The December school holidays are a magical time in the lead up to Christmas, and afterwards there’s definitely the chance to have some quality time together as a family.
Here you can take to the skies in a hot air balloon, visit the birthplace of rail, (The Workshops Rail Museum), cuddle some adorable farm yard animals and catch a live show.
Here are a few of the top activities that need to be on your family’s holiday checklist from December 16 to January 21.
What’s on in Ipswich Central
Bring the kids to see Aladdin Jr these school holidays. The Ipswich Musical Theatre Company Juniors will be performing on the Ipswich Civic Centre stage on Thursday December 14 and Friday December 15.
The show is based on the 1992 Academy Award-winning film and 2014 bit Broadway show.
It’s a Wonderful Life
From December 8 to 17 you can see a live radio-style play based on the Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. This family-friendly show at Fire Station 101, features a live sound technician and is set in a 1940s recording studio including fantastic 1940s costumes and styling.
The magical story is about a man who finds hope when he’s in the darkest of places, but also involves a lot of humour.
Worlds of Wonder
This summer, enter a spellbinding world of possibilities in the Children’s Gallery exhibition Worlds of Wonder.
Be spellbound by interactive artworks, explore mystical forest wonders, and unleash your inner artist at the creation stations where magical creatures and worlds come to life at your fingertips.
The enchantment of Worlds of Wonder resides within you. Let your imagination take flight as you become the curator of your own World of Wonder.
The exhibition runs from Saturday 25 November 2023 to Sunday 18 February 2024.
Photo by Thomas Oliver www.thomasoliver.photo
Junior Curators: Mysterious Realms
Transporting audiences into imaginative realms, this exhibition disrupts traditional curation with the fresh perspectives of young curators. It’s an exhibition curated entirely by young minds, featuring selected works from the Ipswich Art Gallery Collection.
Through their creative reinterpretation of the Collection, they have crafted a narrative that speaks to the depths of their inner worlds. Guided by their chosen theme, their selected works encompass various artistic forms such as painting, sculpture, heritage objects, and ceramics.
Experience an art journey like no other as Mysterious Realms unfolds through six playful storytelling realms, offering a unique and imaginative perspective. The Ipswich Art Gallery proudly fosters content and programming co-created with and for young people, celebrating their invaluable contributions to our community.
The exhibition runs from Saturday 25 November 2023 to Sunday 28 January 2024.
Photo by Thomas Oliver www.thomasoliver.photo
Day out with Thomas
A Day out with Thomas is back again these school holidays. Meet Thomas and friends celebrating colourful adventures with The Colour Tour from December 27 to January 26.
Day Out With Thomas: The Colour Tour is a fun filled, family event that celebrates the joy of colour so you can expect plenty of colourful, family friendly activities.
Gift wrapping and soap making workshops
In December there are free gift wrapping and soap making workshops being held at the Queens Park Environmental Education Centre to support a sustainable Christmas.
Sustainable gift wrapping and upcycled card making is being held from Monday December 11 to Thursday December 21, from 9am to 2pm. Simply bring your small to medium sized gifts in to wrap them in beautiful sustainable materials or make an upcycled card. Bookings are not required.
Soap making will be held on Tuesday December 12 at 9.15am or 10.30am, Saturday December 16 at 9.30am, 10.45am and 12.30pm and Tuesday December 19 at 9.15am and 10.30am. Soap Bayz is leading the workshops using food and beverage waste products to make sustainable and beautiful soaps. Children can design the shape, colour and smell of the their own beautiful soap to give as a Christmas gift.
Limited tickets are available for this free event, find a ticket here.
The centre is open Monday to Saturday 9am-2pm but is shutting from Friday December 22 and reopening on Tuesday January 9.
Sustainable Ipswich – play fest
In January head to the cool indoors at the Queens Park Environmental Education Centre and enjoy a fun new range of sustainability themed toys and activities. Bookings are not required, drop in between 9am-2pm Monday to Saturday for the all-ages activities.
Kids eat free at CSI
During the school holidays kids can eat for free at Club Services Ipswich on Sundays and Mondays with the purchase of a full priced main meal.
From Tuesday to Saturday, kids meals will only cost $5 (with the purchase of a full priced main meal), and the money is being donated to a local chaplaincy program.
There is also a Family Feast meal deal available every day which includes 10 nuggets and chips, 1kg of buffalo wings, a jug of coke and an 18×11 inch slab pizza – with three flavours to choose from, Hawaiian, meat lovers or supreme.
Meet some of Ipswich’s cutest residents
Animal lovers are spoilt for choice when it comes to an array of wildlife and farmyard experiences that can only be found in and around Ipswich.
The Ipswich Nature Centre in Queens Park is an unmissable experience for any visitor, as it is home to many animals including bilbies, dingoes, wallabies, a wombat, and also features a walk-through bird aviary.
The Ipswich Nature Centre is the only free zoo in south east Queensland, so you and your family can stay as long as you like, or come back whenever you feel like seeing those cute little faces again. They are open seven days a week during the school holidays.
Free pizza or pasta for the kids
Bring the kids to eat in at Sourdough Crust Co on Tuesday and Wednesday nights and they’ll get a free pizza or pasta from the kids menu with a paying adult! Also the DIY pizza kits are a fun school holiday activity. The kits come with everything needed to make two margherita pizzas at home, including dough balls, and can be cooked with just a fry pan and a grill. They even supply boxes for kids birthday pizza parties.
Put your heads together to solve the clues
If your children love solving puzzles, then why not let them unleash their inner detective at Seraphim Escape Rooms. Working together as part of a team, the kids will enter a specially designed themed room where they will need to put their heads together to find the clues, solve the puzzles, and unlock the door in a certain time frame. This activity is perfect for children that are a little older and love a good challenge.
See Christmas movies
Ipswich Libraries are showcasing Christmas movies this season, with Elliot the Littlest Reindeer showing at the Ipswich Children’s Library on Wednesday December 13 from 10.30-12.30pm. Other libraries around the region will be involved too with the first kicking off at Springfield on December 11, click here for more information.
There’s also an outdoor Cinema Under the Stars on Tuesday 19 and Wednesday 20 December in Tulmur Place from 6.30pm with Hoyts freshly popped popcorn. Bring you own chair, cushion and picnic rug to enjoy.
Limelight Cinemas are screening Christmas favourites like Elf on 3 December, Die Hard 10 December and Love Actually 8 and 10 December.
A Princess Christmas
Sing along with your favourite princess characters as they tour the Ipswich Children’s Library on Thursday December 14 from 11.30am-12.30pm.
A Princess Christmas will also be visiting the Redbank Plains Library (December 11), Redbank Plaza Library (December 12), Rosewood Library (December 13) and Springfield Library (December 15).
Wear your best prince or princess outfit, enjoy a story and sing some festive songs with children’s performer Georgia Spark as the princess.
Bust a move to your favourite Christmas tunes and popular music at Ipswich Libraries. Get groovy while playing disco games and dancing the day away with children’s DJs from GM Entertainment. The disco will be held at Ipswich Children’s Library Friday December 22. There will also be sessions at Springfield and Rosewood.
No bookings are required, more information here.
What’s on further afield…
Pet and feed the animals and see a Christmas puppet show
The Ewe Nique Hobby Farm will be open Mondays and Wednesday to Sunday during the school holidays for you to feed and pet the farm animals and have a coffee in the Baa Baa Cafe. Enjoy two sessions each day, either 9am or 10.30am.
On Sunday December 17 a special Christmas-themed morning will be held with internationally renowned puppeteer David Hamilton. See the Christmas puppet show, meet Santa and enjoy a free gift (children only). There will also be an area to take Christmas photos, sausage sizzle, festive ice cream, baked treats and lucky dips available. Book here.
The farm will shut on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, January 1 and 2.
Bookings are essential.
Try the splat room
Ever wanted to get messy and throw some paint around? Now you can, without wrecking your house. Sip ‘n’ Dip has splat, spin and swing rooms at Orion Springfield Central for the school holidays. Sessions are $35 for 30 minutes per person and include paint bombs, paint pots and equipment to create your masterpiece.
No experience is necessary, just blast some tunes, put on some old clothes and chuck on one of their disposable aprons – because you’re guaranteed to get paint on your shoes, clothes and in your hair!
Kids eat free at Brothers
These school holidays kids eat for free Mondays to Thursdays for lunch and dinner at Brothers with the purchase of a full priced adult main meal! So enjoy some time off cooking and dishes and treat the family for lunch or dinner.
Take to the skies in a big balloon
If you’re looking to take your school holiday fun to new heights, why not take a hot air balloon flight over the city of Ipswich with Floating Images Hot Air Balloon Flights? Granted, you do have to get up super early, but once you are in that basket and watching the sunrise, it will be a holiday memory you will treasure always.
Visit The Llama Farm
You can visit Queensland’s largest herd of llamas these hoildays.
The Llama Farm is not only home to llamas, but also giant rabbits, donkeys, goats, chickens, peacocks, ponies and camels.
Meet the animals on a Faces of the Farm tour at 9am on tour days or book in for a llama walk at 3pm on tour days.
Bookings are essential, book online.
Gold panning and farm animals at Spicers Hidden Vale
Spicers Hidden Vale awaits to make your family break unforgettable. Here, you and your kids can dive into a plethora of exciting activities. Whether it’s feeding the friendly farm animals, taking a tour of the market garden, or conquering the giant jungle gym outside The Barn, the options are endless.
For those seeking adventure, the world-class bike trails of Hidden Vale Adventure Park are at the Spicers doorstep. Plus, there is also gold-panning experiences and half-day 4WD tours across the extensive 12,000-acre property, ensuring that there’s never a dull moment in sight.
Camel rides, tours and discounts…
During the school holidays, Summer Land Camels will be running camel rides every day. The café and farm will open 9am to 3pm daily, there is no entry fee and visitors can pat and feed the camels for just a few dollars per bag of feed.
During the holidays visitors can also book the kids a half price Farm Tour and Taste, use the code HOLIDAYS when booking online.
Summer Land Camels are also running a special Little Humpty’s Christmas Party on Wednesday 13 December from 9am – 2pm. It’s the chance for the kids to explore the farm and they are encouraged to dress in your Christmas outfits, there will be prizes for best dressed. Santa will arrive about 10.30 and 12pm. Tickets are $10pp with children under four free.
The day includes a kids farm tour (30 mins), patting and cuddling the camels, miniature goats and kids’ activities. Camel rides can be pre-booked also for $25.
Check their online booking calendar for the Farm Tour & Taste and Cameleer Experiences running during the holiday period.
Hit the bike trails over the holidays
If you like to stay active, grab your bike and explore more than 110km of world class trails at Hidden Vale Adventure Park. Operating out of the luxurious Spicers Hidden Vale getaway, the various tracks are suitable for beginners right up to experienced riders. The property is open from 7am-3pm daily and can be accessed for $20 a day. Upon sign in, everyone will be issued a map to ensure they stay on the right track.
There’s also a holiday offer with $20 off early morning shuttles. While the private shuttles will be running every Monday to Friday at 7.30am and 10am and usually cost $300, fitting in up to five riders, if you book in and use the code DISCOVERIPSWICH20 you can get $20 off the 7.30am shuttle. The offer is valid until the end of January, 2024. Book in here.
Let the kids run wild at one of Ipswich’s great parks
Sometimes all you need for a great family day out is the sun shining and a good playground to entertain the little ones.
Lucky for you, Ipswich has lots of great parks, playgrounds and open spaces where you can easily spend a full day! Why not check out or revisit Queens Park in the middle of Ipswich, Lobley Park in Churchill, Robelle Domain in Springfield, Joseph Brady Park at Barallen Point, Sutton Park in Brassall, Rotary Bicentennial Park in Redbank Plains, Discovery Park in Springfield Lakes and Spring Lake Park, also in Springfield Lakes.
There’s lots of fun climbing apparatuses, swings, slides and space to throw out a picnic rug or kick a ball around – the choice is yours!
Cool off at the water park
If you’re kids are keen to cool off after a few hours of running around, you can visit the water play area at Robelle Domain which has tipping buckets and jet sprays. There is also lots of fun to be had at the Splash ‘n’ Play water park at Providence Ripley, which features two aqua play zones, the Bob Gamble water park, or you can head to the Bundamba Swim Centre, which has a small water park for little kids, plus a 50m and 25m pool. There’s also a water play area at Tulmur Place.
Ride the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail
Take a leisurely bike ride with the whole family from Ipswich to Fernvale along the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail. The trail traces the old Brisbane Valley rail line that commenced at Wulkuraka and continued to Yarraman, west of Kilcoy.
The 20km trail from bustling Ipswich out to the rural township of Fernvale is suitable for all riders, taking you on a fun family adventure through farmland, forest and picturesque settings away from the busy traffic.
The trail features various surfaces, including sand, grass, gravel and rough stretches of rocky ballast.
By using the Brassall Bikeway, riders can easily connect The Workshops Rail Museum in North Ipswich, and then travel via the road network to the historic Ipswich Central precinct, which is full of eateries, quirky shops and attractions like Queens Park and the Ipswich Art Gallery.
Where to stay…
Stay in the heart of town with Urban Getaway, or book a family-friendly farm stay at Pocket Retreats, or Tallavalley Farm B&B. Stay in Ipswich Central with Quest Ipswich and Oaks Ipswich Aspire Suites. Stay in Springfield at Quest Springfield and the Springfield Lakes Hotel.
For more options see our Accommodation Page.