Ten ASD Friendly Things to Do at Christmas in Winnipeg

The Christmas season is upon us!  We all like making and enjoying seasonal traditions, but sometimes things can be overwhelming for kids who have sensory differences.  The following activities are autism-friendly, in the sense that it’s possible to find quiet spaces when you need one, or choose how much time you want to spend, or choose times when things are less busy.

Sparkling Lights

The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train, Saturday, December 2, 9 pm, Molson Street between Panet and Monroe, free.  14 decorated rail cars plus a boxcar turned into a stage for performers.  Donations for food bank appreciated.

The CanadInns Winter Wonderland offers over one million lights and over 26 different themed areas during a 2.5 km drive. You can stop at the outdoor skating rink to enjoy a family skate or enjoy the free horse-drawn sleigh ride on weekends.  It’s open 6PM – 10PM from Dec 1, 2017 to Jan 6, 2018 (but not Christmas Day).  Admission is $12 per vehicle.

The Manitoba Electrical Museum at 680 Harrow hosts an exhibit called “All That Glows: Then and Now, where you can see how lights have changed from the 1880’s until today.  Check here for hours.  Admission is free!

The Legislative Building and grounds will be decorated with more than 3000 lights starting December 1 – you can go for a stroll there for free.

Also, check out neighbourhood light displays.  For example, Foxmeadow Drive and Hennessey Drive are two streets that are worth visiting in Lindenwoods.

Take In Some Music

Try going to a concert outdoors or in a mall.  For example, the Manitoba Legislature having an open house on December 2, from 1-3 pm.  If your child is comfortable in a theatre, there are many concerts offered by various groups in Winnipeg.  You can find a list on the CHVN website or just through a web search.   Many are free.

Or build your personal seasonal music collection!

Enjoy A Show

Charlie Brown is visiting the Manitoba Theatre for Young People from December 8-30.  Intended for children aged 3 and up, the double bill includes A Charlie Brown Christmas and You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.  MTYP is accommodating to children with social challenges, and the target age makes their productions fun for the whole family.

Visit the Eaton’s Fairytale Vignettes Display

The Manitoba Children’s Museum hosts this display every Christmas season.  It was originally in the Eaton’s store downtown has been a Winnipeg holiday tradition for over 40 years – and though the exact age of the dolls in the display is unknown, they are much older than that!

The children’s museum is also having an Explore-Abilities morning on December 30 from 8 am – 9:25, when the lights and sounds will be turned down and the crowd will be small, to make the museum experience more enjoyable for kids on the spectrum.   To register for this event, please contact Anneliese Kroeker, Sales & Bookings Coordinator, at (204) 924-4005 or akroeker@childrensmuseum.com.

Red River Christmas at Lower Fort Garry

On December 9 and 10 from 11 am – 4 pm, you can experience the sights, sounds and smells of a traditional Victorian Christmas and New Year’s at Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site!  Listen to Christmas stories and music, ride in a horse-drawn wagon, grab a snack and try some snowshoeing.  Tickets can be purchased online.

Green Things

Shelmerdine’s, Ron Paul Garden Centre and St. Mary’s Nursery and Garden Centre sell Christmas greenery and also have Christmas activities on certain dates.

The conservatory at Assiniboine Park is also beautiful to visit during this season.

Seasonal Sensory Play – At Home

Want to try some new activities indoors to mark the season?  There are many activities here and here, or Pinterest can help you.

Activities like baking or crafts accomplish the same purpose for older kids.

You could also start a tradition like Elf on the Shelf – a great way to practice observation and perspective taking!

Fort Whyte

From December 25-January 6, Fort Whyte is hosting Frosty Family Fun Days.  With general admission, your family can participate in a variety of free activities, from snowshoe orienteering to taffy making to Viking ice games.  If you prefer to be on your own, sledding, skating, hiking, or a tour of the indoor galleries are all options to enjoy,

Ride a Miniature Train

The Assiniboine Valley Railway is a club that runs and maintains a 1:8 scale railway just west of Assiniboine Park, at 3001 Roblin Blvd.  They invite community members to come and enjoy a ride through their snow-clad forest from 1-4 pm on Saturdays and Sundays in December starting on the 16th, from 1-4 pm.

Enjoy Good Things To Eat

What do you like to eat in the winter holiday season?  Maybe you can make a new tradition shopping for and enjoying special foods from many of Winnipeg’s  bakeries and specialty food stores.  Oh Donuts, Morden’s Chocolates, and Piazza de Nardi are three that come to mind.  There are many more amazing options at the Forks – and throughout the city – as well.  Maybe your child will also help you use the delicious ingredients you buy in recipes they will enjoy year after year.

One More…

Check out parent support groups like Inspire Community Outreach, Autism Winnipeg PACE, Autism Society Manitoba, and others to see what they are offering for kids with autism.  Sometimes it’s easier to get together with people who require no explanations.

Have a happy holiday!  What are your favourite Christmas traditions?

Further Reading:

Winnipeg Winter Fun: Ten Places to Play

Indoor Fun in Winnipeg

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