Family Picks: spring break!

Family Picks: spring break!

If your spring break plans will keep you in town this weekend, we’ve got plenty for your kids to do. They can “March with the Penguins” at the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum, learn to contra dance, take in the circus, or help out with the earthquake relief effort in Japan. Enjoy!

Zing Zang Zoom! Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, 7 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday, University of Illinois Assembly Hall, 1800 S. First St., C. Admission charge.

Ringling Bros. presents “Zing Zang Zoom, Gold Edition,” a mix of traditional circus acts and a magic show. An all-access pre-show, free to all ticketholders, is available an hour before each show, where kids can meet the performers and enter a drawing to win an elephant footprint.

Tickets are $14-$35, with a $5 discount for children ages 2 to 11 for the 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday shows.

For information: Call 333-5000 or visit

Dance to the music: Marchfest Dance Weekend, 7:30 to 11 p.m. Friday, 9:15 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Courtyard Cafe, Ballroom and Room 314, Illini Union, 1401 W. Green St. U. Admission charge.

Enjoy contra and English country dances, dance workshops and international folk dancing, featuring the bands Chicory and Ragged Robin. Admission is $3 to $7 per session at the door. or $34 for all sessions. UI students and children age 12 and under can get in free.

For information: Visit

Help for Japan: Tea ceremony observance, 1 p.m. Saturday, Japan House, 2000 S. Lincoln Ave., U. Donations accepted.

Observe a tea ceremony dedication by Prof. Kimiko Gunji for victims of the recent Japan earthquake and tsunami disaster. Donations to the Illinois-Japan Disaster Relief Fund will be accepted.  All gifts will go directly to support the people of Japan.  After the tea dedication, free tours of Japan House will be offered until 5 p.m.

For information: Call 244-9934 or visit

‘March with the Penguins’: 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Orpheum Children’s Science Museum, 346 N. Neil St., C. Admission charge.

Every March, the Emperor penguin begins its quest to find a mate, start a family and find enough food to survive a perilous journey. Take part in this remarkable journey as the Orpheum theatre is transformed into the Antarctic. Join a rookery and choose a spot to setup your community, find a lifelong mate, search for food and incubate an egg.  A Scientific Research Station will be hosted by Antarctic researcher and biology professor Dr. Christina Cheng.

Participants are encouraged to watch National Geographic’s award-winning film, “March of the Penguins,” before the event.

Tickets are available online or at the door: $4 for members, $5 for nonmembers.

For information: Call 352-5895 or visit

Irish music and more: Third Saturday at Sugar Grove Nature Center, 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, 4532 N. 725 East Road, McLean. Free.

From 9 a.m. to noon,  members of the Illinois Valley Blacksmith’s Association will demonstrate their craft at the Sugar Grove Forge, across the parking lot from the Nature Center. At 10 a.m., an acoustic Irish music jam session will begin, with experienced players on hand to lead beginners through a few tunes at a slow pace, then progress to traditional irish runes. Listeners (and players) are welcome to come and go and enjoy other activities at Sugar Grove Nature Center. 

For information: Call 309-874-2174 or visit

Tango! UFLive! presents Bossa Nuevo, 2 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Urbana Free Library, 210 W. Green St., U. Free.

Local sextet Bossa Nuevo perfoms a rich variety of South America tango and jazz music. Get up and dance or just listen to the layered harmonies and lively rhythms.

For information: Call 367-4405 or visit

Mmmm, maple syrup . . . : Maple syrup open house and pancake/sausage dinner,  11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sugar Bush and Gannett Center, Forest Glen Preserve, 20301 E. 900 N Road, near Westville.

A syrup-making demonstration, pioneer cabin and syrup sales highlight this even, along with a pancake and sausage dinner served in Gannett Outdoor Education Center. Dinner is $5 for adults and $2.50 for children 12 and younger.

For information: Call 662-2142 or visit


Check the Are We There Yet? blog every Friday for upcoming family friendly events, pulled from our News-Gazette online calendar, e3 magazine and other sources. To submit an item, e-mail me at, or use the calendar on the News-Gazette home page,

Photos: Ramon Esqueda and his Asian Elephants perform at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in New York last year, top. Heinz Kluetmeier/Copyright 2010 Feld Entertainment

At bottom, Emperor penguins shelter their young in a scene from the 2005 documentary "March of the Penguins." AP photo/Warner Independent Pictures


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