If you love Christmas, if you like history and adventure, if you are looking for a day out that the kids will long remember – then do not miss this very special event these school holidays at Sovereign Hill – Christmas in July.
When: Until 13 July 2014
Where: Sovereign Hill, Bradshaw Street BALLARAT
Cost: Adult $48.50, child $22.00, family pass (2 adults, 4 children) $122.00. Book now.
A few things to mention up front. White Night, cold days and holiday cheer.
During the Christmas in July period Sovereign Hill stays open later than usual and this is for a special reason. At 5.30pm each night the team who bring White Night to Melbourne light up the buildings of Sovereign Hill – add to that the snow and music and it’s a magical street party you’ll be glad you stayed for.
It’s cold in Ballarat, like about 5C colder than Melbourne – but dress warm (think hats, scarves, gloves, layers, two pairs of socks and a winter coat) and you will be fine. With so many different activities to do and see we were pressed for time to fit in all of our wish list during our six hour visit and we certainly didn’t have time to stand about feeling the cold. And here’s a handy tip: if you don’t have to rush back to Melbourne you can get your ticket stamped at the Main Street Post Office (or the desk near the exit) and this will allow you entry again the following day, for FREE!
Over and above the usual Sovereign Hill attractions and activities there are some very special Christmas events.
- From 11.15am onwards the Victoria Theatre is a hub of activity with very silly pantomimes taking place on the stage and various events (such as carolling, bush bands and other activities) happening outside.
- All around Sovereign Hill you will find beautiful 1800’s style christmas decorations (and maybe a couple of more modern ones might have slipped in there, but it was a wonderful effect).
- There are two workshops the kids can do – Christmas decoration making was a simple, but enjoyable, affair. My friend and I popped ourselves in front of the roaring fire while the kids got busy cutting and pasting. And in the New York Bakery for $4 there is gingerbread decorating to be done – this kept the kids very busy and then at the end they were able to eat their creation (which was so huge it kept them going snack wise for a couple of hours!) while us mums actually got to sit and sip our coffee.
- Market Square is a few sweet little market stalls selling Christmas inspired goodies – including mulled wine, hot liquor tea, hot chocolates and toffee apples.
- Dotted along Main Street there are fire pits to stop and warm yourself at.
- At different points in the day it “snows”. FYI it’s not real snow – it’s the little foamy bubble kind of snow – but it looks and behaves like snow (until you closely inspect it). And it inspires gleeful squeals of delight from all the children in the street as they run about trying to catch it.
- As mentioned above, at 5.30pm the Christmas Wonder Light display is activated (it runs for just over an hour, but we found 40 minutes was plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere). If you’ve been keenly following Sovereign Hill on Instagram you might have seen the message that anyone who tags their photos during their visit with #deckthehill #lightthehill and #sovereignhill goes into the draw to be chosen to switch the lights on that night – I wasn’t aware of this but by chance I had been using the tags… given we visited on the first day of “Christmas” it seemed that no one else had got the tag memo either and as the only “tag-ers” that day we were the lucky people to hang out backstage with Joe the town crier and then stand out on the upstairs balcony while everyone counted down from 10 to one in the street below at which point the kids pushed on the lever and the lights came on (what a buzz!).
- One final Christmas note – there are these incredible gingerbread houses for sale (I hope I have remembered this correctly, $34.50) and they seemed like incredible value as they were very generously proportioned! We were very tempted.
As well as the Christmas events and activities we also manage to squeeze in:
- A mine tour (make sure you book early in the day as these fill up)
- Candle dipping (there is always one kid who makes a brown candle)
- A gold pour – this never gets tired.. $140,000 worth of gold is melted and then poured into bullion and we get to learn about its properties (and on this occasion we also got to hold it!)
- The bowling Alley – we got our pasties for lunch and sat at the picnic table in front of the fireplace inside the bowling alley and us mums didn’t move from our warm spot for a good 45 minutes while the kids ate and bowled
- Confectionary Shop – it’s not possible to visit to Sovereign Hill without stocking up on boiled lollies.