The best kid-friendly events for 2017
See the adventures of a 19th-century nanny come to life; toss in Australia’s favourite historical re-enactment, and add the world’s biggest science festival and you’ve got the start of a year-long line-up of Queensland events set to captivate the young (and young at heart!).
Here, we’ve whipped up the ultimate ankle biter’s event bucket list for 2017 that are well worth ticking off!
Sand Safari Arts Festival: 3-26 February 2017
No kid will look at the humble sand castle the same way after the annual Sand Safari Arts Festival at Surfers Paradise this February.
This wonderland of expertly-built sculptures crafted from sand will see mesmerising flying squids to oversized sea anemones (and inflatable giants to boot) throughout the Gold Coast inspired by the theme of ‘Mystical Creatures of the Deep’.
Pro tip: Lace up the sneakers and follow the Sand and Sea Trail to uncover more than 20 pop-up art works hiding in hotel lobbies, libraries and shopping centres from Tweed Heads to Loganholme.
Chinchilla Melon Festival: 16-19 February 2017
There aren’t many occasions when you’d be happy for your children to make a complete and utter mess of themselves, but the Chinchilla Melon Festival is an exception.
As a tribute to the town’s melon farming reputation, kids (and big kids at heart) are encouraged to splatter themselves completely in pink-and-green goodness as they melon ski, melon bungy, pip spit and chariot race through this fruit-fuelled four-day festival.
Have a Go! Festival: 25 February 2017
Pack a picnic and take a scenic drive up the range to Toowoomba where the whole family can take a step back in time to learn a range of heritage trades and crafts at Cobb+Co Museum’s Have a Go! Festival.
Leather plaiting, blacksmithing, jewellery making, copperfoiling and more make up this fun-filled one-day event. Make the most of your visit to the Garden City and see what other hidden gems are on offer.
Noosa Festival of Surfing: 4-11 March
Got a budding Stephanie Gilmore or Mick Fanning in your midst?
Boys and girls 15 years and under can compete in the amateur divisions of the Noosa Festival of Surfing (aka the biggest surfing event in the world by competitor numbers). If they’re too shy – or nervous – to get out there on their lonesome, you can sign up as a family team and battle the waves together.
(Psst, don’t forget to check out the action on shore too, with free movies and live music adding to the gnarly action of this week-long beach party.)
World Science Festival Brisbane: 22-26 March 2017
The World Science Festival Brisbane returns in 2017 to spark curious minds and introduce kids to awe-inspiring realms and connect them with concepts and discoveries that are shaping our world.
While it’s still under wraps what exactly will be on the science activity menu (stay tuned as the festival program unfolds in the coming weeks), we do know you can expect a lineup of excitement and luminary guests from around the world, including Australia’s favourite science guru, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki.
Gold Coast Superkidz Triathlon: 9 April 2017
Kids from 7-13 years and all abilities can dip their toes into tri-life with the Superkidz Triathlon on the Gold Coast.
The 100m swim, 2km cycle and 400m run will give aspiring tri-champs a feel for the competition and most of all have fun doing it!
Captain Cook 1770 Festival: 19-21 May 2017
History class is in session! Get their noses out of the textbook and into a real-life re-enactment of Captain James Cook’s landing at the Town of 1770, the very spot where Europe’s greatest explorer first set foot on Australian soil some 500 km north of Brisbane.
Wrap up the commemoration with a colourful float parade, live entertainment, and a fireworks display and pair all that with a trip out to the Southern Great Barrier Reef, and you have a recipe for the best family weekend, ever!
Marvel: Creating the Cinematic Universe: 27 May – 3 September 2017
Are your kids massive Marvel fans?
Then make their super hero fantasies come true at this mega exhibition being held exclusively at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA).
It will be the first major Marvel-related exhibition to be staged in Australia and will follow Marvel heroes from comic book page to cinema screen, bringing to life characters like Thor, Iron Man and Captain America with original artwork, film props, costumes and more.
Mary Poppins Festival: 23 June – 2 July 2017
“Anything can happen if you let it!” said Mary Poppins. And in the charming town of Maryborough, that’s exactly what they do. Let it happen.
Every year in the June/July school holidays, the birthplace of PJ Travers – the author of Mary Poppins – celebrates the life of their “practically perfect” nanny in full colour with a 10-day festival of art, culture and fun.
Watch the historical streets of this charming town come alive with scenes straight out of storyland including the Great Nanny Challenge and the Chimney Sweep Dash. It’s supercalifragilistic fun for everyone!
Birdsville Big Red Bash: 4-6 July 2017
This iconic festival in the dunes of Australia’s best-known desert is both a journey and a destination. Settle the family in for a three-day camping adventure that starts with dune surfing by day (tip: use an Esky lid if you forget the boogie board) and ends with spectacular lighting and live music each night.
Set in the middle of the Simpson Desert, the festival is the only way to say, “I’ve rocked the Red in the Simpson”.
Jumpers and Jazz in July Festival: 20-30 July 2017
Show the kids a real Queensland winter with the added bonus of yarn bombing at Jumpers and Jazz in Warwick. What’s that you say? It’s the wooly version of graffiti, using leftover yarn to add splashes of personality to just about any object in sight.
If that’s not enough, then roll out the crochet blanket and put on a spread at Picnic in the Park (Sunday 30 July), decorate a mini tree with yarn at Warwick Art Gallery or check out the Killarney Fire Drums and Bonfire (Saturday 22 July). Thinking of exploring further afield in Southern Queensland Country? Check out this top list.
Whitsunday Reef Festival: 29 July – 6 August 2017
Fireworks on the foreshore, starlight movies, a comedy gala, helicopter joy rides and the Light up the Reef art installations are just a few reasons why the Whitsunday Reef Festival is an extravaganza just made for kids.
With the picturesque Airlie Beach as the backdrop and perfect August weather, why not toss in a few days of family island-hopping for good measure!
Royal Queensland Show (Ekka): 11-20 August 2017
Show bags, carnival rides, fairy floss, dagwood dogs, fireworks… seriously, what kid isn’t in heaven at Brisbane’s annual Ekka?
But this year it’s even more special as they celebrate 140 years of culture, entertainment and overall show-awesomeness.
You might want to stretch out your fun over the 10 days, as there’s just SO much do see and do from the live shows and award-winning food and wine to taste-test (including the iconic strawberry ice-cream), to educational activities and the many visits to the animal nursery (because baby animals).
Dalby’s Delicious and DeLIGHTful Festival: 19-20 August 2017
Support an Aussie farming town and zip around the world at the same time. Dalby, ordinarily known for grain and cotton farming, is also a hot spot for multicultural activities for two days in August when the community comes together for a multicultural affair of fun, food and music from Persia, Bolivia and Afghanistan as well as the nearby Cook Islands.
There’s also a massive lantern parade to light up the banks of the Myall River. Experience the taste of the world without the price tag of a round-the-world airfare.
Hervey Bay Ocean Festival: 11-20 August 2017
Celebrate the home of the humpback whale at this annual seaside celebration.
Encompassing all things ocean, the main events include a Blessing of the Fleet, Paddle Out for Whale, and seafood festival where you can go to town on the unbelievably fresh local seafood Hervey Bay is renowned for.
But the piece de resistance is when the esplanade lights up with whales, dolphins, octopus and mermaids as they take to the streets – a la motorised floats – during the Whale Parade and Concert to welcome the return of the whales to the the bay’s pristine waters each year to rest and play.
SWELL Sculpture Festival: 8-17 September 2017
It’s not often one would find a giant stainless-steel dragon or pyramid made out of bread crates on the beach, but at Currumbin’s SWELL Sculpture Festival, anything is possible!
For 10 days wander and weave amongst over 50 whimsical sculpted works built by distinguished local, national and international artists at this free exhibition.
But it ain’t just the visual delights that’ll get the youngins excited, with children’s workshops, guided twilight walks, yoga, performance art and live music all a part of the mix.
IRONKIDS Sunshine Coast Triathlon: 9 September 2017
Little athletes dreaming of the IRONMAN title can race for their own championship win at the kids-only version of the Sunshine Coast’s IRONMAN 70.3.
For those serious about the tri-life, they can enter the timed events for the 7-10 years (100m swim/1km cycle/500m run) or the 11-13 years (200m swim/3km cycle/1km run) courses.
Or why not get the whole family involved during the non-competitive Family Wave.
Brisbane Festival: 9-30 September 2017
When a program bursts at the seams with world-class acts that also targets teens and tots, then it’s time to introduce the kids to culture. Brisbane’s annual festival of arts, entertainment and culture offers awesome displays of acrobatics, fun outings like Library on the Lawn, light shows transposed on iconic landscapes and theatre for young thespians.
But it’s the 15-minute explosion of colour in the sky from the SunSuper Riverfire that no youngster will forget.
Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers: 15-24 September 2017
If you think the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers is all mature-aged audiences and horticultural nuts, guess again.
The mammoth 10-day celebration is all about welcoming the change of season with good food and good vibes, and that extends right down to the little ones, with their very own pimped-out Play Space at the Ergon Energy Flower, Food and Wine Festival, running for the first three days of the carnival.
Expect a super-sized sandpit, arts and crafts, cute farm animals, and DIY candles and mini planter boxes to keep them on their toes.
Outback Festival: 19-23 September 2017
Give your kids a taste of red dirt country at Winton’s biennial Outback Festival held (conveniently) during the September school holidays.
If they’ve never had a taste of the Outback life before, they’ll get the full-blown experience here, with cart races, whip cracking workshops, wool bale rolling and swag tossing competitions, and of course, there’s the festival’s signature event to top off a classic country adventure, the hilarious Dunny Derby Day.
Caloundra Music Festival: 29 September – 2 October 2017
As the grown-ups dance to the tunes of some of Australia’s top names in soul music playing the main stage, kids will find a magical land nestled under the shady trees of Kings Beach.
Caloundra Music Festival’s Funky Forest is home to the Sun Stage and is full of exciting activities including yoga classes, African drumming workshops, circus classes and plenty more arts and craft adventures.
Cully Fest Folk Festival: 17-19 November 2017
Celebrating three huge days of outback traditions, Indigenous Australia and community spirit, this year’s Cully Fest Folk Festival sees an unexpected change which, really, is a blessing in disguise for travelling broods.
While you can still expect a jam-packed program to show the kids the true spirit of the outback – from fossil digging and dance workshops to didgeridoo playing – this year’s big decision to move from its hometown of Cunnamulla to Toowoomba’s Showgrounds means it’s way more accessible and roomy for those pitching a tent or road tripping in their caravan. #hallelujah
Discover these events and more on It’s Live! in Queensland.