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7 ways to spend the CBR school holidays

Amanda Whitley

It’s hard to believe that it’s school holiday time already…but it is indeed. There are oodles of School Holiday Programs around (visit holidayhappenings.com.au for all the details), but we’ve rounded up some activities you may not have thought of. Here are seven ways to spend the CBR school holidays!

1. SEE A STAGE SHOW

Whether it’s you dragging the kids along to see an old favourite (Monkey, anyone?) or them dragging you to sing that bloody ‘Let It Go’ song one more time, stage shows are a great holiday option.

Monkey… Journey to the West

Remember Monkey Magic? Live on-stage, in a large-scale production, Monkey … Journey to the West is based on China’s popular classic story of The Monkey King and remembered by generations of Australians from the 70’s cult TV show Monkey Magic. Delights a new generation as well as satisfying people who have known and loved it all their lives.

Catch Monkey … Journey to the West at The Playhouse at Canberra Theatre Centre from Thursday 23 to Saturday 25 April.  Tickest are $45 (+ $3.30 Transaction Fee)

Let It Go: The Aussie Frozen Tribute Show

Get dressed up as your favourite Frozen character and have a frosty good time at Let It Go: The Aussie Frozen Tribute Show at 10:30am this Friday 17 April. Fasten your seatbelts and let your wacky hosts Tweedledum and Tweedledee take you on an action-packed, freezing trip to the dizzy heights of Arendelle in this interactive treat of song, dance and snow.

Sing along to all the hits with Queen Elsa and Princess Anna. Play funny frosty games, learn some icy dance routines and frolic in real, falling snow!  Bookings via Ticketek.

Jay’s Jungle

Jay’s Jungle is the new live show featuring everyone’s favourite children’s television and live entertainer Jay Laga’aia. Jay and his team,  featuring fun loving park rangers, Funk-E de Monkey and C-Mor the magical light house discover their island while creating exciting adventures.

Young ‘Jungle Crew’ audiences will love the interaction with Jay and his team through this 45 minute show including song, dance and music at Canberra Theatre Centre at 10 on Friday 24 April. Tickets are all $20 (+ $3.30 Transaction Fee).

2. MAKE STUFF!

Get them off the iPads and into making something with their hands…if it’s that hard to wrench them away from the device, you can always lessen the pain by letting them make a LEGO tribute to Minecraft! If that’s not their thing, there are heaps of other great options.

BRICKS 4 KIDZ®

With specially-created BRICKS 4 KIDZ® models, LEGO® games, and plenty of time for creative building, the kids are always having fun at these workshops. Our school holiday programs are designed for kids ages 5 – 12 and are staffed by trained, screened BRICKS 4 KIDZ® instructors. Children will work and play with LEGO® Technic pieces such as gears, axles, electric motors and more!

Inspired by NASA and Star Wars™, the one-day Space Adventures school holiday workshop is packed full of models that will make your kids’ imagination blast off! The children will learn about real-life space exploration and build models related to the NASA space program.

If they’re into MineCraft® (who isn’t?), they’ll love this two-day workshop. Kids will craft their shelters and the mobs, critters and and tools using traditional LEGO® Bricks and LEGO® Mosaic builds. Children will face new challenges each day building motorised BRICKS 4 KIDZ® models and crafting key elements from the MineCraft® game – there’s no screens here, they build everything with their hands.

Get all the details here.

Belconnen Arts Centre

The School Holiday program at Belconnen Arts Centre will keep young artists engaged, entertained and enthralled with a great variety of cool, quality artistic activities, with a variety of options over the week. From sun prints to papermaking, plasticene models and more! All workshops are $15 (includes materials, accompanying adults free) – and some are sold out already! Book here.

Canberra Glassworks

Canberra Glassworks is one of this city’s hidden treasures, and they have a fun and educational school holiday program to suit all ages. Venture into the Hotshop or Engine Room where kids can watch Australia’s leading glass artists in action; or, for a more hands on experience, they can create their own masterpiece in a ‘Make Your Own sessions’. Get all the details here.

Kids Autumn Digital Photography School

Imagine your kids doing something different in the nation’s capital these school holidays. Guided by expert tutors, kids will capture images and master the fundamentals of Adobe© creative software to create unique works of art at PhotoAccess, Manuka Arts Centre.

Each participant will take home their own large-format photographic prints. Laptops provided, own cameras welcome but not essential.

Workshops run Tuesday to Thursday: 9am-4pm – 14-16 April or 21-23 April. Bookings essential on [email protected].

Shadow Play: Photograms and Pinhole Photography

Introduce kids to the mysteries and wonders of photography in the PhotoAccess darkroom! In this fun and interactive one-day school holiday workshop, kids will gain a practical understanding of black-and-white darkroom processes and pinhole photography.  Suitable for 10 to 16 year olds.

9am to 3pm this Friday 17 April. Bookings essential on [email protected].

3. REDISCOVER CBR’S INSTITUTIONS

We are sooooo lucky to have all these amazing institutions on our doorstep – and so many of them offer free or low cost holiday workshops! Check them out here.

Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House

Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House is always a great bet for free school holiday fun. This Autumn, kids aged five years and over can join in a cartooning masterclass, where they can develop the skills of a professional cartoonist in a fun, hands-on workshop. Sessions run 10am to 11:30am until Friday 17 April 2015.

If they’re more into superheros, they can join in the Superhero-athon, which asks, ‘how super are you? Can you make the world a better place?’. Sessions run 10am to 11am from Monday 20 – Friday 24 April 2015. Recommended age: 5 years and over with an accompanying adult.

Book early to avoid disappointment by emailing [email protected] or calling 6270 8282

While you’re there, pop into Play Up –  an exhibition developed with children and celebrates the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child Play Up celebrates the important role children have in the cultural life of our communities. Most importantly Play Up is a place for fun. Open from 9am to 5pm daily until June 2015.

National Film and Sound Archive

The National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) continues its program of school holiday Disney Classics with another wonderful selection of animations on the big screen at Arc Cinema, as part of the 2015 Centenary of Animation. This time, they revisit some of Disney’s contemporary classics including The Lion King and Tangled.

10am each day, from Monday 20 to Friday 24 April. $5 each session.

National Portrait Gallery

Head along to the National Portrait Gallery at 10:30am this Wednesday 15 April to listen to excerpts from the book Twelve Terrible Tales by Jill Mather and create your own visual response. This opportunity is part of the Gallery’s children and family program and is suitable for all abilities and ages. All children must be accompanied. Bookings essential, places are limited. Please phone or email the Gallery for further details.

Or head to the Adventure Family Space. Explore the lives of Australia’s greatest adventurers through interactive art carts, dioramas and dress ups. Make your own portrait that expresses your spirit of adventure using fun art materials and the photo booth. All materials provided and free for all to enjoy! From 11am to 4pm daily.

Australian War Memorial

Kids aged eight years and over can explore art and personal stories in the Memorial’s Commemorative Area before creating their own poppy mosaic to take home. As Anzac Day approaches, they will discover how the poppy has been used as a symbol of commemoration and sacrifice.

Mosaics at the Memorial runs 10:30am to 12:30pm on Wednesday 15 and Monday 20 April. $15 per child, $10 for Friends of the Memorial (GST inclusive). Credit card payment required at time of booking. Email [email protected].

National Museum of Australia

Imagine putting on a miniature play in your living room, complete with sets, scripts, costumes and characters. School holiday visitors can bring their stories to life on the stage by making a toy theatre, inspired by the one on show in the Museum’s Journeys gallery.

Play with plays is on every weekday until Friday 24 April, with sessions at 10–11am, 11am – 12 noon, 12–1pm.

4. ENJOY SHOPPING SHENANIGANS

There are always lots of great kids’ activities at Canberra’s shopping centres and markets over the school holidays, which is win-win, really. You get  to bribe the kids to behave while you grocery or clothes shop by promising them some fun at some stage during the proceedings. Excellent use of time.

Westfield Belconnen

Join Spongebob Squarepants and Patrick Bikini Bottom for a Beach Party live show, plus a meet and greet these school holidays. They’ll be performing in Centre Court at 11am and 1pm each day until Wednesday 15 April, with meet and greets at 12pm and 2pm. This event is free and no bookings are required to attend.

Later in the week, from Thursday 16 to Sunday 19 April, kids can join in the kids necklace making activity with LLL Designs. All beads are hand made from the local designer. From 10am to 2pm in Centre Court.

What else? Get down to Sky Zone trampoline park, where the kids will literally be allowed to jump off the walls with the interconnected trampolines and giant foam pit! Afterwards, they can grab a donut from Donut King and get free face painting (Tuesday 14 April).

Westfield Woden

Spongebob Squarepants and Patrick Bikini Bottom shift their Beach Party to Centre Court at Woden from Thursday 16 to Saturday 18 April. Concerts are at 11am and 1pm each day, with meet and greets at 12pm and 2pm. This event is free and no bookings are required to attend.

They can also get creative with Sandwizard – lots of new designs to explore and pictures to create. Take the kids in to make and take home their own sand creation. Free for kids.

Oh, and if you visit Hoyts tomorrow (Tuesday 14 April) you can get a FREE Ben & Jerry’s cone!

Canberra Outlet Centre

Canberra Outlet Centre are bringing the farmyard to the shops these April School Holidays, with Noah’s Ark Petting Zoo making an appearance.

These furry friends will be at Monkey Mania on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 April from 10am – 3pm. The Petting Zoo is a free activity for the entertainment of shoppers and children.

Belconnen Fresh Food Markets

Get along to the Belconnen Markets from April 17 until April 19 for a free three day celebration of all things kids. They’re providing a raft of entertainment across one massive weekend, with a jumping castle, petting zoo, face painting and the soothing acoustic sounds of Bill Olsen.

This is a fantastic opportunity for parents and guardians to grab a cuppa and put their feet up while their kids are entertained and supervised. A budget friendly, family friendly event for all! Get the details here.

5. CELEBRATE LOCAL TALENT

While there are always loads of activities for the little tackers, it can be harder to find organised activities to keep the tweens and teens occupied. This one ticks all the boxes.

West Woden Field Beats

Get down to Woden Town Square for West Woden Field Beats between 11am and 3pm this Thursday 16 April, where the youth of Canberra will be showcasing unique talents such as Hip Hop Dancing, Solo artists, DJ’s and Bands – including a special guest performance by Kaleid!

There’ll also be a free BBQ, Jumping Castle, Face Painting, Reptile Inc. Display, Cartoonist, Fun Prizes and Community Stalls.

This Drug and Alcohol Free Event is in celebration of National Youth Week 2015. For more information contact YET at Woden Youth Centre on (02) 6282 3037.

7. COOK UP SOME FUN!

This is one of my kids’ favourite holiday activities…and mine…because I get to eat what they’ve made! 

3Seeds at Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets

They’re so popular that many of their kids’ sessions have already sold out, but 3Seeds at Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets have a range of cooking classes to suit all ages and tastes.

Kids can cook up some Chicken & chorizo paella & potato tortilla, or perhaps lamb skewers on the BBQ followed by Anzac biscuits. Get all the details here.

Kids Pantry

Kids can spend a couple of hours or a whole day at Kids Pantry’s school holiday program. With lots of delicious sweet and savoury dishes on offer, the difficult part will be choosing what to make! The best part is that they bring home the fruits of their labour for the whole family to enjoy…

Classes are suitable for children aged five to 18 years and are divided into age groups. Check out the program here.

Cupcake Decorating

Heather’s House of Cake is running hour-long cupcake decorating classes every day during the school holidays. Classes run at 9am, 10:30am, 12 noon, 1:330pm and 3pm and are suitable for children aged two and over.

For $20 your child will get to decorate four cupcakes, learn piping techniques, and create fondant decorations. Drinks are provided, and the classes run for one hour. For more information visit the Facebook page, call 02 6251 4533 or email [email protected]

8. EXPLORE CBR AFTER HOURS

These activities are for the whole family – and there’s limited time to enjoy them before they finish up! They’re truly magical…

afterDARK Scavenger Hunt Tours

Take an afterDARK Scavenger Hunt Tours and see what you can find in the Australian National Botanic Gardens at night. Gather your family for a night-time botanical scavenger hunt with treasures and treats to be found. Bring your torch, follow the clues and discover the fascinating plant, insect and animal life in the Gardens at night. Be the first to complete the scavenger hunt challenge and take home the coveted ‘super-sleuth’ prize. Finish your evening enjoying supper and toasting marshmallows over the open-air fire.

afterDARK Scavenger Hunt Tours are not suitable for children under five years. Bookings essential on (02) 6250 9588. On every Friday from 7pm until 24 April at the Australian National Botanic Gardens.

Tid by Torchlight

Canberrans and visitors can still enjoy the unique opportunity to explore Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve during the evening to watch native animals emerge from their hiding places for nightfall. The Tid by Torchlight program, which is organised by Conservation Volunteers Australia, run every Friday and Saturday night until 25 April, and subject to minimum booking numbers. The program is an opportunity to see and learn about our local, native flora and fauna in the stunning reserve with an expert guide. Each tour runs for five hours and begins with a dusk wildlife walk and gourmet bush BBQ before venturing into the forest at night, to discover animals you wouldn’t normally find.

Your guide will walk you through the reserve sanctuary and a spotlight tour of the forest, while teaching you about Australia’s native wildlife. Tickets are $80 for an adult and $65 for children. For visitors, the ticket price also covers the cost of transportation to and from Canberra hotels. Your ticket sale will support wildlife conservation at Tidbinbilla; a portion of the cost is donated directly back to Tidbinbilla’s endangered species breeding programs. For more information visit their website.

Home page image from Stefano Tinti / Shutterstock.comStefano Tinti / Shutterstock.com

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Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her 'spare time', she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She's done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women. More about the Author

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