Festivals, events galore: What's on this Family Day weekend in Hamilton and area

There is no shortage of things to do, places to be and sights to see this Family Day weekend in Hamilton and nearby areas. Here's some of what you may want to add into your long weekend plans, from Winterfest to Black History Month events.

Activities around the city include Winterfest at Jackson Square, skating, screenings, music and more

A night concert
Winterfest events are being held on the roof of Jackson Square. (Michael To/CBC)

There is no shortage of things to do, places to be and sights to see this Family Day weekend in Hamilton and nearby areas.

Here's some of what you may want to add into your long weekend plans.

Noon hour concert celebrates Black music legend

Hamilton Public Library's central site is hosting a free noon-hour concert on Friday to celebrate the life and legacy of Hamilton jazz legend Jackie Washington.

The library says Washington was Canada's first Black disc jockey "whose seven-decade performing career enriched the cultural life of the city and the nation."

Blues musician Harrison Kennedy and Stewart Memorial Church Choir will perform at the library on York Boulevard.

A Black man sings and plays guitar.
Bluesman Jackie Washington began singing as a child and knew hundreds of traditional songs. (CBC)

Black History Month celebration downtown

People can celebrate Black history Friday at the sixth annual Omoluabi Black History Month event hosted by the organization Nigerian Canadians for Cultural, Educational & Economic Progress.

The event is free of charge and features storytelling, musical acts, spoken word poetry and the Sokoni market which has food, drinks and more.

The celebration starts at 4:30 p.m. at Mills Hardware on King Street East.

Watch a performance about residential schools

Also on Friday, The Woodland Cultural Centre on Mohawk Street in Brantford is hosting a screening and discussion of The Mush Hole Project from 5 to 8 p.m. with dinner included.

The film was produced  in 2021 and is a second iteration to a 2016 performance installation event.

It's a response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's Calls to Action and discusses public narratives around the residential school system and former residential school that is now the cultural centre.

Residential school.
A drone shot of the Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford, Ont. It is the former Mohawk Institute Residential School. (Sue Reid/CBC)

After the screening and panel talk with artists and survivors of the former Mohawk Institute, there will be a rabbit story reading, social and dance.

The event is free but the centre suggests donating $10 toward arts programming and requests registering in advance. 

Drag show, pop culture exhibit and more at Jackson Square

Witnterfest has a whole host of activities for people to enjoy on the weekend at the Jackson Square rooftop.

On Friday, there's a free drag show. The grounds open from 5 to 10 p.m. with performances at 7 p.m., 7:45 p.m., and 8:30 p.m.

The next day LTtheMonk is hosting a free live concert at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.

There's also a 10,000 square foot pop-culture exhibit from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Family Day.

Tickets for the exhibit are $11.56.

Anyone 19 and older can visit from Thursday to Sunday between 9 p.m. and midnight. Tickets for that are $16.85.

All tickets come with access to all the video games and pinball machines, a six-hole mini putt course, a slice of toasted Roma pizza and a serving of cotton candy.

Winterfest's Family Day Extravaganza

On Family Day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., there will be live music, art and craft stations, pancakes, chocolate, Roma pizza, Lego murals and various installations at the Jackson Square rooftop.

The Art Gallery of Hamilton will also have arts and craft projects, a community art project, hot chocolate and snacks, family dance and yoga classes, face painting, an Indigenous beading workshop and more.

Lanterns, skating and more at Bernie Morelli Recreation Centre

Hamilton Festival Theatre Company is hosting a wide range of free, drop-in activities at the Bernie Morelli Recreation Centre on Cannon Street East as part of the Frost Bites winter festival. 

There are lantern-making workshops that start at 10 a.m. and run every day until Sunday.

On Saturday at 10  a.m., Karennotakies Barnes, an artist who is a member of the Mohawk Nation Turtle Clan of Akwesasne, is hosting a traditional hide tanning workshop.

At 11:30 a.m. that day, Musician Walter MacLean will host an afro-style drumming and percussion session. At 1 p.m., the band Moskitto Bar will perform, blending Arabic, Celtic, Balkan, and Latino music.

A parade walks through the streets at night.
During last year's Frost Bites festival, the Hamilton Aerial Group and musician Nathan Muir guided an illumination festival through the streets. (Submitted by Dave Pijuan-Nomura)

On Sunday at 10 a.m., Cheyanne Herder, a second-language learner in Anishinaabemowin, will teach Ojibwe before playing bingo in Anishinaabemowin.

Djennie Laguerre, also known as Madame Bonheur will also engage in Afro-Carribean storytelling at 11:30 a.m.

On Sunday at 3 p.m., there will be a family skate party with music from DJ Osito.

That evening at 6 p.m., people can carry lanterns and walk alongside the Hamilton Aerial Group, Mohawk two-spirit musician Nathan Muir and Tiffany Silversmith, a member of Six Nations from the Onondaga Nation.

Fashion show at the music hall

On Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m., designers will show off their looks down a runway in the city's core.

The Music Hall on Main Street West will host the 10-year anniversary show.

Tickets are $25 for general admission and $50 for the front row.

Francophone gala for Black History Month

A gala for the city's Francophone community in honour of Black History Month will take place at 1015 Barton St. E.

The $25 ticket to the 11th annual gala will include food, music from Amadou Kienou and Adama Daou.

It will also see music from DJ Franck.

The Francophone community health centre for Hamilton-Niagara is hosting the event and it starts at 6 p.m.

BLK OWNED youth market and Ainara's Bookshelf

Locals will have a chance to check out items made by young Black youth and meet CBC Kids personality and TVO host Ainara Alleyne on Sunday from 12 to 4 p.m.

A girl, smiling at the camera while laying on the floor with a book in her hands.
Ainara Alleyne hosts Ainara's Bookshelf. (Submitted by Susan Stafford/Cleopatra's Canvas Photography)

The library on York Boulevard will include a market with the creations from youth, as well as time to meet Alleyne, host of Ainara's Bookshelf.

There will also be live readings by local authors Anita Grant and Ayana Francis.

Meet an astronaut at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum

From Saturday to Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the museum will include a Space to Spoon exhibit which will show how space technology impacts agriculture.

There's also a planetarium that shows the "true night sky" in a 360-degree theatre.

On Saturday at 11 a.m., astronaut Dr. Dave Williams will offer a presentation for visitors.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for kids and free for anyone five and under.

A plane sits in a hangar.
The Supermarine Spitfire is among the planes restored at the warplane museum in Hamilton. (Submitted by David Blais)

Drop-in city programs in Hamilton

The city has drop-in swimming and free skating programs in different parts of the city on Family Day.

People can also play disc golf at the Kings Forest Golf Course from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and winter golf from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday.

Birding festival in Niagara

People can attend an international birding festival, Birds on the Niagara 2024, from Friday to Monday.

It will include free walks, presentations, and family friendly activities across the Niagara River Corridor.

It all kicks off on Friday at 6:30pm with a Beers and Bird Trivia event at Counterpart Brewing in Niagara Falls.

Swimming and skating in Brantford

Locals in Brantford can enjoy a free skate party at Harmony Square on Dalhousie Street on Sunday.

They can glide on the ice as a DJ keeps the beat thumping from 1 to 4 p.m., on Sunday.

The outdoor ice rink will be open for families from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre will also be offering a special Family Day Public Swim and Public Skate from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., on Monday.

There will also be activities from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. including ice-skating, character meet and greets and hot chocolate.

Doors open at 5 p.m. for ticket holders of the Brantford Bulldogs's game on Monday and at 5:30 p.m. to the public.