Enjoy some winter family fun. Although it’s cooler, there are still plenty of fun things to do with your kids. Although Disney on Ice isn’t on this year due to international travel restrictions, there’s plenty of other fun events and activities to enjoy. Here are some ideas to enjoy the cold weather with your family in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and the Hunter.
Go ice skating
Embrace winter sports and try ice skating at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium in Warners Bay. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to ice skate. There are skating frames available in a designated area for beginners to get them comfortable with on skates.
Celebrate the winter solstice
This year, the year’s shortest day falls on Monday 21 June. Celebrate the extra darkness of the day with some festivities. Have some friends over, enjoy some hot drinks like mulled wine, light some candles and mark the occasion. The days will get longer from here!
So it’s not tobogganing in the snow but going tobogganing at Toboggan Hill Park is the next best thing. Enjoy some fun careening downhill around the 11 track bends as fast or as slow as you like. It’s fun for the whole family – Kids under 8 ride on a toboggan with an adult while kids over 8 can ride by themselves. There’s no minimum age for the toboggan so bring little ones as well. (Here’s our review of Toboggan Hill Park).
Enjoy a hot chocolate
Snuggle up with a hot chocolate. You can make a delicious hot chocolate at home. Tip: bring milk to a boil in a saucepan and then whisk in hot chocolate powder (or grated chocolate). Top with whipped cream or marshmallows. If you want to venture out, buy hot chocolate from your favourite coffee or chocolate cafe. Our favourites include Coco Monde on Darby Street, Estabar at Newcastle Beach, Oliver Brown at Charlestown Square and Chocolate Cafe at Wests New Lambton.
Watch a Flotilla of Boats Glide By at Float Your Boat
Get your friends and family together and gather on the shores of Lake Macquarie to see a flotilla of boats pass by in the Float Your Boat event organised by Lake Macquarie City Council. Held over two nights on our beautiful lake Macquarie, spectators line the shores to watch boats in a rainbow of colour cruise past before casting their vote for the People’s Choice Award. Just wrap up as it can be cold. The event runs over two nights Friday 18 June and Saturday 19 June 2021.
Snow Time in the Garden at Hunter Valley Gardens
Enjoy all things winter without having to travel to the snow at Snow Time in the Garden at Hunter Valley Gardens. Your family can enjoy ice skating, playing in the snow, ice tobogganing and walking through a snow cave. This three-week event runs from Saturday 19 June to Sunday 18 July 2021.
Curl up and enjoy a movie
Enjoy some bonding time with the family! Make some popcorn and cozy up in front of the TV and watch some movies together. Here is our list of 75 family movies to watch with your kids. You’re sure to find something that you’ll enjoy together on it. If you feel like winter-themed movies, how about Frozen, Happy Feet, Cool Runnings, Eight Below, Ice Age, Smallfoot or Abominable.
Go whale watching
June to November is official whale watching season and Newcastle and Port Stephens are on the whale migration route. It’s estimated that 10,000 humpback whales pass this region heading north. Here is a list of whale-watching spots in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Port Stephens where you can spot whales from shore. You can also join a whale-watching cruise to get up close to the magnificent beasts.
See snow at Barrington Tops
As the highest sub-alpine region in the country outside the Australian Alps, Barrington Tops gets snow each winter. You can follow the snow updates on the Barrington Coast Tourism Facebook page. If you have a suitable vehicle and know how to drive in snow and ice, you might want to venture there to check it out. 4WD vehicles are better suited to driving in these conditions. For all the details, visit the Barrington Tops Tourism website for more information about the snow season.
Go winter camping
Yes, it’s colder out there but choose warm sleeping bags or stay in a cabin or villa. It’s a completely different experience camping during winter. Here are our best tips for enjoying winter camping with kids. If this inspires you to consider winter camping, here’s a list of camping spots within 3 hours of Newcastle.
Enjoy a coffee or chocolate at the Aroma Coffee and Chocolate Festival
Rug up and enjoy the Aroma Festival. The warm aroma of freshly ground coffee beans, rich melted chocolate and decadent dishes descend on Maitland on 14 & 15 August. The festival features expert chocolatiers, talented baristas and the best of the region’s winemakers it is the perfect way to ward off the winter chill.
Visit your local library or bookstore
On these colder nights, curl up with a good book under a blanket. Visit your local library, your favourite book store or visit a street library and find something to read.
Organise a board game party
Play boardgames with your family or host a board game party with your kids and their friends. We’ve put together a list of our favourite board games for family game night. The list includes some retro classics as well as some of the hottest games.
Go for a hike or a bike with your kids
Winter is the perfect time to go for one of the many family walks around the area. Yes, it might be cool but just rug up and enjoy the scenery. Our picks for winter walks include Warners Bay to Speers Point, Bathers Way, Blackbutt Reserve and Newcastle Foreshore. You can also go for a bike ride. Here are some of our favourite local bike paths and trails.
Do some winter baking
When the weather cools down, it’s the perfect time to bake cakes or biscuit. You could even have a biscuit decorating party. Decorating cookies is almost as fun as eating them!
Build a fort
Have some fun at home and make a cosy fort. Use blankets, doona and lots of pillows to construct a hideaway. Parents, you can help build the fort too. Make it big enough so that you can crawl in there too.
Visit a museum or gallery
On cold days, explore a museum or gallery that you haven’t been to before. Newcastle Art Gallery, Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery or Maitland Regional Art Gallery. No matter what your age might be, these museums have something for every member of your family. (Just check if you need to pre-book your visit beforehand).
Watch a sunset
This time of year brings some fabulous sunsets. With the sun setting earlier in the afternoon, venture out to watch the sunset on a clear night.
Plant spring flowers
Even though it is winter, start planning for spring. Plant spring bulbs like daffodils, freesias, hyacinths and tulips. They’re easy to grow, require little water and will pop with colour in spring.
Go for a picnic
If it’s a warm winter’s day, head out for a picnic. At this time of year, there’s no pesky flies or mosquitoes to disrupt your meal. Here’s a list of some of our favourite picnic spots around the region. If you feel like cooking, choose a picnic spot with barbecue facilities and cook up some snags.
Go stargazing on a clear night. If your knowledge of astronomy is lacking, spot planets and constellations using ABC Beginner’s Guide to the Night Sky.
Make winter crafts
Make a frozen ice castle, a pom pom seal or a winter felt hand puppet. Local craft supply company Cleverpatch have fun and creative winter-themed activities for kids on their website including a free winter activity booklet.
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Started in late 2012 by a local mum, Newy with Kids has grown into a thriving go-to family guide for the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie & Hunter region. Parents visit the Newy with Kids website to find things to do with babies, kids and teens. Whether it’s local attractions, upcoming events, kids eat free, school holiday activities or birthday party ideas, Newy with Kids is the best website for local parents to find local kid-friendly activities and information 24/7.