It's Snowing at the Hunter Valley Gardens
Mums & Bubs
By: Sarah Stores, ellaslist explorer
This weekend we enjoyed a short break to the Hunter Valley to visit Snow Time at the Hunter Valley Gardens. The festival promises big things for the little people. Ice skating, snowball throwing, snowman building, huskies, a jumping castle and the amazing Storybook gardens.
I always enter these events with a small sense of trepidation not always knowing whether they would be worth the time, money and effort. But we were delightfully surprised with Snow Time in the Gardens and would highly recommend the event to anyone with or without kids.
We arrived at the Hunter Valley Gardens early to try and avoid the crowds (HOT-TIP ALERT). There were already a lot of people there but given the well-designed layout of the event it didn’t really feel busy until lunch-time. We had pre-booked our tickets (ANOTHER HOT-TIP!) and walked through the gardens passing many winter statues on the way. This built the kid’s excitement levels even more than the promised snow and ice skating.
All Activities are FREE inside the Gardens
Once we had arrived at the snow time area we had so many fun activities to choose from. I think one of the reasons this event seemed so easy was that everything was FREE once you were inside the Gardens. It meant no arguing or haggling over which events we would do or how long we could do them for as we could do them all multiple times.
We headed straight for the toboggan which was a great way to kick-start the fun activities (even the 1-year-old loved it!). From there we reserved our spot at the ice skating rink for later in the morning and then headed to the snow play area.
Let’s Build a Snowman
Separate snow pits were designed for those that wanted snow ball fights and those that just wanted the simple pleasure of building a snow man. Our boys were very excited to build snowmen and we were amazed at how well equipped the area was. There were shovels and buckets provided as well as snowmen arms and eyes. A nice surprise.
Many kids were decked out in full snow gear but it was a beautiful, sunny winters day and my kids played for over an hour in regular winter clothes and without gloves (but with the requisite nagging from me about wearing said gloves).
Get Our Skates On
Next up was our ice-skating session. Our three year old adored his first experience of ice-skating. Luckily we managed to secure a highly sought after skating seal buddy which meant Dad got a work-out as cries of “Faster! Faster” were sung out by our Master Max.
Tell a Tale at Story Book Gardens
We (okay, Dad) needed a rest after that so we headed to the glorious Story Book Gardens. Our boys were delighted by the gardens and the fabulous statues telling the stories of many famous nursery rhymes and stories. Having tea with Alice and the Mad Hatter was a clear favourite.
More Snow-time Fun
The huskie demonstration was a big hit and then we finished our morning with a huge play on the jumping castle.
As the tickets allow you to come and go all day we went home for a relax and then returned later in the afternoon for another session in the snow and the jumping castle. (YET ANOTHER HOT TIP) Our kids were exhausted by early evening so we didn’t get to stay for the lights but I have seen photos and it looks like a true winter wonderland when it is all lit up in the evening.
A hugely enjoyable day for everyone which had the added bonus of being in the Hunter Valley! Outside the festival, I was really surprised at how kid-friendly the Hunter Valley was. We managed to sneak in some wine tasting and the kids had a ball playing in the beautiful gardens of each of the wineries supervised by a parent or grandparent while the rest of our party wine-tasted. And on the way home we discovered the delightfully surprising Hunter Valley Zoo.
OTHER USEFUL STUFF:
Snow Time at the Gardens runs daily till 12 July. All the information is available here: http://www.huntervalleygardens.com.au/Buy-Snow-Time-tickets/
The Hunter Valley is an easy drive from Sydney and at just over 2 hours it is a perfect length for restless kids.
We stayed in a house that was walking distance from the Hunter Valley Gardens and a great spot to enjoy any event at the Gardens (such as the popular Christmas Lights Festival). I love staying in houses as it gives everyone the space to run around and cuts down on stressful meals out with younger kids (plus it is way cheaper for food). This place has several bedrooms, a great lay-out to accommodate adults staying up late and kids rising early and has the added bonus of beautiful, friendly horses on the property. More information on the property we stayed at.
Finally, if you are searching for the perfect Ice Cream Treat to reward the kids (and yourself) after the drive then I can highly recommend the amazingly delicious ice cream at the Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese shop which is right next door to the house we rented and within the Tempus Two complex.
I’m Sarah. A Mum of two over-active boys and a self-confessed Sydney tragic. I love living in, exploring, discovering and experiencing all Sydney has to offer. Having lived in Sydney most of my life I have loved exploring it as a grown up but now as a Mum I’m relishing re-discovering my passion for Sydney through the eyes of my boys. I love planning and executing our regular family outings to explore new things in Sydney. As a working Mum, it is a great way for our family to stay connected and have fun together. I would love to spend all my time travelling the world but given I live in the real world of mortgages and jobs we see exploring Sydney as tourists as the next best thing. You can follow our adventures on Instagram at SarahStores