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

January 2018 School Holidays: What’s On in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie & 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.

Kids can enjoy LEGO Olympics, parachute games and STEAM Maker-fest in which kids will create, engineer and build Rube Goldberg machines. There’s storytimes galore for kids aged 3 to 7 including sporty storytimes, ditch the device storytime and fun and games storytime.

Families can beat the heat with free movies on the big screen that the whole family can enjoy. Screenings include Pixels, Wreck it Ralph and Ratchet and Clank at Wallsend Library. BYO cushion, blanket and nibbles. There’s also drop-in Family Board Games sessions at selected libraries. Join in for an afternoon of retro board gaming. All the classics will be there as well as amazing jumbo sized games.

As a result of the addition of the new Makerspace area and equipment in Newcastle Library, there are lots of tech activities for kids aged 9 and over  to do. These include LEGO Mindstorms, 3D printing and making music with Sonic Pi.

Maitland City Library has a variety of fun workshops revolving a supercharged celebration of sports, games, technology and team spirit. Kids can join the library Commonwealth Games and participate in long jump, volleyball and indoor hockey. If they prefer board games, they can design and create their own board game as well as learn how to play role play games such as Dungeons and Dragons, Star Wars and Dr Who. For Pokeman fans, join in for some Pokemon Play with a real-life Pokemon Professor and learn about little known facts and history as well as making your own Pokocube.

In the Little Bang Discovery Club, kids can discover the world of science. Presented over two weeks by the University of Newcastle’s SMART Program, children and their parents or carers learn the art of discovering and scientific enquiry in a fun and hands-on way. There’s also a fun family trivia night where you can test your knowledge of all things sport and games.

Lake Macquarie City Library has a number of activities to keep kids entertained. From craft and coding workshops to Pirate School, there’s lots of fun planned for the holidays.

There’s plenty of educational sessions to learn about sharks, snakes and the wonders of the universe. There’s also a Dinosaur Roar storytime and craft session. For Harry Potter fans, test your knowledge of all things Harry Potter with trivia and games for muggles.

There’s also African drumming in the park at Speers Point Park. Kids can participate in a drum workshop of awesomeness creating rhythms drawn from West Africa. Get down to Green Point where kids can learn about traditional Aboriginal weaving and story in this beautiful setting whilst creating their own keepsake to take home.

Enjoy the wonder of magic.The whole family will be amazed by award winning magician Joel Howlett at his all new show at Charlestown Library.

Join Deborah Kelly for stories, songs and craft at a special storytime as she reads her new picture book The Chalk Rainbow at Speers Point Library

Author Renee Price also hosts a special storytime with puppets and songs at Cardiff Library, based on her latest book Digby and the Yodelayhee… Who? Books will be available for purchase and signing on the day.

At Port Stephens Library, there’s lots of different school holiday offering for kids including board games sessions, yoga for kids, introduction to karate, a family movie and Scratch coding workshops.

There’s lots of fun at Cessnock Library during the school holidays. There’s Film & Craft which combines an afternoon at the movies, followed by craft. There’s also virtual reality pop ups for kids 12+ who wish to swim with the sharks or blast into outer space. Kids can also play “Minute to Win It” games and test their skills against the clock. If your kids love fairytales, come along to Frank’s Fantastic Fairytale Theatre as this wonderful local puppet theatre troupe recreates some well-loved fairytales.  Kids can then make their own puppets at a separate puppet-making workshop.

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

Pop by Newcastle Museum where activities revolve around the current exhibition Dinosaur rEvolution. (Here’s my review of this dinosaur exhibition. It’s on until Sunday 28 January 2018). Activities include the dinosaur armour workshop. Kids can create their very own Dinosaur armour and evolve into an exotic beast.

There’s also the Night-time Safari Adventure. For one night only, kids take over the Museum for couple of hours! Kids can dress up in their best safari outfit for an evening of adventure on this night-time expedition and enjoy treasures hunts, fun and food!

The always popular science shows will be on as well this time focusing on some amazing science around dinosaurs. Be amazed at the size and strength of these pre-historic creatures and be surprised by their colour. This holiday we promise to entertain and stun you with the science of these feathered friends! Science shows run on selected Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Arts, Crafts, Drama and Music

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 Week 1 in the Art of Flowers workshop, kids will will create a botanical masterpiece with acrylic paints and watercolours using colours inspired from nature. In this 1 hour workshop children will have the opportunity to view a variety of beautiful bouquets to inspire their finished floral design.

The following week in the Blooms + Bugs workshop, children will create flamboyant flowers and whimsical insects from recycled materials and let their imaginations run wild, whilst learning about the importance of up-cycling ordinary household items. Children will get to take their unique creations home.

Lake Macquarie Art Gallery is featuring cool children’s workshops. Kids can design and print their own beach bag using screen printing and mixed media, make their own sculptural beach thongs using printmaking, painting and assemblage, create their own watercraft from found and recycled materials, and create skateboard design as part of a contemporary art installation.

For preschoolers, enrol them in Rainbow Connection. Young children and their carers can enjoy some interactive time through art activities and storytelling.

Drop in to do some art at Art Space. Young children and their families can enjoy simple free art activities in Art Space. Supervised by friendly staff and gallery educators, these sessions give children the opportunity to engage with the exhibitions and enjoy some creative processes of their own. Parents can get creative and join in as well. Drop-in sessions Sundays 10.30am – 12pm.

Maitland Regional Art Gallery is hosting Free Art January which includes loads of MRAG tutor-led activities for children and families indoors and out. There is something for everyone throughout the month long extravaganza with activities for 0-6, 6+, tween and teen. Highlights include machine-making, box sculptures, paper-flowing making draw your own portrait, create your own zoo for Lionel’s Place and lantern making.

Outdoor Fun

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

Wander through Blackbutt Reserve during the school holidays for a family walk, for a play in the playground or to look at the Blackbutt Animals. The reptile show is on at 11am weekends and daily during school holidays, ($3 per person). There’s also daily animal feeding times.

Meanwhile over at Hunter Wetlands Centre in Sandgate, there will be sessions for bush skills adventure and Wetlands Explorer Club and some drop in sessions for plaster fun and sand art fun. There’s also a Kids Art Day where kids will observe and learn about the wetland environment and use drawing, painting, collage, and other art techniques to express their understanding and appreciation of the wetland environment.

Hunter Wetlands Centre also offers $2 entry for kids 12 and under during school holiday periods. Under 3s are free. At other times, all tickets are $5 for adults and kids over 5.

There’s lots to do at the wetlands in the holidays: dipnetting, canoeing, children’s playground, reptile encounters, walking & bike tracks, magpie geese feeding at 10.30am daily, explore with your Wetlands Passport. BBQ & picnic facilities and Café.  (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 outdoors program. It includes beach safety, sea caves exploration, junior fishing clinic, Disc golf at Rathmines, kayaking, introductory sailing session and stand up paddleboarding sessions.  There’s also different guided walks including a geology stroll, seagrass saunter, rockpool ramble and fossil walk as well as an after dark exploration of Glenrock.

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 between 12:30pm and 2:30pm on most days during the school holidays. Check the schedule

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

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. Wildlife Wedesndays will be held at Charlestown Swim Centre, Swansea Swim Centre, Speers Point Swim Centre and West Wallsend.

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

Dr Chris and Dr Xand, the stars of hit ABC Me children’s television series Operation Ouch! will be at Civic Theatre on 8 January 2018. TV’s favourite identical twins have been hard at work – creating more incredible medical stunts and even crazier experiments … and the show is packed with fascinating facts about biology and the awesome things your body can do. Plus they’ll share their favourite bits from the TV show! Tickets  are available through Civic Theatre box office with prices starting from $40.70.

To keep kids entertained this summer, get them an Entertainment Pass from Charlestown Square. The 2018 Kids Entertainment Passes and Super Entertainment Passes are now on sale at the Customer Service Desk and offer great savings. From just $39, you can choose a Super Pass, and save over $23 – or the Kids Passes at $39 each are packed with savings of over $25! Each Kids Entertainment Pass includes a ticket to Reading Cinemas – with a bonus small popcorn, bowling at Strike or 9 Hole Round at Holey Moley, 60 minutes Quickplay at Megamania, 30 minutes play at Time Zone and a Teeny-Weeny Pack from Schnitz.

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 2018. We’re planning to use ours during the school holidays and have some fun. Pick up your Entertainment Passes from the Customer Service Desk at Charlestown Square. Conditions apply.

Movies

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.

Coco

Despite his family’s generations-old ban on music, young Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead. After meeting a charming trickster named Hector (Gael García Bernal), the two new friends embark on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history. Rated PG.

Ferdinand

Ferdinand, is a giant bull with a big heart. he is mistaken for a dangerous beast and is captured and torn from his home and family. Determined to return to his family, he rallies a misfit team for the ultimate adventure. Set in Spain, Ferdinand proves you can’t judge a bull by its cover.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Four high school kids discover an old video game console and are drawn into the game’s jungle setting, literally becoming the adult avatars they chose. What they discover is that you don’t just play Jumanji – you must survive it. To beat the game and return to the real world, they’ll have to go on the most dangerous adventure of their lives, discover what Alan Parrish left 20 years ago, and change the way they think about themselves – or they’ll be stuck in the game forever. Rated PG.

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature

Surly the squirrel and his animal friends find out that the corrupt mayor of Oakton plans to bulldoze their beloved Liberty Park to make way for an amusement park. Hoping to save the place they call home, Surly, Andie, Buddy and the rest of the gang join forces with Mr. Feng, a seemingly cute and innocent mouse who happens to be a fierce master of kung fu.

Paddington 2

The much-anticipated sequel to the worldwide hit family film finds Paddington happily settled with the Brown family in Windsor Gardens, where he has become a popular member of the community, spreading joy and marmalade wherever he goes.

Watch a movie under the stars! Newcastle Permanent Cinema Under the Stars is screening  The Secret Life of Pets in Singleton on Friday 5 January, The Secret Life of Pets in Nelson Bay on Saturday 6 January, Sing in Newcastle on Saturday 13 January and Moana in Maitland on Friday 19 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?