School Holidays in Sydney: summer 2023/24
If you have just realised the end of term is fast approaching and wondering what to do in the school holidays in Sydney, we have you covered. There are plenty of choices, from low cost and free things to do across the city, to fun day trips out of town. If you are responsible for keeping the kids entertained these holidays read on and plan some fun days out in Sydney for your family.
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Summer School Holiday Ideas
The Summer School Holidays run from 20 December – 5 February 2024
The summer school holidays in Sydney are the easiest holidays to plan in many way. The weather is generally good and you can find plenty of outdoor activities that don’t cost a lot. From mornings at the park or playground to picnics and perhaps some national park walks, it’s a great time to enjoy the outdoors but remember to slip, slop, slap especially in the middle of the day.
This is a great time to spend a day checking out one of Sydney water parks and water play areas.
When the weather gets too hot plan a visit one of Sydney’s 20 plus museums and galleries with many offering special school holiday activities, some for little or no cost. It’s worth remembering that these usually require booking so get in quick.
Talk to the animals
SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium and Wildlife Sydney
One of the main attractions at Sea Life Sydney is Pig the Dungog, followed closely by the cute penguins and of course the sharks!
This school holidays why not learn more about the penguins on Sea Life’s, Journey to the Antarctic! You can board the penguin boat ride, which is included with your admission or book one of the special penguin experiences.
Wildlife Sydney Zoo offers the chance to get up close to some of the less well-known Aussie animals, like a quokka and a numbat. You can also meet Kofi the tree kangaroo.
When: Open 7 days a week 10:00 am – 5:00 pm (last entry 4:00 pm) during school holidays.
Where: Lime Street Darling Harbour
Cost: Single entry or multi passes available. Check for offers.
Sydney Zoo at Bungarribee has some great stuff planned for this school holidays.
The zoo is great for families with flat paths perfect for little explorers’ feet. Don’t miss the pride of lions and, of course, the cheeky meerkats. There are several animal encounters you can book if you want something special.
Check out our detailed guide to all of Sydney’s zoos and animal parks here.
When: Open every day from 9am – 5pm
Cost: $40 adults, $19.99 kids 3-15 years – These are online prices – it’s at least $5 a ticket more expensive at the gate.
Australian Reptile Park
Is your child crazy for reptiles? Head to the Australian Reptile Park on the Central Coast this school holidays! Learn all about the incredible ‘superpowers’ that these animals have.
Where: Somersby, Central Coast (30 minutes drive from Wahroonga)
Cost: $48 adults, $30 kids, $135 families (2 adults, 2 kids)
Performance & Theatre for kids
Dog Man: The Musical
Get ready for an amazing musical adventure with “Dog Man: The Musical,” perfect for kids aged 6 and up and the whole family! This show is based on the super popular Dog Man books by Dav Pilkey, the same author who brought us Captain Underpants.
Drip drop play
Dive into the enchanting world of “Drip Drop Play,” where children and families can enjoy a serene and playful sensory experience with water and sound. This unique event invites you to immerse yourself in a vivid, color-filled world of ice and water, guided by the delightful sound collectors, Drip and Drop.
Led by the talented percussionist and composer Thea Rossen and her team, this event is a wonderful opportunity for families to come together and engage in creative play. You’ll have the chance to create your own soundscapes using water and ice, fostering both imagination and relaxation. Join us for a truly memorable and interactive experience!
When: 3 – 13 January 2024
Where: Playhouse, Sydney Opera House
Cost: $59 adults, $39 kids
Dinosaur World Live
Dinosaur enthusiasts have a thrilling chance to see “Dinosaur World Live” an interactive show that brings life-sized dinosaurs to the stage. Meet a Triceratops, Giraffatitan, Microraptor, and the famous Tyrannosaurus Rex.
The show is unique because it lets audiences see these huge beasts in an up-close, personal, and interactive theatre setting. “Dinosaur World Live” is not just a show; it’s an opportunity for all dinosaur explorers to meet and even make friends with these amazing prehistoric creatures.
When: 18 – 20 January 2024
Where: Riverside Theatres, Parramatta
The Australian premiere of the London International Animation Festival will present an incredible variety of independent animations from across the globe for ages 2-14.
Perfect for families, this event features a wide range of animation styles, including stop-motion, claymation, 2D and 3D CGI, and more. Get ready to be transported to distant lands and mysterious planets, all from the comfort of your cinema seat.
Before or after your movie, join in the fun with our free animation activities in the foyer. We’re rolling out the red carpet to celebrate these amazing films!
When: 19-21 January 2024 10am, 12pm for kids 2-6yrs, 2pm for 6-10 years, 6pm 10-14 years
Where: Playhouse, Sydney Opera House
Cost: $15 per person
Get Active – Things to Wear Them Out!
Family Fun Challenge by AmazingCo.
I love all the activities on the AmazingCo platform but this one jumped out as a great way for the family to spend some fun time together working on a common goal.
Pixar Putt Putt
Pixar Putt, is a pop-up sensation that brings your favorite Pixar films to life. This mini-golf course features interactive putt-putt holes inspired by beloved movies like “Toy Story,” “Cars,” “Monsters, Inc.,” “Turning Red,” “Soul,” “The Incredibles,” “Finding Nemo,” “A Bug’s Life,” “Wall-E,” “Inside Out,” “Luca,” “Lightyear,” and the new “Elemental.”
Perfect for players of all ages, this attraction is a must-visit during the school holidays.
When: Friday 15th December 2023 – Sunday 4th February 2024
Where: Darling Harbour, Pier Street Underpass
Cost: 18 holes: $39.90 Adult, $29.90 Child, $119.90 Family (2A/2C or 1A/3C)
9 holes: $29.90 Adult, $19.90 Child, $79.90 Family (2A/2C or 1A/3C)
Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Lookout
Step back in time to relive the magic of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Discover authentic artifacts and immerse yourself in a fresh virtual reality tour at the museum, with a special emphasis on the rich history of one of Australia’s most renowned symbols. Ascend the 200 steps to reach the pinnacle and indulge in breathtaking panoramic vistas of Sydney and its surroundings, offered by the city’s original observation point situated 87 meters above the sea.
When: School holidays open daily from 10 am to 4 pm (Last entry is at 3.45 pm)
Cost: From AUD$24.95.
Luna Park has reopened with brand new rides to entertain the entire family. They have spruced the old favourites up and new rides are ready to go, there will be in place by the end of the year.
When: Open daily during the school holiday Friday-Monday at other times of year
Cost: Day passes from $34 – $75 annual passes $199. Tickets here
SPOTLIGHT PROWL FOR FAMILIES
Experience the magic of twilight wildlife at Centennial Parklands. As evening falls, the park becomes a haven for nocturnal animals, including a large population of grey-headed flying-foxes, along with brushtail possums, microbats, and tawny frogmouths.
Embark on an enlightening spotlight walk guided by expert Rangers. This adventure gives you a rare glimpse into the nighttime world of these fascinating creatures, showing a different, more mysterious side of the park as darkness descends.
When: Friday 12 & 19 January, 2 Feburary, 7.30pm – 8.30pm
Where: Robertson Road Gates
Cost: $23 per ticket
Catch and Release Fishing
Get ready for a fun day out at the Sydney International Regatta Centre! Every Tuesday, families and friends can enjoy ‘Catch and Release’ fishing with barbless hooks. Join other fishing enthusiasts from 9 am to 3 pm. First-timers will get a quick guide and paperwork done.
Volunteers are there to help find the best fishing spots and share stories. Learn about responsible fishing and the nine fish species in the scenic Penrith Lakes. Don’t forget your fishing license, rod, reel, barbless hooks, and bait like corn, bread, or worms (no live bait).
When: Every Tuesday, 9 am – 3 pm
Where: Sydney International Regatta Centre, Penrith Lakes
Cost: Free, but a fishing license is required (get yours here)
School Holiday Workshops and classes
From the local library to the city’s museums and galleries the school holidays is a great time to explore or deveop a new passion. Here are just some of them.
Ocean Superheroes – Australian National Maritime Museum
Join “Ocean Superheroes,” for a fun and educational event on every day during the school holidays
You can get creative by making cool octopus hats, puppets, soft sculptures, and awesome badges. There’s also a chance to see recycling in action with our plastic recycling machine, turning marine debris into new, useful items. Plus, have a blast with water play and boat racing in our outdoor area. You can even dress up as your favorite sea creature or relax in our coral reef reading zone.
Where: Australian National Maritime Museum
When: from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm. No need to book, just drop in!
Build a bird house
Join a School Holiday Workshop at Georges River Libraries where you and your child can build a birdhouse together! This workshop is a fantastic opportunity to learn how to safely use hand tools while enjoying a fun and collaborative project.
You’ll work together to construct a birdhouse, learning useful skills in using various hand tools such as screwdrivers, pliers, handsaws, and paintbrushes.
When: 15 January 2024 10am-12pm
Where: Kogarah Library
Learn all about how Australian native plants have adapted to the sun on a guided garden walk, and we’ll work together in a STEM challenge looking at which team can conserve the most water!
Please note: This program is not a drop-off program. Parents/guardians are required to stay and supervise their child/ren for the program’s entirety.
When: 11 & 12 January 2024 10am-11.30am
Where: Meet at the Bowden Centre, Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan
Cost: $18.50, $16.50 for members
Indigenous Bird Investigation Squad at Mount Annan
Join the Indigenous Bird Investigation Squad at Mount Annan and learn all about the ibis and other native birds! Discover the real habitat and food sources of the ibis and how it helps the Australian bush. Plus, have fun spotting various native birds in their natural habitats. It’s a great way to explore nature and learn more about our feathered friends.
When: Thursday 11 & Friday 12 January 2024 Time: 12:30pm – 2pm
Where: Bowden Centre, Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan
Cost: $20 for children aged 7-15 years old, $18 for Foundation & Friends members
Australian Museum – Egyptian Pottery
To coincide with the fabulous Ramses II exhibition the museum will offer a number of supporting programs this school holidays.
Join this fun two-hour art workshop with Tamara Gulic Phoenix, a talented artist and teacher. Learn about ancient Egypt and the cool history of canopic jars used in old times for burial rituals. You’ll get to make your very own canopic jar out of clay. You can choose to design it with a falcon, a human, or any other creature’s head. Then, paint it to make it colorful and unique!
You’ll also learn about hieroglyphs, the picture writing Egyptians used, and even write your name in hieroglyphs. You’ll take home your own special jar and some cool new knowledge. Let’s get sculpting! Three sessions available according to age.
Where: LG, Patricia McDonald Education Rooms
When: 9 & 10 January
Cost: $56 Members, $65 non-Members
Scientist for a Day: Archaeologist
Get ready for an exciting hands-on experience where you’ll discover the secrets of ancient artifacts! Dr. Field will take you on an amazing journey into First Nations archaeology. You’ll get a glimpse into her daily life as an archaeologist and learn about her fascinating work.
During this experience, you’ll do activities just like a real archaeologist. You’ll piece together broken objects, look at old toys and tools, and understand the careful work that goes into finding out about the past. Plus, you’ll get a special behind-the-scenes look at our collections lab. Suitable for kids 9-12 years.
Where: Education Rooms 1 and 2 (Level UG)
When: 11 & 12 January 9.30 am – 3.30 pm
Cost: $120 Members / $150 non-Members
Convict Kids at Elizabeth Farm
Come along to our hands-on workshop where kids can learn about the life of a convict servant in colonial times.
Kids, get ready to roll up your sleeves and put your muscle power to use. There’s plenty to do – making beds, setting tables, crushing herbs, and more. Work hard, and you might just earn a special ticket of leave, just like the convicts did!
At the end of the workshop, everyone can enjoy a tasty treat of historic barley water and a biscuit. Please remember, adults need to stay and supervise the kids participating in the workshop. Tickets are required for both children and adults.
When: 3-24 January 2024, 10.30am–12pm
Where: Elizabeth Farm
Cost: $15 or $12 for members
Free Things to Do during the School Holidays
Parliament House Tours
During the school holidays, engaging tours of NSW Parliament House will be held every weekday at 11.30 am and 1.30 pm. Highlights of the one-hour tour include the chance to sit in the Speaker and President’s chair and hear directly from staff who work in the chambers when parliament sits. Visitors might even get to glimpse the historic restoration underway in our over 200-year-old building.
If you would like to spend more time at the Parliament of NSW and are looking for a bite to eat, visit the Public Café or Strangers’ Restaurant, which overlooks The Domain, a lush green space in the Sydney CBD
Darling Harbour Playground
Kids of all ages will enjoy a visit to Darling Harbour’s epic playground. With a massive climbing frame, a 21-metre flying fox and a bunch of swings suitable for all ages.
There are cafes and family-friendly food options surrounding the playground, making it easy to spend several hours here.
Convict Trail at Hyde Park Barracks
If you have not visited Hyde Parks Barracks since it reopened a few years ago, now is a perfect time.
A special audio guide suitable for children aged 5-10 years will keep the kids entertained while they explore Sydney’s past. They solve puzzles using clues as they move through the collection.
Where: Macquarie Street Sydney
When: Open Thursday to Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm, closed Christmas Day and Australia Day
Camden Valley Inn
The Camden Valley Inn is hosting a series of free activities for kids this coming school holiday period.
Activities such as a magic show, lawn games, a Minions outdoor movie night, a reptile show and hungerball arena will be available for kids to enjoy for free. No bookings are required.
Where: 290 Remembrance Drive, Cawdor
For Foodie Kids
Cake Decorating Classes
The immensely popular Cake Decorating classes at Novotel Sydney have made a triumphant return, much loved during past school holidays. These classes, guided by the hotel’s skilled Executive Chef, provide a delightful culinary adventure for your children, giving them the freedom to unleash their creativity.
Encouraging parents to join in the fun and create cherished memories alongside their kids. Alternatively, you can treat yourself to some well-deserved relaxation at our Thomas St. Kitchen & Bar, where a variety of refreshing beverages await your enjoyment.
Where: Thomas St. Kitchen & Bar
Cost: $62 per child per session Classes are limited to 10 children per class.
Make a booking
It’s Par-tea time!
Make school holidays extra special for your kids with an in-room high tea and glamping experience. Your kids will be treated to an array of savoury and sweet delights, served in true high tea style accompanied by hot or cold chocolate, strawberry or vanilla milkshakes.
Where: Novotel Sydney Central
Cost: from $279
To book visit the event site
Day Trips for the School Holidays
Jump on the train or get in the car for a day trip. We have a bunch of fun day trips you can do on the train, but here are a couple of our favourite ideas.
Summer in the Blue Mountains
If you decide to spend the night, take the Katoomba Falls Night-Lit Walk
You can even see how many of these lookouts you can squeeze into one day.
This is a fun day out for school age kids with some easy bushwalking and the possibility of whale spotting off the sandstone cliffs nearby. If you fancy a longer bush walk check out our guide to the walks in the Royal National Park
School Holiday Dates in New South Wales
Below is a list of the vacation dates for this year and next so you can start planning. Please note many schools have school development days on the first day of each term. Private schools may have a week longer than these public school dates.
|Autumn break:||10 April – 21 April||15-26 April|
|Winter break||3 July – 14 July||8-19 July|
|Spring break:||25 September – 6 October||30 Sept – 11 Oct|
|Summer break:||20 December – 5 February 2024||20 Dec to 29 Jan 2024|
About the author: Paula Morgan, a born-and-bred Sydney resident, has been sharing this city and its secret spots for over 15 years. She’s not just about the iconic landmarks; she’s all about the hidden alleys adorned with street art, and the joy of discovering a new café or a fabulous restaurant tucked away in a corner you never knew existed and weekends away exploring regional NSW.