Usually screen time means down time. And that’s fine especially when our go-to apps and favourite videos rank high on educational content. But I am always aware that there is zero physical activity when little eyes are glued to a device.

So when we headed to the TIFF Bell Lightbox for their annual digiPlaySpace exhibition, I was expecting a lot of fun but stationary exploration.

Not so.

This “Playground of the Future” had us busy (including the mom in TOw) riding elephants, playing ping pong and busting a move. We easily filled two hours bouncing from exhibit to exhibit exploring, learning and (thank you) energy-burning.

This is TIFF’s fourth presentation of digiPlaySpace and it’s the biggest yet with 24 new multi-media exhibits designed by children’s artists from around the world. The interactive installations combine math, science, language and arts with video-gaming, programming, robotics, circuitry and lights, all inspiring little minds with the world of media and tech.

All exhibits are accessible for kids three-and-up, but school-aged kids definitely have the run of the place. My five-year-old loved donning 3D glasses and dodging obstacles in Headfush‘s 3D world and could have spent all day in the Build-a-Bot Lab. (Thank you to the patient staff who helped him put together his dino.)

Toddlers (with an adult in TOw) for the most part can keep up and mine loved running and jumping in Creature, watching his own silhouette transform into animated characters on screen.

Me? I loved capturing some fun family photos playing around with the green screen in Be in the Scene Part 2 and watching the kids groove with Pop and Lock Dance Machine. And what made our visit extra enjoyable was all the staff ready to engage and tell the kids about each activity.

Be sure to vote for your fan favourite post-visit.


Getting there: TIFF Bell Lightbox is on King St. at John. There is lots of paid street parking ($4/hr) and private parking in the area. On TTC, it’s just west of St. Andrew Subway Station and along the 504 King St. Streetcar route. The exhibition is located on the ground floor. No strollers permitted. Backpacks must be checked (free); coats $2 (free for kids.)

Low-down: Admission is $10 for everyone young or old. (Special digiPlaySpace and Film Combo $20 for adults and $15 for kids.) Open 10 am to 6 pm on weekends and 10 am to 4 pm on weekdays. Check out special hours for March Break and Easter Weekend. (Monday through Friday 10 am to 2 pm are prioritized for school groups.) We strongly suggest going at opening for the quietest playtime.

Down-time: There is an “Appcade” at the exhibition’s entrance – save it for the end when you can sit down and explore some of the best apps for kids and toddlers. Be sure to grab a printout of these apps – some good ideas if you’re searching for some new kids apps to refresh your collection.

Mark your calendars: During March Break (March 14 to 20), TIFF is screening Walt Disney ClassicsTIFF Kids International Film Festival is coming up April 7 to 19.

Food: CANTEEN at TIFF has dine-in and grab & go items. Lots of restaurants on King St. West.

Sneak in some shopping: The TIFF Shop has some kid-friendly items. MEC is a block west (kids’ area has a little house to keep them occupied)

In the hood: South you’ll find the CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. En route to these attractions is the CBC building on John St. Its Museum is open weekdays 9 am to 5 pm and is free.

350 King St W
Toronto, ON M5V 3X5
Tel: 1.888.599.8433 or 416.599.TIFF
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