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Canberra Today 20°/23° | Tuesday, December 7, 2021 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

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Here come the holidays with lots of fun in store

From theatre shows to virtual reality experiences, Canberra’s got heaps of activities to keep the kids entertained in the school holidays. This is a sponsored post.

FROM theatre shows to virtual-reality experiences, there’s heaps of activities running these school holidays that the whole family can enjoy.

In this sponsored post, “CityNews” has compiled a guide on how to keep the kids entertained in Canberra during the holiday break.

From left, Jade Fuda, Alex Packard and Kate Betcher in “Magic Beach”. Photo: James D Morgan

Beloved children’s book brought to the stage

THESE coming school holidays, the Canberra Theatre is bringing a beloved Australian children’s book to the stage with a production of “Magic Beach”.

Written by award-winning author Alison Lester, the book tells the story of a magic beach where everything one can imagine becomes real.

But this year is different. As the eldest child begins to grow up, does she have to leave the magic behind?

Since its first publication in 1990, “Magic Beach” has sold more than 400,000 copies, with 75,000 sold in the last two years alone.

Now, it’s been adapted for the stage by playwright Finegan Kruckemeyer, whose 92 commissioned plays have been performed on five continents and translated into eight different languages.

Mixing imaginary worlds with everyday life, the Canberra Theatre Centre says “Magic Beach” encourages children to believe in themselves and celebrate the differences that make them special.

“Magic Beach”, Canberra Theatre Centre, January 22-23. Tickets at

Intimate encounters with wildlife

CHILDREN can get up close and personal with some of the world’s most amazing creatures at the National Zoo and Aquarium, says zoo manager Jemma Walsh.

“Visitors can come face-to-face with a dangerous carnivore on our ‘Awesome Roarsome Tour’ or stand in awe of our gentle giants on the ‘African Savannah Safari’,” says Jemma.

“And for an all-day experience, check out our ‘Wonders of Wildlife Tour’, which takes you behind the scenes to check out all that a working zoo has to offer!”

Jemma says children can also enjoy the “adventure land playground” these school holidays.

The playground is one of the newest additions to the zoo and features 55 activities such as slides and raised walkways, as well as the miniature menagerie of replica animals, such as bears and hippos.

“There is something for everyone in the playground, from the little ones to about 14 years of age,” says Jemma.

Jemma says parents are also taking advantage of the 12-month membership program to make weekly visits.

“We have lots of kids that love coming in and visiting their favourite animals, whether that’s one of our beautiful big giraffes, our lion family or tigers,” she says.

“Penguins are also another big favourite of the kids.”

And for those rainy days, Jemma says the aquarium is a favourite.

National Zoo and Aquarium, 999 Lady Denman Drive, Yarralumla. Call 6287 8400, email or visit

Explore sights, smells and sounds at the Portrait Gallery. Photo: Nick Stubbings.

Fun and free activities to engage the kids

THIS school holidays there’s plenty of inspiring and creative events happening at the National Portrait Gallery, says learning program manager Krysia Kitch.

“Families can drop into the free memory play space to explore the sights, smells and sounds that bring back your special memories,” she says.

“Through creative activity, children, their friends and families are welcome to share the stories that shaped them.”

Krysia says the Gallery will also be hosting a series of free workshops and programs.

“Join us online for a magical workshop with illustrator and author, Cheryl Orsini, as she guides you to weave words and pictures to tell a story,” says Krysia.

“Children’s author Sally Yule will also join us onsite for a special reading of her book: ‘Dancing With Memories’.

“After Sally waltzes us with words, Philip Piggin will lead some good-time grooves for everybody, and we’ll warm down with a stretch of our imaginations by getting crafty and creative.”

And for those out of town these holidays, Krysia says that both of these programs will also be running online too, with people able to attend via Zoom.

The National Portrait Gallery, King Edward Terrace, Parkes. Visit or call 6102 7000.

Budding Theatre’s “Cinderella Christmas Pantomime”.

Actors wanted for Christmas shows

SINCE 2014, Budding Theatre’s annual Christmas shows have been a local highlight, providing opportunities for performers of all ages to get involved in local theatre during the silly season, says founder Kirsty Zane.

Enrolling now, one of this year’s productions is “Cinderella Christmas Pantomime”, which involves an intensive course with one show for kids ages six to 12 and another for teens aged 13 to 18.

Performers will rehearse for just two weeks before performing at Belconnen Theatre over the weekend of December 18 and 19.

“I chose pantomime because I wanted to offer something light-hearted, feel-good and funny,” says Kirsty.

“Pantomime is also interactive so family and friends can join in, and young performers gain confidence from that audience interaction.

“We’ve had to cancel several shows due to the pandemic or perform on Zoom, so I’m looking forward to finally welcoming performers back to the theatre.”

Budding Entertainment is also running “A Very Musical Christmas” on Thursday December 16 – a night of musical theatre and Christmas songs, with proceeds donated to Little Oak Sanctuary.

And for the adults, on Friday, December 17, Kirsty is running “Christmas Comedy Crash Test Drama”.

“It’s a great opportunity for adults to try acting, have a glass of wine and meet new people,” she says.

Budding Theatre, email, visit or call 6153 0007.

Happiness is… a big, bright yard card

YARD Card is a new way to celebrate and spread joy for all special occasions, says owner Geoff Lang.

Geoff says he was inspired to bring Yard Card to Canberra after seeing its popularity in the US grow online.

“The recent lockdown inspired me to launch the business, to bring fun, creativity and joy to people,” says Geoff.

With large, corflute “cards” available for all types of occasions from birthdays to graduations, anniversaries to new babies, Geoff works with customers to customise the wording and colour schemes and then deliver and set it up in a customer’s front yard at the time of their choosing.

Geoff says Yard Cards work well as a surprise, bringing fun and happiness to the recipient.

“I had one customer tell me it was the best birthday surprise he had ever received!” says Geoff.

Geoff says that his website offers great inspirational ideas for the designs and he enjoys working with his customers to create the perfect yard card.

“You can choose how many days you want the card to be in your yard for and we will collect it when the celebration is over. We do all the work, you just sit back and enjoy the smiles!” says Geoff.

Visit or call 0435 765794.

Santa and Sesame Street in Canberra for Christmas

THE Sesame Street Circus Spectacular – Christmas Edition will make its world debut in Canberra next month and Santa will be welcoming guests on arrival.

It’s a Christmas festival with dozens of decorated trees, Christmas-themed games, a “Sesame Street” jumping castle and opportunities to meet Santa.

Managing Director of Showtime Attractions Keith Brown says the show is not just for little kids, it’s for anyone who loves the circus, Santa or Christmas.

“We’ve been in Canberra for a long time and can’t thank everyone enough for their support over some challenging times. It makes this Sesame Street Circus Spectacular even more satisfying and we look forward to all the smiling faces of our guests,” says Keith.

The show runs for 90 minutes and has “exciting and jaw-dropping” circus acts alongside “Sesame Street” favourites including Elmo, Cookie Monster, Bert and Ernie and Super Grover.

“Sesame Street Circus Spectacular – Christmas Edition”, 18 Spitfire Avenue, Majura Park, December 1-23. Tickets at

Travel the universe, here in Canberra

METAPHYSICA offers virtual-reality escape rooms that present an opportunity to travel to far away places without ever leaving Canberra.

CEO and co-founder, Shannon Pickles, says young people, a group of friends or family groups are welcome to come along during these school holidays, to be transported to a completely new world.

“You can play with things like gravity, physics and fire and have to solve puzzles and challenges to escape, you need to do that as part of a team, work together to try and overcome the challenges,” says Shannon.

The recommended age is 10+ and Metaphysica offers a diverse range of experiences, themes and difficulty levels, as well as birthday party experiences.

“Recently, being stressed with covid and isolated, being able to stay here and stay in a covid safe environment but still travel to distant worlds and locations, it’s something that’s really cool for people to do.”

Metaphysica, 30 Kemble Court, Mitchell. Call 6108 4516, email or visit



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