2014 marks the 32nd year of Australia’s largest free Christmas concert and it looks to be another star-studded event. This year’s Woolworths Carols in the Domain is on Saturday 20 December 2014 and this year’s stellar line-up includes Samantha Jade, Dami Im, Mark Vincent, Taylor Henderson, Lee Kernaghan, The McClymonts, Adam Garcia, Judith Durham, Wicked the Musical, The Wiggles, Jay Laga’aia, Georgie Parker, Marlisa, Nathaniel Willemse, Paulini, Christine Anu and Doug Parkinson.
The Lights of Christmas are beautiful 3D digital projections that illuminate St Mary’s Cathedral 75m high facade are back again for another year, running nightly from 9 – 25 December 2014.
This year the free Lights of Christmas show examines the notion of ‘giving’ and ‘service’, offering a time for reflection on what it means to give. There will also be a special children’s section of the show that will feature the 12 Days of Christmas story in vivid and colourful moving imagery. The nightly spectacle is accompanied by live choir performances from the steps of Sydney’s grandest Cathedral.
From now until 25 December 2014, take a nightly stroll with the family through Sydney’s central business district to observe a delightful array of light shows, festive installations, Christmas-themed decorations and interactive experiences.
Start at the Market Street entrance to Pitt Street Mall and look up to gaze on the multi-coloured Christmas Light Forest placed overhead. As you walk past Westfield Sydney stop and marvel at the LEGO® Christmas Tree, a magical tree built entirely from LEGO bricks.
Head towards King Street, where projections will be transforming the facades of several buildings at the popular intersection, before continuing on to Martin Place to see the special interactive Christmas tree, where you can text your messages to run along its branches and hear choral performances every night from 6-8pm. And have a boogie while you’re at it, because the whole of Martin Place will be illuminated thanks to specially placed reflective banners that will create a mirrorball effect all along the popular pedestrian plaza.
Then pop into the historic Queen Victoria Building to gaze at its famed three-storey Swarovski Crystal Christmas tree and have photos with Santa in the Swarovski Crystal Garden before heading outside to watch more festive light projections on Sydney Town Hall.
Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority presents this mainly-FREE program of BIG-TIME Christmas celebrations with Santa Fest operating across Darling Harbour until Christmas Eve, Tuesday 24 December.
The wonder of Santa Fest includes paddleboat rides, from Darling Harbour Marina, to enjoy a closer look at the huge, inflatable, illuminated Santas bobbing on the bay.
Grab a picnic rug and watch some Christmas classics at Santa Movies Under the Stars, on the Village Green, Darling Quarter. Friday nights are PG rated, while Saturdays kick off earlier at 5.30pm with G rated films, perfect for the whole family.
End your night with a bang with the spectacular fireworks over Cockle Bay every Saturday night (and a special display on Christmas Eve).
Santa has made himself comfortable 250 metres above street level at the Sydney Tower Eye! Join him on the Observation Deck to experience Christmas in the Sky, which includes a FREE Santa photo for all kids.
Santa’s Grotto will be open at Sydney Tower Eye until Wednesday 24 December. Visit Santa and tell him your last-minute present requests, weekdays from 4.00pm – 7.00pm and weekends from 11.00am – 6.00pm, then 11.00am – 6.00pm every day from Sunday 21 December.
Christmas at the Sydney Opera House is always spectacular and this year ‘the House’ is hosting two very special concert series this December – Jingle Bell Rock (19 – 21 December 2014) and Christmas Carol Sing-Along (22 – 23 December 2014). Along with a 48 piece orchestra, Australian TV and music stars Eddie Perfect, Emma Pask and Rachael Beck will have you entertained with all the well-loved Christmas classics.
Santa will be making his way through the Concert Hall foyers prior to each performance – so be sure to get there early so he knows what’s on the Christmas list! Because Christmas is for everybody, The Balnaves Foundation Open House program is offering socially and financially disadvantaged families $5 tickets for these two shows.
For children aged 2 – 5, the Babies Proms Little Drummer Boy concert will introduce them to rhythm and percussion, exploring a number of classic Christmas carols. Children will learn about different percussion instruments, and even have an opportunity to play along with the Babies Proms ensemble on a drum of their own!
Roll up, roll up – for Powerhouse Museum’s Circus Factory!
Running from 20 December 2014 – 3 May 2015, Circus Factory features all the wonders of the circus with live performances from acclaimed Australian circus troupe Circa, costumes, props and sideshow favourites such as the Strongman Game and Laughing Clowns.
In partnership with the Centre National du Costume de Scène (CNCS), Moulins, France, Circus Factory will explore ringmasters, performing with animals, acrobats, clowns, dressing rooms, accessories and the grand parade. A 100 year-old carousel from Craig Robson’s Fairground Follies collection will be on show, with rides offered all day, every day and a series of workshops will be held for children to build their own wacky wire bugs, conducted by Adelaide’s David Archer who has his own kinetic sculptures and contemporary mechanical figures on display.
Kids just LOVE Kids in the Park Summer Programs and, after 10 years of success, it’s on again at Sydney Olympic Park these school holidays!
Kids in the Park is on EVERY DAY of the summer school holidays from 20 December 2014 – 26 January 2015 (inclusive), offering heaps of FREE activities and good-value options for less than $20 per child. Featuring more than 50 activities, Kids in the Park makes Sydney Olympic Park the official home of the biggest range of school holiday activities of any location in NSW.
For the full program, dates, times and more visit kidsinthepark.com.au
Use your senses to explore the mysterious underwater world of dugongs in the new Dugong Island at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium. The BRAND NEW experience allows guests to walk amongst an underwater shipwreck while admiring the only pair of dugongs on display in the world – Pig and Wuru!
Pig and Wuru’s new tank also includes a unique interactive display that allows kids and parents to hear, speak and see like a dugong! Also part of their new home is the world’s first dugong scent device that gives visitors a taste of the dugong smell.
For an even more interactive and exclusive experience, Dugong Island will also give visitors the opportunity to feed Pig and Wuru in the aquarium’s Behind-the-Scenes Tour! Offered twice daily, the 45 minute Behind-the-Scenes Tour will include interaction with marine biologists, preparing food for Pig and Wuru, walking the Dugong Island ‘Plank’ to gain exclusive access to the enclosure and feeding both the fish above Shark Valley and the rays in the Bay of Rays!
SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium will also host fun, kid-friendly activities including a treasure hunt, daily interactive dugong talks, an educational craft event and more.
For more information, or to book visit sydneyaquarium.com.au
(NOTE: Behind the Scenes Tour – advanced bookings required)
Get up close and personal with Pink, Katy Perry, Rihanna and a host of other life-like and life-sized wax figure celebrities.
‘Meet’ your favourite sports stars, heroes and icons at the amazing Madame Tussauds Sydney and don’t forget to bring your camera or smartphone for some ‘selfies with the stars’!
Check opening times and ticket prices by visiting Madame Tussauds.
Fun is flying into WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo with the all-new WILD Flight – a self-propelled ride where kids and parents alike will experience flight through the attraction’s aviary.
Riders will see kangaroos from the sky, glide past Princess Parrots and other feathered friends and even take a daring journey above Rex, the zoo’s huge 5 metre crocodile! As a part of this treetop experience, WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo also welcomes a family of endangered Grey-headed Flying Foxes which can be seen from three different vantage points made accessible by a brand-new treetops observation tower.
WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo is the place to get up close to Australia’s most loved and feared animals – from Koala Encounters to Kangaroo Walk-about, interactive displays, daily feeding session and keeper talks and enhanced walk-through habitats – there’s so much to see and do.
Catch FREE movies under the stars at Darling Quarter for the annual Little Darlings Night Owls Kids Film Fest from 9 – 25 January 2015.
Together with the whole family, you can watch classics including Mrs Doubtfire, The Lion King, Stand By Me and even Frozen!
Each night before the sun goes down, audiences will also be treated to a vibrant mix of live entertainment from 5.30-6.30pm.
Get down to Darling Quarter early to nab a good spot, relax on a colourful picnic rug and have a little boogie with the kids to some live music before the movies start!
Check out the program and start picking the nights to bring the whole gang along.
An exotic expedition of beautiful puppetry and storytelling for the young & the young at heart will be presented at Lend Lease Darling Quarter Theatre from 21 – 24 January 2015.
Suitable for ages 4 – 8, Z for Giraffe beautifully incorporates a number of puppetry styles including marionettes, hand puppets and shadow puppets.
The amazing puppeteers also interact as storytellers, actors and musicians, delighting all ages.
The show goes for 40 minutes and bookings can be made at monkeybaa.com.au
Playing from 7 – 24 January 2015, the beloved children’s classic ‘The Wind in the Willows’ comes to life and delights families once again, as it has for the past 14 years.
Presented by the Australian Shakespeare Company, this critically acclaimed outdoor theatre production delivers music, songs and laughs. Audiences are encouraged to get involved in the action, and are given every opportunity to scream out loud, sing along and become part of the adventure. With laughs and surprises for children and adults, this is interactive theatre at its best.
January 2015 sees the return of the hugely popular Movies by the Boulevard, now in its 14th year. Catch some of the best films, FREE, at Cathy Freeman Park.
Kids movies include How to Train Your Dragon 2, Mr Peabody and Sherman, Rio 2, The Lego Movie, Maleficent and Frozen: Sing-Along. On kids movie nights there are plenty of great activities and fun kicking off at 5pm before the movie starts at 8.30pm, and a quality selection of food and beverages will be available to purchase from 6pm.
This summer holidays, visit Taronga Zoo and meet their Dinosaurs! Dotted around the eastern side of the Zoo, lurking in gardens, reaching out from wetlands, and appearing inside unexpected exhibits, you’ll come face-to-face with full-size, life-like dinosaurs — each giving you a sense of what life may have been like in prehistoric times.
Running until 1 February 2015, witness these magnificent creatures up close, learn about the way they lived, and find out more about the modern-day animals that they represent through some specially designed activities including the Dinosaur 3D Experience.
These school holidays pop into the Art Gallery of New South Wales and have a whole bunch of fun in a specially-designed space called POP PLAY, which integrates the Gallery’s current Pop Art Exhibition with family-friendly activities.
The most comprehensive collection of pop art ever to be seen in Australia is on until 1 March 2015 and in POP PLAY kids of all ages can explore educational pop art books and cushions, play a giant game of Pop Twister, embrace their inner pop artist designing their own soup can based on Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s soup cans and the comic book imagery of Roy Lichtenstein, make their own colourful collage using stickers of iconic 1960s pop culture, food and space-age robots and set out on the Children’s Trail, ‘Pop to Popism’ – a specially designed route around the exhibition with more than 30 works which have been interpreted just for children!
And in January, the Gallery will offer a range of free school holiday programs, including Popcornucopia, a performance series that brings pop art to life using mime, magic and illusion, and drop-in workshops that allow children to ‘makeover’ the Galley with a paper pop-up of the facade.
From 13 December, Sydney Living Museums presents Towers of Tomorrow with LEGO® Bricks, a world-premiere exhibition that combines architecture and design with an interactive, creative play space.
Towers of Tomorrow with LEGO® Bricks features astonishing skyscrapers from Asia and Australia constructed from LEGO® bricks with breathtaking architectural detail and accuracy and includes some of the most iconic and eye-popping towers from across Asia as well as iconic Australian skyscrapers like the Infinity Tower (Brisbane), Q1 (Gold Coast), Eureka Tower (Melbourne) and Central Park Tower (Perth), along with Sydney’s own skyline-defining skyscraper Sydney Tower.
Visitors can create their own ‘towers of tomorrow’ with over 200,000 loose LEGO® bricks featured in hands-on construction areas.
For full details visit sydneylivingmuseums.com.au
New for the summer holidays is the awe-inspiring Illawarra Fly Zipline Adventure!
Launching on 20 December 2015, you can experience the magnificent Southern Highlands rainforest like never before on Australia’s highest zipline. You can also experience what it’s like to walk high in the treetops and take in amazing views from the Fly Treetop Walk!
With two amazing eco-adventures to try out, a guided tour, visitor centre and cafe – there’s something for the whole family just two hours’ from Sydney.
In its eighth year, the Christmas Lights Spectacular at the Hunter Valley Gardens has become a family tradition for Australian families. With 1.5 million Christmas lights the event is quite a spectacular sight to see. Festive sights, sounds and activities will kick start that holiday feeling and the opening night will hold a great firework show to spark off the celebrations.
The largest Christmas lights display in the Southern Hemisphere, the lights will be dazzling until 26 January 2015 (excluding Christmas Day and night). Gates will open nightly from 6.30pm, with pre-lights entertainment, food stalls and amusement rides. The lights display will commence at 7.30pm.
These school holidays Hunter Valley Gardens will also be home to Australia’s largest animatronics bug display. This first of a kind event gives you the chance to get up close and personal with numerous giant animatronic creatures, including an 8-metre Praying Mantis and a 4-metre butterfly, as they mimic lifelike insects. The Mega Bugs will be on display from 3 – 26 January 2015.
Read more about school holidays at HVG here
December 12 is Wet’n’Wild Sydney’s first birthday and they are celebrating with giveaways, photo opportunities with your favourite Nickelodeon characters, games and dancing and – of course – birthday cake!
Throughout the summer holidays, and free with park admission, Wet’n’Wild will be hosting Cinema in the Sand – fun for the whole family with movies screened under the stars at 8pm on select Friday nights during December and January.
From 20 December 2014 – 26 January 2015, explore the great big ocean with the Octonauts at Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary.
As well as special appearances from Captain Barnacles and Kwazii, kids will embark on an underwater adventure with plenty of Octonauts themed activities, go on an exciting mission to find characters in displays throughout the aquarium and test their knowledge on the Explore, Rescue, Protect quiz trail to win an exclusive sticker.
The largest theme park in NSW is action packed and guaranteed to thrill every member of the family – from little ones to mum and dad! A whole day here in the school holidays is just the ticket for Super Summer Fun.
Situated on the South Coast between Wollongong and Kiama, Jamberoo Action Park is just a couple of hours drive south of Sydney, why not combine a beach getaway with a Jamberoo Family Pass?
This Christmas holidays Thredbo is loaded with a big fresh line-up of activities, adventures and entertainment for the whole family. Climbing peaks, downhill biking, a mix of music and a mountain of things to do, the kids will love it.
Thredbo’s Family Adventure Festival program runs over two weeks from 24 December 2014 – 10 January 2015 and it perfectly complements the big line-up of good time in-resort activities like the Bobsled, heated pool, waterslide, Mission Inflatable, pump track, golf, tennis and chairlift.
The town of Bathurst will be celebrating a milestone 200th Anniversary in 2015 and preparations are underway for a 12-month long calendar of fantastic family-friendly events for Bathurst 200!
The Reliance Credit Union Carols by Candlelight at Machattie Park on Sunday 14 December is a great free family event with a variety of performers from Mitchell Conservatorium! Kicking off at 6pm, families are invited to bring a rug and a picnic – song books, candles and glow bracelets can all be purchased on the evening.
For full details contact 6331 6622
Then keep the festive fun going on Tuesday 16 December with the National Trust’s traditional Night before Christmas held at Miss Traill’s House! This year’s event will feature carols performed by the Carillon Show Band with an appearance by Santa and activities for the kids. Sausage sizzle available or bring your own picnic.
For full details contact 6332 4232
Kick of the New Year with Bathurst’s NYE Party in the Park – there’s no better way to start the Bicentenary Year and the Bathurst 200 celebrations than at the Party in the Park. Bring your picnic to Victoria Park between 4pm and 9.30pm or choose from a great array of food vendors on the night while you listen to live local entertainment. There’ll be plenty of activities for the kids with rides, jumping castle and free face painting and, of course, fireworks!
For full details contact 6333 6111