Looking for ways to entertain the little ones? Here’s a list of what’s on in Sydney for kids and families, from children’s theatre shows to sports camps and events in the school holidays.
What's on for kids?
Players of all ages – all ages – are invited to dig and build whatever they like, from castles and farms to global landmarks, on July 2-3. Strategically timed for the winter school holidays, the festival at Sydney Opera House is part of a bigger program for kids and families, including children’s theatre shows The Wolf and Peter, Justine Clarke’s Look! Look! It’s a Gobbledygook and an accessible performance of Music of the Forest. Minecraft at the Sydney Opera House will be about bringing fans together to compete, but also to share their love of the best-selling video games of all time. Attendees can come and go between the main competition on stage at the Concert Hall and the activities in the foyer. In addition to the games, Minecraft’s lead creative designer Jens Bergensten and Lydia Winters, brand director of Mojang – the studio behind Minecraft – will be at the House to speak to fans and participate in interactive sessions.
Embrace the chill in the air and head down to Parramatta's Prince Alfred Square for some frosty winter fun. Carve up the ice on Sydney's biggest open-air skating rink, or rug up and hit the snow play area, where you can frolic in real snow. After some fast-paced thrills? Go for a whirl on carnival rides or hit up the 28-metre-long toboggan slide. A huge illuminated Ferris wheel will also be rotating, with great views over Parramatta. Hungry? Make sure you check out the European-inspired alpine food village, where you can feast on German bratwurst and kransky, sip on homemade soup from the Soupman or enjoy slices of pizza or gozleme. For dessert you can try a mug of warming hot chocolate or snack on those little Dutch pancakes. Kids can also get involved in free workshops including cookie decorating and craft. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights there will also be DJs, and on Tuesday you can enjoy two-for-one deals from 11am and 4pm on ice skating tickets, amusement rides and food. The festival runs all throughout the July school holidays, so rug up and get down to the Parramatta Winterlight Festival.
Spiders – Alive and Deadly is an exhibition dedicated to our beloved arthropod friends. You'll learn all there is to know about spiders, including their venom and silk, where they live, how they hunt, how they have adapted to changing environments and the critical role they play in our ecosystem. There are over 400 real specimens to see, including 30 alive and deadly spiders such as the funnel web, red back and tarantula. There’s also a venom lab where there'll be venom milking every day, as well as a cobweb room where visitors can witness the world’s largest cobwebs made by the golden orb spider. Plus, you can hear about how spider silk is used for the latest technologies (from medical sutures to rubber tyres) to how scientists are using funnel web venom to help cure ovarian cancer. The exhibition will also be screening the documentary, Sixteen Legs – a story, based on the book by Neil Gaiman, about two Tasmanian Cave Spiders who fall in love and come together in darkness.
When it’s too hot to be at the beach, bring the beach indoors. This summer, the Museum of Sydney will have a playful exhibition – filled with sand – that features miniature versions of our city’s famous beaches. Sand in the City is based on our love of the seaside, and in particular the tactile enjoyment of scooping and shaping sand with our fingers and toes. So, you’ll be able to play and interact with tiny versions of Manly Beach and Bondi Beach, using ready-made moulds or your own Lego moulds to make sandcastles. You can create your own harbour waterway or grassy headland using digital technology and an overhead projector. The exhibition will include Lego models of the city’s icons (the House, the Bridge) and coastal landmarks like Manly Pier and Bondi Pavilion. Surrounding the sand pit will be storyboards and interactive displays showing life at the beach for salty-haired Sydneysiders and visitors. Take a seat and watch the complimentary documentary Life on the Edge, a National Geographic Channel production about Australia’s coast.
Since opening in 2011, The Wiggles exhibition has been a huge hit. This year it’s had an exciting upgrade, including new content on display and personal keepsakes from the new members, such as Lachy’s first teddy bear and Emma’s childhood ballet shoes. Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog, Henry the Octopus and Captain Feathersword are all still on show, but there’s lots of new stuff to check out. For example, the Big Red Car now sings the catchy song “Are you Buckled Up.”
Experimentations is a permanent exhibition at Powerhouse Museum that first opened in 1988. It’s had a recent update to introduce 2017 learning frameworks and it’s now the most interactive part of the Museum. Kids can get hands-on with science and design experiments with the opportunity to make, break and create. The exhibition is open daily and it’s free with museum entry. Experimentations is suitable for ages 5-12.
Free family-friendly events
On the first Sunday of NAIDOC Week, the Blak Markets will set up 30 stalls at Barangaroo selling artworks, sculptures, textiles and accessories made by Aboriginal artists from 11 remote Australian arts centres. The special art market will be a celebration of Indigenous Australian culture, which will include a family-friendly program of Tjanpi weaving workshops, demonstrations of Rarrk painting and pandanus weaving, plus bush tucker cooking demonstrations by Indigiearth, Jody Orcher and the Black Olive. There'll be live music by Jessie Lloyd and Emma Donovan, Jarjum, and Freshwater, plus dance performances and cultural tours of Barangaroo Reserve and Goat Island. Artists travelling to Sydney for the markets will be coming from Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia; there’ll be makers from Yarrenyty Arltere Artists in Alice Springs, Mimi Aboriginal Arts and Crafts in Katherine, APY Art Centre Collective from Amata and Rukaji Designs from Fitzroy Crossing – plus many others. The Blak Markets is organised by First Hand Solutions, which is an Aboriginal social enterprise dedicated to providing hands-on solutions to issues faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.