Despite nearly a year of non-events, people are starting to come together with the sun (hopefully) shining for the Easter school holidays. If you're stuck for ideas, here are some free and low-cost activities for kids of all ages across the Illawarra.
1. Showtime in the City, Crown Street Mall
When: There'll be carnival rides in the mall, roving entertainers, a farmyard animal nursery, face painting and balloon bending. Attractions include teacup and saucer, mini pirate ship, Chair-o-plane and Kanga bounce.
Where and when: Crown Street Mall and Wollongong Central from April 10 to 14, 10am to 3pm. Receive one free ride ticket for every $5 spent in a participating retailer. Details.
2. Buddha's Birthday Festival at Nan Tien Temple
What: Experience an array of cultural activities like Chinese Calligraphy and tea meditation, a vegetarian food fair, colourful multicultural performances and an art exhibition in the gallery. Activities for children include a Buddha's Birthday party complete with games and a treasure hunt.
Where and when: Berkeley Road, Berkeley on April 2 to 5, from 9am to 5pm. Saturday is the Nan Tien wellbeing Market; Monday is the Nan Tien multicultural concert. Details.
3. Good Friday Family Fun Day, Kiama
When: Kiama will host its annual Easter event with a heap of market stalls, egg and spoon races and other activities for the kids (with thanks to Kiama Girl Guides), rides, street food, face painting, jumping castle and more. There'll also be a petting zoo and showbags.
Where and when: Black Beach on Good Friday from 9am to 3pm. Details.
4. Free circus workshops, Wollongong Central
What: Learn tricks from the experts at Circus Monoxide during free circus workshops. Activities include juggling, hula hopping, diablo, crazy mirrors, ring toss games, balance beams and more.
Where and when: Wollongong Central shopping centre (level 1, Gateway Building near Country Road) from April 5 to 16, 10am to 12pm (noon). Suitable for all ages. Details.
5. Shellharbour's Got Talent, Roo Theatre
What: The inaugural Shellharbour's Got Talent will begin with primary aged children and teenagers stepping on the stage. A magician, didgeridoo player, light-saber artist, singers and dancers are among those having a crack at the talent quest.
Where and when: Roo Theatre on Addison Street. The junior section (ages seven to 12) is on April 6; seniors (ages 13 to 18) is on April 7. Tickets $10 plus booking free. Details.
6. Tarmac Days at HARS Aviation Museum
What: Check out some classic big birds from the sky and see the progress made by the aviation museum's volunteers to restore a replica of Kingsford-Smith's Southern Cross. You can also walk on board a world record-holding Qantas 747-400, the only one in Australia.
Where and when: Historical Aircraft Restoration Society at Shellharbour Airport from April 9-11. Details.
7. A Bee Story, Merrigong Theatre
What: Internationally recognised circus star Robbie Curtis (ex Circa, Cirque du Soleil, Circus Oz, the Australian Ballet) brings this celebration of native flora and fauna to Wollongong. Fly along with Queen Bee and Worker Bee in their intricate world as they rebuild a home after their hive is destroyed by bushfire.
Where and when: The IPAC from April 12 to 13. All tickets are $29 plus booking fee. Dine & Discover NSW vouchers can be used for this production. Details.
8. Hawks and Wellington Phoenix, WIN Stadium
What: Pick between basketball and soccer, or go support both! Our Hawks take on Brisbane, South East Melbourne and Cairns during the Autumn break, while our (adopted) Phoenix go up against Melbourne City and Western United.
Where and when: Harbour Street, Wollongong. Illawarra Hawks play home games on April 7, 9 and 11, and Wellington Phoenix play April 5 and 11. Details.
9. Easter Lollyland at Wollongong Science Space
What: Get a sneak peek (and taste) of the colour, chemistry and biology of confection creation. From science hunts to fairy floss and live-streamed liquid nitrogen ice-cream making, your child will be transported to a wonderful world of Wonka-inspired science.
Where and when: Squires Way in North Wollongong on April 3 to 18, from 10am to 4pm. Details.
10. Green Connect farm tours at Lake Heights
What: This social enterprise turned a steep block of unused land into a thriving farm producing fruit, vegetables, herbs, eggs, honey, and free-range meat using organic principles. Take a fun and interactive tour of the grounds. (They have animals too!)
When and where: Green Connect Farm on Anna Avenue. Tours available April 3 at 11am, and April 7, 10, 15, and 17 at 9.30am. Tickets are $14 plus booking fee. Details.
11. Family FOGO workshops at Wollongong Botanic Garden
What: Discover how people in the past took care of excess food scraps and how we can all tackle the war on waste using the FOGO system. Families will also enjoy an interactive treasure hunt around the garden and Ziggy's Incredible Recycled Time Machine Show. Children can take home a plant they have potted up in compost made from FOGO.
Where and when: Wollongong Botanic Garden Discovery Centre (car park off Madoline Street), April 12 to 16, 10am to 12pm. Suitable for children aged 5 to 10. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Parents and carers are free, kids are $13.50. Details.
12. Fairy Forest at Illawarra Fly
What: Meet the newest fairies and elves that call the Illawarra Rainforest home, with their village spread along the stroll down to the elevated steel walkway, on the way back up the path and along the bushwalk back to the visitor centre. Continue the fun on the zipline tour.
Where and when: Knights Hill Rd, Knights Hill, from April 2 to 18. All visitors must pre-book tickets online in advance. The fairy experience is included in the price of a Treetop Walk. Details.
13. Craft workshops at Wollongong Art Gallery
What: The gallery will host a mixture of art workshops designed to stimulate and inspire the creative imagination. Children will use a variety of materials and learn new skills such as mixed media, sculpture, drawing, painting, and performance in a COVID safe environment. Programs run for several hours or a full day and suitable for ages five to eight, and nine to 14.
Where and when: Burelli Street, Wollongong, from April 13 to 16. Workshops either $22 or $55, plus booking fee. Details.
14. Minerva Pool trail, Dharawal National Park
What: This short, picturesque walk leads you through bushland to a pristine waterhole with sandstone features and a small stone island. Minerva Pool is a sacred women's place for the Dharawal people, and the Tharawal Local Aboriginal Land Council asks that only women and children enter the waters.
Where: Dharawal National Park, near Campbelltown. See nine more great walks here.
15. Cinemas, Wollongong, Warrawong and Shellharbour
What: Movies catering for kids of all ages are screening, including Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, Two by Two: Overboard! Tom and Jerry. Cinemas at Wollongong, Warrawong and Shellharbour.
16. Illawarra library activities
Wollongong City: Six libraries from Helensburgh down to Warrawong are hosting free activities for little ones to teenagers. Make turtles from yarn, create a swinging sloth, play with LEGO, be introduced to costume design, or Catch a free family movie, El Americano throughout the holidays. It's free, but bookings essential. Details.
Kiama: The library on Railway Parade is hosting workshops in journal-making workshops, macrame, LEGO challenges, robotics, Marvel figures 3D printing, and storywriting. There will also be a free screening of the family-friendly classic The Princess Bride on Tuesday, April 6, from 5pm to 6.45pm. Bookings essential. Details.
Shellharbour City: Libraries at Warilla, Albion Park, Oak Flats and inside the Shellharbour Civic Centre will host an array of workshops for children of different ages. From henna painting on your hands, making brush robots and creating a dinosaur herb garden, to making your own play doh and finger painting. On Thursday, April 8, the Civic Centre Library will screen the animated family movie, The Croods: A New Age, from 6pm. It's a free event, though bookings are essential. Details.
17. Bootcamp for kids at Shellharbour Civic Centre
What: Kids will also get their blood pumping in a 30-minute session with active-wear queen Lisa Trujillo, followed by a confidence building workshop.
Where and when: Shellharbour Civic Centre on Monday, April 12, from 9.30am to 12.30pm. Aimed at ages seven to 12. Free but limited spaces available. Details.
18. Get social at Wollongong Youth Centre
What: For young people aged 12-18 years, Wollongong's Youth Centre is running two programs, Hang Out and Late Night. Hang with friends, meet new people, use the free Wi-Fi, play pool, pick up a gaming console or simply relax on our comfy lounges.
Where and when: : Burelli Street, Wollongong. Hang Out: Tuesday and Wednesdays of the holidays from 1pm to 5pm. Late Night: Thursday and Friday through holidays from 3.30pm to 7.30pm.
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