I love Christmas! I mean I REALLY love Christmas! I am one of ‘those’ people on Facebook who start counting down to Christmas on Boxing Day. Yes, that’s me. So the thought of celebrating Christmas twice in one year, well that’s just music (the jingle bell variety of course) to my little elf ears!
Situated in the historic city of Ballarat, Sovereign Hill comes alive this winter as it celebrates its annual Christmas in July event. As the sound of carollers echo the township, and anticipation of snowfall fills the air, the whole family will be swept up in the excitement of this special European-style Christmas event.
During the day, enjoy a range of activities, a full theatre program, make believe snow falls and delicious treats to bring Christmas cheer to all. By night, as the sun sets and the snowflakes fall, the Victorian-style buildings will be transformed by sparkling grand-scale images and bright Winter Wonderlights dancing along its familiar facades plus little ones can attempt to catch the Gingerbread Man as he dashes from building to building, peeking out from the Christmas themed lights and animations!
Visiting Sovereign Hill with two little toddlers makes for a fairly big day out so we decided to leave the regular activities (coach rides, gold panning, gold pour, underground mine adventures, theatre shows, sweet making and musket firing demonstrations to name a few) for another visit and instead allowed a few hours before the sun went down to enjoy the Christmas in July Program.
* Snowfalls - Little ones will love dancing under the snowy winter wonderland as snow falls in Main Street at several specified times during the day and throughout the Winter Wonderlights. The foamy snow can get quite slippery in sections so mind your step.
* Little Red Robin Hood Pantomime - Held in the beautiful Victoria Theatre this hilarious pantomime delights audience members young and old with it’s presentation of Little Red Riding Hood and Robin Hood, at the same time! The poppets absolutely loved this show and it makes for a perfect opportunity to warm up inside for half an hour. Be sure to arrive at the theatre at least 10 minutes before the commencement of the show to secure a seat.
* Storytime: The Gingerbread Man - Hear the classic tale of ‘The Gingerbread Man’ read by one of Sovereign Hill’s costumed characters. See if you can catch him later on hiding in the lights as he races along the Main Street facades. We teamed up story time with the craft activities which are both held within the Marquee.
* Photo Opportunities - Capture the wonder of your visit to this special event by taking a snap with St. Nicholas, the beautiful Floral Reindeer and Sleigh and Dress Up Horse. And of course you will be able take your own photos along Main Street when the lights are turned on too!
* Craft Activities - Several trestle tables are set up just inside the entrance to the Marquee with different craft activities for children to choose from. Macy loved painting her own wooden Gingerbread Man whilst Arlo couldn't resist decorating the real, biscuit version with red icing and boiled lollies from the Confectionary Factory and Sweet Shop (mmmm raspberry drops!).
* Christmas Choir - Join the Sovereign Hill Choir at the Post Office corner when the sun goes down as they make their way up the hill to welcome the Wonderlights. We enjoyed singing along to many festive classics.
* Winter Wonderlights After a quick visit to the Sweet Shop (have I mentioned the scrumptious raspberry drops enough yet?!), we stood in awe as Main Street was transformed with yuletide animations and over 10km of fairy lights sparkled throughout the gardens.
The poppets loved watching the projections and ran up to the buildings to try to ‘huggle’ and kiss the animations! Make sure you walk up the hill to see the gigantic Christmas Tree lit up too.
A few quick tips before you go:
-It will be freezing, so wear lots of warm layers (and gumboots if it’s wet) and take advantage of the activities inside as well as the glowing braziers to warm up.
-There are several restaurants and eateries open until 7pm. The New York Bakery and Charlie Napier Hotel both offer special Winter Wonderlights dinner packages (bookings essential). We opted for - award winning - hot pies and sausage rolls from the bakery. We picked them up just before 5:30pm and the line wasn't long at all.
-The Main Street definitely gets busier when the lights are first turned on. If you have smaller children or a pram I would recommend starting at the top of the hill near the Christmas Tree and making your way down towards the exit as the crowd moves along.
For more July School Holidays ideas, head to our Holiday Guide.