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February Vacation Offers Unique Activities

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If your children are looking for something a little different to do during their upcoming school vacation, how about going with them to the 5th annual Providence Children's Film Festival? Or sending them to Zoo Camp in Springfield, Massachusetts? Or taking part in Sleigh Ride Week in Woodstock, Vermont?

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There's much more to the Providence Children's Film Festival than sitting and watching movies, although with 40 short films and 17 features from around the globe, they could take up plenty of hours during that week. The highest quality independent films for ages 3 to 18 brings a wide range of storytelling and experiences from Japan, France, the Netherlands and Uruguay, among other countries. The program includes classic cinema, live action, animation and documentary, paired with an expanded offering of Film Talks, post-screening discussions that aim to deepen understanding of subject matter and foster critical watching skills.

Over the weekend of February 8 and 9, the festival offers hands-on filmmaking workshops for ages 6 to 14. Then, on February 13, from 6 to 9 p.m., the opening night reception will offer a party with food and drink and a 7 p.m. film screening of The Zig Zag Kid for ages 10 and up. Festival winners will be announced at the awards party on Saturday, February 22, with a 3:30 p.m. screening of Once in a Lullaby for ages 8 and up.

New this year, the Youth Filmmaker Show will include shorts created by children who participated in the filmmaking workshops at the festival along with youth filmmakers juried in from around the world, followed by a Q&A with local youth filmmakers.

A local filmmaker and parent, Mitty Griffis Mirrer, whose movie Gold Star Children will be shown at the festival, will talk about her own experience as a Gold Star child, someone who lost a parent and fallen soldier to war, after the movie is shown.

Tickets for the films are $6 for children and $8 for adults. To order tickets online, go to pcffri.org. The PCFF has become one of the top five multi-day film festivals in the country, now rivaling children's film festivals in New York, Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles. Films screen at three venues located within walking distance of one another: Metcalf Auditorium in the Rhode Island School of Design Museum Chace Center; Cable Car Cinema; and the RISD Auditorium.

To see the trailer for The Zig Zag Kid, go to https://vimeocom/39578585.

Or, send the kids to Springfield, Massachusetts, where the Zoo in Forest Park may be closed for the winter, but zoo camp is open. Whether it's a one-day or weeklong commitment, kids can enjoy a variety of activities including touching and holding the animals every day, leaning about animal diets in the animal care kitchen, getting to know the zoo occupants and more. Children are divided into three categories: 6 to 7, 8 to 10 and 11 to 13. The oldest group will be involved in Animal Care and be the new Junior Zookeepers. Rates are $220 for the week or $55 per day. Pre-enrollment is required, at www.forestparkzoo.org/programs/zoo-camp/

If you would rather head north from Boston, Billings Farm, in Woodstock, Vermont, hosts Sleigh Ride Week during school vacation time, and on Saturday, February 15, the farm offers horse -drawn sleigh rides, sledding with jack jumpers, Dairy farm and farmhouse programs and hands-on activities. Sample Presidential cookie favorites and spiced cider from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Go to www.billingsfarm.org.

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