There’s something on offer to delight and entertain children of all ages in Canberra during the summer school holidays.
Be brave and take part in an animal encounter at the National Zoo & Aquarium to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most amazing creatures like cheetahs, giraffes, meerkats, sharks, sun bears, white lions and monkeys. During the school holidays the Zoocation program offers a hands-on experience for primary aged children; they will get up close and personal with many of the zoo’s animals, play games and make toys for the animals.
For a truly unique perspective on Canberra and its attractions visit the Yarralumla Play Station and delight in the Canberra-themed miniature golf course. Putt up and over Parliament House and see other iconic buildings like the Australian War Memorial and High Court as you meander around the picturesque surroundings with 36 holes over two courses. Ride the Miniature Train and meet the cute animals in the petting zoo.
Join the Old Parliament House’s school holiday program held inside Pop-Up PLAY UP, in the beautiful heritage Senate Courtyard. In the Design a Better World Workshops meet 10-year-old refugee Sidra through state-of-the-art virtual reality technology, explore a day in the life of an industrial designer and design your own life-changing masterpiece. But most importantly, have fun! Workshops are after free after admission. Bookings are essential at the brand new Behind the Lines 2015 exhibition and families can play the Signature Behind the Lines card game or the special ‘Guess Who’ pollie game in the Downstairs Gallery.
Explore the fascinating collection at the National Portrait Gallery before participating in activities like Portrait Play throughout the holidays. Free activities inspired by the Gallery’s Sideshow Alley: Infamy, the macabre and the portrait exhibition have been created for families to enjoy together in the Amusement Parlour family space. Sideshow Alley examines the exploits of Ned Kelly, Ben Hall and other notorious Australian criminals and considers the official, personal and commercial uses made of images of convicts and criminals throughout the 19th century.
Check out the very popular Kspace, the National Museum of Australia’s new interactive adventure game for kids. In this brand new experience, children will build their own time-travelling robot then blast off to explore a mystery location in Australia’s past. This experience is open to school groups and visitors seven days a week at specified times. Make sure to plan your visit by checking session times and booking requirements. Also, don’t miss the Museum’s summer blockbuster, Encounters, revealing the powerful stories of rare Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander objects from the British Museum’s unparalleled collection.
Hear stories of brave animals, extraordinary people, and faraway places, brought to life through puppets, uniforms, and educational toys at the Australian War Memorial. This summer school holiday Story Time program, run on Fridays from 10.30am, is suitable for pre-school-aged children, but older siblings are also welcome. In the interactive Discovery Zone environment kids can experience what it would be like to work in a trench, a helicopter, or a submarine. They can build bridges, explore an air raid shelter, and try on uniforms. Families can also investigate Australia’s involvement in the Second World War and some of the jobs done by today’s peacekeepers. The Discovery Zone is full of things to hear, see, and do.
The new-look National Gallery of Australia has launched some great summer programs and activities, as well as offering all your family favourites. If you plan on seeing the summer exhibition Tom Roberts, make sure to visit Tom’s Studio. Tom’s Studio is a fun-filled activity area for families inside the Tom Roberts exhibition. As well as Tom’s Studio, there are some great programs and activities for all ages, including Art Explorer: Faces in the crowd, Create space, Draw with Ghost Patrol and NGA underground. Bookings are essential for these kids’ events. There will also be daily Family Tours at 10.30am from 11-31 January.
Try something new
To complement its summer blockbuster exhibition Celestial Empire: Life in China, 1644–1911 from 2 January, the National Library of Australia has created a Celestial Empire Family Space. Use your imagination in this hands-on, interactive area to explore life during China’s last imperial dynasty. Kids and parents can contribute to a giant collaborative dragon artwork. Other activities will include puppeteering, craft, and colouring with ample space to curl up with a Chinese storybook. Throughout the summer holidays there is also a series of free family films, holiday workshops and storytelling sessions exploring China.
Strike your own coin, wave at the friendly robot Titan and peer down into the factory where all of Australia’s circulating coins are made at the Royal Australian Mint. The factory will not be in production from Christmas Day and will reopen on 4 January, however when you visit you can still peer down into the factory space and enjoy our interactive touch screens to take you behind the scenes and teach you all about the process of making coins!
Imagine if you could taste with your fingers and hear with your hair! Spiders, a joint exhibition between Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre and the Australian Museum, will help you to unlock the secretive world of these captivating creatures. Weave your way through the fascinating exhibits and interactive displays to discover how these web-weavers, hunters and burrowers outlived the dinosaurs to become one of the most successful creatures on earth. Challenge a peacock spider to a dance-off or, if you dare, ‘hold’ a virtual wolf spider in the palm of your hand!
Who bought the 1297 Magna Carta for Australia? How many Australian Coats of Arms are there in Parliament House? What would you write in your Magna Carta? These are just a few of the challenges in the Magna Carta Kids Discovery Trail. The whole family can follow the seven clues at Parliament House on this fun and illuminating free trail.
For more great school holiday ideas and places to stay in Canberra, visit www.visitcanberra.com.au.