Brassey Weddings Masthead

20+ ways to spend the summer school holidays

Valeriya Lloyd

Wonderful news! The holiday season is closer than you think!

However, Christmas might seem far away if you have a handful of kids already on holidays rattling around the house and complaining of boredom. Here’s how to keep everyone occupied and entertained through the silly season and beyond.

PLAYUP! At the Museum of Australian Democracy

Can’t decide whether to play inside or outside? Not a problem, every day this summer the Museum of Australian Democracy has their newly transformed PlayUp space open for families to explore and in January, their school holiday program will see the return of the popular Open Air PlayUp with activities in the Senate courtyard for pre-school and primary school-aged kids. 

Discover PlayUP – The Right to Have an Opinion and Be Heard, where kids can explore the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child in a playful way. Adults can even join in the fun too! From listening pods and a roleplay Kindness Café to a fuzzy felt wall and craft activities, PlayUP has a range of exciting and immersive experiences that flip the traditional idea of museums completely on its head.

PlayUP, Open daily from 9 am – 4 pm

More information:

Free after museum admission. 

Open Air PlayUP 

MoAD invites you to enjoy Open Air PlayUP – a PlayUP experience in the fresh air and beautiful surrounds of the Senate Courtyard.

Monday 22  January – Friday 26 January 2018 from 10 am – 5 pm

More information:

Free after museum admission.

National Gallery of Australia


These holidays the NGA is offering a great selection of movies at low cost.

Captain Underpants, Saturday 13 January 2018, 3-5pm

Lego Ninjago Movie, Tuesday 16 January 2018, 3-5pm

Diary of Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, 20 January 2018, 3-5pm

Despicable Me 3, Tuesday 23 January 2018, 3-5pm

Cost: $5 for non-members

Bookings are essential

Art Explorer: Guerrilla upcycling

Spend a full day exploring the work of contemporary Indonesian duo Indie guerrillas as inspiration for your own creative art making from upcycled materials and bicycle parts. BYO morning tea and lunch.

Venue: Meet at the information desk.

Price: $60 child, $55 child members, includes materials (free for accompanying adults)

Book here

Art Explorer: HyperReality body parts

Explore the world of HyperReal and create a work of art with special effects artist Stuart Payne. Includes casting your own finger with silicone and other materials. BYO morning tea and lunch.

Venue: Meet at the information desk.

Price: $80, $75 NGA child members (includes materials)

Book here

10:30am – 4:00pm

Hyper Real | Kids and family

A picnic at the Collections Picture Garden

It is always a great idea to have a family picnic outside on a warm summer day. The Gallery offers a fabulous opportunity and the perfect place where kids and family can enjoy visiting “outside rooms” with 26 sculptures made by international and Australian artists. Most of the sculptures were acquired and placed in the Sculpture Garden during the early 1980s and reflect the abstract.

Located on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin at the northern side of the NGA, the Sculpture Garden can be accessed via the escalators on Level 1 or via a short outside walk along Parkes Place on the western side of the building.

Cost: Free.

Westfield Belconnen and Woden 

Santa Photography 

Apparently, Santa has already arrived at Westfield Belconnen and Woden, and is looking forward meeting your kids for exciting photoshoots. All participants will receive a free gift and a memorable Christmas Photo. Santa will be located at the Santa Set within Centre Court and will be visiting until Sunday 24 December during specific hours.

Date: Check the website

Cost: View the price list here

Help Santa find his missing elves

Santa’s elves are great little helpers, but sometimes they need looking after. Come along and join in the search for the missing elves and if you are lucky, participation could lead you towards winning a HOYTS Family Movie Pass.

Date: Weekly, 9am-5pm. Sunday 24 December is the last day for this activity. Visit the concierge for location details.

This activity is located in both the Westfield Belconnen and Woden shopping malls.

Get familiar with Terms and conditions for this event

Mattel Colouring-in competition

For all kids who love drawing, Westfield Belconnen offers an exciting opportunity to win a Mattel product by entering into the Mattel Colouring in Competition. Play with Mattel toys, plus get some stickers to take home too! Test your luck and get the chance to receive an extra Christmas present!

Date: Check the website

Visit concierge for location details.

Christmas Craft Activities 

Every Saturday and Sunday in the lead up to Christmas, Santa’s little helpers will be visiting the Westfield Belconnen Christmas Wonderland to seek help from children to complete some important free take-home craft items for Christmas.

Located within the Christmas Wonderland (Level 2/3 near Aldi & Target).

Parents must supervise their children at all times while within this area.

Date: Saturdays 10am – 4pm, Sundays 11am- 3pm

This is a free event, no bookings required.

National Museum of Australia

Australia Day Family Festival  

Immerse yourself in country and culture with the Gallery’s annual Australia Day Festival inspired by the intrigue, drama and beauty of Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters exhibition. Enjoy music, dance, demonstrations, games, craft and family fun.

Date: Friday 26 January 2018, 10am–1pm

Cost: exhibition entry fees apply

Dendy Canberra Centre

There are heaps of great summer flicks hitting the screen over Christmas (The Last Jedi, anyone?) and Dendy Canberra Centre is a great place to see them with parking right next door and a suite of brand new cinemas that mean popular sessions have far less of a chance of selling out.

Some kid-friendly titles to check out include The Man Who Invented Christmas, Wonder, Goodbye Christopher Robin, Ferdinand, Paddington 2, Coco, The Greatest Showman and The Jungle Bunch. Phew.

Canberra Outlet Centre

The Kids Club in the Canberra Outlet Centre is preparing a special School Holiday Program for kids that includes birthday vouchers, special deliveries and loads of activities during the school break. Sign up and receive a colour-in Backpack and a special gift pack from the Kids Club.

Membership is open to kids from 3 to 12 years of age.

Adult permission required.

Terms and conditions apply.

Visit Centre Management near the Food court escalators to find out more, or email to sign up.

Visit Santa at his Woodland Forest!

Santa and his helpers will be in Canberra Outlet Centre every weekend in December and daily until 24 December. Families will have the chance to meet Santa and his reindeer, bunnies and helpers between 11am and 3pm.

For a gold coin donation, customers are also welcome to snap their own photos with Santa in his Woodland Forrest, located across from Monkey Mania.

Make sure to tell Santa your wishes before Christmas! All proceeds from a gold coin donation will go directly to Marymead.

Play at Santa’s workshop

Until 23 December, children will have the opportunity to meet Santa’s friends including Frosty the Snowman, Christmas Tree’s and the elves in Santa’s workshop.

Children will be able to create their own decorations and gifts – helping Santa prepare for the big day.

Santa’s Winter Wonderland will be open from 11am to 2pm.

Nature Play CBR

If you feel like you are all out of ideas on how to entertain kids during the holiday season, take a look at some fresh ideas from Nature Play CBR. Their website contains a list of exciting things that children of all ages could be inspired to do during a hot summer.

You can download a list here and start having a lot of fun!

Canberra Centre

With the help of David Jones, the Canberra Centre is offering an opportunity to create precious memories with a Christmas Photo with Santa in store right up until Christmas Eve. Simply book a time online or come in and leave your details with Santa’s Elves who will send you a text when he’s ready.

Please view the Canberra Centre Santa Hours here

Post a letter to Santa

This year, Canberra Centre has prepared a giant interactive Christmas tree, where lights and sounds are yours to play with at the push of a button. Create happy moments for your kids by visiting the Christmas tree and writing a letter to Santa. Located on the ground level of Canberra Centre near the City Walk entrance throughout December.

Location: Ground level near the City Walk Entrance.

Kids pantry

Cooking up a storm with Kids Pantry.

The only cooking school just for kids in Canberra has exciting news for all kids who would love to learn more about healthy eating, cooking and gardening – their School Holidays Program is open for the December and January holiday period.

Kids of all ages can explore and experiment with food in a range of cooking classes, or get their friends involved in one of the many great cooking party packages.

Check the website for details


Valeriya Lloyd

Val is studying Communications in Media and Public Affairs at University of Canberra and has a great passion for writing (in two languages as she originally came to Canberra from Russia). Val enjoys writing about life generally, and sometimes from a fictional perspective. She often generates new ideas in sudden moments and admits that she has at least two diaries, where she writes her notes and inspiration for future stories. She loves to meet new people and showcase their talents and originality. Val is very social person, who loves the local lifestyle and the inner beauty of Canberra. More about the Author

Handmade May Leaderboard