There are plenty of reasons to hit the road and embrace the cosy glow of Ballarat these school holidays. Only a 75-minute drive (or V/Line journey) from Melbourne, Victoria’s largest inland city is buzzing with family fun at this time of year. Don’t miss Ballarat in its signature season.

Ballarat Winter Festival rolls out the family fun from 29 June – 21 July 2024. While there’s plenty to keep the kids entertained, the adults can enjoy live music by candlelight, craft drinks and creative workshops. The festival has something for everyone.


Ballarat is an easy day trip from Melbourne or Geelong, but if you want to get away for a bit longer, convenient places to stay include Sovereign Park Motor Inn and Kryal Castle’s medieval-themed suites. The centrally-located Quest Ballarat Station also features interconnecting rooms for larger families or friends travelling together.

Now in its 10th year, the ever-popular Winter Wonderlights returns, bringing light projections and ‘snow’ falls to the famous streetscape at Sovereign Hill.

Tickets include daytime entry to the gold rush era village (open from 10am), with a full theatre program, kids’ activities and faux ‘snow’ drifting through the air.

Take a tour of the mine, see molten gold being poured and taste the famous sweet raspberry drops made on site. Those arriving early can book in for a photography session where you can dress up in 1850s costume. Then, when the sun goes down, the dazzling light show begins.  


Winter Wonderlights is on display at Sovereign Hill from 28 June – 21 July 2024.

While we highly recommend arriving earlier in the day for the full experience, evening-only Winter Wonderlights sessions are available on selected Saturdays. Sessions for the Red Hill Photography Room are limited and must be booked on the day of your visit, separate to your entry ticket.   

Made in India readers can go in the draw to win a family pass to Winter Wonderlights by signing up to the Visit Ballarat e-news (T&Cs apply).

Discover a medieval kingdom just outside of Ballarat! Kryal Castle has been overrun by an eternal winter since the evil snow Queen Neva took the throne 25 years ago. Can the heroic knights restore the kingdom to its former glory? Find out by visiting Frozen Kingdom at Kryal Castle.


This icy spectacular is full of knights on horseback, fiery sword battles and roaming fire-breathing dragons (don’t worry, they are like big puppies and enjoy a good nose scratch). Create your own snowflakes and magical potions, try your hand at archery and axe-throwing, or see if you are brave enough to pass knight school.

Frozen Kingdom runs daily from 22 June – 14 July 2024 as well as the weekend of 20-21 July 2024. Outside of the Victorian school holidays, Kryal Castle is open on weekends 10am – 4pm. To keep your energy up, there are two onsite eateries which have vegetarian and halal options on the menu.


Rug up and check out Ballarat Wildlife Park, where you can meet some of Australia’s most famous animals. The park is home to over 100 free-roaming kangaroos that can be hand-fed by visitors. The keepers host daily talks alongside the park’s meerkats, penguins, dingos, tigers, crocodiles and Tasmanian devils, just to name a few.

For an extra special experience, you can get up close and personal with your favourite furry friends with a private Animal Encounter. These make for a great photo opportunity with family and friends visiting from overseas. There is something magical about patting a koala – but it is good to know you are also supporting the park’s conservation efforts.

There’s also soup and a range of hot drinks available to keep you warm as you wander.

Purchase your Ballarat Wildlife Park tickets online with discount code INDIA20 for 20% off entry tickets (Adult, Child and Family Passes), valid until 21 July 2024. Excludes Animal Encounters which must be pre-booked on the day of your visit at the gift shop (not available online).

For affordable winter fun, take to the ice in the heart of Ballarat. The popular pop-up ice skating rink has a limited three-week season as part of Ballarat Winter Festival, so book your tickets online now.

Special sessions this year include:

  • Bollywood on Ice Sessions: Thursday 18 July 6pm-7pm and 7.30pm-8.30pm
  • Silent Disco on Ice Sessions: Tuesday 16 July 6pm-7pm and 7.30pm-8.30pm
  • Kids DJ Sessions: Tuesday 2, 9 & 16 July 9am – 10am; and Youth DJ Session Thursday 11 July 4.30pm – 5.30pm
  • Child-friendly sessions: recommended for parents and children up to 12 years of age, weekdays from 9am-10am.
  • Sensory sessions: with no music or flashing lights and restricted numbers, available every Thursday from 9am-10am. Parents with children still welcome.

A discount applies for groups of 10 or more people, with tickets only $14 each (all ages).

Receive 15% off your ice rink tickets when you dine out during the Ballarat Winter Festival. Simply collect a discount code from any Ballarat hospitality or tourism business when you spend $25 or more to receive 15% off your ice rink tickets (T&Cs apply).  

If you are driving from Ballarat Wildlife Park to Sovereign Hill, stop by The Little Cupcake Shop (223 Eureka Street, Ballarat East) for a cute treat on the way.

For brunch or lunch between attractions, you can also try Lilly’s at Eureka (102 Stawell Street South, Eureka). This family-friendly spot overlooks a playground and gardens. The menu includes loose-leaf chai and fun dishes such as goldmine pancakes topped with mounds of chocolate ‘dirt’.  

Indian Grill Ballarat is located across the road from Lilly’s and features an extensive vegetarian menu. There’s also a specialist Indian grocery store in Ballarat Central (206 Dana Street) which sells fresh Indian sweets and imported snacks.  

For those who love cooking and want to try some new salts and spices with an Australian twist, don’t miss Saltbush Kitchen. The bushfoods store in Ballarat is a great place to find spice packs, tea and gifts featuring colourful artworks of Australian animals. If you stop by in winter, you can enjoy a special cup of hot chocolate spiced with native ingredients such as wattleseed and pepperberry.

You can explore more restaurant and cafes options at Visit Ballarat, including top spots to eat out with kids.

The Ballarat Botanical Gardens and Lake Wendouree are beautiful in all seasons. Grab a hot chocolate from Pipers by the Lake and find some peace in nature.

The Robert Clark Conservatory features colourful floral displays to fill your Instagram feed; open 9am – 4.30pm in winter, entry is free.

A short walk away, you’ll find the Ballarat Tramway Museum, where you can explore a collection of heritage tramcars housed indoors. Entry includes a tram ride which will take you on a short but scenic journey past the gardens and the lakeshore.

For more winter travel inspiration head to Visit Ballarat.

Media Release

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