DARE YOU! To spring into action

Take that leap. Reach out of your comfort zone and try something different. Tackle an unfamiliar activity, start a new hobby, head out to some local events and go ahead: do the happy dance. Since the days are getting longer and warmer, it’ll help melt the ice from your eyebrows. (Winter’s on the way out of Ottawa, eh?)

This is the season to peel off your long johns, emerge from that gadget-equipped cocoon and spring into high gear.

Ready for action? Pull your scooters, your bikes and your skateboards from the garage and get going. Be sure to leave the car at home for a change and don’t forget to dust off your running shoes too. Lace them up, hit the sidewalks or trails and breathe in the fresh air as you set your own pace. Canada’s capital city is beyond amazing at this time of year. It’s spectacular.

The sap’s running, the sun’s shining, the pot holes are in legendary form and your neighbours at the grocery store and the bus stop are all jazzed up about the Great Annual Thaw. Even when the bairns are whining, “There’s nothing to doooooo,” in fact there is oooooodles in Ottawa to do and try and experience.

For starters, it’s maple season, so go tiptoeing through the sugar bush. Horsedrawn sleigh rides, visits to the sugar shack, pancake breakfasts and taffy in the snow are March magic in these parts. Indoors, you can go big and live and get your fun on at Centrepointe Theatre. Orpheus Musical Theatre Society is presenting Monty Python’s SPAMALOT from March 7 to 16. This popular show parodies the Arthurian legend by following the trials of King Arthur and his servant-horse Patsy as they wander the countryside in search of candidates to join the Knights of the Round Table. Eventually they recruit the flatulent Sir Bedevere, the dashing Sir Galahad, the homicidally brave Sir Lancelot and Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave-As-Sir- Lancelot. Where was that Grail, anyway? The Black Knight, the Knights Who Say Ni, Tim the Enchanter and the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog make the search a tad more interesting. Toss in a Lady of the Lake (ye old high-maintenance diva), a song about Not Dead Fred, an atypical damsel in distress, a Las Vegas-style Camelot and a huge can of Spam and you’ve got Arthurian-style reality TV, only it’s live and way better. For tickets, see orpheus-theatre.ca, call 613 580-2700, or skedaddle to the Centrepointe or Shenkman box offices. Students can purchase eyeGo tickets or rush tickets, at reduced rates, with valid student ID.

Let your Irish eyes do the smiling (even if you’re ancestors are Italian, Chinese or Polish). The Ottawa Irish Festival is taking place from March 6 to 17 and there’s plenty of St. Paddy’s Month fun to be had. The colourful highlight of all the annual shenanigans is the 32nd annual St. Patrick’s parade March 15. See irishsocietyncr.com for details.

If you’ve got the week off (or even an extra day or two) for March Break with the kids, don’t leave town. The Ottawa region’s where it’s at for sightseeing, attractions and way-cool activities. Take a back woods hike, try ziplining and spend a day rock climbing. Go public skating or swimming at an indoor pool, head to The Hill and the GG’s residence for tours and take a haunted walk. (Rumour has it the ghosts are extra rambunctious at this time of year.)

At the Shenkman Arts Centre, Rag and Bone Puppet Theatre presents a kid-friendly show called The Last Polar Bears March 8 and 9, while at the National Arts Centre, the family can see Disney Live! Mickey’s Rockin’ Road Show and Potted Potter The Unauthorized Harry Experience.

Mark this on your calendar for Saturday, March 29: Earth Hour, 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. This hour has 60 minutes and it’s yours to honour Mother Earth. Turn off the lights, get the candles lit and show your support, as a family, for a cleaner, greener planet. See wwf.ca for details.

Witness the marvels of spring in the barnyard at the Experimental Farm, otherwise known as the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum. Say hello to the newborns, including baby chicks, wee little lambs and fuzzy bunnies. For details about spring activities, see cafmuseum.techno-science.ca.

Wear pink Wednesday, April 9, to celebrate diversity and take a stand against bullying. It’s the International Day of Pink and a great time to talk to your kids about tolerance and inclusion. Why not make a pact, together, to speak and act with more respect for others? At family story time, you can also read some diversity-themed books. For the younger set, dayofpink.org recommends Yangsook Choi’s The Name Jar, Sharon Dennis Wyeth’s Something Beautiful, Even Bunting’s Fly Away Home, Harvery Fierstein’s The Sissy Duckling and Patricia Polacco’s Mr. Lincoln’s Way.

Sign up for something fun. The City of Ottawa and the continuing education departments of the local school boards are offering a dizzying array of new classes and activities. If you’ve always wanted to try kickboxing or yoga, belly or ballroom dancing, golf or photography, now’s your chance. You can learn to play guitar, speak German and cook Vietnamese food too, if you wish. All you have to do is register and go for it.

Let your kids sign up to be Earth Rangers. It just might kindle a lifetime passion for helping the planet. As a Canadian conservation organization for kids, Earth Rangers educates children and families about the importance of protecting animals and the wild spaces they need in order to survive. Since the program was launched in 2010, over 200,000 children have gotten involved, raising over a million dollars for conservation. Not only do they get their own membership cards, they also have the opportunity to participate in “missions” right from home that encourage environmentally responsible behavior and the protection of animals. The bonus? Membership is free. See www.earthrangers.com.

Discover the joy of running! Thanks to the world-class Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend, this is a city that’s pumped about hoofing it on two feet. Why not join in the fun? There are lots of opportunities to learn how to run properly and successfully (so that you don’t hurt yourself or feel like you’re going to expire after your first wee jog). Various organizations, including Ottawa Running Club, Run Ottawa, the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club, KTJ Fitness and Running Room, offer training, resources and know-how.

Can you say, “Mmmuseums”? Ottawa’s museums are delectable, so give them some love and attention in honour of Museums Month. Ranging from local historic sites to internationally renowned landmarks, these are fascinating places that are bursting with artifacts, stories and surprises. Many have fun family activities and special events too. Now’s the time to explore them.

Put your good shoes in a backpack and hop on your two-wheeler. May is Bike to Work Month. How’s that for a reason to try it? Last year over 1400 Ottawa and Gatineau residents made a pledge to bike to work at least once during the month. Most of them were first-time pledgers and many were first-time commuters by bicycle. Better yet, over 50 workplace teams took part, so why not get your office or workplace involved? For details, see biketoworkottawa.com.

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