Garden Party – top 10 family activities in NSW Botanic Gardens

Summer is the perfect season for picnics, walks and fresh air. Luckily for our Sydney-based families, our gardens are putting on a glorious show. From carnivorous plants and science workshops to theatre in the park, check out this schedule of awesome outdoor activities for families in the school holidays.

Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney

Puppets with Bite! – 20 to 24 January 2020

Create your own puppet using moving parts, and then bring your carnivorous creation to life. The activity is designed for 6 to 12 year olds and costs $20.50 per child. Grown-ups don’t participate and don’t require a ticket, but are needed for supervision. Two time slots run each day at The Calyx. You can book in advance here.

Create some snapping-great magic with your own biting puppets! Credit: Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney

Plants with Bite! – until winter 2020

After creating your puppet, check out the accompanying exhibition, Plants with Bite. More than 25,000 creepy, crazy and carnivorous plants are featured, including the Venus Flytrap and Lobster Pots. Learn how these sneaky plants lure, trap and eat up insects. Entry is by donation in the Calyx, where there is a handy Kids Play Corner. Visit on the last Sunday of the month to join a Feeding Time session where you learn about feeding the plants and get to take home your very own Venus flytrap. To find out more click here.

Learn about what these carnivorous plants like for lunch! Credit: James Horan, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney

Sammy and Shellie – Pirates and Mermaids Garden Theatre – 13 and 14 January 2020

Dress up to the underwater theme and join Sammy the Sailor and Shellie the Mermaid as they save the world using a hefty dose of audience participation, singing and jokes. Held at Lion Gate Lodge Garden, this outdoor family show runs for an hour and is perfect for 3 to 10 year olds. Tickets are $14 per person and there is a 10.30am or 12.30pm slot each day. Website here.

Get your singing voices ready and prep for some belly laughs at Sammy and Shellie Credit: Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney

Tomato Festival – 15 and 16 February 2020

The seventh annual Tomato Festival Sydney will ripen in the February sun with the theme ‘the joy of the kitchen garden.’ This free event, kicking off at 10am both days, is as much for families as foodies and green thumbs. Kids can join Bush Tucker pizza sessions. Everyone can bask in the live music, food stalls, impressive tomato mandala, chutney competitions and the famous Diggers Heirloom Tomato Taste Test.

The Tomato Festival is the cherry tomato on top of awesome Botanic Gardens events in Sydney. Credit: Royal Botanic Garden

Located in a prime Sydney location on the harbour between the Opera House and Mrs Macquaries Chair, the oceanside Royal Botanic Garden Sydney is best reached by public transport. Parking availability is scarce. Jump on a train to Circular Quay to walk past the Opera House itself. Or alight at Wynyard or Town Hall and walk from there.

Mount Annan Australian Botanic Garden

Christmas Markets – 15 December 2019

The monthly Eat Shop Love markets will get Yuletide twist with carollers, Santa photos, kids’ activities and crafts. The markets are open from 2pm to 9pm. The parklands will also host Santa’s Studio, a new 2-hour creative Christmas gift-making event.

Aboriginal Weaving Class and Art Class – 15 and 22 January 2020

At the Aboriginal Weaving Class, learn how to tell different native plants apart and discover their uses for Aboriginal clans in Sydney. Then weave your very own creation, with help from the Shared Knowledge Weavers. Running from 10am to 12pm on 15 January, the activity is held at Bowden Centre for $29 per child and is ideal for 8 to 12 year olds. Grown-ups don’t participate or need a ticket, but have to be around to supervise. They’ll definitely get jealous after watching the class unfold, so can book in to Aboriginal Weaving Class for Adults.

Make your own creations from natural materials. Credit Royal Botanic Gardens

If you miss out on the weaving workshop, tag along to the Aboriginal Art Class on 22 January instead. From 1 to 3pm, budding creatives can join an afternoon of painting and storytelling based on local Aboriginal culture. The cost is $25 per child and the session is aimed at 5 to 12 year olds.

Learn about local Aboriginal tradition while making your own art souvenir. Credit: Royal Botanic Gardens

If you are driving, access the gardens via Narellan Road. If you’re prepared to walk, then catch the train to Campbelltown station, jump on a bus running to Camden via Mount Annan and get off on Narellan Road opposite Kenny Hill Road. You’ll have to walk about 2 kilometres from here to the Visitor Centre. 

Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah

Nerd Alert: Science on the Mountain – 16 and 23 January 2020

There will be two Nerd Alert sessions at Mount Tomah this summer. They run from 11am to 1pm at the Visitor Centre and are designed for 8 to 12 year olds, at $20.50 per child. Read more here.

The first, Messing around with Boats, involves building your own boat using recycled materials like plastic bottles, old computer parts and chopsticks, then testing out how it sails on the garden pond. At Water Rockets, you’ll explore chemical and water pressure by piecing together a rocket out of recycled materials, testing how high you can shoot it into the air.

Centennial Parklands

Spotlight Prowl – once a month until April 2020

Families can join this after-dark adventure in which rangers will guide a walk around the park. Expect to meet the nocturnal residents, such as flying foxes, brushtail possums and microbats. Rug up and wear comfy walking shoes. The prowl kicks off at Robertson Road gates and costs $20 per ticket. The sessions run from 7.30pm to 8.30pm on 6 December, 17 January and 7 February. On 6 March, the session starts at 7pm instead, and on 3 April at 6pm. Book here.

Holiday Theatre Fun: Alice in WonderPark – 23 January 2020

Hurry up and snag tickets to this unique take on the Alice in Wonderland tale. Tickets have already sold out to the 21 January show so get a wriggle on and book here. Held at the WILD PLAY Discovery Centre, you’ll have to help Alice find her way home by painting the roses red, joining the Mad Hatters Tea Party, chatting with the White Rabbit and playing crocquet with the Queen of Hearts. The highly interactive show runs for about 50 minutes, with tickets selling for $19 per person. 

The Australian Wildlife Show – 15 January 2020

Meet some astonishing Aussie critters, brought along by park rangers. Learn some fun facts and maybe even touch or snap a photo with the animals. Bring along your picnic rugs and make a day of it by heading to the Ian Potter Children’s WILD PLAY Garden afterwards. Tickets can be purchased for $16 per person or $60 for a family of four. Ages 4 to 10 will get the most out of the experience at Loch Avenue South. Read more here.

Read more about other outdoor activities this summer:

Moonlight Cinema returns with more outdoor fun this summer

Summer lovin’ – Top activities for kids

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