UPDATED – July School Holidays: What’s On in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie & Hunter

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There’s no reason to hear an “I’m bored” complaint from your kids with a range of offerings this winter. Whether your kids are interested in art, books, science, movies, or the great outdoors, there’s something for everyone. And it’s not just for school-aged kids, there’s plenty of holiday activities planned for under 5s

JUNE 28 UPDATE: Due to new COVID-19 restrictions, some events have been cancelled, postponed or running with reduced numbers. We have updated our listings but please check directly with the attraction or service provider before leaving home for an event or activity to avoid disappointment.

City of Newcastle

Fire up your creativity these winter school holidays with City of Newcastle school holiday activities. There’s something for everyone whether they like digital coding challenges, arts and crafts, science experiments, or connecting with heritage and nature.

NEWCASTLE LIBRARIES

There is a range of workshop experiences to be had across the Library branches.

Booking capacities have been reduced to comply with the 4m2 rule. With the new capacities all sessions are now FULLY BOOKED.

  • Sphero SPRK+ Maze Challenge at Wallsend Library – Work in teams to Scratch code our Sphero SPRK+ bots through some twists and turns to land and make it back to base camp. Suitable for ages 9 – 14 years.
  • Create from Nature session at Wallsend Library – Using gumnuts, seeds, cones and other native plants, see what you can create. Suitable for ages 7-12 years.
  • Aboriginal weaving session at Wallsend Library – Learn traditional Aboriginal weaving techniques then create your own small artefact to take home. Presented by artists from Speaking in Colour. Suitable for ages 8-12 years.
  • Indigenous animal sculptures workshop at Wallsend Library – Be inspired by contemporary Aboriginal art of the Red Centre to create your own woven animal sculpture. Suitable for ages 8-12 years.
  • NAIDOC Week Celebration at Wallsend and Newcastle Libraries – Celebrate our indigenous culture with stories, songs, dance and music from Uncle Perry Fuller, a Yadaki (didge) player and artist. Ages 3 – 10.
  • Family movie afternoon at Wallsend Library – Snuggle up to enjoy the latest Disney offering, Raya and the Last Dragon (PG). A drink and popcorn will be provided. Ages 7 – 12.  Those sheep are back! Enjoy A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (G) with a drink and an ice cream. Ages 5 – 10.
  • Kakadu Story Stomp at Wallsend Library and Newcastle Library – Join Newcastle Libraries as they celebrate the exhibition of Dry to Dry by exploring the amazing stories of Kakadu. Immerse yourself in the wetlands as we snap like a crocodile, dance like a Brolga and swim like a Barramundi through the seasons.

LOVETT GALLERY

This winter Newcastle Libraries will present an exciting new blockbuster exhibition for the whole family – Dry to Dry, The Seasons of Kakadu in the newly upgraded Lovett Gallery. It runs from July and August. This exhibition is a follow-up to the Desert Lake exhibition based on the nature story picture book series of the same title by Pamela Freeman and illustrated by Liz Anelli and  by Liz Anelli and published by Walker Books Australia. 

  • Dry to Dry: create stupendous shadow puppets workshop – Create unique, coloured shadow puppets, then bring them to life at our street party and exhibition launch on July 2.   Presented by artists from Curious Legends.   Ages 6-12.
  • Creatures of Kakadu workshop – Thousands of different species live far up north in Kakadu National Park. See how many you can find! This workshop includes an opportunity to draw with the book’s award-winning illustrator, Liz Anelli, and a collage art activity.  Ages 6 – 10.
  • Aboriginal Art workshops – Be inspired by Liz Anellli’s Dry to Dry exhibition and the contemporary indigenous artwork from Bronwyn Bancroft’s Outback, to create your own contemporary aboriginal artwork. Presented by artists from Speaking in Colour.  Suitable for families with children 6 – 12.

NEWCASTLE DIGITAL LIBRARY

Have you visited the Digital Library at 12 Stewart Avenue? Whether it’s dancing with Pepper the Robot, watching 3D printing or exploring space on the HUGE interactive screen there is something for everyone. (It’s also the best place to pick up new release books for both kids and adults!) 

During the school holidays, book in for school holiday workshops.

  • Rock Stars on Green Screen workshop – Create and star in your very own music video! We’ll team you up with a band, show you how to film and edit, and away you go!  Suitable for kids 8 – 13.
  • Edison Bots Sumo Showdown – Join Geoff McIver from McIver Edubots and learn how to code Edison robots for the ultimate Sumo showdown against other coded bots. Suitable for kids 8 – 14.
  • I See…I See…I See…Opera Glasses and Digital Library Tour – Find out a little bit about Florence Austral while making some old-fashioned opera ‘seeing glasses’. Then tour the Digital Library and wrap it all up by watching your amazing Opera Glasses appear on our Story Wall. Suitable for all ages (children, parents and carers).

Bookings are required for all workshops and all library workshops are free. See more on the Newcastle Libraries website.

NEWCASTLE MUSEUM

There will be plenty of entertainment for curious kids at Newcastle Museum during the winter holidays.

SCIENCE SHOWS CANCELLED – The famous museum science shows are back for the winter school holidays. You can enjoy some fun science time with resident scientist Catherine as she lets loose with some liquid nitrogen and talks about all things freeeezing cold. The science shows run on Tuesdays and Thursday over the school holidays at 11.15am, 12.15pm and 1.15pm in McIntyre Theatrette. Free admission but bookings essential as numbers are limited due to COVIDsafety restrictions. 

POSTPONED – Kids can be inspired by the Build A World…In Cardboard! session. Come explore the wonderful world of international architecture as seen through the photographic lens of the renowned Australian photographer John Gollings, and use his photographs as an inspiration to help create a cardboard mini-city at the Museum. Kids can use their imagination and think outside of the box. Suitable for children 6-12 years of age. $10 per child. Bookings required.

Entry to the museum is via QR code registration upon arrival. See more on the Newcastle Museum website. Newcastle Museum is open every day during the NSW school holidays.

NEWCASTLE ART GALLERY

Budding artists will love what’s on offer at Newcastle Art Gallery tying into current exhibitions RACHEL MILNE: Nest and WARWAR: The Art of Torres Strait.

  • Paint a cupcake workshop – Budding artists will enjoy a mini tour of RACHEL MILNE: Nest followed by a fun painting workshop, creating their own colourful, expressive paintings of cupcakes.    Suitable for ages 5-12 years.
  • Torres Strait Islander Flag workshop – Young artists will learn about the Torres Strait Islander flag, designed by the late Mr Bernard Namok, then create their own using coloured sand, a small canvas and glue.    Suitable for ages 5-12 years.

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 open every day during the NSW school holidays

BLACKBUTT RESERVE

Blackbutt Reserve Reptile Show

Playgrounds, walking trails, open spaces, shelters and barbecues at Blackbutt Reserve are open. Visit Blackbutt and see family favourites like koalas, wallabies and wombats. You can also see emus, wallabies and kangaroos in a separate paddock behind the playground. The kiosk has reopened for snacks, coffee and animal food. Purchase a feeding cone from the kiosk and feed the emus.

School Holiday Reptile ShowsCANCELLED

The School Holiday Reptile Shows are back at 11am and 11:45am from Monday to Friday and 11am on weekends. Blackbutt’s expert team will allow attendees to meet, learn about, and at times interact with, their favourite scaly, slithery friends! You will learn interesting facts about their behaviour, physiology and habitats, and if you’re lucky… an opportunity to get up close and personal! $4 per person, tickets available at the Kiosk (limited tickets available).

There’s also 10km of walking trails and plentiful picnic and playground facilities to enjoy. Drop into Richley Reserve and experience the adventure playground with rope courses, bridges, swings and slides, and an adventure tower, or swing by the playground at the Carnley Avenue entrance ideal for children aged 6-10 years with interactive musical instruments and activities.

Blackbutt Reserve is open every day during the school holidays. 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

Fort Scratchley Newcastle

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 is open from 10am – 4pm except The Fort is closed on Tuesdays.


Lake Macquarie City Council

LAKE MACQUARIE CITY LIBRARY

Lake Macquarie City Library has organised loads of fun school holiday activities in their libraries and Rathmines Theatre.

  • Drawing workshop – All in a Dog’s Life – Join Chrissy McYoung to learn the tips and tricks on how to draw dogs at Belmont Library. Everyone will create their own doggy creations to take home. Chrissy McYoung is the author and illustrator of the children’s picture book Rusty, her artwork All in a Dog’s Life is currently exhibiting at Launchpad in Belmont Library
  • Book Launch – Silly Yak. Come join Jack the SILLY-YAK for a fun, interactive, creative and inspirational book launch at Belmont Library! Learn how Jack and his family navigate the great adventure of Coeliac Disease in a live reading of SILLY-YAK, creative performance and a playful roaming adventure all with creator Alexandra Rose Mangano. Recommended for ages 3-8, all ages welcome.
  • CANCELLED Fairytales & Puppetry: Good Things Come In Threes Live Puppet Show using three styles of puppetry – Marionettes, Shadow Puppetry & Hand Puppet at Rathmines Theatre. By spinning a wheel the attendees choose which story will be told and by picking out of a hat they choose the style of puppetry they perform. $19 per person (child or adult). Tickets include juice box and snack and bookings are essential. Suitable for 4+.
  • CANCELLED Tech Play – Kids can try their hand at coding with Ozbots and engineering with Snap Circuits. Join in for an afternoon of hands-on activities. Everyone will have the opportunity to try coding with Ozbots and electronic engineering with Snap Circuits. Parents are encouraged to stay and play. Suitable for ages 7 years plus.
  • Meet the Illustrator – Join illustrator Kirrili Lonergan for a free special storytime at Charlestown Library, where you can meet the illustrator behind the story. She will read her latest book and then kids can create a picture to take home. Suitable for ages 3 – 8 years.
  • Razzle Dazzle: Camouflage painting workshop – Discover the story behind dazzle camouflage, and create your own dazzle plane or boat to take home at a hands-on workshop. Dazzle camouflage (also known as Razzle Dazzle or Dazzle painting) was a military camouflage used on ships, during World War I and World War II. Suitable for ages 6+, parents encourage to stay and support children during workshop. $8 for participant.
  • Meet the author & illustrator: Silly Yak. Join in for a story and craft with Alexandra Rose Mangano, the author and illustrator of new children’s picture SILLY-YAK. Discover how Jack and his family navigate the great adventure of Coeliac Disease at a fun, and interactive storytime.  Recommended for ages 3-8.
  • CANCELLED Branch weaving for kids: Celebrate NAIDOC Week by creating a woven wall hanging in the colours of the Aboriginal flag at Wangi Library Creative Hub.
  • Collage and Mixed Materials Landscapes – Gain inspiration from the latest photographic exhibition at SEEN@Swansea  A Portrait of Australia: Stories through the Lens of Australian Geographic and create your own artwork to take home. Suitable for ages 6+.
  • Claymation workshop – Students will write, shoot and edit a short Claymation movie using the latest equipment. Students will write, shoot and edit a short Claymation movie using the latest equipment. Suitable for 9+. $100 per participant but can use Creative Kids Voucher.
  • Poetry, Writing and Performance workshop – Is your kids a poet and doesn’t know it? Perhaps they have a talent for writing and would like to learn the art of poetry and poetry performance? Suitable for ages 9+.

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

MAC (MUSEUM OF ART AND CULTURE)

Lake Macquarie School Holiday Activities

MAC is offering a range of activities and shows had been tailored to comply with COVID-19 guidelines, with smaller group sizes creating a more intimate atmosphere for participants. Visit the gallery for in-person workshops. Kids aged 7+ can be inspired by artworks on display at MAC.

  • School Holiday Workshop: Large scale pastel drawing – Large Scale Pastel drawing on easels inspired by Nathan Hawkes art work in Real Worlds on display at MAC. Two sessions. One session for kids 5+ and 2nd session for kids aged 10+. $15 per person.
  • Storytelling Quest – Join in for Sea Quest in the MAC Sculpture Garden. Kids will search for clues, solve problems, create something beautiful to take away, and something beautiful to leave behind, until at last they can break the curse and prove that they are true heroes. Recommended for children aged 8-12. $5 per person.

Bookings essential. All programs and events are run with COVID Safe Plans including social distancing, limited numbers and additional hygiene numbers.

For more information and to book holiday sessions, visit Museum of Art and Culture website.


Maitland City Council

MAITLAND CITY LIBRARY

Maitland City Library have a some exciting activities on offer these school holidays relating to the theme “New Worlds, Old worlds, Other worlds”. Some of our favourite stories happen in other worlds. These school holidays put yourself in the wild, wacky and somewhat familiar when you visit Maitland Libraries for some Holiday Fun.

  • POSTPONED – There are amazing worlds, moments and images all around just waiting to be captured. Join Jan from Spitting Image Photography for a beginners workshop that will have children producing amazing images and learning how to use cameras. No equipment required. $60 and Creative Kids Voucher accepted.
  • Sensory Space Boxes – What does it feel like to be in outer space? Maitland Libraries are taking you out of this world as you journey through space, visit the moon and set foot on an undiscovered planet. Take a space box home as a memento of your journey.
  • POSTPONED – The Vegetable Plot performance – Meet Aspara Gus, Sir Paul McCarrotney and Ru Barb. Together they’re The Vegetable Plot and they are bringing their award winning songs to Maitland! Come along for a performance all about veggies. Doesn’t sound like something you’d enjoy? Well this musical trio will change your mind and have kids popping veggies in the shopping trolley voluntarily!

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

MAITLAND REGIONAL ART GALLERY

Visit MRAG and wander through their exhibitions. Some to note include Just Not Australian, Impressions of a Journey: Landscapes Between Walcha and Paterson and Shadow Boxer. Kids might enjoy Code Breaker which involves locating some hidden features in the art gallery. Grab them a clipboard with Code Breaker from the art gallery Front Desk and use the clues to break the code! Kids can also book into Free Art Sundays. Every Sunday families are welcome to book in to attend free art activities inspired by the exhibitions on display. Activities are designed for kids of all ages, and as a family you can all join in and get creative. Each activity takes around half an hour to complete.

For more information, visit the Maitland Regional Art Gallery website.

MAITLAND GAOL

For a history fix, visit Maitland Gaol. It has now reopened for guided and self guided audio tours using your own device. Built in 1844, this former security maximum security prison was used to house convicts up until 1998. The gaol is one of the Maitland’s most iconic tourist sites and provides locals and visitors with the opportunity to experience life on the inside of this once high-security prison.

Maitland Gaol offers a range of tours. Of the guided tours, the 150 Years Under Lock and Key Guided Tour is suitable for kids. You can also do self-guided tours of Maitland Gaol. Snitch’s Gaol Exploration is suitable for primary school children. It uses ‘Snitch the Rat’ to tell the secrets of the gaol that he witnessed as the many criminals were brought in from the outside world. This tour is ideal for primary school-aged children as it offers a fun audio experience that is full of facts and stories that will entertain and educate. Read the Newy with Kids review of Maitland Gaol for more information.

There’s also school holiday fun in a Junior Sleuth – Tattoo Tales. Junior Sleuths will learn about how prisoners lived in the Gaol over the 150 years of its operation on this one hour guided tour. Afterwards they’ll delve into prison tattoos and what these symbols represent (don’t worry it’s family friendly).


BRICKS 4 KIDZ

The Bricks 4 Kidz Winter School Holiday Programs with LEGO® are nearly here and are PERFECT for your aspiring LEGO® Master! These workshops will be running from Monday 28 June – Friday 9 July across four convenient locations in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Erina. All programs will be run in compliance with a COVID Safe plan and restrictions on numbers in their venues. They have got SUPER fun workshops with Ninjas, Movie Mash Up and many other favourites inspired by Star Wars™, MineCraft™ and Pokémon™, just to name a few! There is something for EVERYONE these school holidays. Book today so you don’t miss out!

For more information, visit the Bricks 4 Kidz website.

FIVE-A-SIDE FOOTBALL AT LAKE MACQUARIE

Sign up for the Fast Fives5 One-Dayer these school holidays. Fast Five5 is a speedy, shortened game where kids can improve their football skills on a team with mates. The day runs from 9:30am to 2:30pm on Thursday 8 July at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility in Speers Point. There will be two age groups 8/9 and 10/11 playing a Fast Five5 format with 20 minute fixtures.

Fast Five5 is a fully supervised activity with trained football specialists and provides participants with an opportunity to develop their football skills, agility and fitness through fast-paced five-a-side games. Players need to register as a team ($200) with maximum eight players (five on the pitch). With eight players, the cost is $25 per player. For more information and/or to register, visit Football Five5

JESMOND CENTRAL

Enjoy a school holiday circus skills workshop at Jesmond Central from Tuesday 29 June to Friday 22 July. Learn to juggle, spin plates, walk the tightrope and more! Bookings essential. It runs from 10am – 1pm (4 x 30 minute sessions daily).

WALLSEND VILLAGE

Enjoy some free giant games during the school holidays at Wallsend Village from Tuesday 6 July to Friday 9 July. Get ready for GIGANTIC school holiday fun with giant Connect Four, Jenga, cornhole and more each day from 10am to 1pm at Centre Court.

Please stay COVID safe. 

  • Wear a mask (children under 12 are exempt).
  • Keep a safe distance.
  • Sanitise your hands. Hand sanitiser will be made available at the event.  
  • Respect event capacity limits and queue where necessary.
  • Stay home if you are unwell.

NOVOTEL NEWCASTLE BEACH

Join Novotel Newcastle Beach for some school holiday fun. Enjoy afternoon tea, colouring in and movies/games in the kids corner in Bistro Dalby for $20 per child. The kids menu includes mini ham & cheese pizzas, gourmet mini beef pie & sausage roll, mini chocolate muffin, fresh fruit berry cup, ice cream and juice, water, hot chocolate or baby chino.

The Kids Afternoon Tea suits kids aged 4 – 12 and is available from 12 – 3pm from Saturday 26 June to Sunday 11 July. Adults High Tea is also available for $40 per person. Bookings are essential with 48 hours notice & pre-payment required. For online bookings please visit https://bit.ly/3gpuTwm

SUSURU RAMEN GYOZA BAR

Kids Cooking Class Gyoza

Join Susuru Ramen Gyoza Bar for a Kids Gyoza Class on Sunday 4 July from 3pm – 4:30pm. It’s time to learn how to make the perfect Japanese style Gyoza! These pan-fried dumplings can be moulded to suit your taste buds and are the perfect addition to any up-and-coming chef’s repertoire.

Throughout the duration of this class, your kids will learn how to create, make, fold and serve up picture-perfect gyoza. This class is suited for children aged 6 – 12 years old. Together they will learn the tips and tricks of gyoza making and will get to serve up their creations with a scrumptious bowl of ramen of their choosing!

LOVE MY PLANTS

Enjoy some school holiday workshops with Love My Plants in East Maitland. The workshops are designed for kids between the ages of 5-12 years old (primary school age). There’s two to choose from, a Kids Clay Creation session and a Family Art Class.


OUTDOOR FAMILY FUN

HUNTER WETLANDS CENTRE

Spend a day at Hunter Wetlands Centre in Shortland and learn about the Bunyip Bird. Its real name is the Australasian Bittern and it’s a very shy wetland bird that is rarely seen. At Hunter Wetlands Centre, there are reeds and rushes and ponds, just the habitat it likes, but we haven’t seen any Australasian Bitterns here for a long time. You can also go dip-netting in the pond, climb the egret tower, bring your bike and ride around the trails, try canoeing, check out the reptiles and displays in the visitor centre and lots more.  Bring a picnic or BBQ  or eat at the Wetlands café.

SCAVENGER HUNTS

Scavenger Hunt Newcastle

Get out and explore Newcastle! Newy with Kids has developed six family scavenger hunts printables to download for free. Download the self-directed scavenger hunt and then visit the location. You and your family will need to find various points of interest and answer the questions listed on the map to solve the mystery phrase. It’s an opportunity to notice landmarks and interesting things you might not necessarily notice. There are six locations to choose from: Blackbutt Reserve, Civic Park & Honeysuckle, Foreshore Park, Stockton, Wallsend Brickworks Park and Newcastle Museum.

FAMILY WALKS & HIKES

Go for a hike this winter. Hike the Hickson Street Track down to Burwood Beach or the Yuerlarbah Walk at Glenrock Lagoon. Do the Awabakal walk from Dudley to Redhead Walk and enjoy panoramic views of the coast. Enjoy the Redhead Coast on the Ken and Audrey Owens Walk. Explore Shipwreck Walk, a walk along the Stockton Breakwater which incorporates the wrecks and hulks of several iron and steel ships within the structure. For more walks, check out our roundup of local family walks.


SCHOOL HOLIDAY EVENTS

Rainbow Bricks is excited to announce the 2021 return of Newcastle’s premier and longest-running LEGO fan event on July 10 & 11 at Newcastle Jockey Club. Newcastle Brickfest is a community event created by local volunteer LEGO fans for LEGO fans.. Come along and see original LEGO creations and displays of LEGO themes, including the ever-popular city layout with working trains. As well as all the exhibits, there will be lots of activities for everyone to enjoy, including appearances by cosplaying friends from Hunter Heroes and Star Wars characters. POSTPONED UNTIL SEPTEMBER 25 & 26

Young People’s Theatre is presenting BUNYIPS, a big beautiful mess of a play during the school holidays. Loosely based on the famous Australian children’s book, Naked Bunyip Dancing by Steven Herrick and adapted for stage by Callan Purcell, who is currently with Hamilton at the Sydney Lyric Theatre, this is a delightful show for all ages! Tickets costs $25. The performance runs for 1 hour plus a short interval. POSTPONED


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.

Spirit Untamed

  • Rating: G
  • Release Date: June 12, 2021
  • Duration: 88 minutes
  • Description: Spirit Untamed is a story of courageous young women and their beloved horses who risk everything to do the right thing. When Lucky, a young society girl, moves West to join her estranged father, she starts a new chapter in her life, makes new friends, and forms an unbreakable bond with a wild stallion she names Spirit. Together, the girls and their horses undertake the adventure of a lifetime when they must save the stallion’s herd from a gang of horse wranglers, proving to themselves to be true Western heroes.
  • Trailer:Click here to watch the trailer

Cranston Academy

  • Rating: PG
  • Release Date: June 24, 2021
  • Duration: 80 minutes
  • Description: An intelligent 15-year-old high school student is unexpectedly transferred to a boarding school where he opens a portal of monsters from another dimension.
  • Trailer: Click here to watch the trailer

Space Jam: A New Legacy

  • Rating: CTC
  • Release Date: July 15, 2021
  • Duration: 87 minutes
  • Description: NBA superstar LeBron James teams up with Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tunes for this long-awaited sequel
  • Trailer: Click here to watch the trailer
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