Whether it be a tantrum over a favourite shirt in the wash, sibling bickering, or just general panic; one thing is for sure – school holidays aren’t for the meek and mild. For the most part, this can be less a time of merry cheer, and more a time of dread and fear. But rather than scratching off the days on the calendar like a hardened crim crossing off the days on their cell wall, take heart – we have you covered!
We have collated all of the must-see and do activities for these school holidays. And with a mixture of free and paid events for kids of all ages, you can be sure to get through this period unscathed.
Closer to Home
Summer is here at Newcastle Library! Bring the kids to join in the fun by taking part in beach-themed activities. There is an array of different creative classes being hosted across the City and suburbs to keep the kids entertained. Whether creating colourful sand art, decorating beach bags, or testing the kid's speedy Lego-making abilities, Newcastle Libraries offer an extensive school holiday schedule for everyone. For a full list of times, dates, locations and prices for these activities visit
Calling all curious kids! Head to the museum these holidays and discover an exciting world of science exhibitions, shows, and workshops.
Experience a sensory sensation inside a bright and colourful garden at the The Summer Sensory Garden exhibition. The little ones can dress up as insects and creep, crawl or dig their way through. Created by local artist Bliss Cavanagh, the free experience will be at Newcastle Museum from 3 January–2 February. Or visit InsectMania! This show offers kids the opportunity to learn about various insects – they’re sure to be both shocked and impressed. 15+22 January from 10:30am–12pm and 1:30pm–2pm. Visit www.newcastlemuseum.com.au for more information.
Newcastle Art Gallery
Keep those creative minds buzzing and head to Newcastle Art Gallery these holidays! Check out Newcastle Art Gallery’s popular Art Cart program, where kids can engage with exhibitions on display through discussion and art-making, all free of charge.
Or, if your little artist is after something a little bit more hands-on, be sure to explore some of the excellent workshops on offer. From the 13–17 January, kids can create their own hanging Chinese decoration inspired by the exhibition: BETWEEN TWO WORLDS. Later in the holidays, from 20–24 January, the exhibition WISH YOU WERE HERE will encourage kids to create a summer-styled beach scene using modelling clay.
The gallery is open every day of the holidays, except Christmas Day and Boxing Day, between 10am–5pm. Entry is free. Visit www.nag.org.au for more information.
Want to experience the great outdoors without breaking the budget? Then take a trip to Blackbutt Reserve!
Enjoy the Crafty Creatures workshop at the Wildlife Arena. With sessions running Monday to Friday ($3 per child), the kids can create their favourite clay creature to take home! While you are there, be sure to visit several different animal sanctuaries or enjoy an amazing reptile show at 11am daily (weekdays from 6 January; $3 per person).
For more information and other activities such as the Richley Reserve playground adventure park, visit www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au/Blackbutt-Reserve
Lake Macquarie Libraries
Kids are sure to enjoy all that’s on offer these school holidays, delighting in a range of activities across the various Lake Macquarie Council libraries. From crafty sessions like the Textile Try Out workshops at Charlestown Library, to incredible Map Drawing sessions at Swansea Library, or even Superhero Making workshops at Speers Point Library there is plenty on offer!
For the budding Dickinson’s, kids can even try their hand at creating their own adventure story with author Kaz Delaney at Charlestown Library’s Write Your Own Adventure workshop. Or, for those with a hand for technology, kids can enjoy the Snap Circuit for Beginners workshop at Toronto library and learn all about building their own electronic circuit.
There will be plenty more activities on offer. Visit www.library.lakemac.com.au for more information, prices and to book your place.
Out and About
Over Port Stephens way, there is plenty to do both indoors and outdoors! At Tomaree Library your little Einstein can learn how to code their very own microbit to read the future, or at Raymond Terrace Library, make sure your little bookworms get to the author workshop with Jess Black.
Bookings are essential as places are limited. Contact the library for more information and to book your place.
For more information, visit www.portstephens.nsw.gov.au/live/library
Back at Lake Macquarie, kids can enjoy the sunshine at Sand Sculpture workshops! Join master sculptor Dennis Massoud for a sand sculpting lesson before putting your new skills to the test in a fun, family-friendly sand sculpting competition. For more information, visit www.library.lakemac.com.au
Across at Maitland Libraries, stories are everywhere, waiting to be discovered and devoured. Kids can join the Summer Reading Club and sign up for the Summer Library. Alternatively, book into one of the many excellent, free holiday fun activities to ignite the kid's imaginations. Be sure to check out Inspire your Imagination at Thornton Library, Lego Mindstorms at Maitland Library and Super Zooper Dooper Movies at Rutherford Library. Head to www.maitlandlibrary.com.au for more information.
The Maitland Pools Program allows you to bring the kids along to your local pool and beat the heat. Every day* during the school holidays, inflatable fun will be held at East Maitland Aquatic Centre from 11am to 3pm. You can also access the pool’s super soakers and beach balls, or have a game of volleyball. The splash pad at Maitland Aquatic Centre will be operating daily* from 10am until 5pm. (*Except Christmas Day and Boxing Day). For opening hours and more details visit
If your little ones have some more creative energy to burn, drop into Maitland Regional Art Gallery (MRAG) for the festival of fun and creativity. With over 30 events and activities, there is plenty for the kids to get involved in. Head to www.mrag.org.au for more details.
For those spending some time in the Hunter, there is also plenty to get involved in at Cessnock, Kurri Kurri and Branxton Libraries. Ignite your Christmas spirit with some Christmas Craft, get thinking about the environment by making some seed bombs for bees, or even help your kids learn all about Snake Safety. Check out the full range of activities and book online at