Free fun for the winter school holidays

With limited free outdoor options, this round of school holidays can be a little challenging. There’s no need for boredom or blown budgets between 29 June and 14 July though. These freebies add up to hours of family fun.

NGV’s Alexander Calder kids workshop

NGV Australia and NGV International have free entry for everyone and oodles of amazing artworks, so they’re always top school holiday options. NGV International also has the free Alexander Calder workshop for kids, which taps into the gallery’s current exhibition of this American artist. Creative young minds and hands can make sculptures of animals and even their hometown.

A group of children standing by a semi-circle shaped window with a water feature running down it

School holiday fun awaits at the NGV

Dino Park at Melbourne Zoo

The zoo is great for keeping young bodies and minds active, especially during school holidays when entry’s free for under 16s. There are all the amazing animals you would expect, plus prehistoric creatures are currently roaming free thanks to some theatrical magic. Dino Park at Melbourne Zoo is a walk-through experience offering up-close encounters with big, life-like dinosaurs and cute baby ones too. It’s like Jurassic Park for real!

A dinosaur head peeking out behind some leaves

Dino Park

Docklands’ Firelight Festival

Firelight Festival returns to Docklands, bigger and better in 2019! From 28 to 30 June, the explosive three day festival features live entertainment, flame jets, fire drums, water and light shows and fireworks. Warm yourself and celebrate the winter solstice with fabulous food and fire performers. Drumlines, stilt walkers and a one-man band will rove along the harbour, accompanied by live music from around the world including Bollywood, mariachi, gypsy folk and Irish.

A fire breathing performer blowing fire into the air in front of a dock

Firelight Festival

Melbourne Museum school holiday activities

What’s the coolest way to learn about the importance of wearing helmets and other protective gear when riding bikes, scooters and skateboards? By making a broadcast-quality ad about it! Tweens can hop into the TV director’s chair during hands-on half-hour sessions at Melbourne Museum. Limited drop-in spaces are available, but it’s best book ahead for this free activity.

The Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre also has a shield-making activity. Find out more at the museum’s website, and remember, entry to this incredible institution is free for children.

Beneath at ArtPlay

Young imaginations can go wild at ArtPlay, with an immersive experience called Beneath. This underwater wonderland made of recycled plastic was nominated for Best Kids Event at the 2017 Melbourne Fringe. It’s full of surprising creatures, strange sounds, and food for thought about where our plastic waste goes.

Visit beneath at ArtPlay this June

Signal

Hard to impress preteens? Look no further than Signal. 11-13 can grab a spray can and practice stencilling, blending and painting techniques with veteran street artist Mishap. Or drop in to Open Artspace Saturdays and get creative on their own terms – with a new material to work with each week. Make fuzzy pompom jewellery in Pompom Pals (29 June), sew felt friends for key chains and brooches in Softies (6 July) and hand mould trinkets and pendants in Air Dry Clay (13 July). While you’re there, check out artist Meg Rennie’s Melbourne Kitchen Project portraits of kitchens, food and families, showing on the Signal Screen for the Emerging Writers Festival.

Two minutes from Flinders Street station, Signal’s got street cred and, incredibly, all their workshops are free – but make sure to book early!

Shrine Kids

A visit to the Shrine of Remembrance could be a bit confusing, even dreary for early primary school-aged children. Not with an Explorer Kit, available on loan for free from the visitor centre. It includes fascinating things like a periscope, compass and magnifying glass, which are used with one of four Shrine Kids activity cards. Will you and your junior explorers Unlock the Secrets, Discover How Things Work, Use Your Imagination or Solve the Mysteries?

A landscape image of a large cement shrine with green grass around it

Kids can discover The Shrine during the school holidays