It’s school holiday time again and there’s loads of fun activities around Newcastle and the Hunter.

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

There’s no reason to hear a “I’m bored” complaint from your kids with a range of offerings. 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.

Visit the Events page on The Mummy Project website for a day-by-day guide for what’s on around the area.

Libraries & Museums

Cool off on a hot day and visit a library. There’s plenty to keep kids occupied. Newcastle Region Library has lots of activities at their libraries.

Join Author Deborah Kelly for a special afternoon tea featuring a selection of readings from the Ruby Wishfingers series on the 16th and 20th of January. These magical adventure features talking cats, disappearing fish and pocket-sized unicorns!

There’s lots of workshops revolving around the theme heroes and villains with cartooning workshops, an evil villain workshop and superhero storytimes. You can even enjoy villains on the big screen with movie screenings of Big Hero 6, Megamind, Rise of the Guardians at Wallsend Library. There’s also opportunities to make things such as a shell mobile or a nature sun catcher.

For kids who love critters, there’s the always popular Bringing Blackbutt to You encounters where kids can see and touch reptiles from Blackbutt Reserve. Kids can also get in touch with their inner animal by participating in Wild Kids Yoga.

Don’t miss the Wildlife Photographer of The Year display on at Lovett Gallery until 25 February 2017.

Maitland City Library has a variety of fun workshops revolving around the theme “Heroes and Villains”. Kids can create a superhero costume or a comic book, participate in a superhero treasure hunt or quiz, or even be a CSI hero or robotics master in our special workshops by Fizzics Education.There are also special Harry Potter, Dr Who and Captain Underpants activities. With a mix of free and low costs activities provided by professional entertainers and library staff, there will be something for every child.

Lake Macquarie City Library has a number of activities to keep kids entertained. From a superhero training camp to a cartooning session with former Newcastle Herald cartoonist Peter Lewis, there’s lots of fun planned for the holidays.  There’s a Captain Underpants party with gross games, funny food and crazy craft. There’s also a Hairy Maclary storytime and craft session.

For kids who  like to be entertained and spooked, participate in Sean Murphy Comedy, Ghost Jam. Kids can enjoy Sean’s comedy show of booming music and silly, spooky storytelling and then join Sean for a hands-on storytelling workshop where they will be guided through the creation and performance of their own original ghost stories.

Author Lynn Jenkins and illustrator Kirrili Lonergan present a reading of their new book Brave featuring Loppy and Curly followed by fun afterwards.

At Port Stephens Library, there’s lots of different school holiday offering for kids including  Bob Turner Wildlife Shows, Heroes & Villains LEGO Building Workshop and a Heroes & Villains drawing workshop with artist and illustrator Matthew Lin.

Don’t forget the Summer Reading Club is on as well at all local libraries. Get kids to participate in this fun program.


Pop by Newcastle Museum where activities revolve around the current exhibition Humanoid Discovery. (Here’s my review of this fun and interactive exhibition which focuses on the human body). It’s on until 30 January 2017. The always popular science shows will be on as well this time focusing on the science of our bodies. What does gravity do to our body? Where does our food go? How do we see? The science shows are free. However shows do fill up, so arrive early to avoid disappointment.

Celebrate New Year’s Eve at Newcastle Museum with old-fashioned family friendly fun for their annual NYE festivities. The museum front lawn will be full of fun things to see, make and do! Or go inside and explore the interactive Humanoid Discovery exhibition, BHP sound and light show or explore science at Supernova.

Arts, Crafts, Drama and 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 exhibition JOHN OLSEN: The City’s Son. In Painting Through a Straw, kids will use straws and liquid watercolours to make their paintings dance on paper. The following week in the My Little Frog Friends workshops, children will learn how to use modelling clay to form a frog shape and decorate with buttons, beads and patterns.

Even if your kids don’t want to participate in the workshops, visit the gallery to see the exhibition. There’s a children’s art trail accompanies the exhibition JOHN OLSEN: The City’s Son. This do-it-yourself activity booklet is a great way to entertain children in the Gallery this summer, offering questions, puzzles, clues and quirky pieces of information to get them thinking and talking about the art on display.

Join the Cardboard Box Challenge with artist Liz Anelli in Cooks Hill on 21 January 2017. It’s time for kids to use their imagination, ingenuity and creativity to make a marvellous masterpiece from cardboard boxes. Materials provided but feel free to bring along your left-over Christmas packaging! Teh session is suitable for primary and preschool aged children, who must be supervised by their carers. The session is followed at midday by refreshments and sausage sizzle BBQ ($5 per family).

Enjoy summer with Julie Logan Music with a Fun in the Sun Music Party at The Place: Charlestown on Monday 16 January. From birth to 6 years, all the family will have a ball singing and splashing, dancing and digging at our Musical Indoor Beach Party.  Share joyful voices and lively instrument play. BYO buckets, spades and your imagination! Special offer for readers of The Mummy Project – first 2 families to book quoting THE MUMMY PROJECT receive a 2 for 1 kids booking.

There’s also a day-long camp for creative kids featuring specialist tutors in voice, dance, art and science suitable for primary school kids aged 6 – 12 years. Activities run 9-3 but free extended hours are available from 8.30am – 5.00pm. Fee includes all materials, bring your own lunch. Early bird discount booking available to book 1, 2 or 3 days.

Hive Kids is hosting Terrific Tales for kids aged 4 – 7 and 8 – 12 – a full day drop – off workshops that combine art, painting & drawing with drama, acting and storytelling. For babies, toddlers and preschoolers, there’s Ocean Adventures sessions, a sea-themed music making, craft, sensory play playtime being held in January.

Lake Macquarie Art Gallery is featuring cool children’s workshops relating to paint, art from nature and making watercraft from recycled materials. Don’t miss Connect to Country where kids can learn about traditional, local Aboriginal culture through stories, craft and dance. For preschoolers, enrol them in Rainbow Connection which features storytime and craft activities.

Maitland Regional Art Gallery is hosting Free Art January which includes loads of free fun art-making activities throughout January. There is something for everyone throughout the month long extravaganza, highlights include a day celebrating all things animated, artist lead drop in and draw sessions for adults and teens and an exciting community art project led by local artist Denise Duffy.

For artistic kids, come along to the Art Project workspace at Market Square, Newcastle Mall to join artist Andrew Dennis for his fine art holiday workshops in January.  These classes are specifically for Year 1 to Year 6 students with the aim of encouraging artistic skills and inspiring creativity with an emphasis on drawing.


Pivot Netball Academy has two upcoming school holiday clinics in Newcastle for netballers aged 7-15.  The specialist clinic for 11-15-year-olds will be held on Thursday 19 and Friday 20 January and offers an advanced development program.

The skills clinic for netballers aged 7-12 will be held on Monday 23 and Tuesday 24 January and focuses on developing core netball techniques and positional play.  All Pivot Netball Academy school holiday clinics are held at Genesis Cooks Hill (formerly Howzat) from 9am till 3pm. Pivot will also offer an after-school program on Mondays in Term 1. For more info and to register

Outdoor Fun

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

Blackbutt Reserve is holding its popular free Junior Ranger Fun Day on Tuesday 17 January at Richley Reserve (off Freyberg Street). The theme of the Summer Newcastle Permanent Junior Ranger Fun Day is “Aquatic Action” with fun craft, water slides and critter displays on offer.

Meanwhile over at Hunter Wetlands Centre in Sandgate, there will be sessions for bush skills adventure and finding wriggly wetlanders and some drop in sessions for plaster fun and sand art fun. 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. It’s worth a visit to watch the Magpie Geese feeding, learn about reptiles during the Tank Talk and play in the Discovery Playground. Kids can also collect a free Wetlands passport and take off around the Wetlands. Passport entries go in the draw for a weekly prize. (Just make sure to bring some mozzie spray to the wetland in case they’re biting!)

Lake Macquarie City Council has organized a ton of outdoor fun for kids and parents as part of its Explore Our Great Outdoors program. It includes beach safety, seagrass saunter, insight into snakes, kayaking and a rockpool ramble.

OCCI (Ocean & Coastal Care Initiatives) Port Stephens will be hosting a Family Day by the Sea at Barry Park in Fingal . Take part in the ‘Whales and Whalers’ game or at the colouring-in table. A touch table of marine animals will be there, too, and share in a sausage sizzle for lunch. Come along and learn more about marine creatures.  Everybody is welcome.

Enjoy the summer holidays with some school holiday fun with NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. They are holding Discovery Tours including WilderQuest Cultural Adventures and WilderQuest Rockpool Discovery at Glenrock State Conservation Area.

If it’s hot outside, visit one of the many beaches around the area and cool off. Or head to a local pool or the ocean baths at Newcastle and Merewether.

In Newcastle, pools in Lambton, Mayfield, Wallsend, Stockton and Beresfield will be open. The Giant Inflatable will be floating around Beresfield pool on certain days as well.

In Lake Macquarie, pools are open in Charlestown, Speers Point, Swansea, Morisset and Toronto. The Lake Macquarie pools will have Aquatic Challenger inflatables at Charlestown and Speers Point. Check out their timetable to see when pool floats are operating.

From January 2 to 26 2017, Hunter Valley Gardens is featuring Mega Creatures. Now in its third year, the event will showcase some of Australia’s largest animatronic Mega Bugs andMega Dinosaurs display. Get up close and personal with over 20 critters and creatures as they take form and come to life. Displays include the infamous 8 metre T-rex, giant Triceratops, towering tarantula, mega-sized snail and much more. The Christmas Lights are also running until January 26 in case you don’t get a chance to see them before Christmas.

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

There’s also the updated The Mummy Project Fun 100 List containing 100 suggestions of fun things to do with your family this summer in Newcastle & surrounding area.

Indoor Fun

Arts and craft hero Mister Maker is returning to Newcastle with a fun and interactive live show on Friday 20 January. This show is tons of arty fun for all the family! Mini Makers, get ready for some amazing arty creations and book your tickets today! Tickets  are available for the 11am and 1:30pm show through Civic Theatre box office. Prices start from $34.90 and make an excellent Christmas present for Mini Makers.

To keep kids entertained this summer, get them an Entertainment Pass from the Customer Service Desk at Charlestown Square. (There’s an additional pass for adults)

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.

Charlestown Square also have face painting in the Secret Garden from Monday to Friday as well as a pop-up featuring Grasshopper Spccer. There will be soccer fun, great discounts & their mascot Mr Grasshopper will make an appearance each day.

Don’t forget about the movies as well. It’s a great choice to keep kids entertained especially if it’s hot or raining outside. There’s plenty of new release family movies on this school holidays.

DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls is a hair-raising comedy filled with unbelievable adventure and incredible music! Known for their crazy, colourful, and magical hair, Trolls are the happiest, most joyous creatures ever to burst into song. The movie stars Anna Kendrick as Poppy, the optimistic leader of the Trolls, and her polar opposite, Branch, played by Justin Timberlake. Together, this unlikely pair of Trolls must embark on an adventure that takes them far beyond the only world they’ve ever known. Rated G

From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes Moana, a sweeping feature film about an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana meets the once-mighty demigod Maui, who guides her in her quest to become a master wayfinder. Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity. Rated PG.

Set in a world like ours but entirely inhabited by animals, Sing stars Buster Moon, a dapper koala who presides over a once-grand theater that has fallen on hard times.  Buster is an eternal—some might even say delusional—optimist who loves his theater above all and will do anything to preserve it.  Now faced with the crumbling of his life’s ambition, he has one final chance to restore his fading jewel to its former glory by producing the world’s greatest singing competition. Rated G.

Red Dog: True Blue is an iconic Australian story of family, friendship and adventure, between a young boy and a scrappy one-of-a-kind dog that would grow up to become an Australian legend.

Watch a movie under the stars! Newcastle Permanent Cinema Under the Stars is screening Zootopia in Newcastle on 7 January, Kung Fu Panda 3 in Maitland on 13 January and The Good Dinosaur in Singleton on 20 January.

Also, check out your Entertainment Book for savings at the movies and other attractions.

Whatever you do these school holidays with your kids, have fun and enjoy this long summer break.

What are your plans for the school holidays?

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