October 2018 School Holidays: what’s on in Newcastle & the Hunter

The spring school holidays are here and there’s loads of indoor and outdoor activities to keep kids occupied for the October 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 & Book Launches


Cessnock Library

Enjoy school holiday activities at Cessnock Library.

Activities include:

  • Fire, Fire! Storytime and meet real firefighters and check out a fire truck
  • “Under the Sea” Scratch Art Workshop
  • Talk to the Animals : Pets Storytime
  • Movie & Craft – Finding Nemo
  • Bob Turner Wildlife Show
  • Kids Play Ukulele

Places limited, pre-booking essential. Please ring Cessnock Library 49 934399 or Kurri Kurri Library 49 371638 to enquire.


Lake Macquarie City Library

Drop in to Lake Macquarie and take part in fun workshops

Activities include:

  • Art & craft sessions
  • Lantern making workshops
  • Billy Goats Gruff storytime and puppet show
  • Teddy bear storytime
  • Meet the illustrator session: Join Lessons of a Lac illustrator Kirrili Lonergan, as she reads Ollie’s Treasure, a tale of mindfulness and  happiness.
  • Trivia for kids
  • Make a splash storytimes at Lake Mac Swim Centres
  • Stories in the Big Blue Chair
  • Sketchy Mondays drawing sessions
  • Scare Yourself Silly Party at Swansea library. Play spooky games, create creepy craft and taste terrifying treats.

For more information and to book holiday sessions, visit Lake Macquarie City Council website.


Maitland City Library

Maitland City Library has a variety of fun workshops revolving around the theme “Gigantic”. These workshops explore all things giant and colossal.

Activities include:

  • Creating a stop motion animated movie
  • The Dinosaur Show puppet show
  • Creating fossils and digging for dinosaurs
  • Exploring the world of giant creatures from Harry Potter and The BFG
  • Lantern making workshops
  • Learning about megastructures

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.

For more information and to book holiday sessions, visit Maitland City Library website.

Newcastle Region Library

Newcastle Region Library celebrates pets during the October school holidays

Activities include:

  • Variety of storytimes for kids aged 3 to 7 including Hairy Maclary’s 35th birthday
  • LEGO pet show
  • HAMA bead pixel art
  • JD’s World of animal magic
  • Meet a guide dog and her owner
  • Decorate a pet rock
  • Snaptronic Quiz Masters
  • LEGO Mindstorms EV3 Robot Games
  • Fortnite afternoon
  • Friday Family Night Movie ‘The Secret Life of Pets”

Bookings required. For more information and to book holiday sessions, visit Newcastle Region Library website.


Finding Granny Book Launch

Join author Kate Simpson and illustrator Gwynneth Jones for the book launch of Finding Granny at The Creator Incubator on Saturday 13th October at 3pm. There will be nibbles and drinks and a colouring wall for the kids. Finding Granny is a heart-warming story of changing relationships and the bond between children and grandparents. It’s also a sensitive exploration of coping with illness and disability that will offer children much-needed comfort.

For more information, visit the event website.


Museums & galleries


Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery

Featured Exhibition: Steel Art Design Architecture and Your Collection: Hunter Steel

School holiday activities include:

  • Rainbow Connection for 3 – 6 years. These popular holiday sessions for little ones include art activities and storytelling.
  • Jewellery making – Create a jewellery piece or 3D form with metal wire.
  • Sculpture workshop – create 3D art with curved surfaces.

For more information and to book holiday sessions, visit Lake Macquarie City Council website.


Maitland Regional  Art Gallery

Featured Exhibitions: Nicola Bolton | The Garden Palette, Concerning Peace, Finding Country and Paul Partos from the MRAG Collection

School holiday activities include:

  • Free Art Sundays – Every Sunday families are invited to drop into the art gallery for free art activities inspired by the exhibitions on display.

For more information and to book holiday sessions, visit Maitland Regional Art Gallery website.

Newcastle Art Gallery

Newcastle Art Gallery

Featured exhibitions: 1818 Project & Kilgour Prize 2018

The Newcastle Art Gallery has workshops for 5 to 12 year olds inspired by the current exhibitions.

School holiday activities 5 to 12 year olds include:

  • Unfolding Stories art workshops where kids can make their own illustrated story book.
  • Paint pen portraits art workshops where kids will use paint pens and pastels to create an impressive portrait on canvas.
  • Smart Space: Cosmo Polis is a free community project gathering and recognising stories of migration that reflect Newcastle as it is today, and will be on display during THE 1818 PROJECT. The project will build an online archive of stories of migration, through mediums such as works of art, written word, performance, sound and video.
  • Art Cart every Saturday and Sunday morning.

For more information and to book holiday sessions, visit Newcastle Art Gallery website.

Newcastle Museum

Featured Exhibition: Voyage to the Deep

Explore the depths of the ocean and encounter fantastical sea creatures in the family-friendly 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. Here’s the Newy with Kids review. 

School holiday activities include:

  • What lurks below workshop. See a squid dissection and explore what weird and wonderful animals lurk below in the deeper parts of our oceans. Discover how some animals have adapted to living down in the ocean’s depths, create your own sea creature and even dress someone up as a human sized squid! Bookings required.
  • Secret Life of Objects – Creative Storytelling. Using treasures from the museum collection Karen from Story Spot will help you write a story to share. Bookings required.
  • Secret Ocean Science Shows on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the holidays at 11:15am, 12:15pm and 1:15pm. Enter the scientific world of the deep ocean!  Find out why it is so cold at the bottom of the ocean, why the blobfish looks so unhappy and how the barreleye fish can see through its own head, with plenty of scientific demonstrations that will amaze you and leave you feeling like a deep sea explorer. No bookings necessary but shows fill up fast.

Newcastle Museum is open every day during the school holidays from 10am – 5pm. For more information and to book holiday sessions, visit Newcastle Museum website.

Science & technology


Bricks 4 Kidz Lake Macquarie

Bricks 4 Kidz Lake Macquarie creates extraordinary experiences for kids which promotes interest in STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths in a safe and nurturing environment. It is so much fun that kids won’t know they are learning. At a BRICKS 4 KIDZ® workshop, kids build, learn and grow using LEGO® bricks. They create activities that are designed to trigger children’s lively imaginations, build their self-confidence and improve their social skills through both collaborative and independent play. Their school Holiday workshops are also loads of fun with some awesome themes designed to engage and delight your child. They have workshops running in Newcastle and Charlestown in the October holidays with themes including “A Galaxy Far Away” and “Spinning Ninjas”. If you are looking for something with a little more bounce, then they are also running a fantastic new program at Flip Out Thornton – FLIP AND BUILD is a two hour experience where kids enjoy an hour of Flip Out and an hour of awesome Building. Programs are suited for kids aged from 5 – 12.

For more information and to book holiday sessions, visit Bricks 4 Kidz Lake Macquarie website.


Curious Cubs

Curious Cubs Newcastle

Keen to try something new with your little one these school holidays? Book into a Curious Cubs workshop and learn how to ‘Experiment with Fun!’ Curious Cubs is offering five 45 minute workshops of fun, interactive experiments and science-based activities for 3-5yr olds to enjoy alongside a parent/carer. Experiments and activities cover a range of themes selected from the Curious Cubs 10-week program. Witness your child turn “Why?” into “WOW!” as you explore chemical reactions, robots, forces, light, colours and more! Curious Cubs helps you find new ways to play, explore, build and discover with your child. The workshops run from 10am – 10:45am on 4th, 5th, 10th, 11th & 12th October 2018 in Adamstown. Limited places. Booking essential.

For more information and to book holiday sessions, visit the Curious Cubs website.


Animals & nature

Blackbutt Reserve

School holiday activities include:

  • Reptile shows 11am every day during school holidays. $3 per person. Purchase at kiosk.
  • Feeding times every day of school holidays. 10:30am wombat, 10:45am birds, 2pm koala.

Blackbutt Adventure Playground Newcastle

The new adventure playground has opened at Richley Reserve. Here’s the Newy with Kids review. 

For more information, visit the Blackbutt Reserve website.


National Parks & Wildlife

Enjoy Biodiversity Day at Blue Gum Hills Regional Park in Minmi from 10am to 2pm on Thursday 4 October (Thursday 11 October backup day in case of cancellation. Bring the kids along to interact with live native animals, learn about bats, bees and birds and biodiversity. Activities include nature activities for kids, bird observing, bush poetry, guided walks, free native plant giveaway as well as a free barbecue lunch.

Hunter Wetlands Centre

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.

School holiday activities include:

  • Threatened species discovery walk
  • Bush skills adventure ( 8 – 12 year olds) – bookings essential
  • Daily at 10.30am the Magpie Geese are fed on the artificial grass mat on the edge of BHP Pond near the dip-net jetty.
  • Reptile display

For more information, visit the Hunter Wetlands Centre website.


Arts & Drama

National Young Writers’ Festival

As part of the National Young Writers’ Festival, there will be a day of free panels and workshops for high school and university students at Newcastle Library on Saturday 30 September. All of the sessions in the Younger Young Writers’ Program focus on some element of writing such as writing short stories, writing non-fiction or writing a novel. For more information, visit Younger Young Writers’ Program website.

Rhubarb Jam Productions

Put on a show these school holidays. At Rhubarb Jam Productions, they offer vacation care of a slightly different flavour…. Their workshops are designed to help your children connect with others, develop their creativity and SKYROCKET their confidence. All through a collaborative process combining singing, dancing, acting & sets and prop making to put on a unique performance. These holidays, they will be using THE INCREDIBLES as a theme. If you have a child who loves to perform – this workshop will definitely get the creative juices flowing. The workshops go from 8 – 12 October at Kotara South Public School with 3, 4 & 5 day enrolment options available. Places are limited. For more information visit the Rhubarb Jam Productions website.

Charlestown Presbyterian Church is holding their annual Holiday Kids Club with the theme Superhero Mania. All primary school aged children welcome to come along! Dates: Wed 3rd, Thu 4th, Fri 5th October, 2018 from 9.30-12.00pm. Friday night BBQ dinner and finale for the whole family from 6-7.30pm. Registration each day from 9am. Registrations are needed by 25th September. Register online.


Family-friendly events during the school holidays


Mattara Festival

Dates: Saturday 29 September – 7 October
Times: Sunday – Friday 10am – 5pm, Saturdays 10am – 7:30pm
Location: Wallsend Park (opposite McDonalds)
Details: Enjoy family entertainment at the Mattara Festival during the school holidays.The festival kicks off with opening weekend fireworks on Sunday, 30 September to get the festival kicked off with a boom!  There will also be loads of kid-friendly stage performances, plus everyone’s favourite red friend, Elmo, will be doing daily meet and greets too!  Let the kids explore their creative side at the arts and crafts tent, cuddle your furry friends at the petting zoo, or spin yourself silly with unlimited rides like the Tea Cups, Dodgem Cars, Giant Slide, and more!
Why you should go: Retro family fun during the school holidays.
For more information, visit Mattara Festival website.


HMRI Open Day

Date: Friday 12 October
Time: 10am – 3pm
Location: Hunter Medical Research Institute (behind John Hunter Hospital), New Lambton Heights
Details: Discover the exciting world of health, science and medical research at the Hunter Medical Research Institute’s 2018 Open Day  There will be lots of fun things for kids and teenagers to do including a Poo Palace exhibit, Lung Loft exhibit, DNA building workshop, science story corner and more.
Why you should go: Fun and educational for the whole family. And just so you can say you’ve been to a Poo Palace!
For more information, visit the HMRI website.


Lake Mac Big Weekend

Date: Saturday 13 October & Sunday 14 October
Time: 9am – 5pm
Location: Multiple locations around the lake
Details:The Lake Mac Big Weekend is back for a third year and will provide an opportunity like no other in the Hunter – from Superboat Championships, jet ski racing and free water sports on the Lake to aerobatic displays, food and wine festival, farmers markets and entertainment. There’s something for everyone!.
Why you should go: It’s a big weekend of fun on Lake Macquarie.
For more information, visit the Lake Mac Big Weekend website.


Riverlights Multicultural Festival

Date: 13 October 2018
Time: 3pm – 9pm
Location: The Levee, Central Maitland
Details:  Riverlights is a diverse and colourful celebration of culture through interactive stalls, dance, food, music and arts. This free event really shines at night, with the popular festival parade and magical lantern flotilla featured on the Hunter River, an unforgettable experience.
Why you should go: Celebrate the cultural diversity of our region.
For more information, visit the Riverlights Festival website.


Shopping centre activities


Charlestown Square

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.


Wallsend Village

Stuck for ideas to keep the kids entertained these school holidays? Visit Wallsend Village for their FREE spring school holiday workshops on Tuesday 9, Wednesday 10 and Thursday 11 October 2018! Kids can decorate their pot and plant their very own succulent to take home. For more information visit the Wallsend Village website.


Parks & playgrounds


New playgrounds

Warner Park, Warners Bay

Warner Park, Warners Bay

There’s been loads of new playgrounds opened this year like Warner Park in Warners Bay, Smith Park in Hamilton and the adventure playground in Blackbutt Reserve. For more information, visit the Newy with Kids Parks & Playground list.


Share Our Space

During the school holidays, the NSW Department of Education is rolling out the Share Our Space program at 184 schools across the state which will open up the playgrounds, ovals and sports fields for the whole community to enjoy.

In the Newcastle & Hunter region, the following schools will be participating:

  • Glendore Public School, Maryland Drive, Maryland
  • Lambton High School, Womboin & Young Rds, Lambton
  • Lambton Public School, 18-30 Croudace St, Lambton
  • New Lambton Heights Infants School, 176 Lookout Rd, New Lambton Heights
  • New Lambton Public School, Regent St, New Lambton
  • New Lambton South Public School, St James Rd, New Lambton
  • Newcastle East Public School, Tyrrell St, Newcastle
  • Tarro Public School, Eastern Ave, Tarro
  • Waratah West Public School, Leonora Pde, Waratah West


Family fun



Looking to experience parkour? Learn what it’s all about? Join Renew Newcastle this school holidays for a free 20 minute intro to parkour on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 October! They’ll cover what parkour is and introduce you to core movements. This event is in collaboration with Renew Newcastle and is part of the relaunch of Newcastle Station. Class are capped at 10 students per time slot and it is recommend you preregister to ensure your spot. Recommend ages 8+ years. Advance bookings required.


Family walks

It’s a great time of year to get out and go for a family walk. Check out the Family Walks section of Newy with Kids. New articles have been added about the Lake Macquarie Sculpture Walk and Munibung Hill.


There’s also sandboarding in Port Stephens. It’s a fun family activity with varying slopes to suit every age from little ones to teens.  Small children are able to ride on their parent’s laps and, if you’re brave, you may be able to try standing up! Here’s the Newy with Kids review. 


Theatre & stage shows

Elf Jr

Christmas has come early with the arrival of Elf, The Musical Jr by the Young People’s Theatre. Based on the beloved holiday film, this hilarious fish-out-of-water comedy follows Buddy the Elf in his quest to find his true identity. This modern-day holiday classic is sure to make everyone embrace their inner elf. After all, the best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear.

  • When: 1 October to 3 November 2018
  • Where: Young People’s Theatre, Hamilton
  • Suitable for: Preschool to adult
  • Duration: 70 minutes (plus a 20 minute interval)
  • Cost: $19. Opening night $23.
  • Purchase tickets: via Young People’s Theatre website

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Based on the most famous Roald Dahl story, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory  follows the adventures of the five Golden Ticket winners into Willy Wonka’s magical Chocolate Factory. Join Charlie Bucket and Grandpa Joe as they marvel at the unbelievable sights and sounds of the factory, meet the mysterious and musical Oompa Loompas and discover some new and exciting chocolatey inventions. This scrumptious play tells the cautionary tale of greedy, spoilt children. Join them as Hunter Drama’s finest young actors open the doors to the larger than life world  of Wonka and stage one of Roald Dahl’s most famous stories! A visual feast for any theatre goer, be sure to get your (golden) ticket.

  • Rating:
  • Description:
  • Suitable for: Preschool to adult
  • Duration: 70 minutes (no interval)
  • Cost: $35
  • Purchase tickets: via Ticketek website


New release family movies

Want to take the kids to the movies during the holidays? As usual, there’s a few new-release family-friendly movies to choose from.

Christopher Robin

  • Rating: G
  • Release Date:
  • Duration: 70 minutes (no interval)
  • Description: The young boy who embarked on countless adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood with his band of spirited and lovable stuffed animals, has grown up and lost his way. Now it is up to his childhood friends to venture into our world and help Christopher Robin remember the loving and playful boy who is still inside.
  • Trailer: Click here to watch the trailer


Luis and the Aliens

  • Rating: G
  • Release Date: August 30, 2018
  • Duration: 86 minutes
  • Description: An 11-year-old boy makes friends with three loveable little aliens, who crash their UFO into his house. In return for Luis’ help in finding the home-shopping channel stuff they came for, they save Luis from boarding school.
  • Trailer: Click here to watch the trailer


  • Rating: PG
  • Release Date: September 20, 2018
  • Duration: 86 minutes
  • Description: An animated adventure for all ages, with original music and an all-star cast, “Smallfoot” turns the Bigfoot legend upside down when a bright young Yeti finds something he thought didn’t exist—a human.
  • Trailer: Click here to watch the trailer

Teen Titans GO! To the Movies

  • Rating: PG
  • Release Date: September 13, 2018
  • Duration: 88 minutes
  • Description: When the Teen Titans go to the big screen, they go big! “Teen Titans GO! to the Movies” finds our egocentric, wildly satirical Super Heroes in their first feature film extravaganza—a fresh, gleefully clever, kid-appropriately crass and tongue-in-cheek play on the super hero genre, complete with musical numbers.
  • Trailer: Click here to watch the trailer.


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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