July 2017 School Holidays: What’s On in Newcastle & The Hunter

July 2017 School Holidays: What’s On in Newcastle & The Hunter

July school holidays can be tricky. The weather can be a bit unpredictable so here’s loads of indoor and outdoor activities to keep kids occupied for the July 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 Mummy Project website for a day-by-day guide for what’s on around the area.

Libraries & Museums

Starting with the libraries, there’s plenty of organised activities to keep kids occupied if it’s cold outside.

Newcastle Region Library have loads of fantastic activities at their libraries. There’s sessions to create masks, LEGO Master Builders Challenge and a workshop with Circus Avalon to learn how to be a circus performer. There’s also storytime galores! A music storytime, a dance Storytime and even a ‘put on your crazy clothes’ storytime.

There’s also plenty of events featuring local authors:

Renee Price showcases her new picture book, Digby and the Yodelayhee Who? in a dynamic performance incorporating storytelling, song and puppetry that will keeps kids entertained.

Join author Deborah Kelly for the launch of her latest children’s book The Chalk Rainbow focusing on a young boy with autism. It’s a beautiful book which promotes compassion and understanding for those who see the world differently.

Join author Deborah Kelly for the launch of her latest children’s book The Chalk Rainbow focusing on a young boy with autism. It’s a beautiful book which promotes compassion and understanding for those who see the world differently.

To celebrate NAIDOC Week, there’s a variety of sessions presented by Speaking in Colour. These include Possum where kids can create their own artwork on a possim skin armband, NAIDOC Week Art featuring traditional and contemporary Aboriginal art and a Time to Move session where kids can their faces painted in ochre and learn a few dance moves.

You can also enjoy a Friday Family Movie Night at Wallsend Library for families with kids 5+. The Lorax (rated G) will be shown on Friday 10 July from 6pm. Bring your own cushion, blanket and nibbles.

Maitland City Library has a variety of fun workshops revolving around the theme “Retro Toys and Games”. These workshops covering a range of activities including craft, music, storytimes and games. In various sessions, kids can create and play their own Jumanji games, learn the retro art of yarn painting, and make their own time capsule to fill with toys and craft. In Memory Lane Games, kids will learn to play classic games including marbles, drop dead, sempahore games and scavenger hunts. They can also create and build using their imagination in the Cardboard Box Fun session.

For Harry Potter fans, there’s a special event planned to celebrate 20 years of Harry Potter. Kids (8 – 14) can come dressed as their favourite Hogwarts character to celebrate Harry’s 20th birthday. Take part in a trivia competition, perform spells, make potions and craft your own Harry Potter accessories!

Lake Macquarie City Library has a number of activities to keep kids entertained.  There’s the Frog Prince puppet show and storytime as well as crafty kids sessions. For kids interested in science and technology, there’s sessions introducing LEGO Mindstorm, Ozbots coding for kids and Curious Chemistry science shows. If your kids are Minecraft fans, don’t miss Minecraft Bingo! You can also celebrate NAIDOC Week with a special storytime at Swansea Library with guest Fern Martins, artist and illustrator.

At Port Stephens Library, there’s lots of different school holiday offering for kids aged 2 to 12.  As well as a NAIDOC Week storytime, there’s Dreamcatchers and Pom Pom Workshops.If you’re after laughs, catch Andy Jones ‘What’s the Joke?’ sessions where he will present a hilarious musical show about jokes and humour for kids aged 4 – 13. For some family fun, check out the family movie sessions for Black Screen and Bran Nue Dae.

Spend some time at Newcastle Museum, a great destination during school holidays. Join them for the No Planes, but Trains and Automobiles! school holiday workshop filled with exploring, drawing and making.
Kids (aged 5 to 12) will get to inspect the museum’s amazing trains and cars and learn about their history before having a go at drawing them! They’ll then get the opportunity to build their own model cars and trains from junk and recycled materials to take home! Bookings essential.

The always popular science shows will be on as well during the school holidays on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the holidays at 11:15am, 12:15pm and 1:15pm. Tip: Get there early for the science shows as there were long lines during the last holidays and some people missed out!

Plus, there’s all the other great activities and attractions at the Museum such as Supernova and the BHP Steel show. Remember Newcastle Museum is open every day during school holidays from 10am to 5pm.

Arts, Crafts, Drama & Music

School Holiday Programs at Newcastle Art Gallery
Photo credit: Newcastle Art Gallery

For arty kids, there are plenty of art activities on offer these school holidays. The Newcastle Art Gallery has workshops for 5 to 12 year olds inspired by the current exhibitions. In the first week of the holidays, inspired by Abstraction kids will work with a range of art materials to make a range of interesting printing masterpieces.  In the following week, inspired by The Phantom Show, children will create their own comic artwork, starring themselves as the hero of the story.

There’s also a special Winter Torchlight Tour at Newcastle Art Gallery on Saturday 1 July. Kids can dress up as their favourite super hero and enjoy a guided tour around the exhibitions before making a piece of art inspired by The Phantom Show. This family-friendly event includes all art materials snacks. Bookings essential.

Lake Macquarie Art Gallery is featuring children’s workshops focusing on creating portraits. There’s separate workshops for kids aged 7 and up and also for kids aged 3 to 6 and their parent / caregiver.

At Maitland Regional Art Gallery, there’s drop in activities planned for the holidays called Cool Art July from  10.30 am – 12.30pm Tuesday to Friday from July 4 to 14! Kids and their families can ’See-make-do’ for as little as $5! No bookings required. You can make your own friendship garlands, create a 3D face, be a sculptor and craft your own cardboard town or experiment with collage. All this and more will be available during the workshop sessions. Activities are open to children from 3 years up and their families. There’s also self-guided kids activities. Code Breaker 1.0 and Code Breaker 2.0 are suitable for kids 10+.

Celebrate the diversity of cultures Newcastle has to offer at the family friendly Unity in Diversity Festival at Gregson Park on Saturday 1 July from 11am to 3pm. There will be over 20 cultural performances, international food and lots of free family and children’s activities to mark the beginning of National Refugee Week.

There’s music fun for little ones aged 0 to 6 in a holiday session on Monday 3 July from 10:30am to 11:15am with Julie Logan Music at The Place: Charlestown. From Babies to six years, all the  family will have a blast, at the Teddy Bear’s Picnic with singing, playing & dancing! Bring your favourite teddy bear. Session is $15 with 25% off using the Entertainment Book card. Numbers are limited so book online to secure your place. Special offer for readers of The Mummy Project –Receive free tickets for first 2 Families who Like the Julie Logan Music Facebook Page and Tag The Mummy Project.

The Creative Word Shop is offering sessions for young aspiring writers. The workshops encourage kids to grow their imaginations at the same time as they expand their vocabularies and story-telling skills. The sessions include Persuasive Writing and Expeditions and Explorers (for 8 to 12 year olds). For younger kids, author Jess Black is offering Paws and Claws (writing about animals) and Bags of Awesome (writing about lollies!)

Jess Black is also involved in kids holiday workshops with Kara Wood Ceramics. These workshops combine a claymaking session with a writing session and are targeted to kids aged 6 to 13.

Science & Technology

SLAM (STEM, Learning, Arts, Makerspace) Australia is running 2-day and 3-day workshops these holidays for kids ages 8-14. Your child will use a design engineering process to create video games, design electronic musical instruments or launch into robotics challenges! Sessions go from 9am-3pm and include hands-on construction, coding, team problem solving and design. You can see their workshops at slameducation.com

Outdoor Fun

If your kids like to be out and about, there’s loads of events and activities to choose from.

Photo credit: Hunter Valley Gardens

Enjoy all things winter without having to travel to the snow at Snow Time in the Garden at Hunter Valley Gardens. Your family can enjoy ice skating, playing in the snow, ice tobogganing and the opportunity to meet snow dogs and see ice sculpting. This three week event runs from Saturday 24 June to Sunday 16 July 2017 plus many activities are FREE once admission is paid!

Human Whale Port Stephens

Bring your family and help create a giant Human Whale in Port Stephens. More than 1000 people are expected to gather at Port Stephens’ Fingal Beach in a attempt to form the outline of a giant humpback whale, on Saturday July 15, 2017.  This event is in celebration of the annual whale-watching season.

Visit Blackbutt Reserve for their reptile show in the Wildlife Arena at Carnley Avenue at 11am daily during the school holidays. You can also visit the various animals in the wildlife enclosures, learn about animals during their daily feeding times or enjoy the playground. Please note that due to construction of new pathways, shelters and BBQ areas in Richley Reserve, Junior Ranger Fun Day will not be held.

Enjoy Farmyard on the Lawn in Newcastle CBD.  Revitalising Newcastle is bringing the Oakvale Farm Mobile Animal Nursery to Market Street Lawn on Wednesday 5 July and Thursday 6 July from 10am – 2pm.  It’s a free school holiday activity.  Children visiting the Lawn will be able to hold, pet and feed the animals.  They can feed a lamb, cuddle a guinea pig or rabbit and pat/interact with the animals.

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. There’s also school holiday sessions for kids to learn bush skills for kids aged 8 to 12 as well as a wetlands explorer club themed for kids 5 to 8 year olds involving crafty learning about frogs.

Hunter Wetlands Centre

New these holidays are Kids Art Days which feature different art activities including collage and sculpting an animal habitat, decorating a journey stick and capturing a bird in flight using photo and paint. There’s also free magpie geese feeding and tank talks where kids can get up close and learn about reptiles, frog and fish. Hunter Wetlands Centre also offers $2 entry for kids 12 and under during school holiday periods. At other times, all tickets are $5 for adults and kids over 5.

Enjoy the winter holidays with some school holiday fun with NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.  There’s a WilderQuest cultural adventure at Blue Gum Hills. Kids will listen to fascinating stories and learn about Aboriginal culture. There’s also WilderQuest Whale Tales at Awabakal. Come along to hear stories about them and their annual migration.

If you feel like a drive to Port Stephens, NPSW has organized another Wild about Whales session at Tomaree National Park. This involves joining a NPSW ranger for a short walk to spot whales heading north on their annual migration. You’ll learn helpful tips about spotting whales as well as hearing stories about their history and future. There’s even a Spooky Night Walk in Tomaree National Park  where you’ll hear about some of the area’s history and enjoy a spooky tale or two.

Celebrate Children’s Discovery Day on Tuesday 4 July at Hunter Region Botanic Gardens. The aim is to provide an educational and entertaining day for children. The emphasis is on botanical and environmental learning activities that stimulate an interest in plants, the environment and the Gardens. Activities include plant propagation, nature craft, Ship of Fools – Bubbles & Squirt Water show, Hunter Water education show, adventure walk and a drawing competition.

Kirbree Fit is holding hour long fun kids bootcamps for kids 5 and over during the school holidays in Croudace Bay. Hugs Espresso will be there so parents can sit back and relax for an hour! Bookings essential.

There’s also loads of parks and playgrounds to explore in Newcastle and surrounds, so visit a place you haven’t been before. For some inspiration, visit the Parks & Playgrounds section of The Mummy Project.

Indoor Fun

SplashDance are coming to Charlestown Bowling Club on Sunday July 16 and to celebrate the Club is offering one free ticket per family. SplashDance is the new hit dance series from ABC Kids TV. It has kids from 18 months to 8 year olds moving and shaking across Australia! All the music has been written by John Field, who has written more then 300 songs for The Wiggles!

To receive your one free ticket per family, all you have to do is register your name and email address here: http://bit.ly/2oZpSS0. All details will be sent to you within 24 hours. You can purchase your remaining tickets by calling Charlestown Bowling Club on 4943 3766 or online from Kids Promotions.

Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley are hosting fun school holidays activities including a kids pasta making class, a Winter Wonderland high tea (for kids and parents!) and a family Christmas in July buffet. Yummy!

Newcastle Brickfest is on Sunday 9 July at Newcastle Racecourse in Broadmeadow. There will be over 30 exhibitors from across NSW with their creations plus a working LEGO version of Kooragang Island! As well as the exhibitors creations, there will a build area for the children to play in and a colouring in competition for the under 12s. This event supports local schools with all profits from this event donated to participating schools. Purchase tickets early as last year’s event sold out.

Visit Charlestown Square during the school holidays for free facepainting, kids yoga and kids cooking classes. (Bookings required for yoga and cooking classes). There’s also air hockey tables, Sky Jump Trampolining and pony rides (paid activities).

Reading Cinemas and Minimania are also giving away 200 free movie tickets. Be one of the first 40 kids each day that join Charlestown Square’s database and purchase an all day play pass at Mini Mania to receive one free movie ticket! Valid Monday 3 July – Friday 7 July.  *Terms and Conditions apply.

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. Buy a Kids Entertainment Pass these school holidays to receive a bonus Hot Chocolate at Max Brenner.

On sale for $38, 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 or laser skirmish at Strike Bowling Bar
  • 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 McDonalds® Kid’s Meal including a grilled chicken snack wrap, CalciYum® milk and fruit bag
  • 1 x small juice or smoothie at Boost Juice

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 2017. We’re planning to use ours during the school holidays and have some fun.

Don’t forget about new movies as well. It’s a great choice to keep kids entertained especially if it’s cold or rainy. There’s plenty of new release family movies on this school holidays including the much anticipated Despicable Me 3.

Despicable Me 3 (PG)

Balthazar Bratt, a child star from the 1980s, hatches a scheme for world domination.

Cars (G)

Lightning McQueen sets out to prove to a new generation of racers that he’s still the best race car in the world.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (PG)

Greg convinces his family to take a road trip to attend his great grandmother’s 90th birthday as a cover for what he really wants: to attend a nearby gamer convention. Unsurprisingly, things do not go according to plan and Heffley family antics ensue.

Purchase an Entertainment Book for savings at the movies and other family attractions during the school holidays. There’s loads of fun offers to keep kids from being bored during these winter holidays. (I’m selling Entertainment Books to raise money for the John Hunter Children’s Hospital).

Whatever you do these school holidays with your kids, have fun and enjoy it. What are your plans for the school holidays?


Subscribe to The Mummy Project Newsletter and get information about family events and activities straight to your inbox. Plus, receive a FREE copy of my e-book ’10 Free & Low Cost Things to Do In Newcastle & The Hunter with Kids’


2 Comments

  • I would like to recommend an addition to your wonderful list (that I have used for many holiday activity ideas over the last few years!) – Newcastle Brickfest! Great outing rain hail or shine for kids from preschool to high school age. And raising money for local school as well (that’s how I’m involved)! They have a facebook page if you’d like to check them out!

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