Get your winter woollies on and enjoy a whole lot of frosty family fun these July school holidays at Prince Alfred Square in Parramatta. Winterlight is one of Sydney’s biggest winter festivals and home to the largest open-air ice rink in Sydney. Plus there are a host of family-friendly activities, including a special kids rink, free kids workshops, magical winter light garden, illuminated ferris wheel, vintage rides, elevated ice slide, roving entertainers, warming winter food and live music. And we are very happy to report that a number of improvements have been made since last year.
This Ultimate Family Guide gives you the inside scoop on how to make the most of Winterlight with kids.
While a whole lot of wintery fun, Winterlight can be an expensive family outing, particularly if your kids like rides….unless of course you just go for the free kids activities and entertainment! Now that the opening night special is finished, there is just three ways to make it a little cheaper to take the family to Winterlight.
2 for 1 Tuesdays
Enjoy two for the price of one deals on Tuesdays between 11am and 4pm for ice skating, amusement rides and food. Keep in mind, that this isn’t a half price deal but two kids going on say a ride for the price of one. So best to team up with another family if you have an odd number.
Note: unfortunately not all food outlets were offering a proper 2 for 1 deal on Tuesday 10th July but should now be on Tuesday 17th July.
Buy Tickets and Coupons Online
Buying ice skating tickets and coupons online will save you a few dollars. It’s not much but every little bit helps.
Bulk Buy Ride Coupons
The amusement rides are between 2-4 coupons each, with one coupon being $2. But you can buy the coupons in bulk and will save a bit doing so. 20 coupons cost $38 (save $2) and 30 coupons is $54 (save $6). And you can always buy 30 coupons and split them with a friend.
Important Information for Families
- Sydney Water has now installed a water re-fill station so please bring your water bottle.
- Wear gumboots if it has been raining as it can get very muddy.
- Take spare clothes as the kids will very likely end up wet.
- Pram parking is near the skating rinks.
- Toilet facilities are on site, but there are no baby changing facilities. The nearest are at Riverside Theatres, which is about 100m away.
- All workshops in the Kids Creative Hub are FREE and no bookings required.
- Quiet times are the first hour of Winterlight (11am to 12pm) on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. During this time music levels will be lowered and smaller crowds are expected – perfect for kids who get overwhelmed by noise and lots of people.
- Food on offer will be child-friendly. There are lots of tables and chairs within the Winter Food Village, where you can enjoy either food you have bought there or food you have brought from home.
- Some activities are only open on certain days and times, like the circus playground which is only open on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 12pm to 4pm.
- The family special for ice skating is $65 for 2 adults + 2 kids (under 14yrs).
- The carnival rides are between $4 and $8 each, so with a few kids wanting to go on a few rides it will get expensive really quickly. There are some savings to be made in buying in bulk, buying online and if you go on Tuesdays, when two people can ride, skate and eat for the price of one. Plus, little ones can ride the ferris wheel for free!
Winterlight Activities and Entertainment
With 10 different types of activities at Winterlight, there is bound to be an activity or four that will add some magic to your winters day! From gliding onto an ice rink, twirling on the Ferris wheel and getting crafty at one of the many free workshops, to spinning on amusement rides, being entertained by roving performers, enjoying live music and warming up with some yummy food.
And in case you were wondering, the not so successful snow pit from last year won’t be making a come back. Instead Council is focused on providing higher quality ice rinks and ice slide. So fingers crossed this means some great fun ice skating and no muddy sections on the slide!
1FREE Kids Creative Hub and Activities
The Kid’s Creative Hub is perfect for kids of all ages and runs from 11am to 6pm daily. Bring your little (or big) ones along and join in a variety of free, fun and creative children’s activities. There will be six different craft activities run on rotation throughout the day and you can drop-in anytime.
- 3D Paper Snowflakes
- Sparkly Snowflakes
- Woollen Snowflakes
- Egg Carton Penguins
- Polar Bear Masks
There are also three fun kids activities at a specific time, so you may want to plan your visit to enjoy them.
Special Fireflies Lantern Workshop (13th to 15th July from 4pm to 6pm)
Make your own luminous paper lantern from 100% recyclable material. And take it home with NEON LED light. There are over 5 different firefly designs to choose from.
Parramatta Eels Meet the Players (Monday 16th July from 1pm to 3pm)
You can meet two players from the Parramatta Eels and take part in some fun kids activities run by the Eels.
GWS Giants Activity (Wednesday 18th July from 2pm to 5pm)
Gather together and shoot the ball into a giant dual inflatable goal, with giveaway opportunities across the day. Prizes will include water bottles, mini footies and GIANTS player bobbleheads. Whether you like football or netball, this is bound to hit all the right targets. PLUS there will be player appearances from 4pm!
Get your thrills on the Winterlight ice slide at 30 metres long! This is a LOT of fun and so much better in the doughnut tubes….plus a good workout carrying them back up again. One ride costs 2 coupons (about $4) and 3 slides for 5 coupons (about $10). Kids must be 2yrs+ to go on the ice slide.
3Magical Light Garden
New to the event this year is a magical light garden with arching canopies and interactive
aquabeams that you will be able to project into the night sky via a little joystick. The company hosting this ran a similar interactive light show at Vivid and have created a light installation exclusively for Winterlight. Some lights will also frozen inside the ice rink that will illuminate the way for skaters in a colourful and vibrant display.
Of course the main event of Winterlight is the ice skating. And we are very happy that there is a new operator this year, after a number of issues last year.
There are two ice rinks at Winterlight:
- The Smoothfm Ice Rink is the largest open-air rink in Sydney and open to all ages. It is however best for kids already comfortable with skating. The sessions go for 45mins and start on the hour. Tickets start at $10 for kids 2-5yrs and go up to $24 for people 14 years+. You can also hire a ‘kanga’ for $10 that provides some support to stay on your feet while skating.
- The kids ice rink is for kids under 12yrs and perfect to try out skating. This year it will not be undercover but will have a lovely light canopy over the top. The sessions go for 20mins. Kids under about 4yrs get skates to strap onto the bottom of their shoes. Tickets are $16 ticket and includes a kanga helper, which is similar to training wheels on a bike and supports beginners skating. Parents are allowed on the ice with shoes but not allowed to skate.
This year there will be a much more streamlined and user-friendly ticketing service. You will have more freedom in choosing sessions, swapping sessions and getting refunding where required. The new operator will also be focused on ensuring everyone booked into a session gets on the ice that session.
Children and adults alike can test their skills at juggling, stilts, spinning and balancing objects at the Circus Playground on weekends, as well as Wednesdays and Fridays, from 12pm to 4pm.
6Vintage Carnival Rides and Illuminated Ferris Wheel
Experience the thrill of vintage-style carnival rides, including the carousel, music trip, cars 4 kids, rockin tug and winterlight’s coaster ride. Plus you can see all the action from the 22m high ferris wheel. Rides are between 2-4 coupons per ride and coupons cost:
- 1 Coupon = $2
- 10 coupons = $20
- 20 coupons = $38 (Save $2)
- 30 coupons = $54 (Save $6)
7Ice Shows (Friday and Saturday Nights)
On Friday and Saturday nights, watch three nightly spectacular Winterlight dazzling ice shows by a cast of champion skaters at 6:45pm, 7:45pm and 8:45pm.
8Frozen Sing Along at Riverside Theatres
Drop into Riverside Theatres on Tuesdays at 10:30am during Winterlight to watch a very special screening of Disney’s Frozen,with lyrics on screen to help you sing along with Anna and Elsa. Tickets are $10 per person and a family pass for $35, excluding transaction fees. There is also a combo ticket for $15 with popcorn and a drink included.
For a little bit more magic, on the weekends there will be roving entertainers.
- POP ART (6th-8th July 6:30pm to 9:30pm): Marvel at this fluro lit dotti duo! This lively pair ditzy and jive their Litchenstein inspired interactive Pop Art personas. Don’t miss out on your selfie with this popping comic duo.
- STILT PERFORMERS (6th July, Saturdays & Sundays 2pm to 5pm): Capture these colourful and graceful stilt performers.
- FIREFLIES (13th-15th July 6:30pm to 9:30pm): The Fireflies light up the night with their spellbinding aerial dance. Curious and gentle, they flicker and pulse searching the crowd for love. Once paired the fireflies fly together in a synchronised luminous display.
- BAROQUE AND SCROLL (20th-22nd July 6:30pm to 9:30pm): A performance lit with a warm lamp glow. Adorned in gold leaf filigree in an instrumental tapestry of their world, the mechanical musical mocking bird will enchant and capture your heart in an embodiment of soft furnishings and Venetian flourish.
- HUMAN STATUE PAINTING (13th & 20th July 12pm to 4pm): An interactive art experience with a difference – a human statue canvas. He looks so life-like, some might say he is real. He’s lost his colour, and needs your help to bring him back to life. So grab a paint brush, pick your favourite colour and turn this blank canvas into your very own masterpiece.
10Village Sessions and Live DJ
New this year, Parramatta’s Live and Local musicians will be performing some of the best live music tunes Western Sydney has to offer during Winterlight ‘Village Sessions’.
- Saturday 7 July | 2pm – 6pm: THE BLUES PREACHERS
- Sunday 8 July | 2pm – 6pm: JESSICA JADE
- Monday 9 July | 12pm – 3pm: REBECCA HATCH
- Tuesday 10 July | 12pm – 3pm: RICKY NIFO
- Wednesday 11 July | 12pm – 3pm: STEPHANIE GRACE DUO
- Thursday 12 July | 12pm – 3pm: LARRA ANDALLO
- Friday 13 July | 12pm – 3pm: YANNICK KOFFI
- Saturday 14 July | 2pm – 6pm: DAVID AGIUS TRIO
- Sunday 15 July | 2pm – 6pm: JESSICA JADE
- Monday 16 July | 12pm – 3pm: REBECCA HATCH
- Tuesday 17 July | 12pm – 3pm: RICKY NIFO
- Wednesday 18 July | 12pm – 3pm: STEPHANIE GRACE DUO
- Thursday 19 July | 12pm – 3pm: LARRA ANDALLO
- Friday 20 July | 12pm – 3pm: YANNICK KOFFI
- Saturday 21 July | 2pm – 6pm: DAVID AGIUS TRIO
- Sunday 22 July | 2pm – 6pm: JESSICA JADE
Plus on Thursdays (6pm-10pm), Fridays and Saturday nights (6pm-11pm), you can skate to your favourite dance hits on the ice rink and rock out your best moves!
Winter Food Village
Perfect for a social lunch under the warm winter sun or a cosy dinner with family, the Winter Village will be home to a range of comforting winter delights. From delicious homemade soup and indulgent wood-fired pizza to fiery Indian curry, German hot dogs and sweet treats from Adora Chocolates and Dutch Poffertjes. You’ll also be able to sit back and enjoy the best of Parramatta’s Live and Local musicians while having lunch or dinner. And remember the SPECIAL 2 for 1 DEAL on Tuesdays from 11am to 4pm.
Plus, Winterlight is only a short walk from Eat Street and Entrada Centre where there is a wide variety of food and plenty of kid friendly restaurants/ cafes, including:
Dates and Times
Winterlight runs from 6th to 22nd July at Prince Alfred Square in Parramatta.
- Opening night: Friday 6th July from 3pm for school kids/ families and from 5pm for everyone.
- Normal opening hours: Monday to Thursday from 11am to 10pm; Friday to Sunday from 10am to 11pm.
Book your tickets online for skating and you can also buy ride and slide coupons. Remember the special deals:
- Opening night session – unlimited skating and rides for $35.
- 2 for 1 Tuesdays from 11am and 4pm where you can buy one, get one free on ice skating tickets, amusement rides and food.
Visit www.winterlight.com.au for more details and to purchase tickets.
Getting to Winterlight
Winterlight is located in Prince Alfred Square, along Church Street between Riverside Theatres and Victoria Road.
It is close to bus stops along Victoria Road and an easy 10-15 min walk from Parramatta Station and Bus Interchange. Parramatta Ferry Terminal is also a short 10min walk along the river to Winterlight. For train, bus and ferry timetable information please contact Transport Info on 131 500 or visit www.transportnsw.info
There are a few car parks to choose from nearby: