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The best school holiday activities in Canberra this winter

Updated 20 Jun 2024

Everything you need to keep the kids entertained these winter school holidays.

You won’t have any trouble keeping the kids happy this winter, as many of Canberra's iconic attractions host activities and programs exclusive to the winter school holiday period (1-12 July VIC, 8-22 July NSW, 5-22 July ACT). Book in early to maximise family holiday fun.

Explore the great outdoors

Venture just 45 minutes from the city centre to Corin Forest. During the winter season, the forest transforms into a snowy playground offering an array of exciting activities for all ages. From skiing and snowboarding on dedicated slopes to the classic toboggan experience, there's something for everyone to enjoy. Explore the serene winter landscape or take a turn on the 1.2-kilometre alpine slide which winds down through the trees of the Mountain Ash Forest. Get creative with snowman building or simply warm up at the Alpine Café with a hot drink or woodfired pizza meal after a day of snowy adventures. While you’re in the area, take the family over to Namadgi National Park, where you can explore the ancient and diverse landscape that the Ngunnawal People have been custodians of for tens of thousands of years. Namadgi National Park protects 106,095 hectares of alpine, sub-alpine and mountain bushland and makes up almost half of the ACT, making it the perfect landscape to enjoy beautiful walks and breathtaking picnic spots.

Embark on an unmissable adventure through Majura Pines, just a 20-minute drive north east of Canberra’s city centre with Treetops Adventure Canberra. The park boasts over 90 aerial obstacles and 16 ziplines, suspended between 1-15 metres above the ground  Whether you’re a newbie or a ninja, Treetops Adventure guarantees total, aerial fun for your school-aged family!

Three children delight in snow

Delight in winter events and festivities 

The city centre will come alive with enchanting activities and delightful winter festivities as part of Winter in the City (6-21 July). Feel the ice beneath your feet as you step onto the outdoor ice-skating rink in Glebe Park or witness the mesmerising warmth of fire performances at Garema Place. As night falls, Garema Place will come alive with the dance of fire. Free for all to enjoy, these performances are bound to light up your winter evenings. 

The Little Burley Markets will host its very own winter market as will Haig Park Market. Celebrating adiverse community with soups from all over the world, freshly baked Damper, toasted marshmallows, local entertainment and the magic of markets to get even the coldest explorer into the winter spirit.

Two people wearing rainbow coloured tie dye lab coats, standing behind a liquid nitrogen science experiment.

See spectacular science displays and shows

The spectacular science shows at Questacon will have the whole family enthralled by experiments run by the Questacon Excited Particles theatre troupe. Access to these amazing shows is included with your paid admission to Questacon. 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 ages 0–6 helps the tiny tots in the family not miss out on the fun.

Dive into the immersive learning experience of CURIOSITY: Building Breakthroughs in LEGO Bricks, a collaboration between renowned LEGO-certified professional Ryan 'Brickman' McNaught and Questacon. This hands-on exhibit breathes life into science and history, captivating visitors of all ages. LEGO braille bricks have been integrated throughout CURIOSITY, helping to make the exhibition accessible to visitors with low vision or blindness and their accompanying families and carers, thanks to a partnership with Vision Australia.

A meerkat.

Get more bang for your buck

Embark on an unforgettable adventure with the Canberra Mega Pass, granting access to three iconic attractions that showcase some of the best of Canberra's offerings for the whole family.

Tour Australia’s premier elite sports precinct with an Olympian at the Australian Institute of Sport, encounter the animal kingdom up close and personal at the National Zoo & Aquarium, and unleash your curiosity at Questacon, with hands-on exhibits and interactive displays.

Get your ticket

Walk alongside prehistoric life

Enjoy everything this delightful precinct has to offer with the Gold Creek Adventure Ticket. The ticket gives you full-day access to Cockington Green GardensCanberra Walk-In AviaryCanberra Reptile Zoo, and the National Dinosaur Museum.   

While you delight in your fun-filled day, roam through the interactive National Dinosaur Museum and snap a pic with Sam the T-Rex. Your budding palaeontologist will love the hands-on experiences on offer. The museum is also home to one of the largest displays of crystals, fossils, minerals, and gemstones in Australia.

Encounter animals big and small

A day spent at the National Zoo & Aquarium is a day well spent with family and friends. With a wide variety of both native and exotic animals, as well as the largest inland saltwater tank in Australia, there is something that will surprise and delight the whole family. 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.

During the school holidays, the zoo hosts Zoocation, which offers a unique experience for primary aged children. Kids can get close to many of the zoo’s animals, play loads of games, and learn something new along the way throughout a fun-filled day.

Or make your own way to a self-guided adventure through Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, where wallabies, emus, koalas, and even the elusive platypus wander free. You can make the most of the reserve’s Nature Discovery Playground and the idyllic picnic spots, BBQ areas, and many beautiful views, to keep those wiggly little ones well-exercised.

Please note: the Tidbinbilla Visitor Centre is closed until further notice; however, the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is open as per normal opening hours.

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 on either of the two self-guided family trails (available for ages 2–5 and 5–8 years) and see what you can discover along the way.

Or hang with the smaller fam in the Museum’s Tim and Gina Fairfax Discovery Centre (ages birth to 6 years), where young minds can discover five stories from Australian History that encourage different types of play (open daily, costs apply). General entry to the museum is free.

A young girl wearing a pointed witches' hat and harry potter robes.

Try a creative workshop

Uncover the inner workings of Canberra Glassworks with a hands-on workshop in one of the most exciting art facilities in Australia. With the help of an experienced artist, their School Holiday Program will teach children how to cut coloured glass to create a two-dimensional masterpiece in a tile-making workshop or try their hand at designing and creating a sculpture in clay. During the school holidays, choose between blowing your own tumbler, fusing your own glass bowl, or crafting your own holiday tiles.

Or take your little wizard to Australia’s most magical store, Quizzic Alley – with the biggest range of official Harry Potter merchandise anywhere in the country – where the Potter-fans of the family can enjoy a wand-making workshop during the ACT school holiday period.

Two large outdoor puppets on display at the Australian National Botanic Gardens.

Walk through time with MEGAfauna

Discover more about the diverse floral life in Australia at the Australian National Botanic Gardens over the school holidays including the much-anticipated MEGAfauna in July where you have the chance to meet the magnificent MEGAfauna that roamed Australia more than 20,000 years ago. Discover ‘living plant fossils’ and investigate the landscapes of Australia’s past.

Join Storytime for stories, songs, rhymes and creative activities on the Crosbie Morrison Lawn, bringing to life the gardens’ beautiful, natural surroundings (10-11 am, first Friday of every month). Discover the amazing secrets of the plants that live in the Australian bush on a family-friendly tour on the magical Flora Explorer bus (Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays at 11:30 and 1:30 pm). Bookings are essential as numbers are limited. 

Then wander through the Rainforest Gully, visit the Red Centre Garden, and finish at the Paperbark Treehouse. 

Children playing on the Pod Playground at the National Arboretum.

Climb through acorns 

The award-winning POD playground at the National Arboretum Canberra will have kids climbing structures and testing out slides, swings, giant acorn cubbies, and music-making instruments.

Take a wander through the nearby Bonsai Collection which hosts a world-class display of some of the finest miniature trees and forests in the world.

Get your race on or try bouldering indoors

The tracks at Power Kart Raceway are sure to get your heart racing. Take the whole family to try racing the world class electric go-karts on a Formula One style indoor circuit. Also on site is an indoor glow-in-the-dark mini golf course, synthetic ice skating rink, and an array of arcade machines, so everyone will find something to make them happy.

A short drive away you’ll find BlocHaus within the Dairy Road precinct. This bouldering centre is perfect for kids to get a taste of rock climbing, with a section of the gym dedicated to families – with the walls shorter and padded mats below. There’s no need for ropes, partners, or gear for this all-day fun.

 

Tour group playing basketball

Catch some of Australia’s top athletes in action 

Go behind the scenes on a 90-minute tour of the Australian Institute of Sport, Australia’s premier elite sports precinct. Discover where Australia’s sporting champions are created and gain insight into the life of their leading athletes. You might even catch some of Australia’s top athletes in training.

Included is a visit to Sportex, one of Australia's leading interactive sports exhibits, set amongst a first-class collection of sporting memorabilia. Try wheelchair basketball, virtual downhill skiing, rock climbing, football penalty shootouts and more. Great fun for all ages and athletic abilities.

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Aerial image of the Pod Playground at the National Arboretum Canberra with the arboretum and Black Mountain Tower in the background. | © Wunderman Thompson

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