Breeze Through The Freeze: Winter School Holiday Activities In Melbourne
We’re about to embark on the winter school holidays – two of the most difficult weeks of the year, when you discover (1) you can ruin somebody’s life just by asking them to put a jacket on (2) you haven’t left the kitchen all day because the kids have appetites that are literally insatiable (3) they have the will and the ability to fight over the iPad like it’s oxygen.
With a little bit of planning, it’s possible to retain your sanity and actually have fun during these wet, cold, dark days. Here are a few ideas to get you out of the house and exploring Melbourne. Good luck!
1. The Big Freeze Festival
If you want to give your kids a snow experience without the excessive cost and travel, then this is the place to be from 1st to the 9th July.
This year, the festival has moved to a bigger and better location at Fountain Gate Shopping Centre. This central location gives more Melbourne families the chance to experience the fun, and it’s now conveniently all undercover in big top marquees, which have been designed to set a dark, atmospheric, wintery tone for visitors.
Some new additions sure to thrill the crowds are the two snow slides, an inflatable obstacle course, plus upgraded forest, winter village and snowball toss with giant inflatable penguins as the targets.
The ticket price includes all activities in the nine different interactive zones – including a snow pit with real snow. It’s designed to give families a day out that will challenge kids, keep them active and creative, and put smiles on dials no matter what your age.
2. Fun4Kids Festival
If you’re up for a bit of a road trip, there’s nothing better than Warrnambool, and from 5th – 9th July, the Australian Tourism Award-winning Fun 4 Kids festival is back!
This year there’s a pirate theme, as well as extended opening hours until 7pm. With over 80 lives shows, and 18 activity zones (including craft, cooking, an animal farm, and ten pin bowling) it’s made for a return visit, so book some accommodation on the stunning Great Ocean Road and get yourself a multi-day pass.
3. Fed Square River Rink
Fed Square just got cooler – literally! From 1st July until 23rd July, River Rink is where people of all ages can strap some skates on and indulge in a 45-minute session on the ice, with the Yarra River and city skyline as a scenic backdrop.
It’s suitable for skaters aged 3 and above, and under 10s must wear a hired helmet (included in the price of their ticket). For those who are worried they’ll spend more time on their bottoms than their feet, there are also skating aids for hire.
Sessions begin every hour, on the hour, and go well into the night, when the whole area takes on a magical look with twinkling lights and crisp winter air. Once you’ve tired yourself out, there are plenty of post-skating dining options to warm those cold hands and empty stomachs.
4. Magic Workshops
Did you know there are just a handful of professional female magicians around the world? And Melbourne can lay claim to one of them! These winter school holidays, your kids can learn a world of secrets directly from Lee Cohen, who will be leading children aged 10 and above through beginner workshops at the Arts Centre Melbourne.
She’ll showcase a range of magical skills tailored for children, and even give participants a bag of tricks to take home and impress their friends and family with.
If you’re willing to swear the magician’s oath, then book quickly before tickets disappear (quite possibly in a puff of smoke).
5. Family Fun at ACMI
On days when parenting feels like I need a double-shot mocha vodka Valium latte just to get through the day, I often opt to take the kids to the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) – this place is incredible and has something for everyone. During school holidays they especially come into their own, with workshops galore – want to star in a zombie movie scene? Do you fancy testing your Minecraft building skills in a challenge? Want to get some tips on how to be a YouTube star? Or how about build a LEGO robot as a family?
If you’re looking for free indoor activities, there are plenty of them at ACMI, with interactive exhibitions, film screenings and a huge collection of moving image and audio content to search through in the Australian Mediatheque.
There’s even a great café, and the proof of ACMI’s calming effect on parents is that I’ve never had to resort to anything stronger than a flat white (hold the sugar).