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Cheap and Cheerful Christmas Holiday Activities on the Gold Coast

Looking for awesome Christmas holiday activities on the Gold Coast that won’t break the bank? It’s Christmas time again and while enjoyable with families and friends, it can become expensive very quickly! Christmas presents, Christmas parties combined with school holidays can mean that you could be straining to reign in that budget quicker than Santa with naughty Rudolph.

Don’t despair – we share some cheap and cheerful activities for families to enjoy on the Gold Coast.

If you would like to update your entry or add to our article, please email Janine – Editor@FamiliesMagazine.com.au

Christmas holiday activities that won’t break the bank

Beach time!

Snorkelling at Tallebudgera Creek 2 1000x600
Snorkelling at Tallebudgera Creek

The Gold Coast is famous for the golden sands of its beaches. Stretching from Coolangatta to The Spit – there is enough beachfront for every Gold Coaster to enjoy. During summer, most beaches will have Lifesaving Patrols to help keep your family safe.

Kid-friendly spots include Greenmount at Coolangatta, Tallebudgera Creek at Currumbin and for those that want to get physical; Kurrawa at Broadbeach and Main Beach at Southport are popular options. For those with dogs who love a paddle, The Spit at the end of Seaworld Drive Main Beach is a popular haunt and has dog-friendly wash bays and showers to help rid you of the sand before the car trip home.

Take a walk on the wild side

Springbrook National Park
Springbrook National Park

O’Reillys Rainforest Retreat located just under 25km from the Gold Coast and 70km from Brisbane is an excellent day out with large picnic and BBQ areas. This is best planned as a day trip as you will want to soak in the beauty of the Lamington National Park. Featuring 320km of walking tracks you will want to ramble and discover the amazing forest. Onsite is a restaurant and café area, natural toilet amenities and a wedge tail eagle show that you do not want to miss!

Parking can be tight and traffic can get busy on weekends so plan your trip and leave the coast early. Don’t forget to pack a jumper – even in summer, this area does cool down quickly and can be up to 10 degrees cooler than on the coast!

The Gold Coast Hinterland is full of rainforest adventure

Play in the parks

Fun Christmas activities on the Gold Coast

The Gold Coast offers a number of well-equipped and maintained parks for all ages to enjoy. The largest parkland on the Gold Coast is located at The Broadwater Parklands in Southport. With large outdoor fields and playground equipment galore including a jumping pillow, roving coffee carts selling cold drinks, coffee, and ice creams there’s heaps to keep every family happy.

If it’s a hot day, be sure to take your swimmers and enjoy a dip at The Rockpools – an interactive water sculpture for kids and adults alike to enjoy. Staffed by lifeguards during the year, this is a great spot to cool off without burning a hole in your purse.

Rockpools opening hours:

  • January and February: 8am to 6pm
  • March: 9am to 5pm
  • April: 9am to 4pm (Tuesdays open at 11am and Anzac Day open at 12pm)
  • May to August: 9am to 3pm (Tuesdays open at 11am)
  • September and October: 8am to 5pm (Tuesdays open at 11am)
  • November: 8am to 6pm (Tuesdays open at 11am)
  • December: 8am to 6pm (Christmas Day opens at 12pm)

* Hours may change due to weather conditions.

The GC Inflatable Aqua Park calls Broadwater Parklands home between September and April. Swim, jump, slip and slide along the 300m obstacle course of awesome inflatable fun. It is always best to book in advance, GC Aqua Park can also cater for parties.

You do need to pay for parking and it’s best to get in early as it does fill up quickly.

Botanical Gardens picnic day

Hidden Gem of the Gold Coast for Kids – Gold Coast Regional Botanical Gardens
Hidden Gem of the Gold Coast for Kids

Grab your picnic blanket and a cricket set – it’s time to hit up your local botanical gardens. Located 10 mins drive from Surfers Paradise, the regional botanical gardens at Rosser Park offer over 30 hectares of lush gardens including a sensory touch and play garden and a butterfly garden.

For those wanting to relax, kick back and smell the roses in the dedicated rose garden. Plus, there is plenty of space to kick a ball. Set up your picnic beside the central water fountain – you may even glimpse a wedding ceremony. Be sure to bring a hat and sunscreen, as there is a lot of exploring to do. Parking is free and there is a small café on site for the coffee fiends among us. Hooray!

Read more about the Gold Coast’s Botanical Gardens HERE

Markets day or night

For a traditional market adventure check out Carrara Markets for a wide range of items to delight the senses! Everything you can image is located here and will be a delight to window shop through. Most weekends also feature a petting farm and pony rides for a small treat.

For the evening– Surfers Paradise night markets run on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights over the summer season. Open from 4pm to 9pm these markets feature quirky handmade homewares, jewellery, art, and have roving entertainers most weeks. Entry is free and allows you to stroll along the esplanade to soak up the cool sea breezes and view over 120 stalls.

See our list of all the BEST Christmas Markets HERE

Christmas holiday activities

See the sights (and the Christmas lights!)

Christmas Lights Gold Coast Christmas activities
Christmas Lights on the Gold Coast

Love your childhood Christmas memories?  It’s only natural to want your kids to experience a magical Christmas they’ll treasure too. What better way to create a special new Christmas tradition than to hit the road and tour the Gold Coast Christmas lights?

We’ve compiled a list of where to find the good ones HERE.

Movie nights at home

Two boys watching movie or cartoon on pad at night
Christmas movie nights

Some homemade popcorn and the latest kids DVD will be sure to be a hit. For a vintage spin put on The Neverending Story or introduce your kids to the world of Harry Potter! For those parents that need to zone out – a good old favourite will allow you to “let it go” and relax. See a list of our favourite kids Christmas movies here!

Carols by Candlelight

Stars on stage at Christmas Carols Gold Coast
Stars on stage at the Christmas Carols

It’s that time of year, Carols by Candlelight. There’s no better way to shake off the bah humbugs than a good dose of Christmas carols with flameless candles lighting up angelic little faces. These great community events are usually free of charge and a wonderful way to get to know your neighbours. Just take a rug and some snacks and enjoy the magic.

We’ve put together a list of the very best places to enjoy Christmas Carols, Gold Coast to Byron Bay  HERE.

Surfers Paradise Carols on the Beach is a great option!

When the afternoon storms roll in

christmas holiday activities storm over Gold COast Hinterland
Christmas holiday activities on the Gold Coast – there is so much to explore!

Channel your inner child and build a pillow and blanket fort to help keep the fear of storms at bay. Safe under the protective blankets – help make-believe come alive and hop on in with the kids for a snuggle!

See what else is on at the Gold Coast City Council website.

Enjoy FREE Christmas holiday activities

If you find yourself on the Gold Coast during the school holidays check out our list of the FREE School Holiday Fun activities – Gold Coast, Tweed & Byron.

Photo of author

Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

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