21 things to do in Ballarat this summer school holidays

There's no chance of "I'm bored!" this school holidays thanks to Ballarat's Summer of Fun.

From stepping back in time to gold rush and medieval times to hours of fun at the city's pools, cinemas and play centres, this is your guide to the ultimate summer holiday adventure in Ballarat:

1. Sovereign Hill 

From Boxing Day until Australia Day, Sovereign Hill's action-packed summer program will include the return of some much-loved activities including the quartz mine tours, bowling alley plus 1850s-style portraits in the Red Hill Photography Rooms. The outdoor museum will be open 10am-5pm daily throughout the school holidays. Tickets remain at the reduced price of adult $39, concession $32, child (5-15 years) $20, family (two adults and up to four children) $99, and single parent family (one adult and up to three children) $71. Click here for details

2. Kryal Castle

Kryal Castle will again switch to special twilight hours this summer, with the tourist attraction open 2pm-8pm daily between 26 December and 26 January. Its All Star summer program includes Alice in Wonderland characters the Queen of Hearts, the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit. Tickets are adult $35, family $99, single family $79, child (4-16 years) $22, and concession $28. Click here for details

3. Ballarat Wildlife Park

Hand-feed a roaming kangaroo, meet Crunch the five-metre-long crocodile and watch penguins at play at the Ballarat Wildlife Park. Owned and operated by Ballarat's Parker family, the park is home to some of Australia’s most beloved native animals. It is open 9am-5pm daily. Tickets are adult $35, concession $29, child (5-15 years) $19.50, and $95 family (two adults and up to four children). Click here for details

4. Indoor or outdoor movies 

For some old school nostalgia, jump in the car and head to Showbiz Cinemas' pop-up drive-in cinema at the Ballarat Showgrounds. Or watch a new release in air-conditioned comfort at one of the city's indoor theatres – Regent Cinemas (49 Lydiard Street North, Ballarat) or Showbiz Cinemas (Delacombe Town Centre, corner of Glenelg Highway and Cherry Flat Road, Ballarat).

Art Gallery of Ballarat
5. Art Gallery of Ballarat workshops

Bookings are now open for the Art Gallery of Ballarat's Art Bites school holiday workshops, inspired by current exhibitions at the gallery. After visiting the Pitcha Makin Fellas' exhibition Join the club, kids can learn how to make their own stamps. Or, following a wander around the Federation University Australia 150th Anniversary Trail, your little creatives can make their own pot or ceramic figure using air-dry clay. Click here for details

6. Xtreme Bounce

Burn off some excess energy at Ballarat's first trampoline park, Xtreme Bounce. Take your pick from the inter-linked trampolines, high jump air bag, dodge ball, battle beam challenge, basketball trampolines, and wipeout challenge. Click here for details

7. Gold Rush Mini Golf

Head to Gold Rush Mini Golf for an 18-hole outdoor course which pays tribute to Ballarat's gold rush history. Inside is an 18-hole glow-in-the-dark course where you can walk the castle hallways of the medieval period and even pay a visit to the Caribbean pirate hideouts. And keep an eye out for the dinosaurs! Click here for details

8. Pools and water play spaces

Escape the summer heat at one of Ballarat's outdoor pools or make a beeline for the indoor pools at the Ballarat Aquatic and Lifestyle Centre. You can also make a splash at one of the city's three water play spaces.

9. Swimming holes

From Ballarat's Lake Esmond to Blue Waters at Creswick, explore the natural wonders on offer at the region's swimming holes. Click here for details

10. Oz Tenpin Ballarat

Fun for all ages, Oz Tenpin Ballarat features 16 synthetic lanes, lightweight bowling balls, bowling ramps, bumper bowling and wheelchair access. Click here for details

11. Ballarat Tramway Museum

Travel back in time with the Ballarat Tramway Museum and ride in a 100-year-old tram along Lake Wendouree. Click here for more details

12. Ballarat Indoor Go Karts and Laserforce

Get the adrenaline pumping and go head-to-head with the kids at Ballarat Indoor Go Karts and Laserforce. Choose from the restricted Rimo 6.5 HP junior karts or the unrestricted Sodi RX7 8.5 HP adult karts. Meanwhile, Laserforce Ballarat is the world's fifth longest-running centre and boasts 30 futuristic Gen7 suits and a 400m2 arena. Click here for more details

13. Eureka Centre

Explore the social history and cultural impact of the Victorian gold rush at the Eureka Centre. Located at what is considered to be the site of the 1854 Eureka Stockade, the centre is also home to one of Australia’s most compelling historic artefacts – the Eureka flag. Click here for more details

14. Indoor play centres 

Ballarat's newly-opened Chipmunks Playland is a dream come true for kids aged 0-11 years, boasting a multi-level playground, projector screen ball pit games, ride on equipment, drop slides, wave slides, ball cannons and interactive activities. Alternatively, Funbugs Playhouse (0-8 years) features huge slides, climbing area, cubby huts, trike area, plaster painting zone, relaxation/reading area, toddler play zone and crawler zone.

15. ClayMotion workshops

This school holidays, Claymotion's workshop offerings include drawing, pottery, acrylic painting and mosaics. Each session is designed to encourage individual creativity, fine motor skills and tactile development. Click here for more details

16.  Il Piccolo Gelato 

Located next to the Ballarat Town Hall in Sturt Street, Il Piccolo Gelato's artisan gelato is made daily in store using fresh milk, the finest ingredients and no artificial colours or flavours. Click here for more details

17. Ballarat Observatory's school holiday program

Between 5 and 23 January, the Ballarat Observatory will be offering day and night variations of its summer school holiday program. Click here for more details

18. Ballarat Bird World

Ballarat Bird World in Mount Helen is home to a large range of native Australian parrots and cockatoos plus landscaped waterfalls and gardens. Most recently, it has added a new timber maze and a full-size animatronic triceratops to its list of attractions. Click here for more details

19. Creswick Woollen Mills

The last of its kind, Creswick Woollen Mills has been designing and manufacturing natural fibre textiles since 1947. The interactive exhibition A Very Fine Yarn takes you through the history of the mill and the journey of natural fibres. Click here for more details

20. Cave Hill Creek's summer camp

Cave Hill Creek's summer camp is a residential school holiday program for kids age 8-14. Outdoor activities on the agenda include canoeing, abseiling, cycling and archery. Click here for more details

21. Maze House

Get lost in Maze House's 27-year-old maze and find all the clues to win a prize. Or test your skills playing old-time carnival games dotted throughout the country garden. Click here for more details


Click here to find out more about Ballarat's Summer of Fun. And be sure to share your #summerballarat moments on social media.