July 2018 School Holidays: What’s On in Newcastle & The Hunter

July school holidays can be tricky. The weather can be a bit unpredictable so here’s loads of indoor and outdoor activities to keep kids occupied for the July school holidays. Whether your kids are interested in art, books, science, movies or being outdoors, there’s something for everyone. And it’s not just for school-aged kids, there’s plenty of holiday activities planned for the under 5 crowd.

Visit the Events page on the Newy with Kids website for a day-by-day guide for what’s on around the area.

Libraries & Museums

Starting with the libraries, there’s plenty of organised activities to keep kids occupied if it’s cold outside.

Newcastle Region Library have loads of fantastic activities for kids to “go wild” at their libraries. There’s sessions to construct your own maze, paper planes, LEGO and LEGO Mindstorms EV3 Robot Games. There’s also storytime galores for kids aged 3 to 7! Wild and wacky storytimes, go crazy storytimes and wild about nature storytimes.

Newcastle Region Library is also hosting a wild dance disco at Wallsend Library on Friday 20 July with different sessions for age groups from Under 5s, 5 – 8 and 9 – 12.

You can also enjoy Friday Family Movie Nights at Wallsend Library for families with kids 5+. George of the Jungle (rated G) will be shown on Friday 13 July and Tarzan will be screened on Friday 20 July. Sessions run from 6pm to 7:30pm. BYO cushion, blanket and nibbles. Family event – parental supervision is required.

Maitland City Library has a variety of fun workshops revolving around the theme “Imaginarium”. These workshops covering a range of activities to encourage creativity and originality   including craft, music, storytimes and games. In various sessions, kids can create  their own winter wonderland with man-made snow and snow crystals, make old-school animation flipbooks, create wearable art, imagine life as a Viking and create their own hologram. Families can also come into their branches anytime throughout the holidays for everyday fun! There are giant games including Jenga, Snakes and Ladders, Connect 4, Dominoes, Noughts and Crosses, Draughts and Lego.

Lake Macquarie City Library has a number of activities to keep kids entertained.  Join Kazza and Gazza from Ship’OFools for a mini musical with a difference. Learn how to sort it right using Lake Mac’s new greener 3-bin service though songs and stories in The Greener Bin Waste Show. Kids can learn about mindfulness from psychologist and yoga teacher Lynn Jenkins. There’s a range of craft, storytimes and even CPR and first aid session specifically for kids. For kids interested in science and technology, there’s sessions introducing coding for kids such as Scratch and Ozobots. Join the SMART team from Newcastle University for this cool science show exploring physics, chemistry and states of matter with liquid nitrogen. You can also celebrate NAIDOC Week with a special storytime at Swansea Library with guest Fern Martins, artist and illustrator.

At Cessnock City Library, there’s lots of different school holiday offering for kids aged 2 to 12.  Kids can learn the tricks of the magic trade from magician JD Howlett or brush up on their cartooning skills with Matt Lin. There’s also craft workshops including basket weaving and knitting.  For Harry Potters fans aged 12+ ,there’s a Hogwarts Escape room. For younger kids aged 2 – 6, there’s a special NAIDOC week storytime and craft session.

At Port Stephens Library, there’s lots of different school holiday offering for kids aged 2 to 12.  There’s slimemaking sessions and collage and Haiku workshops. Kids can learn the art of drumming with Earthen Rhythms Drumming. For kids who want to try coding, Moonhack gives them the opportunity to learn coding or advance their skills. For some family fun, check out the family movie session for Babar the Movie.

Spend some time at Newcastle Museum, a great destination during school holidays especially when it’s cold and wet. There’s great activities and attractions at the Museum such as Supernova and the BHP Steel show. Remember Newcastle Museum is open every day during school holidays from 10am to 5pm.

The new exhibition Voyage to the Deep opens on Saturday 7 July.Explore the depths of the ocean and encounter fantastical sea creatures in Voyage to the Deep. Enjoy a hands-on experiences and lots of interactive activities; be transported into another ‘world’ where you can embark on a grand adventure. Based on French author Jules Verne’s 1870 classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, this family friendly exhibition brings to life the deep-sea adventures of Captain Nemo, his legendary submarine Nautilus and the world of wonders he lived in. Here’s the Newy with Kids review.

Kids can test their detective skills these holidays to spot the odd thing out, pick out what doesn’t belong or find what’s missing? Collect a MID-YEAR MADNESS detective sheet from the Museum Front Desk. Explore the Museum and use the clues to discover the madness in the exhibition displays. Enter your finished answer sheet to Front of House Staff and go in the draw to win a family pass to our current exhibition.

The always popular science shows will be on as well during the school holidays on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the holidays at 11:15am, 12:15pm and 1:15pm. Tip: Get there early for the science shows as they do fill up. For these holidays, the shows focus on the all-time favourite science experiments to celebrate Mid-year Madness. Be amazed by tough balloons and singing glasses. See what happens to energy as balls bounce and collide. Get caught out by our friction balls. To end the show we’ll wave goodbye with The Saluting Glove of Gas!


Science & Technology

If your kids are creative and crafty, this fun-packed workshop is for them. At MiniSparx, they love getting hands-on with robotics and craft based challenges. This school holidays, they’ll be blasting off into the fascinating world of space exploration. How can astronauts land safely on strange planets? How would you do a science experiment in a floating space station? This program is suitable for children aged 8-12. MiniSparx focus not just on science, technology, engineering and maths, but communication, teamwork and, most importantly, fun! Bookings essential.

Arts, Crafts & Writing

For arty kids, there are plenty of art activities on offer these school holidays. The Newcastle Art Gallery has workshops for 5 to 12 year olds inspired by the current exhibitions. In the first week of the holidays, kids will explore ideas of tactile art and use beads like those in the installation Looking for Felix 2000 by artist Dani Marti.

In the following week, inspired by the exhibition PATRICIA WILSON ADAMS: stain me with the intensity of black, children will print their own designs onto cardboard and then use cardboard, found items and natural elements to develop a sculptural form.

Lake Macquarie Art Gallery hosts creative kids workshops.  Kids can discover Aboriginal culture by listening, discussing and illustrating a Dreamtime Story in art workshops with Aboriginal artist Michelle Napanangka Earl. She also hosts a basket weaving workshop as well. Kids can also participate in an art workshop with Aboriginal artist Saretta Fielding and learn local traditional stories and contemporary art forms in this multi-generational workshop. For preschoolers, enrol them in Rainbow Connection. Young children and their carers can enjoy some interactive time through art activities and storytelling.

Maitland Regional Art Gallery

At Maitland Regional Art Gallery, there’s drop in activities planned for the holidays called Cool Art July from  10.30 am – 12.30pm Tuesday to Friday from July 10 to 22! There’s a mixture of fun activities for kids and their families. There’s free self-directed activities available all day throughout the holidays like Follow the Sense…ational! sensory trail, Break the NEW Hunter Red code breaker! and making a paper flower or drawing your favorite face or place in Maitland. There’s also paid (tutor led) workshops led by the creative and fun MRAG tutors. Discover the magical wonders of Razzamatazz and dress up as your favorite art work, experiment with collage and texture, or create your own clay fun park.  No need to book. Just register on arrival.

The Arts Emporium are presenting a range of art workshops for kids aged 6 – 16 during the school holidays including drawing, sculpture, water colours, mandala and printmaking portraits. Bookings essential.

Local author Anthony Wood is hosting school holiday writing sessions for children ages 5 – 8 (Bold Brave & Fearless) and 9 – 12 (Spooky Writer’s Room) at the Harry Hartog store at Greenhills on Friday 13 July. In Bold, Brave & Fearless, this hour and a half workshop guides your children into creating fearless characters that can tackle anything that comes at them! Children will also get to have their character fight off monsters in a predetermined story. In Spooky Writer’s Room, the workshop will guide the children in the importance of working together to write a story that will help young kids not to be scared. The cost of each workshop is $5 with bookings required through EventBrite.

Outdoor Fun

If your kids like to be out and about, there’s loads of events and activities to choose from.

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, building snowmen, ice tobogganing and the opportunity to see ice sculpting. This three week event runs from Saturday 30 June to Sunday 22 July 2018.

Visit Blackbutt Reserve for their reptile show in the Wildlife Arena at Carnley Avenue at 11am daily during the school holidays. You can also visit the various animals in the wildlife enclosures, learn about animals during their daily feeding times or enjoy the playground.

Get outdoors and visit the Hunter Wetlands Centre in Sandgate with plenty of tracks to go walking, a discovery trail, dipnetting and super fun playground. Hunter Wetlands Centre brings the past to life from July 7 through to July 21 with Evolving Wetlands, an interactive exhibition showcasing a unique collection of dinosaur fossils and replicas with a focus on the wetlands environment. The exhibition features specially made dinosaur casts from the collection of local palaeontology expert Michael Dawson. For two decades, Dawson has been collecting museum-quality pieces moulded from real dinosaur skeletons around the globe.

In addition to touring the exhibition, kids of all ages can have a go at some DinoCraft or set off for a game of Dino Spy, finding as many dinosaurs as they can. Visitors can take a guided tour of the wetlands, meet the resident reptiles during a live demonstration, and enjoy a special dinosaur-themed meal at the wetlands café. Sign the kids up for a Dino day tour which includes an exhibition, dino hunt, reptiles and getting their hands dirty with dino dung.

Enjoy the winter holidays with some school holiday fun with NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Celebrate NAIDOC week these school holidays and join NPSW for a morning of culture and art at Blue Gum Hills Regional Park and Tomaree National Park. Appreciate stories of a practicing Aboriginal artist and be inspired by the significance nature brings to his art. Learn about how plants, animals and the earth are intertwined into his artwork. Kids can create their own artwork to take home.

Your family can also learn about whales at the Wild about Whales session at Awabakal Nature Reserve on Thursday 12 July. Join a Discovery Ranger for a short walk to spectacular coastal areas to watch as these creatures of the deep head north for warmer waters to give birth to their young. Tour is suitable for adults and kids 3+ (Adults $10, Kids $5, Family (2A+2C $28).

If you feel like a drive to Port Stephens, NPSW has organized Wild about Whales session at Tomaree National Park on Friday 13 July and Thursday 19 July. This involves joining a NPSW ranger for a short walk in Boat Harbour to spot whales heading north on their annual migration. You’ll learn helpful tips about spotting whales as well as hearing stories about their history and future. Tour is suitable for adults and kids 4+ (Adults $10, Kids $5, Family (2A+2C $28). There’s also a Wilderquest workshop to make your own boomerang. Celebrate NAIDOC week on Thursday 12 July and join NPSW with a morning of culture and art at Tomaree National Park. Bookings are essential for all NPSW Discovery Tours. Bookings are required for all tours. For more information or to book, call 4946 4112.

If you don’t feel like heading north to see the whales, hang out locally. May to August is whale watching season and Lake Macquarie and Newcastle are on the whale migration route. It’s estimated that 10,000 humpback whales pass this region heading north between May and August. Hang out at Nobbys Headland, Newcastle Beach, Merewether, Redhead or Dudley Beach and see if you can spot passing whale.

There’s also loads of parks and playgrounds to explore in Newcastle and surrounds, so visit a place you haven’t been before. For some inspiration, visit the Parks & Playgrounds section of The Mummy Project.

Indoor Fun

Disney on Ice is an entertaining outing for the whole family featuring your favourite Disney characters. This year Disney On Ice presents 100 Years of Magic at Newcastle Entertainment Centre from Friday July 13 to Sunday 15 July! Celebrate the legacy of Disney in this ice skating spectacular as Mouse-ter of Ceremonies Mickey Mouse leads a parade of characters including Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and an ensemble of Disney Princesses. Be dazzled by the magic of Disney’s Frozen with Anna, Elsa and the hilarious Olaf. Sing-a-long to over 30 of your favourite Disney songs including “Let It Go!,” “You’ve Got A Friend in Me,” and “Hakuna Matata.” Exciting moments from Disney Pixar’s Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Disney’s The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and more will leave the whole family with memories that will last a lifetime.


Don’t miss the Young People’s Theatre performance of Pinocchio during  school holidays.  This beloved children’s classic, amazes and delights the audience as Pinocchio gradually discovers the dangers of selfishness and the importance of honesty, told with all the hallmarks of traditional pantomimes in this fantastic adventure to delight all ages! Tickets on sale now through the YPT website. Ticket prices starting at $17.70.

Hunter Drama is presenting a theatrical production of Disney’s Aladdin JR featuring some of the Hunter’s best talent. The show runs in the school holidays at Maitland Town Hall and Cessnock Performing Arts Centre. Based on the iconic animated film, with an Academy Award-winning score by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, Disney’s Aladdin JR. is sure to send you soaring on a flying carpet ride filled with romance and adventure. It features hit songs including, Friend Like Me, Prince Ali and A Whole New World and is a must see for all ages! Tickets start from $32.50 and available online.

Newcastle Brickfest is on Sunday 15 July from 9:30am to 5:30pm at Newcastle Jockey Club in Broadmeadow. There will be 60 exhibitors displaying their creations/collections. In addition to the displays, there are lots of activities for the kids to enjoy such as the build area, Remote Control driving area and colouring in.

This event supports local schools with all profits from this event donated to participating schools. Purchase tickets early as last year’s event sold out. Tickets are available from www.trybooking.com/365706.  Tickets cost $5 each. Children under 2 are free. There will be a limited number of tickets at the door [$8 each] if not sold out first.

Visit Charlestown Square during the school holidays for free facepainting and free kids art and weaving classes hosted by Speaking in Colour. (Bookings recommended for art & weaving for classes). Kids can get their faces painted on Thursday 12 July to Saturday 14 July (Mermaid theme) and Thursday 19 July to Saturday 21 July (Frozen Fever theme). Facepainting will be from 10am to 1pm in The Secret Garden. No bookings required.

There’s also Side Show Alley, Sky Jump Trampolining and pony rides (paid activities). Enjoy unlimited bowling and mini golf for $25 every day before 5pm at Strike Bowling from Saturday 7 July to Sunday 22 July.

To keep kids entertained these school holidays, get them an Entertainment Pass from the Customer Service Desk at Charlestown Square. (There’s an additional pass for adults). These passes are great for savings at Reading Cinemas, Megamania, STRIKE Bowling and Timezone.

On sale for $39, the pass includes:

  • 1 x movie ticket (under 15 years) at Reading Cinemas – excludes 3D movies, TITAN XC and Gold Lounge
  • 1 x game of Bowling at Strike or a 9 Hole Round at Holey Moley
  • 60 minutes of Quickplay at Megamania
  • 30 minutes of free play at Timezone. Plus unlimited standard and ticket games and 50 pre-loaded power tickets.
  • 1 x Teeny-Weeny Pack from Schnitz: Chicken or beef schnitzel in a mini toasted roll with chedda cheese & tomato or BBQ sauce, kids chips, small juice or water.

What’s great about these passes is that you decide how you want to use them. You can use the pass in one day for a mega-filled fun day. Or you can use them over multiple days or even over months as the passes don’t expire until December 2018. We’re planning to use ours during the school holidays and have some fun.

Don’t forget about new movies as well. It’s a great choice to keep kids entertained especially if it’s cold or rainy. There’s plenty of new release family movies on this school holidays including the much anticipated Incredibles 2.

Incredibles 2 (PG)

Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) is left to care for Jack-Jack while Helen (Elastigirl) is out saving the world.

Hotel Transylvania 3(G)

Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation, join our favourite monster family as they embark on a vacation on a luxury monster cruise ship so Drac can take a summer vacation from providing everyone else’s vacation at the hotel.

Show Dogs (PG)

Show Dogs is a family comedy about the unlikely pairing of a human detective and his canine partner, who has to go undercover at the world’s most exclusive dog show to solve his biggest case yet!

Ant-Man and The Wasp (PG)

As Scott Lang balances being both a Super Hero and a father, Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym present an urgent new mission that finds the Ant-Man fighting alongside The Wasp to uncover secrets from their past.

Purchase an Entertainment Book for savings at the movies and other family attractions during the school holidays. There’s loads of fun offers to keep kids from being bored during these winter holidays. (I’m selling Entertainment Books to raise money for the John Hunter Children’s Hospital).

Whatever you do these school holidays with your kids, have fun and enjoy it. What are your plans for the school holidays?

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July 2018 School Holidays: What’s On in Newcastle & The Hunter? July school holidays can be tricky. The weather can be a bit unpredictable so here’s loads of indoor and outdoor activities to keep kids occupied for the July school holidays. Whether your kids are interested in art, books, science, movies or being outdoors, there’s something for everyone. And it’s not just for school-aged kids, there’s plenty of holiday activities planned for the under 5 crowd. #newcastle #schoolholidays #noboredkids #familyfun