Summer school holiday fun

Kids will want to take a screen break when they discover the awesome activities in Melbourne just made for them. From plays to playtime with slime, it’s going to be a hoot!

Centre stage

Does live performance make your little ones’ eyes light up? Or are you done with sitting through rubbish family movies? Arts Centre Melbourne has some great school-holiday theatre, including Emily Brown and the Thing (3-14 January). It’s an enchanting adaptation of the book by UK author Cressida Cowell, of How to Train Your Dragon fame.

A adult posing as a child holding a teddy bear with another person dressed in a monster costume looking at them through a window

Emily Brown and the Thing

Older kids will enjoy hit British play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, presented by the Melbourne Theatre Company. La Vie Dans Une Marionette (Life in a Puppet) from New Zealand is heartwarming fun for all ages.

Ankle biters who love fairies and elves absolutely must see Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies at the Athenaeum. Those who dress up as a woodland sprite can join the actors, as they sing, dance and somersault around the stage. After a sell-out London season, this interactive play promises to be a fairy tale come true.

A woman and three girls dressed up like fairies sitting on grass

Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies by The Australian Shakespeare Company

The Melbourne Recital Centre’s Music Play Family Festival offers entertainment for little ears, and also keeps hands and minds busy. Will they turn rubbish into instruments and play with the Junk Orchestra? Or enjoy an inventive, interactive performance of the classic Carnival of the Animals? These and other musical adventures await.

Artistic license

Another major cultural institution with great school-holiday offerings is the National Gallery of Victoria. Taking the body as its theme, the NGV Kids Summer Festival is all about playing, making and moving. The program includes an artist-led illustration workshop for teens, and the chance for families to get interactive with Triennial installations. On Holidays at Linden: NGV Kids on Tour offers oodles of activities, from collage to a surrealist art challenge.

A woman helping a young girl with paper mural

Get creative with Fiona Hall’s Who Lives Here? collage at NGV Kids on Tour

Every generation of your family will want to, quite literally, immerse themselves in art when Arboria arrives at Federation Square. Step inside this massive, luminous inflated sculpture, and be amazed by sights and sounds inspired by an Ecuadorian rainforest.

A woman and a child walking through a series a maze of round tunnels

Arboria at Federation Square

Learning by doing

Kids who like museum science exhibits should join a TwistedED Science lava lamp workshop at Kathleen Syme Library or City Library. Budding boffins can learn about gas and chemical reactions by making their own lava lamps – groovy, baby!

TwistED Science also present Get Slimed workshops at Southbank Library and Library at the Dock. Participants make stretchy, bouncy, gooey slime … or go all out creating glowing glitter slime at East Melbourne Library.

There are more opportunities for youngsters to learn while having lots of fun at Drip Drop Play. Part of ArtPlay’s New Ideas Lab program, these artist-led sessions ask curious questions about ice and water. A raincoat might be a good idea for this play date! Or for something drier head to Fitzroy Gardens and follow the clues to help Maggie find her Goat at Cooks’ Cottage.

Tow kids standing in front of a bowl of water. One child is holding a strainer with water pouring through onto the hands of the other child.

Drip Drop Play at ArtPlay

Chill out

Get the kids off the Xbox or PlayStation by inviting them to have afternoon tea with one of their favourite characters. Langham Melbourne’s latest themed school-holiday treat, Super Mario Odyssey High Tea includes gold coin cupcakes, power moon cookies and mystery block lamingtons. As Mario says, let’s a-go!

A Super Mario figurine sitting on a plate of macarons

Super Mario Odyssey High Tea at the Langham Melbourne

Do they want to zip around like Mario, but on ice? Free skating lessons are just part of the Endless Summer program at O’Brien Group Arena. There’s also special under-eights fun, and crazy good times with bumperball. Friends will love bouncing, rolling and laughing across the ice inside inflatable suits for a game of soccer like never before!

More please!

North Melbourne Recreation Centre is hosting some epic pool parties this summer, complete with barbecues and movie screenings. Break out the green and gold bathers for the Australia Day Eve Pool Party. Create costumes from a galaxy far, far away for Star Wars night, then be inspired by Peter Pan and Harry Potter.

Or take them to Escape the Gaol, an immersive and educational activity at Old Melbourne Gaol complete with riddles, hiddens clues and the perfect escape plan! There’s also the biggest ever Star Wars LEGO build at Brickman Experience exhibition at District Docklands.

Still not enough? There’s a real magician in action at the Melbourne Magic Show: Impossible Occurrences, and always something magical at Melbourne Zoo.

A man performing a magic trick with a woman helping him

Impossible Occurrences with award-winning magician Luke Hocking