School Holiday Fun With the City of Newcastle

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Ready for some summer fun? City of Newcastle is providing fun activities these school holidays at Newcastle Museum, Newcastle Libraries, Newcastle Art Gallery, Blackbutt Reserve, Civic Theatre and local parks and beaches.

Newcastle Museum

There will be plenty of entertainment for curious kids at Newcastle Museum this summer.

See the world in a new light through Colour – an exhibition developed by Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre. See colour as you’ve never seen it before and engage with more than 20 scientific experiences, ranging from coloured bubbles to iridescent insects to colour illusions. Explore how light influences colour and compare your perception of colour with your family and friends. Suitable for ages 4+. Bookings essential.

Learn about the world’s first photographic process in the hands-on workshop The Art and Science of Cyanotype. Come along to learn about light and explore where art meets science as you create your very own unique cyanotype artworks. Suitable for children aged 5+. Cost $12. Bookings essential.

While you’re at the Muesum don’t miss our Super Sneaky Science pop-up! No bookings required, just come and find us roaming around in the Museum – They will be loud and colourful and having lots of fun with hands-on science.  There’ll be slime, eyeballs, rockets, prisms, squid and more!

Entry to the museum is via QR code registration upon arrival. See more on the Newcastle Museum website. Newcastle Museum is closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Sunday 27 December 2020 and New Year’s Day. Open as normal all other days: Tuesday to Sunday 10am – 5pm, and every day during the NSW school holidays.

Newcastle Libraries

There is a raft of workshop experiences to enjoy across the Newcastle Libraries branches these school holidays.

  • Go Animating Mad with Toonworld Workshop – Discover the wonderful world of Myths, Fairytales and Legends through Stop Motion Animation. In this exciting workshop, you will learn simple hints and tips on how to animate effectively. Suitable for ages 8-12.
  • Harry Potter Science Workshop – Prepare to unleash the magic within you. Make crystals disappear, cast spells as you mix up bubbling, colour-changing potions. Move things with your magic wand and make powders magically dance. Presented by Mad About Science. Suitable for ages 8-12.
  • Strange and Ugly Animals Workshop – Join  illustrator and author Sami Bayly to explore some of the seemingly mythical creatures from her two books, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Ugly Animals and The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dangerous Animals.
  • Drum Beats Workshop – Get in the rhythm and enjoy the fun of drumming and a taste of West African stories with Earthen Rhythms African Drum and Dance.
  • Enjoy fun and interactive storytimes at library branches and local parks across Newcastle, including Fairy Tales with a Twist, Fantastic Myths and Legends, The Magic Box Story Stomp and Fantastic Journey Story Stomp. Suitable for a range of ages.

Bookings are required for all workshops and costs vary. See more on the Newcastle Libraries website. Branches will close from noon on Christmas Eve and reopen on Monday 4 January 2021. Customer return chutes will be open at all branches and customers can renew borrowed items online via the Library website or mobile app.

Ever seen a robot dance? Visit the new Digital Library at 12 Stewart Avenue where you can meet Pepper the Robot, explore space on an interactive screen, or pick up the latest new release books. While you’re there why not get involved in one of the hands-on workshops? From digital displays to VR demonstrations, the Digital Library has lots to offer those inquisitive minds. Suitable for all ages.

Kids and teens will enjoy fun and dynamic opportunities to explore their creativity in response to works of art on display in the summer exhibition WE CAN BE HEROES: A backstage pass and DOMESTIC BLISS: functional works from the collection.

  • Make a Musical Instrument workshop – Kids can channel their inner Rockstar and decorate their own musical instruments and shakers using a mixture of materials. Suitable for ages 5-12 years.
  • Teen Masterclass – Teens can learn how to create their own iconic rock music symbols with local artist Rosie Turner. They can unleash their inner creative and delve into the amazing world of ink on paper in this special masterclass just for teens. Suitable for ages 13-17 years.

Music fans will love the Hour of Power held from 4-5pm on Friday to Sunday of each week. Rock on while you browse our summer exhibition WE CAN BE HEROES: a backstage pass. A specially curated Spotify playlist will be playing throughout the exhibition to amp up your gallery experience.

Music lovers can also snap a picture in front of the original NEON BALLROOM sign from local legends Silverchair, plus view a selection of posters from epic Newy gigs sent in from the public featured in the Gallery’s interactive Smart space.

Did you know Art Cart is also on every Saturday during the holidays? Art Cart engages children with the exhibitions on display through discussion and art making. Led by Gallery educators, every weekend we interact with a different work of art on display. Activities are suitable for children of all ages, with supervision required by a parent or carer. Limited spots available.

Bookings are required for all workshops and costs vary, see more on the Newcastle Art Gallery website. The gallery is closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Open as normal all other days: Tuesday to Sunday 10am – 5pm, and every day during the NSW school holidays.

Civic Theatre

The iconic ‘picture palace’ returns with Civic Cinema, with the good old days of seeing a movie at the Civic Theatre once again possible with the installation of a new digital projection widescreen. Enjoy the free time of school holidays and settle into air-conditioned comfort with bucket of popcorn in hand to enjoy screenings that kids of all ages will love, including The Polar express, Elliot the Littlest reindeer and more.

Check out the Civic Theatre website to see a full list of what’s on during December and January.

Blackbutt Reserve

Let the kids run wild in one of the two playgrounds at Blackbutt Reserve. Inspired by the natural bushland, the adventure playground at Richley Reserve features rope courses, bridges, swings and slides, an adventure tower, and plenty of space for everyone from toddlers to tweens, and all abilities.

The playground at the Carnley Avenue entrance is ideal for children aged 6 – 10 years, with interactive musical instruments and activities. Grab an activity pack from the kiosk and follow the trail around the boardwalk and explore the animal exhibits. There’s wombats, koalas, reptiles and so much more. You can also get up close and personal feeding the emus as cones are available at the kiosk. Please note that public programs, including animal feedings and reptile show, remain suspended until further notice. But you can book a private reptile or critter encounter with the Blackbutt rangers.

Blackbutt Reserve is open every day during the school holidays, except for Christmas Day. Wildlife exhibits are open 10am – 5pm, picnic facilities 7am – 7pm and the kiosk 10am – 3pm. Visit the Blackbutt Reserve website to find out more.

Fort Scratchley

Head to Fort Scratchley for a family day out. Boasting one of the best panoramic views of Newcastle and with space for the kids to run wild and free, this historic landmark is a must-do for all school holiday itineraries. Pack a picnic and enjoy the rolling grass hills overlooking the ocean, or book in for a tunnel tour where you will learn about this history of this amazing site. Stick around for the daily gun firing at 1pm (weather permitting)! For more details visit the Fort Scratchley website.

Fort Scratchley will be closed from Thursday 24 December to Saturday 26 December 2020, and Friday 1 January 2021. Open as normal all other days from 10am – 4pm. The Fort is closed on Tuesdays.

Get outdoors

Enjoy the summer weather at local pool or beaches. Local swimming centres are open longer hours during summer, and our beaches are patrolled by Lifeguards seven days a week. Lambton Pool is open from 5.30am – 8pm while Beresfield, Mayfield, Stockton and Wallsend are open 6am – 7pm seven days a week,

Prefer the beach? Head to one of the beaches or ocean baths. Lifeguard patrol Newcastle, Bar, Dixon Park, Nobbys, and Merewether beaches from 7am – 5.30pm all days except Sunday (9am – 5.30pm). They patrol Stockton beach, and Merewether and Newcastle Ocean Baths from 9am – 5.30pm.

Discover another playground. Pop into any of the 120 playgrounds in the area or a brand new playground. New playgrounds in Newcastle include Stevenson Park in Mayfield West, Brickworks Park in Wallsend and the Carrington Street Reserve playground in Wallsend or else visit one of your favourite playgrounds.

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