EKKA Guide 2017 | things to do at the EKKA for families!
Need a no clutter, easy to follow, printable guide to the Ekka? The time has come to ditch the detail and make it practical and there’s a good reason. There’s too much to do at the Ekka for just a single day, BUT, if you have a plan… you can get it done, without a foot full of blisters and a pram full of frustrated children.
So here it is, nothing but practical information, specifically for families! Download our Ekka Guide with all of the opening and closing times, family friendly events and hidden free fun activities for children!
Check out our 3 minute video for a great overview of what to expect this year (including a 6pm v 7:40pm fireworks comparison)!
Ekka Map & Navigation
If you’re location-ally challenged, remember one thing: to navigate the Ekka (and minimise walking) break up the showgrounds into 2 parts:
ZONE A – Area to the LEFT of the train tracks
ZONE B – Area to the RIGHT of the train tracks
You’ll know if you’ve changed areas, as you’ll be crossing under “the tunnel”, you’ll go under the train tracks.
The aim of the game, to avoid excess walking, try to cover off each area in it’s entirety, before crossing under.
Collect the full Ekka map at the entrance, and DOWNLOAD our guide now and have it in front of you as you continue reading this article… plan as you read! The guide has little tick boxes, so you can mark off the items that look appealing… so you don’t miss a thing!
Looking at the map above, we’ve broken up the Ekka grounds into 8 handy “chunks” or sections i.e. these are sections of the Ekka that you’ll want to do together (to minimise walking!)
Our downloadable guide contains the above map, along with key information about each of these sections.
We’ll explain the sections below, but here they are:
- Showbag Pavilion
- The Old Museum
- Agricultural Education Hall
- RACQ Animal Nursery
- Woolworths Fresh Food Pavilion
- John Reid Pavilion / Ekka Emporium
- Main Arena
We’ve spent hours pouring over every Ekka Showbag and have put together a guide to help you determine how to get the biggest bang for your EKKA buck, regardless of your child’s individual interests. Read our Detailed Showbag Review.
There are 3 main areas that contain rides, looking at our map, all outlined below.
When you’re looking at rides, there are a few things to consider (in regards to cost):
- Look for the rides that offer bulk tickets to save
- Check your showbags for discount vouchers
- Download the “Zippy” app. as it contains some Ekka special coupons
2A – Sideshow Alley in Zone A
Most of the rides in this section are suitable for kids aged 3 to 8 years old. There are some fantastic offers in this section, e.g. the teacups, swing and dodgem cars have a “buy 6 tickets for $30” offer.
The Euroslide (i.e. giant slide) has 3 slides for $10!
There are bungy trampolines and with the current weather the “Pirates Revenge” log ride is a great choice (yes, you get wet).
2B – Sideshow Alley in Zone A
This is the “main” ride section and has a lot of the thrill seeker rides.
It does have a few rides for younger kids, so it’s worth a look. Down the front (i.e. near the RBH) is a big pirate ship walk through ride, this is a great choice for primary school aged kids (during the daytime at least, we walked past at night and it looked a little dark inside!)
If there are any Lightning McQueen fans out there, we walked past a ride that looked like it was based on the Cars movie… unfortunately it was at 9pm, given we’d been at the Ekka for 12 fantastic fun filled hours already, I didn’t have the energy to search through our bags (which had grown from 2 to 12) to locate my camera. Ahhh, sorry about that.
2C – The Sunday Mail Kids Carnival Area
This is a hidden gem and has shrunk a little since last year. It’s a great place to visit with kids aged between 3 and 8!
The Fun House is a favourite in our house and offers a bulk ticket deal. Just go with it, your kids are likely to ask you to go on it again.
The operator of the Angry Birds sideshow game was very “generous” with his scoring i.e. counting points even when items weren’t knocked over, as a result, my little guy was given the opportunity to choose any stuffed toy on the bottom row. Keep in mind… not all sideshow games are created equal! Check out the prices and ask the question “do all participants win a prize?”. There are quite a few which are similar and we’ve discovered that the pricing is quite different… AND a lot of them actually do guarantee a prize. I know, I know… our kids shouldn’t ALWAYS have to win, however, it’s the Ekka, it’s a long day, avoid a disappointed kid at any cost (that’s my philosophy!).
The Old Museum
There’s quilting and gardening… but believe me, there’s so much more, there are fun (FREE) things for kids and you shouldn’t miss it!
“Generally” if you go inside the museum, you’ll find “stuff” for the grown ups to look at… but outside… is very fun for kids (and mostly free!)
There’s a “grass play” area, where they have a single putt putt run, a grass throne and grass bed.
You’ll also find an amazing education section which contains a robotic remote control ball, augmented reality colouring in, virtual reality glasses and free wrist bands. Our kids spent about 45 minutes here and we eventually had to drag them away… reluctantly.
Like last year, there’s a stall where you can make a free fresh flower headband, but this year one of the exhibitors has created a mini maze too!
Agricultural Educational Hall
Firstly, this place is A-MAZ-ING… and not to be missed. It provides hours and hours of free entertainment for kids of all ages (they have somehow managed to scale the entertainment for littlies, up to big kids. The littlies have things to play with, the bigger kids will enjoy the play, but also learn in the process. There are two levels in the Agricultural Education Hall, downstairs is the Agricultural Education area (with lots of fun activities) and you’ll find heaps of fun but different educational activities upstairs.
I’ll start with upstairs, do a mental note right now in regards to point 1, you really should start your day with this!
1. Go to the room containing the school kids art and collect your EKKA LEARNING TRAIL Guide, this is a fun “treasure hunt / competition” throughout the Ekka (all free). The reason you want to do it upfront is to avoid re-visiting areas you’ve already been to.
2. Go to the Police display and pickup your passport – then start the police adventure (collecting stamps, freebies and having fun along the way!)
Whilst you’re collecting the passport stamps (after your child is finger printed… at which point you ask the police woman whether your child is being setup to be a cop or a criminal), kids can dress up as a policeman / woman….
…play with lego, make ribbon flowers, play with interactive devices… making new age fruit, all while collecting fun freebies, learning and playing!
3. Make sure you pickup your Nature Play passport just inside the door (Commonwealth Games display)
Meanwhile, downstairs, there are SO many fun freebie activities for kids!
Sit on a tractor for a picture, science activities involving PH levels in soil, remote control diggers in soil….
… digging in soil, interactive activities with devices and so much more. To be honest, we were there from 9am to 9pm and I ran through this to take pictures, we didn’t have time to even participate, the kids spent 10 minutes in one interactive display that I haven’t even mentioned… and we had to drag them away from that.
There’s a section with live bees, and a stand with honey, kids can make their own wax candles…(for free).
In summary, you could easily spend a whole day in this pavilion… and the whole thing is free, fun and educational. It’s amazing.
RACQ Animal Nursery
There are so many animal related exhibits to see, but obviously the stand out for young children is the RACQ Animal Nursery where you can go inside for free, and buy a cup full of feed for $2, or 3 for $5 (which will guarantee your child will be delightfully stalked by the animals… in a nice way).
Now… for safety reasons I write my phone number on my son’s hand, given it was in the picture I attempted to photoshop it out. I appear to have removed his whole hand.
In addition to the animal nursery / feeding, there are a few events that you can attend (all free):
- The Legendairy Milking Barn
- Sheep shearing
We’ve included all of the times in our downloadable guide!
Woolworths Fresh Food Pavilion
Firstly we’ll start with a tip… it’s near impossible to get a table at lunchtime, the food here is fantastic and reasonably priced (and not rubbish), just try to eat outside of peak times if you can.
There are SO many things to see and do in this pavilion, but let’s start with the food.
Firstly, the $2 cheese toastie is back, and you can still get the $5 meal deal, a toastie with a Breaka for $5.
Secondly, I’ve said it before, but the Gourmet Pizza down the back left side of the Pavilion is:
(a) very yummy
(b) packaged in a way (pizza boxes), that a Mama can easily balance enough food to take to the fireworks and feed her entire family (and the friends that are accompanying here). i.e. a great idea for EkkaNITES dinner!
(c) it’s open until late.
Inside the pavilion you’ll find a heap of things, but there are 3 more things I have to mention…..
(1) the free Woolworths food… join the line, the food is amazing and it will effectively satisfy you for morning or afternoon tea.
As far as “free” entertainment goes, the channel 7 pavilion (kids zone) is fantastic.
There’s the live 7 news experience, then you can have photos taken as though you’re on the set of Hell’s Kitchen….
… then on the set of The Chase….
… Creek to Coast / Catch of the Day…. the green screen….
… and the result….
Then you can meet the stars and also have your photo taken on a mock set of Home & Away.
Just outside the Channel 7 Kids Zone you’ll find the Brisbane City Council Display. They have touch screen games, and also free (printed) photos which are taken on a green screen, then super imposed on a number of famous Brisbane settings!
They provide a bunch of props and accessories….
We MAY have over accessories. Just a little.
John Reid Pavilion / Ekka Emporium
These pavilions are mainly shops, however, some of them have activities for the kid… but they are a limited.
On the way to the pavilions there are hats for sale (caps), there’s a shop that sells amazing hats for $10! There are superhero themed hats, the traditional NY hat and so many to choose from, all $10 each. I thought it deserved a special mention, as it’s a great idea for cheap b’day / Christmas presents.
In the pavilion they have remote control diggers for sale. I was seriously tempted and at one point tried to bribe one of my sons to forego his showbag deal and buy these instead. Just imagine the fun they’d have in the sandpits at playgrounds!
They have these to purchase, but also have a display where kids can play with them… very fun!
They have ride on mechanical animals (you have to pay), unique kids kits and toys for sale and even cosplay worthy costumes (think about book week people!)
EkkaNITES (in the Main Arena)
The EkkaNITES entertainment is fantastic, and for the first time ever, the Ekka has introduced a 6pm Children’s Fireworks display!
So, in an effort to review and let you know what’s going on, we sat through both. Here’s the deal:
(a) Children’s fireworks display – pretty simple, the kind of fireworks we remember as kids e.g. “which one will go higher “red, blue or green!!!!”. It was followed by a pretty cool display of under the sea animals.
Watch our video and it will give you an idea of what happens at EkkaNITES, but to give you the run down… if you have little ones who will be in awe of fireworks (regardless of quality), ABSOLUTELY attend the children’s fireworks, they’ll love it.
The children’s fireworks flow directly into the rest of the show. Here’s the agenda:
5:30pm – Ride, Drive, Chop (wood chopping)
5:45pm – LED Sheep Demo
5:55pm – National Anthem
6pm – Children’s Fireworks
6:05pm – Roman Riding High Speed Stunt Challenge
6:20pm – Topsy-Turvy Sideways Car with Beno the Clown
6:25pm – Horse Archery Combat Show
6:35pm – Jaws of Death Straight Jacket Escape with Sam Powers
6:45pm – Coca – Cola Faces in the Crowd
6:50pm – The Rooftop Express Brumby Muster
7:10pm – Holden Precision Driving Team
7:20pm – Monster Trucks & RACQ Lifeflight Helicopter
7:25pm – Showtime FMX – Battle for the Golden Helmet
7:40pm – 7:55pm – Ekkanites Fireworks Spectacular
7:55pm – Meet the stars of EkkaNites and get autographs
However, for you…. yes, the grown ups, you won’t love the children’s fireworks, but you’ll be suitably impressed if you have littlies (and we thank the Ekka for doing this). But nothing compares to the main EkkaNITES Fireworks Spectacular even at 7:40pm, if you can make it, it’s worth the wait!
Download our Ekka Guide to take the scheduled entertainment with you.
Watch our video for a preview, if you comment on our Facebook post you’ll be updated when we includes the updates to this article…. it will be ready for you to take with you tomorrow (Sunday)!
Yes, it might be expensive, yes, you might be able to go on unlimited rides at the theme parks… but the Ekka is more than that!
It’s the atmosphere.
It’s City meets Country.
It’s a family tradition in the making.
It can cost a fortune or you CAN actually be careful and do it on a budget.
It’s the Ekka… and we love it to bits. It’s a part of our family.