Choo Choo! If you have avid Thomas the Tank Engine fans at home, all aboard at the Canadian Children’s Museum. Thomas & Friends™ – Explore the Rails runs through May 1 and highlights include a kid-sized, climbable Thomas the Tank Engine and a huge, hands-on Island of Sodor toy railway. Kids will also get to dress up as train conductors to load cargo and fix an engine. As Gordon would say, “Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!” See historymuseum.ca.
Are you Irish, and more so each year in March? Lucky for you, the 34th annual St. Patrick’s Parade and Party are taking place March 19. The parade starts at 11 a.m. from the corner of Elgin Street and Laurier Avenue West, moving west to Bank Street and then south on Bank Street to Lansdowne Park. The Ottawa Food Bank will be picking up non-perishable food items and cash donations. The post-parade St. Pat’s party is in the Aberdeen Pavilion. See www.irishsocietyncr.com.
Your Irish eyes can keep on smiling because the Irish Film Festival Ottawa is running from April 1 to 3 at the Arts Court Theatre at 2 Daly Avenue. The local festival was started last year by a film buff of Irish descent, Patrick Murray, and a group of volunteers. This year there will be an opening gala on Friday night at 7 p.m. followed by a film. Films will also be shown Saturday and Sunday at 3, 5 and 7 p.m. One of the seven features will be geared to children. Admission at the door is $12, with senior and child discounts. See www.irishfilmfestivalottawa.com.
Can you say, “Oink oink”? Farm critters are in all their spring glory as the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum’s Experimental Farm hosts this year’s Barnyard Break through March 20. There are lots of fun activities and the site is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. See cafmuseum.techno-science.ca
Experience spring in the sugar bush. Maple season runs roughly through mid April and there are many special events and activities at area locations. The second annual Maple Weekend is April 2 and 3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Watch how maple treats are created and taste them too. Pancakes, wagon rides, games, maple goodies and other delights are part of the seasonal fun. See mapleweekend.ca.
The Ottawa Grassroots Festival is taking place from April 21 to 24 at Southminster United Church, 15 Aylmer Avenue in Ottawa. Robert Paquette, Peter Cliche, Céleste Lévis and David Fleury will headline the festival’s opening show Thursday, April 21, in Old Ottawa South. A native of Sudbury, Robert Paquette is one of the most famous Ontario French songwriters. He has performed around the world. Tickets for Ottawa Grassroots’ evening performances are available online through the festival website. Children aged 15 and under get in free when accompanied by an adult. The daytime events both Saturday and Sunday are free for everyone. The Grassroots Festival is a family-friendly celebration of folk music, dance and spoken word. See ottawagrassrootsfestival.com.