additional appearances, so contact an aquarium in your area to see if they are expecting Scuba Santa this Yuletide!

Birch Aquarium – La Jolla, CA

Birch Aquarium - La Jolla, CA

Scuba Santa will be visiting west coast folks when he makes a splash at the Kelp Tank Dive Shows at the Birch Aquarium. Not only can you seize the opportunity to see Scuba Santa, but your kids can also make a holiday craft on weekends. Here are the dates and times you can see the jolly old man from December 2, 2015–January 3, 2016: Tuesdays & Thursdays at 12:30pm; Saturdays at 2pm; Sundays at 10:30am. (Closed on December 25th.)

Birch Aquarium
2300 Expedition Way
La Jolla, California 92037

Georgia Aquarium – Atlanta, GA

If you live in North Georgia, consider driving to Atlanta to see Scuba Claus at the Georgia Aquarium. Kids can catch a glimpse of Scuba Claus plunging into the largest aquatic habitat in the world during the 12:00pm and 12:30pm dive shows, Thursday through Sunday from now until Christmas. Hang around for a chance to talk to Scuba Claus on the “dry side” in the Ocean Voyager Theater.

Georgia Aquarium
225 Baker Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30313

Newport Aquarium – Newport, KY

Newport, KY - Water Wonderland with Scuba Claus

Scuba Santa will be enchanting folks who visit the Newport Aquarium this month. Whether you live in Newport or across the river in Cincinnati, plan a family trip to see Scuba Santa. The undersea festivities include Scuba Santa’s magic bubbles, dancing lights, and cheery holiday music. After Scuba Santa’s swim, children will have a chance to meet him in person and tell the big guy their Christmas wish. Enjoy this magical experience daily from 11am–4pm (except on 12/25).

Newport Aquarium
One Aquarium Way
Newport, KY 41071

South Carolina Aquarium – Charleston, SC

South Carolina Aquarium
Photo Credit:

Scuba Claus will be taking a plunge into the Great Ocean Tank at the South Carolina Aquarium on select dates this month. He’ll be there from 11:00am–3:00pm on December 12–13 and 19–23, so plan a visit to watch him swim with the sea creatures. You might even see whether his belly jiggles like jelly underwater! 😉 There will be lots of other fun family activities, too; contact the aquarium for more details.

South Carolina Aquarium
100 Aquarium Wharf
Charleston, SC 29401

Vancouver Aquarium – Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver Aquarium

Scuba Claus is visiting the Vancouver Aquarium every day until December 24th. He’ll be swimming through the Straight of Georgia exhibit, so you might see him swimming with belugas, halibut, sturgeon, or starfish. There’s also a possibility he will plunge into other galleries, so keep your peepers open as you stroll through the aquarium! Scuba Claus will be diving daily now until December 24th. Check the Vancouver Aquarium’s schedule for more information to plan your visit.

Vancouver Aquarium
845 Avison Way
Vancouver, BC
V6G 3E2

Scuba Claus’ Other Aquarium Visits:

Scuba Claus wants to visit as many places as possible, so after the jump, you’ll find info on a handful of other aquarium appearances he’s making this holiday season.

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