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Visitors to Questacon walk across the light tunnel bridge.

Eight must do winter school holiday activities

Updated 28 Jun 2022

The best things to do in the winter school holidays in Canberra.

 

While Canberra’s iconic attractions are open for fun, educational experiences throughout the year, many host an array of activities and programs exclusive to the school holidays. Book in early to guarantee a spot and ensure maximum family fun. 

Encounter animals big and small

With a wide variety of both native and exotic animals, as well as the largest inland saltwater tank in Australia, there is something for everyone at the National Zoo and Aquarium. Take your visit to the zoo a step further with the Zoocation school holiday program. Kids will get close and personal with some of the world’s most amazing creatures as they play games, make toys for the animals, and learn something along the way. The zoo also has an epic playground, known as AdventureLand, with 55 activities and various life-size fibreglass animal sculptures to capture memories of your visit.

A group of children watching a science experiment at Questacon.

See live spectacular science shows

The spectacular science shows at Questacon will have the whole family enthralled by experiments run by the excited particles theatre troupe. Ignite your sense of adventure as you bounce from one gallery to the next, each one tackling science concepts in an engaging way. The Mini Q area, specifically designed for 0–6-year old’s means the tiny tots in the family don’t miss out on the fun. For a rare treat, Questacon will open its doors after dark for Mid-Winter Nights @ Questacon (6 - 9 July) with liquid nitrogen ice cream and roving performers adding to the excitement.

Two children at a desk with lots of pencils. One child is wearing a face mask.

Step into a world of art

Encourage your child’s curiosity and creativity at the National Gallery of Australia with joyful, artist-led programs and activities. Created by artists for kids and families, Art Steps by Hayley Millar Baker (2 – 17 July) is an activity that looks at how our intuitions and imaginations take us to special places and people while we are dreaming.

Gunditjmara and Djabwurrung artist, Hayley Millar Baker, has also crafted a film, Nyctinasty, featured at the 4th National Indigenous Art Triennial: Ceremony, a must-visit exhibition (until 31 July). The National Gallery is an inspiring place for people of all ages. General entry is free.

Image courtesy of the National Gallery of Australia. 

A sculpture of a giant pre-historic creature on grass at night time

Meet long-extinct gigantic creatures

Meander around the Australian National Botanic Gardens and step back in time on a family adventure trail as you meet enormous creatures at MEGAfauna: myths and legends! (1 – 31 July). Exploring the gardens and trying to spot every gigantic animal sculpture is the perfect outdoor activity for kids this school holidays. Kids can climb a three-level treehouse into the canopy of a lush paperbark forest and scamper across stepping stones, at the Paperbark Treehouse and Garden.

For a limited time, you can take the rare opportunity to see the Gardens in its nocturnal state at MEGAfauna afterDARK (2 – 9 July).

Get creative in a workshop

Under the guidance of some of Australia’s most acclaimed glass artists, your little artist will learn introductory techniques in glassmaking and create their own masterpiece at Canberra Glassworks. This year’s school holiday winter program will feature two workshops to choose from - Holiday Tiles and Casting Light.

Parents can enjoy the newly opened exhibitions - Annette Blair, Quietly Spoken and Kate Nixon, On Reflection (until 14 August). Why not embark on a special heritage tour that takes you through the Kingston Powerhouse building, highlighting some of its historic features and some creative contemporary glass additions? The whole family will enjoy watching molten glass transform in the Hotshop, gaining unique insights into the artistic process.

Kids playing with a coin display at the Royal Mint of Australia

Make money and memories

Flock to where all of Australia's circulating coins are made. On your trip to the Royal Australian Mint, visit the factory viewing area for a bird’s eye view of where the coins are made. See if you can spot Titan, the giant robot, and a few other robot friends who help make the coins.

Visit the new Dino-mite exhibition which explores the incredible world of Australia’s dinosaurs or join a family tour to explore some of Australia’s favourite sport and how they represented on Aussie coins, medals and medallions (5 and 7 July). Be sure to pick up the 'My Visit to the Mint' activity book from the front desk and complete the Mint Treasure Hunt. You can even mint a legal commemorative $1 coin (cost of $3 per coin) and start a collection of your own. General entry is free. 

boy walking up to large model dinosaurs

Walk alongside prehistoric life

Roam through the interactive National Dinosaur Museum and snap a pic with Sam the T-Rex. Your budding palaeontologist will love the hands-on fossil casting experience delivered on a Junior Paleo tour. Or discover the dark side of prehistoric life as you embark on a journey of discovery through the dimly lit galleries at a Dinosaurs at Night tour.

The museum is also home to one of the largest displays of crystals, fossils, minerals and gemstones in Australia. You can purchase the Gold Creek Adventure Ticket for full-day access to Cockington Green Gardens, Canberra Walk-In Aviary, Canberra Reptile Zoo, and the National Dinosaur Museum. TJunior paleo tour and Dinosaurs at Night require a separate ticket.  

Artwork displayed in the National Museum of Australia.

See stories come alive

Get a snapshot of our nation at the National Museum of Australia, which is home to more than 210,000 objects representing Australia’s history and cultural heritage. Follow one of the National Museum of Australia’s family trails to discover the stories behind some of the amazing objects on show at the museum. Take your own pace, with two self-guided family trails available for ages 2–5 and 5–8 years. See what you can find along the way. General entry to the museum is free.

Be sure to experience Connection: Songlines from Australia’s First Nations Peoples (until 9 October) while you're at the museum. Bringing to life the stories, art, and culture of Australia’s First Peoples, this multi-sensory light and sound experience will see you journey across Australia (costs apply).

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