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The Local’s Guide to Summer School Holiday Activities Brisbane

School holiday activities Brisbane
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Brisbane school holiday activities December/January 2021

School holiday activities in Brisbane are easy to organise when you have our detailed list of ideas. Our local guide will be an invaluable tool to help you plan!

As we head into the summer we, once again are grateful for Brisbane’s weather that is perfect for both indoor and outdoor activities with kids. Check the Brisbane weather for your planned day trip this summer and then get into our list of Brisbane school holiday ideas!

We have created an up to date list of the best school holiday activities with fun things to do in Brisbane with kids. These summer 2021 school holidays will be a little different to previous years, but we have still found excellent ideas for fun things to do in Brisbane with kids.

We have compiled the complete guide to the best school holiday activities over the December/January school holidays to help make your life so much easier!

Note: State schools finish on Wednesday 9 December and return to class on Wednesday 27 January 2021.

The summer school holidays in Brisbane are Thursday 10 December to Tuesday 26 January 2021

Fun things to do for the Brisbane school holidays

We have broken our list of school holiday activities into five sections to help you:

  1. Free school holiday activities,
  2. Cheap school holiday activities in Brisbane,
  3. Big days out in Brisbane,
  4. School holiday activities at home,
  5. Shows and concerts on during the school holidays.

As with everything at the moment, please check with the venue directly (either by their website or social media pages) to ensure they are open during the times you wish to attend. You should also check their current policy around advanced bookings, entry requirements/timings and social distancing rules.

Brisbane summer school holiday activities 2021

Brisbane school holidays are coming! We’ve put together a guide to school holiday activities in Brisbane for the Christmas school holidays.

Here’s how to treat your kids to an amazing break these QLD school holidays without blowing the budget! Add this page to your bookmark bar right now (or share it on Facebook so you can find it later) for an at-a-glance, go-to resource for parents this school holiday period.

school holiday activities - list of places to swim

ALERT! FREE e-book with photos! 50 places to swim in South East Queensland with kids! – Click here!

Cool things to do in the Brisbane school holidays

When the kids have had a lovely morning in but you’re starting to get “I’m borrrreeddd” complaints, here’s a few ideas for getting your kids out and about in your part of Brisbane. 

For a full list, check out these “local guides”:

Half day train trips free on the weekend

10 fun FREE school holidays activities!

Looking for cheap school holiday activities? These school holiday activities are FREE!! Get the kids out of the house and doing some cool things in the school holidays.

Don’t miss our School Holidays Discount Codes and Coupons article with CHEAP things to do over the school holidays. Read all the ideas below then come back to find discounted options. I personally update it the week before EVERY school holidays! 🙂

Here’s ten free school holiday activities for fun things to do in Brisbane:

QUT Precincts | Gardens Point

free school holiday activities brisbane

Captivating children and adults alike for over 65 years, the iconic figure of Miffy features in a major exhibition showing at QUT Art Museum until 14 March 2021. First created by Dutch illustrator Bruna as a bedtime story for his son in 1955, Miffy has captivated children around the world through books and television, and inspired generations of artists and designers. miffy & friends brings the work of Dick Bruna to Australia for the first time, placing Miffy alongside the work of seven Australian contemporary artists: Stephen Bird, Sadie Chandler, Nadia Hernández, Carla McRae, Nell, Brian Robinson, and Vipoo Srivilasa.  Find out more here.

Queensland Museum | South Brisbane

We are so lucky to have the Museum on our doorstep. It houses permanent and changing exhibitions. It is a great place to teach the children about Queensland’s history. There are lots of hands on exhibits. Most of the Museum is free, the visiting exhibits usually have an entrance fee. There is a family friendly café on the premises which is great for a quick coffee or lunch. It is pram friendly and a place where you can set your own pace. Opening Hours are 9.30am – 5pm daily. Click here.

Queensland Gallery of Modern Art | South Brisbane

QAGOMA is also located in the Cultural Precinct of South Bank. It houses over 16 000 works of Modern Art. Entry to the Children’s Art Centre is free. Here you will find interactive installations, artist projects and activities for your Brisbane Family. The projects and activities change throughout the year to keep your little ones interested.

There are different dining options to suit you from a café to a restaurant. Or pack a picnic and sit in the lovely grounds that surround the Gallery. They are open daily from 10am – 5pm. Read our GOMA Review to find out more or go straight to the current exhibit here!

Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens | Mt Coot-tha

These Botanic Gardens are a favourite for Brisbane Families. You can either pack a picnic and enjoy it amongst the gardens, or visit the café for coffee or lunch. Venture along the hide and seek children’s trail, where your children can hunt for native bees, a crocodile, water dragons, dragonflies and other critters. You can easily head up Mt Coot-tha when you are finished in the gardens and let your children see Brisbane from a different perspective.

South Bank | South Brisbane

Located on the banks of the Brisbane River, South Bank is 17 acres of lush parklands full of play areas for children, eateries and an amazing lagoon and water park area. And best of all, you can use it all for free! It is easy to spend a whole day here in the warmer months, playing in the water and exploring the play areas. The views are fantastic and the atmosphere happy! There is always something happening at South Bank and their Riverside Green playground is nothing short of spectacular. Make sure you head to GOMA.

Museum of Brisbane & Clock Tower | Brisbane City

Museum of Brisbane summer school holiday activities

You won’t find any fossils or bones when you visit Museum of Brisbane, but you will find a buzzing hive of living culture and activity that the whole family will love.    

Collect a free flipbook, in The Storytellers exhibition before visiting the latest exhibition “What is Different?” and enjoy an interactive activity. Make sure you grab your free take-home Bauhaus Ornament activity before taking a ride up the Clock Tower then explore the secrets of City Hall with a behind the scenes tour. PLUS, for the ultimate experience, grab a Storytellers Adventure Book from MoB Shop that’s jam-packed full of activities for ages 5-12 years for only $5!

Over summer if you are heading into the city with your Brisbane family, make sure you visit the Museum of Brisbane, located in Brisbane City Hall. City Hall itself is beautiful to walk around and you can catch the lift up to level 3 to where the museum is housed. You can book in for a free tour of the Clock Tower for an insight into how the clock tower was built and how it operates. You travel up into the clock tower in a lift and get a bird’s eye view of the city. 

The Museum is open 10am – 5pm daily and the tour operates from 10.15am – 4.45pm every 15 minutes.

Daisy Hill Koala Reserve | Daisy Hill

Do your children love koalas? If so this is the place to take them and it is all FREE! This dedicated Koala education facility has large koala enclosures and lots of interactive displays. There are two level boardwalks from which you can view the koalas. It is a great place for a picnic and opportunities for bush walking and spotting other critters and creatures. Open daily 10am – 4pm.

CityHopper | Various destination in the City

The CityHopper will help you fall in love with our city again! It is a free ferry service that runs every 30mins from 6am to midnight, seven days a week. The CityHopper travels along the Brisbane River, stopping at North Quay, South Bank 3, Maritime Museum, Thornton Street, Eagle Street Pier, Holman Street, Dockside and Sydney Street terminals. And remember the City Cat is good for kids!

Settlement Cove | Redcliffe

Located bayside at Redcliffe, Settlement Cove will trick you into thinking you have landed on a tropical island. With clear blue waters, palm trees and lots of sunshine (hopefully!) it is like a little piece of paradise. There is a little water play area for the youngest of your Brisbane Family, BBQs, a shady playground and picnic facilities. You can easily spend a day here. Click here.

Robelle Domain Parklands | Springfield

This spectacular parklands has so much to offer. There are 11kms of boardwalks, walking and cycling tracks, amazing water park areas, playgrounds, picnic facilities, waterfalls and a café. What else do you need for a relaxing day out? Click here for more information.

City Botanic Gardens | Brisbane

Have you been to visit the new all abilities playground yet? Children of all abilities can play in this park, with wide access for wheelchairs and upgraded toilet facilities with a ceiling hoist. The Gardens are a magical place to spend the day and the children will love exploring them. There are free guided tours available at 11am & 1pm Monday to Saturday, where you can learn more about the plants and the features of the Gardens.

Looking for more ideas of things to do that are free these school holidays – we have dedicated articles for free school holiday activities for the Northside of Brisbane and free school holiday activities for the Southside of Brisbane.

Surfers Paradise  Looking for the BEST things to do on the Gold Coast with kids? Click here.

Five fun cheap school holiday activities

Fancy an affordable day out? Here’s five fun school holiday activities that your kids will LOVE for under a tenner per child! Cheap school holiday ideas for your kids in Brisbane.

RELATED: Make sure you check our article about school holiday discount codes and coupons too!

Secure Parking – Roma Street Enchanted Garden

Our friends at Secure Parking are again offering a discount for parking for this event – $10 at The Barracks Car Park (including booking fee)  

Redeem Promotion Code ENCHANTED on Review Booking Page.

Click here for other parking ideas.

Here are 5 fun cheap school holiday activities to help you over the summer holidays:

Brisbane Tramway Museum | Ferny Grove

You can step back in time in Brisbane and ride a tram at the Tramway Museum as many times as your Brisbane Family would like. Set in a bush land setting, you can explore restored trams and other reminders of Brisbane’s tramway era. There are plenty of spots for picnics and souvenirs and drinks available. It is open Sundays from 12.30 – 4pm. Find prices here.

Queensland Maritime Museum | South Brisbane

You can discover historic vessels of all shapes and sizes at the Maritime Museum. It is located on the banks of the Brisbane River at South Bank. You can take a complimentary audio guided tour to make the most of your visit. The children will enjoy the big exhibits such as the warship Diamantina. It is open daily from 9.30am – 4.30pm.

Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium | Mt Coot-tha

If your little ones are interested in all things astronomical, then this is the place for them. You can view regular shows in the Cosmic Skydome which are projected onto the dome. These shows are recommended for different age groups, so check that detail when deciding which show to go to. There is also the Galaxy Gift Shop where you can buy all things cosmic. The Planetarium is open from Tuesday to Sunday. Read our Planetarium review and check the website for opening times as they do vary. Find prices here.

Ipswich Art Gallery | Ipswich

Ipswich Art Gallery is Australia’s first permanent interactive children’s space designed for the under twelves. They are committed to delivering child-centred programs that you will not see anywhere else. They have different exhibitions that are VERY hands on for the children. This is not a place for the children to be directed by adults, it is a space for the children to really explore and self direct. The exhibits for the children range from free to around the $5.00 mark. They are open daily from 10am – 5pm. Watch our Ipswich Art Gallery video review here.

Bricks 4 Kidz |  Various locations

If you have a Lego lover in your house, then this is for them. They have school holiday activities and workshops for LEGO and coding! The school holiday workshops are designed for children aged 5-12 and are staffed by trained, screened Bricks 4 Kidz instructors. Find out more about Bricks 4 Kidz school holiday activities here. Find other LEGO activities in Brisbane here.

Ten BIG days out in Brisbane – Summer school holidays

Right, it’s not just about the big ticket theme parks. There’s other great ways to treat your kids to an amazing school holiday excursion. Here’s some school holiday ideas for an amazing family day out over the break – that aren’t just about the theme parks!

Here are our top 10 favourite school holidays activities for making special memories:

Avegates school holiday program for students with a disability

Avegates Multicap for students with disabilities

With themed days, visits to local attractions, and lots of fun and inclusive activities, the Avegates School Holiday Program is a great way for children with disability to have fun and develop social skills within a supportive and safe environment.

Operated by one of Queensland’s leading high needs disability support providers, Multicap, the Avegates School Holiday Programs offer engaging and entertaining experiences for kids and teens alike. Each two-week program is designed to ensure each child has access to a wide range of fun activities that assist in developing social skills and increasing confidence. With almost 60 years of experience in supporting people with disability, Multicap’s qualified and friendly staff are knowledgeable, energetic and passionate about ensuring every child is supported and encouraged to get the most out of the program. They can also provide 1:1 support, depending on your child’s support requirements.

Whether it’s a day out at a theme park, taking part in sports and games, skill-building, art, cooking and science activities, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

The Avegates School Holiday Program is available in Toowoomba and Brisbane’s northside, call Avegates on 1300 135 886 or visit their website www.avegates.org.au to find out more.

SparkLab at the Sciencentre | South Brisbane

The Sciencentre is located on Level 1 of the Queensland Museum. They have permanent and changing exhibitions and your Brisbane Family can be very hands on to learn more about science. You can play and investigate your way through SparkLab, using lots of the same skills that scientists, engineers and mathematicians use in their everyday. 

SparkLab is a timed entry experience. Choosing your preferred time will reduce waiting times and provide an enjoyable experience for all visitors. SparkLab is open daily from 9.40am to 5pm. Entry times commence at 9.40am, then hourly from 11am until last entry at 3pm. See more details on the Sciencentre and all that is happening there.

School Holiday Fun at The Workshops Rail Museum | Ipswich

For a relaxed day out with your Brisbane Family, you can’t go past The Workshops Rail Museum. There is so much to do here – you can drive a train on the simulator, check out the miniature railway, explore the history of trains, get hands on with the interactive exhibits, get creative at the Creation Station and let off steam at the indoor playground Nippers Railway.

The children can also build wooden toy trains and carriages in the Wood Workshop (these workshops cost $10.00 and are not included in the entry price). You can either pack a picnic or buy food from the café onsite. They are open daily 9.30am – 4pm. Read our Ipswich Rail Museum review here.

Junior and Teen Keeper for a Day | Fig Tree Pocket

Your children can spend a day with an experienced wildlife education officer at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. They will discover all areas, including behind the scenes, of the Sanctuary. They will get to clean enclosures, feed the animals, train birds of prey and get a photo with a koala as well as much more. Cost is $110.00 per child. Bookings essential.

Find out how to get discounted entry every day to Lone Pineclick here.

What Lurks Below | Bribie Island

From peculiar slug-like creatures to giants of the sea, explore What lurks below as you dive into the hidden world of the waters surrounding Bribie Island. Down there you’ll meet sea creatures that like to hide and ones that you should hide from! There are clever creatures that make potions, ones that look a bit strange and the gentle giants of the sea. What lurks below is a FREE interactive exhibition at the Bribie Island Seaside Museum suitable for the whole family. Be prepared to get hands-on, be amazed…and maybe even be a little bit scared! Read our full review on visiting Bribie here.

Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium | Mt Coot-tha

Another fun activity to do is to visit the Sir Thomas Planetarium at Mt Cootha. The planetarium will feature a variety of different shows on the day, including ‘Black Holes: Journey into the Unknown’ (3pm) and ‘The Search for Life: are we alone?’. The child friendly show ‘Perfect Little Planet’ is also  playing and is recommended for children from the age of 5. You could pack a picnic and make the most of the Botanic Gardens afterwards or there is an onsite café.

Maleny Dairies | Maleny

For a big day out, head up to one of our favourites – Maleny Diaries!  They run farm tours multiple times a day.  You will get to pat calves, get to see where the cows get milked (at the 2.30 session, you will see them getting milked), see the factory where the milk is processed and bottled and at the end of the tour, you will get to sample some of the dairy goodness. Click here and see our video review.

Victoria Park Golf Complex | Herston

Victoria Park Mini Golf

Victoria Park is your one-stop destination for all things fun during the school holidays! With plenty of activities around the complex to keep the whole family entertained, it’s sure to be a great day out. Make your way around the challenging putt putt course, stop by the driving range and swing for the city, then head up to the Bistro to enjoy the alfresco dining areas and seasonal menu. Bookings essential.

The fun doesn’t stop there though! There’s a free on-site kids playground for all Bistro diners, plus there’s a free giant games areas on weekends with giant chess, giant jenga, badminton and more! To find out more about all the fun activities at Victoria Park, click here.

Cross River Rail Experience Centre | CBD

The new Cross River Rail Experience Centre is open and it is the perfect destination for curious minds of all ages. The Centre is fully interactive and immersive. Go and explore Brisbane, from the past to the future, and learn about the science behind a once-in-a-generation project that is Cross River Rail.

From the VR Station to the Reality Theatre, the Centre has been created in partnership with the Queensland Museum, to ensure every experience is world-class, fun and informative. You can find the Experience Centre at 151 Elizabeth St, Brisbane. And exploring it should take about an hour or so. It is open weekdays from 10am – 4pm and weekends 10am – 2pm. It is closed Tuesdays. For more information, click here.

Treetop Challenge Thunderbird Park | North Tamborine

Australia’s largest guided zip line tour and high ropes adventure park. Get amongst the treetops and traverse a course of rope bridges, swings and flying foxes with 6 courses of varying difficulty. Not for the faint hearted! The Tree Top Challenge is a ropes-course adventure with over 100 different challenges. Here you’ll find the Canyon Flyer (the largest zip line in Australia!) and a High Ropes Adventure Park that spans over 6 courses! If you’ve got a Ninja Warrior in your family who is looking to burn off some hardcore energy then this is definitely the place for you!Find more things to do at Mt Tamborine here.

School holiday activities at home

Over 100 at home activities

Many school holiday activities have been cancelled this year and popular holiday venues closed. There are still lots of things you can do to keep the kids safe and entertained. Take a look at these links for #stayathome fun ideas as well as these 100 school holiday activities you can set up at home.

List of boredom busters for kids

A list of over 20 things to do when there is “nothing to do”.

Cinema at home

 You can still have that home cinema experience with streaming, downloads or online DVD orders. Take a look at our suggestions!

Bear Hunt – social distance style

Explore your local neighbourhood in search of hidden bears. Tip: Create your own toilet roll tube binoculars with string and sticky tape, and decorate them for your hunt.

Virtual museum tours

Visit 17 different museums across the world with a virtual tour!

Go to virtual Disneyland

You can ride all the rides without queuing! Want to know how? Click the link!

Theatre & shows for kids in Brisbane in the summer school holidays

These are the shows we know have been confirmed for the December & January school holidays:

The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny | Brisbane

The Tale of Peter Rabbit

See Beatrix Potter’s classic children’s book live on stage at the Brisbane Arts Theatre. Join in the adventure as the ever-curious Peter Rabbit is drawn into the wondrous and enticing world of Mr McGregor’s garden. The thrills are just beginning when the angry farmer spots the silly bunnies. Children will love joining Peter in a world filled with excitement, and adventure! Bookings required. Throughout Dec & Jan. Book your tickets here.

Carnival of the Animals | South Bank

The Circa carnival is coming to town with whimsical tales of creatures of land and sea, who tumble, fly, leap and spin their way through the many wondrous worlds of the animal kingdom. Zebras juggle and flip…Kangaroos skip and somersault…Elephants have rhythm…And dinosaur bones shake, clatter and roll to the music. Carnival of the Animals whisks you away on a thrilling circus escapade inspired by Camille Saint-Saëns delightful salute to feathers, fur and fins, as this classical music suite comes to life for a whole new generation of circus, music and animal lovers. 16 – 20 Dec. Find out more here.

A Christmas Carol | South Bank

This December, the award-winning stage spectacle – Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – returns to lift your spirits at the Lyric Theatre. Brimful of song, humour, love, and lashings of festive joy, A Christmas Carol is a magical, grand-in-scale production – perfect for the entire family. Complete with live music, yule-tide carolling, innovative video design, lavish costumes and, of course, snow, A Christmas Carol, is quite simply the most uplifting theatrical experience you’ll have this year. 16 – 24 Dec.

The Nutcracker | Newfarm

Brisbane City Youth Ballet (BCYB) is bringing their exquisite Christmas holiday production The Nutcracker to Brisbane Powerhouse. This incredible theatrical feast will serve up helpings of magical fantasy all within a one hour family-friendly presentation. The Nutcracker is the story of a young girl, Clara, who receives a magical nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve and enters a dream world. See why audiences have made The Nutcracker the most performed ballet in the world, and a treasured holiday tradition for the entire family. Bookings required. Fri 18 Dec – Sun 20 Dec.

Cinderella | South Bank

Cinderella at QPAC

This breathtaking ballet adaptation of the timeless Charles Perrault fairy tale, Cinderella, will be the first full-length ballet to be staged at the Queensland Performing Arts Complex (QPAC) since March 2020. Forbidden from going to the palace ball by her wicked stepmother and stepsisters, Cinderella is overjoyed as her fairy godmother miraculously makes her dreams come true. Join Cinderella in January 2021 at the ball as Ballet Theatre Queensland celebrates another year of ballet magic by bringing this beloved fairy-tale to life. 20 – 23 Jan. See our events calendar to book.

 Want a FREE book with 50 Cheap things to do in Brisbane with kids? It’s here and it’s free – click here then scroll through the rest of this article for even MORE ideas!

More school holiday fun around Australia

We have lots of ideas for school holiday fun around Australia!

Going to the Gold Coast these school holidays?

Find the BEST list of things to do on the Gold Coast with kids here.

Heading to Sydney these school holidays?

Find the BEST list of things to do over the Sydney school holidays here.

Lucky to be off to Melbourne these school holidays?

Find the BEST list of things to do over the Melbourne school holidays here.

Visiting Perth these school holidays?

Find the BEST list of things to do over the Perth school holidays here.

Taking a trip to Adelaide these school holidays?

Find the BEST list of things to do over the Adelaide school holidays here.

Whatever you are doing, may your school holiday activities be full of fun with the kids!

112 responses to “The Local’s Guide to Summer School Holiday Activities Brisbane”

  1. Angela Abussi says:

    School holiday wishlist…
    Koala reserve, pony rides, outdoor adventure….

  2. Erika Little says:

    It would be great to go visit Maleny Dairies again this holidays. Love their farm, their philosophy on helping the dairy industry and their products are so delicious.

  3. Peter says:

    hello bowling with the skids.
    Rock climbing whilst eating a hot dog.

  4. Kellie says:

    Museum, Circus Arts at DFO and the beach!

  5. Kylie Verhoef says:

    Botanic Gardens, tree top climbing for the kids, south bank. Anything to keep the kids entertained.

  6. Jill Walton says:

    Go to GOMA’s Childrens Art Centre for free, air-conditioned art activities in a beautiful building by the river.

  7. Arlene Norfolk says:

    Head to the Gold Coast for a couple of days.

  8. Wendi says:

    We love south bank and are going to explore the rail museum

  9. Melanie Neumann says:

    We will definately be visiting Maleny Dairies, we always love out time spent there !

  10. Melanie Neumann says:

    Bribie Island Sanstone Points Hotel has everything for families. On the school holidays they have a blow up water park that my kids love, they have an animal farm, lots of different options for lunch and a kids games room aswell. Its also has lots of beautiful spots for parents and families to sit back and relax.

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