Guide to Spring School Holidays in Canberra
Canberra is a pretty special place in spring. The flowers are in bloom, the weather is warming, and it’s a time of outdoor fun, fresh air and glorious blue skies. Be it bushwalking or cycling around the lakes, admiring the bursts of colour throughout the city, or dining alfresco at Marketplace Gungahlin, Canberra is a great place to be.
Check out what you can do during these spring school holidays…
Seasonal delights in Canberra
Visiting Canberra in spring has always been popular. Because the city is higher up, it gets colder winters, making spring more pronounced. From September the city gets a sudden and dramatic flowering, which peaks around the end of September, early October. Perfect timing to enjoy activities like:
There’s no better place to celebrate the turn of the season then Floriade, the largest flower show in the Southern Hemisphere. A much loved fixture on Canberra’s event calendar, it attracted 433,959 people in 2017.
Floriade is free to attend and showcases the best in horticulture, creative landscaping, innovation and design. It hosts an exciting lineup of live entertainment and an after dark extravaganza, Floriade Nightfest too. This is an event not to be missed by kids, featuring spectacular lighting designs and installations, pop-up roving entertainment, live comedy and music acts.
See a different side of ‘the people’s house’ and take a tour of the private gardens at Parliament House. The Spring Glory Courtyard tour is a rare opportunity to take in the beauty and serenity of some of the 17 courtyards that are dotted throughout the building.
Cockington Green is a meticulously hand-crafted miniature recreation of what started as an English village. Today it incorporates an entire international theme, allowing you to have the world at your feet. Set within beautifully landscaped gardens kids will love the miniature steam train, 34-room dollhouse, and homemade scones in the Garden Cafe.
Outdoor adventure in Canberra
Image via TCL
Spring is the perfect time to put your adventure boots on and head outdoors. Not too hot, not too cold, it’s just right for exploring:
The National Arboretum features 94 forests of rare, endangered and symbolic trees from Australia and around the world. It’s one of the world’s largest collections of trees. Many are still young but two of the forests are over 100 years old and in springtime, running amongst them is just magic.
The Arboretum also features an award-winning, architect-designed welcome building, with panoramic views over Canberra, a restaurant, cafe, gift shop and information hub. There’s also a unique nature-themed Pod Playground and a Canberra Discovery Garden the kids will love.
The Jerrabomberra Wetlands offer a range of outdoor activities. It’s one of the most valuable wetland habitat areas in the ACT and is of national and international importance. Take a stroll and discover a unique array of habitats and learn about the ecology of the place. For kids aged 8-15, they can develop their knowledge and skills in the natural environment with the Young Rangers Holiday Club.
Lake Burley Griffin
Lake Burley Griffin lies in the centre of Canberra and stretches 40km. An artificial lake completed in 1963, it’s the geographic heart of Australia’s Capital. There are bike tracks around the edge and two islands accessible by boat. You can hire bikes if you don’t have them or take a paddle boat, kayak, rowboat, or dragon boat in the lake, making it the perfect place for active families.
Play and learn in Canberra
Image via CityNews
Canberra rightly has a reputation as the home of Australia’s story. The treasures of the nation are housed in museums and galleries that are not only open to the public, but carefully utilised to teach kids about our country’s history. Kids can play and learn at:
Museum of Australian Democracy
The Museum of Australian Democracy’s (MOAD) school holiday program is an affordable way to keep kids entertained. Kids can get hands on with craft, games and books, create stories and room installations, and more. There’s always something to do in MOAD’s children’s exhibition space Play Up.
National Library of Australia
Drop into the National Library of Australia with your literary learner and read, write, illustrate and imagine at WordPlay. There’s a range of activities to help your little one explore the shape, meaning and use of language and so enthralling is Spring Story Time that your kids won’t even know they’re learning!
National War Memorial
The National War Memorial Discovery Zone lets kids dodge sniper fire in a First World War trench, take control of an Iroquois helicopter, peer through the periscope of a Cold War submarine and more. They can climb, jump, crawl, touch, and explore this purpose-built educational space. Kids from aged 5 and up can also take part in one of two holiday activities each day.
No one does ‘play and learn’ better than Questacon. Hands-on workshops allow kids 10-15 to unleash their inner inventor or designer and make some really cool stuff. There’s spectacular science shows each day, a smart skills initiative program and so much more that can promote a good understanding and awareness of science and technology.
Art, craft and cooking in Canberra
Canberra is packed with creative people and during the school holidays many of these creatives offer activities for the kids. Activities include:
Pialligo Estate’s Academy is set on a rural farm with magic views of the Capital. It embraces a quality paddock-to-plate philosophy and makes the most of its orchard, vineyard, olive grove, smokehouse, market and herb gardens. In the holidays the Academy goes miniature, with baking, pastries, pies and decorating some of the two-hour cooking classes kids can take.
Alternatively, enrol your budding chefs in a class at Kids Pantry in Deakin, where they can learn to make a pie, pannacotta, croissants, lasagna, fried rice and more.
The Market-2-Market market day experience is for young people aged 10-17 who love to make things. If your child has a vision of starting their own creative business, this is an experience not to miss.
Market2Market sees participants learn and develop a range of business skills over three days. These skills include:
Developing a logo and prototype
Getting to know the steps that take their product to market
Product costing and financial literacy
Merchandising and customer service/sales
Participants can even take part in a real market day to test their products with real customers at Old Bus Depot Markets.
Canberra Glassworks education program engages kids through glass, an important material in everyday life and a great artistic medium. Kids can work with talented artists to:
Paint or etch a design onto glass to create a sparkly pendant or brooch
Collect pine cones, plants and seed pods to make patterns and marks in a clay paperweight
Cast treasured toys in glass to keep forever
Learn the basics of cutting and fusing glass
Animal magic in Canberra
Animal encounters are everywhere around Canberra, be it the kangaroos that bound freely through the city or at one of the many wildlife parks. You can get up close and personal at:
National Zoo & Aquarium
The National Zoo and Aquarium has its 20th birthday in 2018 and there are lots of special activities to help celebrate. Find out more by visiting the website.
The zoo and aquarium bring two animal encounter experiences together to offer a great day out for kids of all ages. There’s a wide variety of both native and exotic animals, as well as the largest inland saltwater tank in Australia. There’s also a range of tours and personalised encounters you can take and the Jamala Wildlife Lodge, the ultimate overnight safari.
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve offers self-guided activities and organised activities throughout the school holidays. From boomerang throwing and damper making to billy tea drinking and platypus spotting, there’s something for every age child. Search for koalas in the canopy while you’re there and roam the bush trails to find emus, kangaroos, echidnas and possums.
Other things to do
Other activities you might like to try include tasting the best of Canberra’s spring produce at the Capital Region Farmers Market. Packed with produce stall from across the region, it provides the perfect start to a day of picnicking and barbecuing.
Or maybe you’d prefer to take a family exercise class at Canberra Centre? Of course, you can always come and shop at The Marketplace Gungahlin too, home to an eclectic mix of retailers and dining options from across the globe. Marketplace Gungahlin offers an extensive school holiday program for kids that is sure to get their creative juices flowing and it’s a great way for kids to make new friends. There’s something new every day of the holidays, and better yet, it’s free! From arty food fun to back to school crafts, check out the program with our What’s On news.