Winter school holidays in Sydney

Enjoy Sydney’s mild winters with a host of fun family activities. From bushwalking and picnics to whale watching along the coast, there’s a new outdoor adventure for every day. Meet native and exotic animals at the zoo or explore Sydney’s fascinating museums and galleries.



Outdoor activities

Make the most of sunny winter days and get outside with the family. Discover coastal walking trails or hikes through national parks, explore the city by bike and paddle around the world-famous Sydney Harbour by kayak (or take it in from a scenic ferry ride). Find an array of adrenaline activities, join a guided walking tour, sign up for a horse riding class or tackle a course at an indoor climbing centre. You can also pack up lunch and enjoy a picnic in a scenic spot around the city. 

Read more: The best family-friendly hikes in Sydney

The Bondi to Bronte Walk in Bondi, Sydney East

Bondi to Bronte Walk, Sydney East

Whale watching

Winter is prime whale watching time in Sydney as more than 40,000 humpback and southern right whales make their way along the coast between May and November. Get a great view from coastal vantage points like Cape SolanderNorth Head and Barrenjoey Lighthouse, or join a whale-watching cruise such as Whale Watching SydneyOz Whale WatchingOcean Extreme or Manly Ocean Adventures which can take you on their small fast vessels and take you to some of the best vantage points.

Read more: A guide to whale watching in Sydney

Zoos & aquariums

Catch the ferry to visit Sydney’s most iconic zoo with a view. Taronga Zoo is perched on the edge of the harbour and home to tigers, elephants, giraffes, gorillas and many native animals. In Western Sydney, you’ll feel like you’re stepping into a safari park at Sydney Zoo where more than 100 species roam in the huge exhibits. If you want to get up close and interact with animals like petting a koala or feeding a kangaroo, then Featherdale Wildlife Park and Symbio Wildlife Park are for you.

There are plenty of animals waiting for you at Darling Harbour. WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo is all about native species and is home to the Australian Big 5 – koala, kangaroo, crocodile, wombat and platypus. Next door at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium you’ll find fish, turtles, penguins and sharks, as well as one of only three dugongs on display in the world.

Read more: Eight animals you can get up-close to in Sydney

Wild Life Sydney, Australian animal adventure at Darling Harbour

WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo, Darling Harbour

Winter events

In the winter school holidays, a number of outdoor ice-skating rinks crop up around the city. The Darling Harbour Winter Fest is returning in 2024. Expect ice skating adventures, delicious treats and epic entertainment. The magic of winter can also be experienced at Winter Blast at Casula Powerhouse, a wonderland of ice skating, carnival rides, movies, food trucks and kid’s activities.

Family enjoying a winter ice skating session at Darling Harbour, Sydney

A pop up ice-skating rink at Darling Harbour

At Koshigaya Park in Campbelltown, Chill Fest simply bursts with family fun. Think amusement rides, light shows, marshmallow toasting, food trucks and, of course, an open-air ice-skating rink. The two-week Bondi Festival also returns in 2024 with its signature ice rink, as well as a Ferris wheel, comedy, theatre, and music shows, and lots of yummy eats. 

Chill Fest in Campbelltown, Sydney West

Chill Fest, Campbelltown

Vivid Sydney is the big cultural event of the winter season, lighting up prominent buildings (including the Opera House and the MCA) to spectacular effect. Be sure to sign up for one of the music or ideas programs and take a cruise to get a different perspective of the spectacular view.

Views of Harbour Lights installations on marine vessels moving across Sydney Harbour during Vivid Sydney, Sydney City

Vivid Sydney, Sydney City

Grab a box of popcorn and settle in for a screening during the Sydney Film Festival. Meanwhile, young film buffs will adore the Children's International Film Festival at Ritz Cinemas in Randwick. The Bastille Festival brings a slice of France to The Rocks in July. Expect French food and wine, entertainment, street stalls, pop-up igloos and even a Christmas Village.

Rose cake at Bastille Festival in The Rocks, Sydney City

Bastille Festival, The Rocks

Winter is a great time for sports lovers too: take in a State of Origin rugby-league battle between NSW and Queensland and see great Australian Rules football matches featuring the city’s two AFL teams (the Sydney Swans and Greater Western Sydney Giants).

In August, head to Auburn to wander through an explosion of pink flowers at the Sydney Cherry Blossom Festival. Held over nine days, it pays homage to the culture of Japan, with music, food and activities as well as the stunning trees.

Read more: What's on & coming soon in Sydney

Museums & galleries

Make learning fun during the school holidays at some of Sydney’s excellent museums and galleries. The whole family will love exploring the Australian National Maritime Museum and the immersive experiences at Hyde Park Barracks. The Australian Museum and Powerhouse Museum have exciting children's activities and exhibitions on show over the school holidays.

The Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Gallery of NSW host regular family-friendly exhibitions. Try one of these four Sydney Culture Trails that will take you on a self-guided tour to find significant cultural attractions across the city.

Read more: Fun things to do in Sydney when it rains

Find more family fun in Sydney


School holiday dates - 2024

AutumnMonday 15 April 2024Friday 26 April 2024
WinterMonday 8 July 2024Friday 19 July 2024
SpringMonday 30 September 2024Friday 11 October 2024
SummerMonday 23 December 2024Thursday 30 January 2025