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Halifax celebrating the first International Day of Play with free events

Posted by Alex Smith, International Play Association – Canada on June 5, 2024 in News
Scotia Landing, the Greens at Salter, and Foundation Wharf, including the Container Stage, will be a play friendly zone. Alex Smith photo
Scotia Landing, the Greens at Salter, and Foundation Wharf, including the Container Stage, will be a play friendly zone. Alex Smith photo

News release

June 5, 2024

Nova Scotians will be the first in North America to celebrate the United Nations’ newly designated International Day of Play with free public events on June 9 and 11.

This commemorative day, slated to take place annually on June 11, recognizes the universality of play to the human experience. It acknowledges play’s demonstrable impact on the physical, mental and social well-being of the youngest members of society. The day also shines a light on children’s right to play as enshrined in Article 31 of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) adopted by Canada in 1991.

On Sunday, June 9 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, play will be front and centre on the Halifax waterfront. Scotia Landing, home of the iconic Wave, the Greens at Salter, and Foundation Wharf, including the Container Stage, will be a play friendly zone. Activities will include large-scale board games, stenciled sidewalk challenges, old time play, multicultural playtime and live performances. In addition, the Halifax Regional Municipality will make an official proclamation recognizing the first International Day of Play.

On Tuesday, June 11 over the lunch hour, the Halifax Central Library will host screenings of two documentary films examining different facets of play in Wales. The Land (25:00) examines an adventure playground of the same name located in Wrexham, a small city in northeastern Wales. It portrays a play environment and ethos that is generally unfamiliar to Canadians. The second short documentary, This is why play is so important (15:00), was commissioned by the charitable NGO, Play Wales. Hear the first-person musings of children on the hows and whys of play interspersed with adults reflecting on childhood memories.

A small group of volunteers representing the recreation, education, health promotion, government, and play sectors worked together with very modest resources to organize celebrations for this inaugural International Day of Play. Their contributions made it all possible.

Associated links

International Play Association – Canada, PlayGroundology, Build Nova Scotia, Halifax, Halifax Public Libraries, Dalhousie University, Healthy Populations Institute, Healthy Tomorrow Foundation, Nova Scotia ASK, Outdoor Play Canada, Recreation Nova Scotia


"Dalhousie University is excited to participate in this first UN International Day of Play. Students will have an opportunity to volunteer in the community creating memories with children through the fun and discovery at the heart of play. This is a living extension of the research work we do to underscore how play helps children thrive." - Dr. Michelle Stone. Associate Professor, School of Health and Human Performance, Dalhousie University.

"In today’s busy world of digital distractions, scheduled activities and daily commutes, time and space for play can sometimes be sidelined. The International Day of Play serves as a reminder to all of us that play is an important source of happiness that fosters resilience while contributing to healthy childhoods. Creating the winning conditions to help play flourish is deserving of our care and support." - Dr. Robert Strang, Chief Medical Officer of Health, Department of Health and Wellness, Government of Nova Scotia

"Play reverberates well beyond the playground. Public spaces that are inviting and designed to engage children make our communities more livable, more inclusive. As adults we have a duty to help reclaim and extend the moments of joy and discovery that play affords, to provide safe and accessible spaces and, to invest children with trust. The International Day of Play will help issues related to children’s play resonate more broadly." - Alex Smith, Director at Large, International Play Association – Canada

Why an International Day of Play?

International foundations, NGOs, and the private sector were at the forefront of the campaign leading to this annual observance. The perspectives and insights of children from the Global South and North were instrumental in informing and developing the campaign.

Play is for everyone, an exhilarating all-ages phenomenon. For children it is a right in accordance with the CRC international treaty. Play is foundational for young people’s understanding of the world around them, for their learning and development, and of course, for fun and games. Play makes children happy and alive to their surroundings. It is a conduit for powerful experiences of discovery, adventure, and friendship. Social play helps to develop emotional intelligence and empathy key to forming good relationships with others, experience which can be vital later in life. Play matters.

The International Day of Play is a beacon attracting focus and attention on a global cultural activity led by children who will benefit from increased support and visibility.

Media contacts

  • Dr. Michelle Stone                                                   
  • Email :                    
  • Phone : (902) 478-9246



JUNE 9, 2024 – All locations are on the Halifax Waterfront

Location: The Greens at Salter

Time: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Brief description: enjoy an urban backyard filled with activities, oversize games, stencilled sidewalk challenges and volleyball

Location: Container Stage, Foundation Wharf

Time: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Brief description: Ekko Mindful Music Studio brings their boomwhackers and other fun, musical magic for some hands-on fun.

Time: 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Brief description: Hello City Improv hosts a fun and interactive improv performance.

Location: Scotia Landing

Time: 1:00 p.m. – 1:20 p.m.

Brief description: official pronouncement of International Day of Play Proclamation

Location: Foundation Wharf

Time: 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Brief description: play activities led by the Multicultural Playtime Society - come and learn children’s games from other parts of the world while celebrating community and diversity in play.

Time: 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Brief description: join the PlayEveryday Crew for Old Time Play – hands-on, analog fun and games. Get ready for races, tug of war, hula hoops and more.

JUNE 11, 2024 – Halifax Central Library

Location: Halifax Central Library, BMO Community Room, Floor 2

Time: 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Brief description: repeat screenings of two short documentaries about play in Wales

The Land (23:00) - "…this film will change everything you think you believe ... In scene after natural scene the truth becomes obvious: With a little bit of creativity, empathy and guidance, children can be freed to experience a much more fun, adventurous and fulfilling childhood." Hannah Rosin, The Atlantic.

This is why play is so important (15:00) - Hear the first-person musings of children on the hows and whys of play interspersed by adults reflecting on childhood memories. This short collage produced by Play Wales gets to the heart of the matter and positions children right where they should be, in the thick of the conversation.