There are so many free school holiday activities in Brisbane we thought we would collect them all together in an ultimate free guide to the Brisbane school holidays.
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School holidays with kids can be expensive, so we have written this, especially for those looking for FREE and FUN activities for kids.
Here you can find an updated list of all the school terms dates and Brisbane school holiday dates including 2023/2024/2025.
Free School Holiday Activities in Brisbane 2023
Free Brisbane School Holiday events
The first thing you want to do is check out our free resource the Brisbane Kids events calendar (it also includes any major holiday events in wider South East Queensland). We also regularly publish lists of Free School Holiday Activities in Brisbane specific to particular holidays such as the Easter school holidays. Just use the search function on the Brisbane Kids website.
South Bank Parklands
The South Bank Parklands are always a popular destination for Brisbane families during the school holidays. The expansive parklands offer a range of free activities for kids, including Streets Beach, the largest inner-city man-made beach in the world. The beach is surrounded by a lagoon and is a great place for kids to swim, play and relax. The parklands also feature a number of picnic areas, bike paths, and BBQ facilities, making it the perfect place for a family picnic.
Fun statistic: Did you know 11 million people visit South Bank parklands annually!? Here are some free reasons why:
Our favourite free things to do at South Bank Parklands with kids
- Visit while the Collective Markets are on. Every Friday evening from 5 pm to 9 pm, Saturday morning 10 am to 9 pm, and all day Sunday from 9 am to 4 pm. This is a fun way for the kids to spend their pocket money whether it be on some flash fidgets or a cool new pair of koala earrings.
- Tour the Brisbane River on the free city hopper as a unique way of seeing Brisbane City and enjoy the kids waving to all the people on the double-decker citycats.
- Definitely take advantage of the free swimming opportunities in South Bank parklands lagoon or just let the kids have a splash at the Aquativity fountains.
- The central playground at South Bank can easily be enjoyed for an hour or more. Most kids particularly like the scale of the playground and the spinning wheel.
- Did you know you can collect free samples of fresh herbs from the Epicurious Gardens? At the time of writing, the harvest cart operates from 7am-11am on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (subject to availability). We enjoyed planning a meal with the kids around the samples.
- Take a BBQ picnic. South Bank Parklands has so much green space on offer and plenty of clean electric BBQs ready for you. Recommendation: Take some paper towels with you, so you can give it a quick wipe-down with some oil once it is hot.
- A stroll along the walkways that meander through the lush rainforest area is always a fun thing to do with the kids. They seem to find it almost more enjoyable than an actual rainforest walk, perhaps because it is in sight of skyscrapers across the river.
Free Brisbane Library Activities
We cannot stress this one enough- council libraries host an abundance of free school holiday activities in Brisbane. Before you plan your school holidays, you want to head to all the local council library websites. Hands down these are the most undervalued resources in Brisbane. They all seem to offer free and awesome school holiday activities at various locations that often aren’t marketed widely. Here is a list of all the libraries in South East Queensland to make it easier for you.
Brisbane City Council Libraries
- Website: https://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/things-to-see-and-do/council-venues-and-precincts/libraries
Gold Coast City Council Libraries
Ipswich City Council Libraries
Logan City Council Libraries
Moreton Bay Regional Council Libraries
Redland City Council Libraries
Free Council run school holiday activities
Almost all the councils across South East Queensland offer free activities for their region with the opportunity for outdoor fun or perhaps learning a new skill. Due to their large email lists, we have noticed they tend to book out quickly (especially the more popular activities). Some of the activities might come with a small cost but the vast majority are free. Activities range from skateboarding to drawing, canoeing and rock climbing.
The activities are often separated into different age groups. This is also a great way for kids to make new friends outside their school.
- Logan City Council offer Krank – a school holiday program
- Brisbane City Council offer a similar program called Chillout
- Moreton Bay Regional Councils’ version is called Active Holiday Programs
- Redland City Council is just a calendar of holiday events
- Ipswich City Council runs Kids Go Wild and Active Breaks
Free Brisbane school holiday venues
One of Brisbane City Council’s free environment centres, Karawatha
Brisbane City Hall and King George Square
Take the kids on a free tour of the Brisbane City clock tower and then enjoy what are often free activities at the Museum of Brisbane, located in the heart of the Brisbane CBD. The Museum of Brisbane (also known as MOB), offer fun and diverse exhibits, sometimes hands-on for little kids and sometimes more suited to older kids. While you are in the city you could take a short walk to the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens and enjoy the kid’s playgrounds and gardens. Recommendation: If the kids have some pocket money, they might appreciate taking a couple of dollars for the ice cream truck you will often find in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens.
The Queensland Museum is a fascinating and free museum located in South Brisbane (not to be confused with the Brisbane Museum we mentioned above). During the school holidays, you will find they often run free school holiday programs. That said, in our experience, the museum at any time (with or without extra activities), is a great place to take the kids at least once a year. The museum is home to a number of interactive exhibits and displays and is a great place for kids for you to talk to your kids about science, history, and culture in a fun and engaging way. Queensland Museum is accessible over multiple levels with lift access to every floor.
Usually, when we talk to parents about the Powerhouse they think of all the wonderful ticketed events for kids. They aren’t wrong! But did you know the Brisbane Powerhouse also have regular free exhibitions including kids’ workshops, performances, and exhibitions? Brisbane Powerhouse is also home to a number of free outdoor areas, including the River Stage and the Turbine Platform, which are popular places for families to relax and enjoy the views of the Brisbane River.
New Farm Park
Not far from the Brisbane Powerhouse is one of Brisbane’s most popular playgrounds and green spaces and the perfect way to spend a morning. New Farm Park is a big and beautiful park located on the bank of the Brisbane River. This is another event location with regular free performances and even outdoor movies.
No longer just known for its amazingly fun Putt Putt Course, Victoria Park is now one of Brisbane’s premier locations for free school holiday fun. Brisbane City Council hosts events like free outdoor movies for the whole family and kids’ collective outdoor activities which include fun things like arts, crafts and sports. While it isn’t free, the bistro at Victoria Park is known for its well-priced and very delicious lunches. Find out more about the activities at Victoria Park.
Sir Thomas Planetrium
Speaking of free school holiday activities in Brisbane, space fans will love a free tour through the Sir Thomas Planetarium which is located on the grounds of the Botanic Gardens. It is free to stroll through the various space displays, although for a small cost, you can also view the ever-changing range of space shows. Between Sir Thomas Planetarium and Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens (which is literally in the same area), you can easily spend a whole day here for no cost at all.
Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens
As mentioned above, the Sir Thomas Planetarium and Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens sit within the same precinct. There is parking here and lots of buses travel to these destinations. The botanic gardens at Mt Coot-tha are separate to the Brisbane Botanic Gardens in Brisbane City (this can get confusing especially since their names are sometimes used interchangeably). The Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens are open every single day of the week but the time alters slightly depending on the time of year.
The best way to experience the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens with kids is to pick up a children’s trail brochure at the visitor information centre and then let the kids guide your journey in what is effectively a scavenger hunt. A picnic and play on the playground is a fun way to finish your visit.
GOMA and the Art Gallery
Two other Brisbane venues renowned for family fun over the school holidays are GOMA and the Queensland Art Gallery. The exhibitions are rarely permanent so it’s worth checking out our calendar prior to the school holidays to see what holiday programs they are offering. In particular, the Gallery of Modern Art has a children’s section and even if there is a generally paid exhibition, we have often found the children’s version is free. You will find the children’s section by going through the main entrance and going down the stairs or elevator.
All areas of the Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art are accessible by lift or ramp. Pram parking is available near the entrance to all CAC spaces.
Brisbane’s free Environment Centres
Brisbane City Council has three main environment centres that are free to enter and extremely child friendly. Each of them offers unique experiences depending on the environment surrounding them. Karawatha Park Environment Centre, Boondall Wetlands Environment Centre and Downfall Creek Environment Centre all feature interactive activities for families with Karawatha and Boondall being the largest of the three with the most to offer. In our experience, Brisbane City Council also tend to host a range of activities over the school holidays sat each environment centre.
State Library of Queensland
In our 11 years of running Brisbane Kids, it is our experience that the State Library of Queensland generally has free kids’ holiday programs during the school holidays. These may require booking and you will generally find them on the Brisbane Kids calendar. Sometimes they are drop-in school holiday programs where you can turn up.
We have also noticed that they have a growing number of virtual activities that are online based, so make sure you check out their website to see what they might be offering.
Roma Street Parklands
With a little train that travels around the well-tended gardens, and it’s a magnificent shady kids’ playground, it is any wonder Roma Street Parklands is a popular school holiday destination for Brisbane families. They also play host to a range of events throughout the year, so like all the venues and destinations mentioned in this free school holiday activity list, you should check out the Brisbane Kids events calendar before you go.
Roma Street Parklands does have parking, but it’s limited, so we always recommend catching public transport if it is possible.
From the top of the Sunshine Coast to Southern Gold Coast, Brisbane Kids has the biggest list of the best playgrounds in Brisbane and beyond. Whether it’s a hot day and your kids are seeking some waterplay or you want to teach them to ride at one of Brisbane’s learn-to-ride parks, we can promise you the most comprehensive list of SEQ local playgrounds on the internet. Recently we surveyed our audience for the most impressive playgrounds in Brisbane and this is what they came up with:
- The Hills District All-Abilities Playground, Arana Hills
- Flagstone Adventure Park, Jimboomba
- Frew Park, Milton
- New Farm Park, New Farm
- Rocks Riverside Park, Seventeen Mile Rocks
- Lower Moora Park, Shorncliffe
- Thornlands Community Park, Thornlands
- Grinstead Park, Enoggera
- The Mill, Petrie
- Wynnum Whale Park, Wynnum
You can find all these playgrounds and more on our Brisbane Parks Map.
Free Brisbane waterparks
Free waterparks are dotted all over South East Queensland and are proving a popular activity all year round, especially over the Summer school holidays. Our local advice is to check the council websites before you go to make sure they haven’t closed it temporarily for maintenance. Here is a list of Brisbane’s free waterparks (you can find reviews by searching our website).
- Redcliffe Lagoon
- Aquativity South Bank Parklands
- Ferny Grove Water Park
- Darlington Park
- Roverheart Parklands
- The Mill at Petrie
- Logan Water Park
- Robelle Domain
- Splash and Play Water Park at Ripley
- Orion Lagoon
- Rocks Riverside Park
- Wynnum Water Park and Lagoon
Local Experience: We have visited all the waterparks on this list and our recommendation is to read the reviews on the Brisbane Kids website first. If you can take your own shade, do that. Double-check with the relevant council that the waterpark hasn’t been closed temporarily.
Visit Brisbane’s Historical Places
Fort Lytton National Park
What to know: Fort Lytton is a historic coastal fortification built in 1881. It was Brisbane’s first line of defence from 1881 to the 1930s and is considered the birthplace of Queensland’s military history.
The fort features cannons (with cannon firing on the first Sunday of every month), expansive grassy areas for play, rooms, tunnels, and passages to explore, large military vehicles and equipment, gun posts and more. Additionally, there is a museum, a picnic area, guided tours are available, and special events and festivals are often held here.
Location: South St, Lytton | Hours: Open every Sunday and most public holidays, 10am-4pm | Cost: Admission is free.
Bribie Island Seaside Museum
What to know: Bribie Island Seaside Museum showcases items from the Moreton Bay Regional Council Heritage Collection, historical displays and continuing exhibitions that highlight the island’s connection to the surrounding waterways, alongside temporary exhibitions that tell the changing story of the region. This is a fun activity to do while visiting the beautiful beaches of Brisbane (also a free activity for the whole family).
Bribie Island Seaside Museum is located at 1 South Esplanade, Bongaree QLD 4507
Brisbane’s free animal experiences
You might be surprised to learn there are a number of free animal experiences across South East Queensland as opposed to ticketed venues like Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Our caveat is that most of them ask for a gold coin donation, but all do so, to support their ongoing operations. We still consider this close enough to be free to make this list. Here are some of our favourite free animal experiences.
Ipswich Nature Centre
We always enjoy a visit to Ipswich Nature Centre. For a gold coin donation, you can easily spend an hour or two here and finish up the day with a walk through the nearby Queens Park with its incredible playground and Japanese Gardens.
The Ipswich Nature Centre is a haven for wildlife, and families to see various native animals and birds (in addition to an area containing much-loved farm animals). The centre also has several water sources, which attract a variety of waterbirds, including ducks and swans.
They also have a Bilby breeding program and a nocturnal setup where you can talk to the kids about Bilby conservation. Local recommendation: This is one of our family’s favourite cheap school holiday activities because it ticks so many boxes.
Little known fact: In 2021, two female bilbies were born due to their Bilby breeding program.
Local experience regarding accessibility. The Ipswich Nature Centre is accessible by wheelchair and pram.
Currumbin Lorikeet feeding
If you are down at the Gold Coast, did you know you can participate in the Currumbin Lorikeet feeding for a gold coin donation? Located just outside the entry point to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, the lorikeet feeding happens at 8am and 4pm and it is quite the spectacle.
To reach the lorikeet feeding area, you must enter via the gift shop. It will feel a little strange and every time we have participated we have noticed people standing out the front not quite sure where to go. You just need to walk in via the gift shop (which is to the right of the entry) and it will take you straight to the lorikeet feeding area.
The area is much bigger than you will expect and very well managed by local volunteers. When you provide a gold coin you are given a cup of nectar and quite literally you will be almost immediately inundated by lorikeets.
Is this safe for children?: When we were there we saw kids that must have been as young as 3 holding a cup. That said, lorikeets are loud and some kids might be a little frightened. A good way to ease them into it is to take the nectar cup to begin with and then hand it over to them once they feel a little more comfortable.
Personal experience: If you haven’t been to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary before, then just be prepared for the planes. Located close to Gold Coast Airport, the planes almost seem to fly within metres of the sanctuary. Every time they fly over the lorikeets disappear for a moment and then return like magic a few moments later.
Pelican feeding takes place at Ian Dipple Lagoon, 371 Marine Parade Labrador. 1.30 pm every day. (There are two-hour parking spots here, a protected swimming area and a playground to enjoy)
Daisy Hill Koala Centre
Engaging and impressive, Daisy Hill Koala Centre offers a multitude of interactive displays designed to raise awareness about the plight of Australia’s most loved marsupial, the koala. Surrounded by picnic areas, and containing resident koalas, this free destination is a popular choice for both locals and visitors to Australia. You can’t hold a koala here, they sit at a distance in their eucalypt trees, but are nonetheless, a wonderful sight to behold! This is an accessible venue with level boardwalks.
Samford Lifestyle Centre
Sometimes finding free school holiday activities in Brisbane means stretching the budget to a dollar (and we are fine with including these activities on our free list). For a gold coin donation, you can enjoy a tour of some farm animals with the kids. Samford Lifestyle Centre is located on Mount Glorious Rd and features an incredible bookshop, cafe and range of other stores.
What we love about it most is the farm tour which operates out the back of the centre. It’s a self-guided tour (honesty box) and you can walk along the various animal enclosures where farm animals are being prepared for adoption by CityChicks.
The farm trail takes 5-10 minutes (about 2 minutes of solid walking).
Locals tip: Visit in Spring and you are more likely to see baby animals frequenting the enclosure. Last year my kids were delighted to see a baby donkey! Also, see if your kids can spot any of the many water dragons surrounding the cafe area (waiting for a crumb to drop!)
Walk to King Island
Take a drive to Wellington Point and then walk out to King Island on low tide. It’s a novelty for the kids and a real opportunity to see the ocean tides in action and possibly run into some soldier crabs on their daily march.
Personal experience: Check the tides first and if you are concerned, either visit as the tide is heading out and also make sure you aren’t the last person to leave.
Off-the-beaten-path free activities
We have listed all the free well known activities across South East Queensland but what about the lesser-known activities? Here is a growing list of ideas from our audience of things you can do in and around Brisbane, over the school holidays (or anytime) that cost nothing at all.
Less well-known free school holiday activities in Brisbane
- Drive up to Mount Glorious and walk the Maiala Circuit Track. The outstanding feature of this very family-friendly walking track is its huge fig trees and fungi.
- Drive up to Maleny and enjoy a host of free activities including Maleny Botanic Gardens, Mary Cairncross Environment Centre and Kondailla Falls.
- Enjoy the fairy gardens at Kumbartcho Sanctuary at Eatons Hill. It also features a kids’ playground, walking tracks and a native plant nursery. Personal experience: Pack bug spray and if your kids are into fairies, get them to write a card ahead of time to post in the fairy mailbox.
- Osprey House is an environment centre in the Northside of Brisbane. It has 24-hour footage of a couple of Osprey that nest nearby in addition to interactive displays and fun kids craft with an emphasis on environmental protection of our waterways and bushland.
- Browse through the Harry Potter shop at Samford and gather a wish list for Christmas. Local experience: Get the kids sorted into the house by the sorting hat while they are there.
- Take a walk below the Kangaroo Point Cliffs. This is perfect for little kids because it’s such an awe-inspiring experience for little minds to see the cliffs towering above them.
- Pack a picnic and head to Lake Kurwongbah in the Moreton Bay Region.
- Indigiscapes at Capalaba is a free bayside environment centre that isn’t as well known as the Brisbane City Council Environment Centres but is still well worth visiting with the kids and is free to explore with free school holiday activities often on offer.
- Enjoy a walk along the Wynnum Mangrove Boardwalk to experience the Brisbane wetlands environment (15-20 minute circuit).
- The CUBE at QUT is located on Gardens Points Uni campus. You literally walk into the university building (where The CUBE is located) and you will find a massive wall with interactive digital displays for the kids. They often have free kids’ holiday workshops, so check their website before you go.
Other free activities in Brisbane
If you are looking for more free school holiday activities in Brisbane then these resources will also help you on your mission, whether it be saving money on parking or taking advantage of all the free things to do in Brisbane (and there are a lot!). We hope we have shown you that school holidays do not need to be expensive!
- birthday freebies in Brisbane
- free things to do
- Best Free Swimming Pools Brisbane
- free and cheap parking in Brisbane
We have also compiled a list of School Holiday Workshops and Classes for Kids in Brisbane to keep young minds and bodies active during these holidays. We will continue to add to this list forever and ever so comment below if we have missed any free school holiday activities in Brisbane.