Its that time of year !!! I cannot actually comprehend how quickly this year has passed, and it is literally one year to the day since I last wrote my festive guide. This time next week, my eldest will officially be on school holidays, which means, i’ll be left thinking of ways to entertain the family, trying to think of places to go. We have another “staycation” upon us this year, so I’m trying to get creative and explore new areas. If you have any suggestions, lay them all on me as we road trip around as a family of 5.
If you are looking for activities to do at home with the kids, have a look at my “Activities for Kids” tab on the website. I have endless activities and ideas to entertain your kids.
For a full list of my favourite places to take kids (of all ages), have a look at my Keeping Kids Entertained in Joburg Article.
Now onto December specific events and places:
Festive themed events
The Lion King live in concert
I’m plugging this into “festive themed” because there is no better way to kick of the holiday season then by taking in this epic production. The advert literally gives me goosebumps! Accompanied by the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, this will be a movie experience unlike any other you have had before. This is the perfect family-fun filled activity to get your holiday spirit going! It will be on at the Sun Arena – Times square from Tuesday, 10 December 2019 – Thursday, 12 December 2019. Tickets available through Computicket and start from R150.
Destination Christmas with Melrose Arch
The lights are officially up so I can declare festive open in Gauteng 🙂 Melrose Arch always has the prettiest light display. Go early to avoid the crowds and book a table somewhere after for dinner.
The return of the Garden of Lights – one of my favourite festive season events – and this year, it promises to offer even more fun for the whole family. Featuring a winter wonderland, light extravaganza and yuletide adventure, all rolled into one. The event will set Gauteng skies alight in the picturesque gardens the five-star Peermont D’oreale Grande hotel at Emperors Palace. It runs from 29 November 2019 to 05 January 2020 and opens from 19h00 – 22h00.
Joburg Zoo Festival Of Lights
1 December 2019 to 5 January 2020
Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, lets face it, everyone loves fairy lights. They hold so much magic and beauty. The festival of lights at the Zoo is expected to be their biggest yet and features a collection of illuminated life-size animal characters with classical, harmonious performances, food and craft markets for visitors. Take a stroll through the zoo on a designated illuminated route away from the enclosures and under the captivating, lit up trees.Get there early in December to catch a classical performance of the Nutcracker by Joburg Ballet who will perform in the bandstand from 1 – 8 December. It opens from 7pm until 10pm each night and tickets are R60 for kids and R120 for adults.
The Nutcracker’s Winter Circus
11th of December 2019 – 5th of January 2020.
The Nutcracker’s Winter Circus returns exclusively to Sandton City and its bigger, better and back for another spectacular season. Without a doubt, this was one of my highlights last year and it was watched by nearly 22 000 people! This year’s adventure includes creative master puppetry, set to bring a host of fun and fantastical characters to life, with the Parade of the Animals, adding a captivating new dimension to the show.
There are four performances daily at 10h30, 12h30, 15h30 and 17h30, seven days a week, (excl. Christmas Day, Day of Goodwill and New Year’s Day). Tickets are available from www.ticketpros.co.za at a cost R20 online (with no charge for children under three years) or by visiting selected Edgars, CNA, Jet, POSTNET stores. Tickets are also available at the door for a R30 fee. This is a a fairy tale fit for the whole family.
6 December 2019 – 11 January 2020
Oooohhhhh but my boys are excited for this one! They watched the original movie the other day at home and we drive past the billboards every morning. There is no getting away from watching it!
Take a journey to Neverland in this classic tale of magic and make-believe, spectacularly staged on real ice. The show included a whopping 23 former World, European and National Championship-level skaters. Collectively, the entire cast holds more than 250 competition medals and will bring their athletic and artistic talents to retell J M Barrie’s well-loved story of Peter Pan. It will be held in the Teatro, every Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday for the duration. Tickets range from R150-R475 pp and are available through Computicket.
Every weekend from the 9th December through to the 22nd.
Held at the Lipizzaner Centre in Kyalami, these beautiful “dancing” horses are historic in Joburg. A wonderful outing for the whole family, this is a magical morning.
Walter Sisulu Wonderland of Lights
1 December 2019- 4 January 2020
There was a bit of a hiccup earlier in the year with their winter light set up, but lessons learnt and this promises to be one for the whole family to enjoy. There are a number of Carol nights lined up, so keep an eye on their facebook page for more detail.
I actually don’t know where to start, there are some incredible shows on. If your in the mood for something a little more cultural, why not take in one of Joburg’s holiday shows?
I’ve already mentioned Peter Pan on Ice that will be showing at Monte Casino until 11 January – that’s top of our list, but here are a few more, locally produced shows that you should try to check out.
2 November 2019 to 22 December 2019
The People’s theatre brings this childhood favourite to life. Based on the beloved film version of Ian Fleming’s children’s book, with a score by the Sherman Brothers (Mary Poppins), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Junior. is a family-friendly blockbuster filled with stage spectacles and Academy Award-nominated songs. Fun for the whole family. Tickets from R149.
Jack and the Beanstalk
It wouldn’t be Christmas without something from Janice Honeyman. It is a tale about a poor country boy, Jack, the family cow, magic beans, an unfriendly giant, an enchanted goose and an enormous beanstalk. It is showing at Joburg Theatre and tickets start at R115.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Runs until 22 December
My boys adore the Johnny Depp movie (as well as the book), so its a no brainer we are going to try and watch this classic. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a theatre adaption by Richard George based on the original classic by Roald Dahl. The entire production is smoothly tied together by an energetic and personable Narrator. It’s on at the National Children’s Theatre in Parktown and tickets start at R70.
I know everyone always makes fun of Jo-burgers and their love of malls, but seriously, there are some epic line ups this festive season.
I’ve already mentioned Sandton City, with their Nutcracker circus, but they aren’t the only ones with a great December line up.
Mall of Africa – Dino Adventure Park
7 December – 5 January 2020.
Mall of Africa is always on the forefront of great kiddies entertainment. This year they have chosen to go with a Dinosaur theme! Waterfall Park will be transformed into an adventure dinosaur playground to be enjoyed by the whole family
Cresta has been going all out with entertainment for the family over the past few years, and this year proves no different. There is a huge selection of things to do and activities to keep the little ones busy, including:
FESTIVE CRAFT STATION 14-24 December 2019 – Situated at the Castle Play Area in the Banking Court. There will be a variety of festive crafts for kids to choose from including making their own decorations such as Christmas baubles. Entrance is absolutely free with the option to pay for some of the more bespoke crafts if desired. Don’t forget to take a pic with Santa at R30 a photo.
They also have several workshops being hosted through the Jata Holiday Club and Young Engineers throughout the December holidays. Visit Cresta’s website for more information and individual pricing options.
Silverstar Casino – Beach festival
5 December 2019 to 11 January 2012.
- Sand castle building competitions
- Tug of war competitions
- Hoola hoop competitions
- Ice-cream eating competitions
- Inflatable waterslide
- Face painting
- Beach volleyball
5 December – 5 January 2020
The kids had an absolute blast at the activation at Cradlestone last year, and I’m sure this year will be no different. If you are out that side of town on a day trip (there is a bunch of stuff to do in the area), it’s worth stopping by to let the kids play. The theme this year is “Santa’s World Of Wonder”.
Family days out
OK, it may not take a whole day out but when paired with the Joburg next door it can be! This is one of our favourite places to take the boys and it doesn’t cost a fortune. The history is incredible and the kids will love playing on the old plane and jeep in the play area.
Still one of Joburg’s top family attractions. 16 thrill rides, 14 dedicated rides for the kiddies, Jump City Trampoline Park, there’s fun for all ages here!
Click here for a full blog post on all the things to do in Haarties. It’s WELL worth a day trip!
Always a life saver when it comes to holidays and close enough to go for the day. Spend the day at the Valley of the waves or book in overnight. There are a whole range of kids activities from mini golf to a bird park and steam train rides.
Lets face it, these are particularly popular with little kids and toddlers. They’ll be delighted to be given a chance to touch and feed the rabbits, goats, chickens, ducks and more. Be sure to take some animal feed with or you may purchase at the venue as well. For a full comprehensive list check out our favourite activities to do in Joburg.
We have been going here since the boys were small. The only bird park of its kind in Africa and perfect for all ages! Take a stroll through the gardens and aviary and see a wide variety of bird life, reptiles, and other exotic animals. It also has a café and a cute kids play area.
A diamond in the middle of a bustling city. Crazy Kids has also recently had a bit of a refresh with some new animals (including another pony and a friendly pig). It is literally smack bang in the middle of a residential area in Randburg. It has a huge variety of play equipment for kids, a ton of bikes to ride around and an epic sandpit. This is a winner, everyday of the week.
Old MacDonald’s Farm Yard (The Fat Olive Restaurant)
This is a true hidden gem. Home to the Fat Olive restaurant and a Beach bar, Old MacDonald’s has free roaming Zebras, geese, duck and a whole mini farmyard for kids to feed/interact with. Hop on a Canoe and row around the lake with the kids.
Holds a nice variety of crocodiles, predator birds and of course lions/ leopards – though I do feel for the bigger cats as their enclosures are very, very small.
Crocodile & Reptile Park where the visitors interact with a variety of reptiles. The boys got an educational talk on crocs, on how thick their skin is and got to hold and observe their eggs. They also house a number of reptiles and much to my horror my boys lined up to hold the snakes. When you are done, why not zipline over the crocs?
Willow Feather Farm (Pretoria)
Originally started off as an Indigenous tree farm, Willow Feather now hosts a nursery, tea garden and awesome Farmyard for kids. They have a number of interactive activities for kids and the number of animals in the Farmyard is exceptional. Alpacas, pigs, bunnies, cows. Kids can get up close and personal to the animals and of course participate in feeding. There’s also a wonderful kiddies play area to keep little ones busy while mums’ can enjoy hot tea and scones.
Joburgs’ nearest”far away” place. The Rhino and Lion Park is a fantastic family day out. Take a “safari” through the nature reserve (Its actually a proper reserve unlike some other lion parks in the area), try and spot their newest baby Rhino or visit the baby cubs at the breeding center. Enjoy a leisurely lunch at the Thatch Cafe while the kids ride up a storm on their incredible bike track. End your day with the ever popular feeding of giraffes for some special family memories.
Have I given you enough ideas? I dont want to hear anyone is “bored” over the holidays in Gauteng :).
There are a whole lot more places featured in my keeping kids entertained article such as Roll Egoli, Adventure Golf, Acrobranch and Bounce, so be sure to check that too.