Dig up some family action less than an hour away

If you’re looking to take the family tribe out over a weekend or better yet for Spring break, think about this type of action-packed trip cross border to Grande Prairie to help disrupt your Peace.

Art Gallery of Grande Prairie – feast for the eyes, ears, and brain

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There is more than meets the eye at the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie – and right now it is all about sensory overload.

Glamour & Vapours is a screening of video works by Canadian artists Lorna Mills and Karilynn Ming Ho that interrogates (and integrates) screen culture and capacity for visual and sensory overload.

Elements of the exhibitions often bring audio into the mix for attendees as well. The Art Gallery of GP is quite simply world class - with Londoners visiting the gallery’s most recent opening of Itchiku Kubota’s Mountain Kimono installation. 

A completely interactive Carlstrom Family Green Space allows youngsters to work on crafts that directly reflect existing work on display in the gallery. The space is an interactive gallery and self-directed studio space located on the second floor.

Since September 2009, we have dedicated a space in the gallery to the interactive exploration of and response to art. It is a great way for parents to connect their kids to the importance of museums, why they are part of the cultural zeitgeist, says Melanie Jenner, gallery administrator.

“Families can learn about the exhibit and the real artists we are featuring - and can recreate their own versions of the works,” adds Jenner, looking at hundreds of miniature kimonos reflecting the Kubota Kimono installation. 

The Art Gallery of Grande Prairie is not all about international touring artists - there is plenty of Canadian content on the walls and contained within the permanent collection of the gallery. 

“We’ve more than 800 pieces in the permanent collection, including 14 Allan Sapp works. It is really incredible to have these types of works with us, in this case from such a celebrated Cree artist,” says Jenner.

On March 19, 2007 almost half of the Gallery collapsed under the heavy snow load on the roof. The Art Gallery of Grande Prairie opened in its current location in the Montrose Cultural Centre in 2009. The collapsed building was restored allowing the Art Gallery to fully open the restored building in 2012, and continue the initial plans of connecting the 1929 building to the Montrose Cultural Centre.

It is hands on for young and old at Wembley’s Phil Currie Museum

The Philip Currie Museum is an interactive learning marvel - please touch is the mantra within its walls and about most of the artifacts on display.

Make it your first stop away from Mile Zero, or let the dino knowledge devour you on the way back home to Dawson Creek. Located in Wembley, the museum is all about the tactile interactions with young and old – and is a great way to open, or close your weekend adventure with some hands-on dinosaur knowledge.

“You go to many museums say do not touch. We have signs that say ‘please touch this,’ ‘please handle that,’” says Brittany Kelsey, event coordinator with the Currie Museum.

The Phil Currie is indeed an immersive experience for the ages. All ages of history, and manner of people. Ones inner child is bound to come out with the interactivity and hands on approach to the entire facility. Kids can stand and look through a glass bottom floor to see what bones are being uncovered, or what bone beds the museum might be working on in the field, next. Video screens can be aimed at hanging exhibits in the museum to reveal more information.

“We do get a lot of parents catching themselves, saying ‘don’t touch that,’ and then realizing, no, the kids should be encouraged and to go for it,” says Kelsey.

This aspect certainly does allow parents to relax a bit and allowing the younger members of the family to explore, hunt, and learn about dinosaurs in their own way, with their own adventure. The museum is literally a playground in the Wembley community - inside and out.

Kelsey says often the museum, Wembley and nearby campgrounds combine forces for a full-day of family programming.

“We are trying to build relationships with our neighbors that only help getting families and travellers to stop and spend some time here.”

Syncing up with British Columbia’s family day has also been key in bringing more bodies to the museum.

This is a place where the community and travellers can come and enjoy what we have.” 

This can be dinos, a T-Rex burger in the Dine-O-Saur restaurant from executive chef Antonio Magnone, or a Gin and Jazz evening for adults, there is a diverse amount of programming going on under Phil Currie’s roof.

Upcoming events at the Currie include; a March 15 PD Camp. Looking for something to take the kids to during a PD Day – well this is it. They also roll on April 12 and June 7.  March 25 to 29 sees a Spring Break Camp for 7 to 11 year olds. Adventure back to the land before time - find out what it is like to be a real life paleontologist and examine actual found fossils. July and August bring summer day camps for aged 4 to 16. Discover the adventure. If you ‘d like to be a paleontologist for a day - they can do it – check out the Philip Currie Museum online right now at dinomuseum.ca

Mom Flora Stikker says the family attraction to the museum is obvious.

“We love it here - we have a family pass and use it to bring guests who visit us,” she says as one child checks on exhibits, another peruses stuffies in the gift shop.

Nick Carter, education program instructor at the Currie says his job does involve a lot of myth busting - mainly propagated from a series of Spielberg movies.

The famous Pipestone bone bed just south of the museum was discovered in the early 1970s when Al Lakusta stumbled onto some bones while out on a nature walk one day at Pipestone Creek. His findings that day in 1974 would eventually be identified as bones of a yet to be discovered species Pachyrhinosaurus – a type of horned dinosaur, which subsequently was re-christened Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai, after Lakusta.

“Turns out this is one of the densest bone beds in the world,” says Carter.

The actual Pipestone location is remodeled in the Currie, however the bone bed is a tourist attraction all year round.

“In the summer there are the bone beds, this time of year there are fires down in the campground nearby,” says Kelsey. Carter explains the Pipestone bone bed site succinctly.

“Take a thousand dinosaurs, pout them in a blender and pour them over a couple football fields in size.”

Carter says the best is certainly yet to come.

“We are only scratching the surface - to see what is out there. We have only covered a percentage of the area - a small area.”

Eastlink Centre

The theme and roar of the dinosaur continues at the Eastlink Centre -a one-stop shop for almost anything athletic in Grande Prairie. Field House, B-Ball, pool, pool, pool, and gym. There is a lot of water options here for families, and you can get your sweat on a hundred different ways. Log walk, steam and sauna, dive towers, tracks, and more, will help you make an adventurous splash at the Eastlink Centre. 

Four Points Sheraton

Seconds away from the hustle of the downtown core, but far enough away to be considered a getaway, the Four Points Sheraton in Grande Prairie has room at their in for the weary family of travellers, or single editor. Across the road from the Eastlink center and various other amenities, you have enough to keep your clan busy, or stay inside the hotel, unplug the iPhone and discover a lost room of the past off the Four Points lobby - an actual library ...with real books that have words in them.

Grande Prairie Theatre Live is right on tap – let it pour

If you would like to see the polished production of a true stage north - check out GP Theatre Live. 

Check out programming of a theatre company that has been rocking for more than 50 years, and plays to more than 10,000 people a year. More than 250 volunteers collaborate to bring community theatre to GP and beyond. Check out their work in their personal 165-seat venue, as well as at the more grandiose stage of the 500 seat plus proscenium thrusting  Douglas Cardinal Theatre, and more.

With a theatre company interested in runs beyond single weekends, viewers can opt to see the arc of performances individually, and with collective casts. 

The streamlined and tight production of Mamma Mia! was hitting its final weekend when catching the performances - which were honed and still relatively in the moment. Theatre is the lifeblood of a community - it is perhaps the hottest and most in the moment art form. The subtlety is there, the acting is real. The familiar stories you know, perhaps presented in a new way, with new takes, moment to moment in the live theatre environment. You can’t beat it. 

The Shakespeare classic – The Taming of the Shrew runs throughout March at GP Theatre Live.

Nitehawk flies bright each night for family action

If the arts aren’t your bag as a family, Nitehawk year-round adventure park is always ready to get you suited up ready to scream down their mountain. Fourteen ski and board runs, as well as the Snowmakers Lounge bring the chalet feel front and centre.

Nitehawk is as advertised for families young and old. Want to be a Wapiti Warrior? A Nitehawk Ninja? They’ve got you covered. A tube zone? Check. Luge? Yes.  

“Our programs, camps and lessons are done to recognize the needs of the students, and their abilities regardless of age,” says assistant manager at Nitehawk Johnathan Clarkson, who has been on the hill for more than 17 years. 

Discovering ski and snowboarding, parent and tots, learn to slide classes and more, is all about keeping the family unit front and center, both on the Nitehawk slopes and in its chalets. Fourteen action-packed and scenic runs from the Easy Street and Will-O-Way, or more expert levels like Hwy. 40, and Roller Coaster. 

For more on skiing or winter adventures in Northern Alberta search #goNitehawk and #SkiNorthAB on social media. There are affordable adventures to be found with every step out your front door in the Peace Region - you just need to keep your head on a swivel, and eyes out for them.                                 



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