The ultimate parents’ dream – a summer holiday experience that we can actually enjoy as much as our kids. Luckily, Melbourne’s bristling with such activities in the warmer months. Here are our top picks for all-consuming, energy-busting and inspirational kids experiences, which you’ll be entertained by, too.
This vast and immersive dreamscape at The District Docklands was designed for adults and kids; in fact, there are multiple aspects of the experience created specifically for school-age children. During the hour-long walk-through, you’ll be enveloped by giant inflatables and shimmering sculptures. An interactive cave, a light maze and sound bath are all part of the experience. The installation is set inside several custom-built structures, and each landscape has its own set of lights, sounds and scents that react as you pass by. Children under three go free; juniors cost $27.95; adults are $29.95.
Kids Summer Festival at NGV International and online
Back once again for one week in January, the free NGV Kids Summer Festival is packed with arty experiences for kids of all ages, both in the gallery and online. Explore the gallery with Let’s Find It!, a free treasure hunt that kids can do at their own pace, or gather for story time under the whimsical wooden canopy of Makiko Ryujin and Michael Gittings’s Saṃsāra. A colourful indoor playground by artist Misaki Kawai – replete with furry sculptures of dogs – is sure to be a favourite for curious kidlets. Online, kids can join a digital dance party hosted by iconic Melbourne institution Body Electric Dance Studios or join Yorta Yorta rapper Adam Briggs as he reads his new children’s book, Our Home, Our Heartbeat.
January 9 to 17. More information here.
The Wind in the Willows andTinkerbell and the Dream Fairies by the Australian Shakespeare Company at the Royal Botanic Gardens and Ripponlea
Pack the snacks and your picnic blanket for an interactive, outdoor version of Kenneth Grahame’s classic *The Wind in the Willows at the Royal Botanic Gardens. There’ll be music, songs and laughs as the Head Chief Rabbit gets the kiddies involved. For young ones in need of a fairy fix, Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies: Adventure to Bubble Land is our pick. It’s literally Tinkerbell meets the fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Don’t forget to dress up (you too, parents). Tickets start at $20. Children under 12 months are free.
The Wind in the Willows is at Royal Botanic Gardens from December 18 to January 30. More information here. Tinkerbell and the Dream Fairies is at Ripponlea House and Gardens, December 21 to January 23. More information here.
Van Gogh at The Lume Melbourne
Finally, a gallery where children can run around in circles and roll around on the floor. The bonus is they’ll be doing it surrounded by the beauty of Van Gogh. The Lume’s inaugural experience sprawls across 3000 square metres, with soaring 11-metre-high ceilings (four storeys, or thereabouts). Expect to see more than 3000 reimagined paintings, sketches, letters and photos by the great painter. Be enveloped by the iconic Starry Night or experience a life-size recreation of Bedroom in Arles. Van Gogh’s iconic sunflower series is also brought to life in a side room of infinity mirrors, à la Yayoi Kusama’s luminous spotted pumpkins. There’s also an on-site eatery, Cafe Terrace 1888, inspired by French cafe culture and with a nod to the artist’s Dutch heritage, so you can grab a coffee – and a babyccino – after you and the little ones get an art fix. Children three years and younger go free; tickets for kids aged four to 17 cost $29; adults are $39.
There’s a wave for everyone at this sprawling Tullamarine wave park: learn-to-surf and beginner sessions; cruisers and intermediates; some gnarly coaching events. Refuel between waves at Three Blue Ducks, which overlooks the crystal-clear lagoon. Your kids will be stoked, you’ll be caffeinated – or on the summer cocktails.
Bricktoria at the State Library of Victoria
The invention of one simple, tiny toy brick has led to generations of Lego-obsessed children (and adults) around the world (and endless, random Lego pieces appearing in my car, home office, bathroom and living room). If you’ve got a brickhead in your family, head to the State Library this summer for a series of events with Australia’s most famous brickhead, Ryan “The Brickman” McNaught – the only so-called Lego Certified Professional in the Southern Hemisphere. There’ll be live-action building (free) of a Lego replica of the State Library’s iconic dome, and a treasure hunt ($15) to collect Lego bricks for your kid’s own take-home model.
More information here.
Convent Kids at Abbotsford Convent: Weave It! at The Store, Abbotsford Convent
Your kids will learn hands-on craft practices, grounded in First Nations explorations of storytelling and sustainability, at this free textile workshop with artists Lisa Waup (Gunditjmara and Torres Strait Islander) and John Brooks. Together, Waup, Brooks and your young weavers will create a wonderland of colourful fabric and texture throughout The Store at Abbotsford Convent. Natural and found materials, such as sticks, will be built into the work.
January 7 to 23. More information here.
Alana Kushnir is the founder of Guest Club, a membership network for art lovers and collectors.