Sunday, 4 January 2015

Sydney Festival 2015 for families

The 2015 Sydney Festival opens next week and has again another wonderful year for families with young and/or older children. Masquerade will be on the top of most families list  and Tabac Rouge will be magnificent.
Ali McGregor's Jazzamatazz! will knock the kids socks off and The Luck Child looks like fun.

This year we will be catching The Kitchen - in 2010 we all went as a family for Roysten Abel's The Manganiyar Seduction and we were all wowed.

There are plenty of free options across the city to keep you busy over the school holidays as well.
The Vegetable Plot - Melodies and vegetables
Hotbed Designs - Blocks prints and fabric paint
Dear Hope Street - A modern day message in a bottle
Australian Museum in the Village - Discover Hyde Park as a scientist
City of Sydney Lawn Library - Books take a holiday outside
Cool down with the Waterfall Swing at Darling Harbour
More free options.

To explore the full family festival program visit:

Sydney Festival
8 - 26 Jan 2015

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Penguins of Madagascar

My youngest son (10) and his friends headed to the preview of the new Penguins of Madagascar film. We have seen all the Madagascar films and the Penguins have also been our favourite characters in the Dreamworks franchise.

The animation follows Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private as they to attempt to save the world from the villain, Dr Octavius Brine. Penguins of Madagascar is a fun ride with plenty of side jokes to keep the adults in the audience from drifting off.

A great school holiday filler.

Penguins of Madagascar 
Released News Year Day
(to check if this film is suitable for your child visit the IMDB parents guide)

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The Australian Ballet | The Nutcracker

Last week my daughter (13) and I went along to our first ballet and we were delighted that is was a dress rehearsal for  The Australian Ballet's production of The NutcrackerThe dress rehearsal was a wonderful insight into the energy and commitment that is takes to pull off the perfection that flows on stage from opening night.

The Nutcracker is a beautiful Christmas story set on Christmas Eve where the audience joins Claire on her adventures in a world conjured up by the magician, Drosselmeyer.

The evening ended with French lemon and sugar crepes from the Sarazine food truck.


Thursday, 27 November 2014

Wizard of Oz 3D | IMAX Darling Harbour | Giveaway

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz -  IMAX Darling harbour will be presenting this family classic in 3D. We love revisiting classics on the big screen and this will be one that will be catching over the school holidays.

CLOSED Our friends at IMAX have given us two family passes (2 adults and 2 Children) to giveaway to their Dec 7th (10.30am) screening. For your chance email before 3 Dec and tell us who is you fav Wizard of Oz character/s and why - ours are the lolly pop kids.  (winners will be notified by email - other details)

Friday, 21 November 2014

The Tiger Who Came to Tea | Sydney Opera House

The Tiger Who Came to Tea was my daughters favourite book growing up. We would read it over and over again - even though she is now 13 we have pulled her old copy out and it has been wonderful to revisit.

Sophie has an unexpected guest and tea-time mayhem ensues. The Tiger Who Came to Tea is based on Judith Kerr’s picture book and includes magic, sing-a-long songs. It is playing at the Sydney Opera House from December 10 to 28. On behalf of the Sydney Opera House, we have one family pass (2 adults, 2 children) to giveaway to the 10.30am performance on December 10. To enter, email and let me know who you would like to invite to tea - the more imaginative the better! Competition closes Wed, December 3. Good Luck! CLOSED
(The winner will be notified by email)

Friday, 14 November 2014

Japanese Film Festival | families and youth

The 2014 Japanese Film Festival has arrived in Sydney. We love this festival and we have put together a list of films that are classified.  The live action version of Kiki's Delivery Service will most likely be on top of the list for families but for older children there are some wonderful films/documentaries to catch.

Kiki's Delivery Service (G)

For the full 2014 festival program visit

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Our school holidays

  • The Walking Neighbourhood at Art and About Sydney. 
  • The Witches at Griffin Theatre - the marvellous Guy Edmonds made this Roald Dahl adaption his own.
  • Stop Making Sense - My youngest son and I celebrated the 30th anniversary of Talking Heads Stop Making Sense at Golden Age Cinema
  • Paper Planes film preview - which inspired paper planes being made throughout the holidays. If you walk past our house you will spot the paper planes left scattered along our street (our review will be out closer to the films release).

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Sydney Children's Festival | BIG

Our friends over at BIG will be at the Sydney Children's Festival today..... say hi to them at the Lawn library from 12pm.  Join them in making a tiny inside/outside portrait or create a response on a side by side postcard.

Also on todays list of fun things to do at the festival includes Hula hooping, KAPOW!, Paper, Torch Torch! workshop, Disco - Au Go Go  ++

The festival runs until the 28 September at the Seymour Centre.

Monday, 22 September 2014

The Walking Neighbourhood | Art and About Sydney

The Walking Neighbourhood is a concept that premiered in Brisbane in 2012 and involved children leading tours in their own neighbourhood - giving people a rare insight into the world of kids living in inner city suburbs.


Today we took The Walking Neighbourhood tour in Kings Cross that is running within the Art and About program. We all met in the Departure Lounge in the Rex Centre and selected which tour we wanted to take.  The departure lounge is an interactive waiting station where you can view the gallery of found items from previous tours, draw on the large map of Kings Cross, learn more out the tour guides and share what you love about Kings Cross. We all decided that the Underground Mystery tour was the one for us. (There were many other tours to choose from) Our tour guides Finn and Nick (aged 11) were confident and proud of their neighbourhood as they lead us around their underground hangouts.

The Walking Neighbourhood moves to Redfern next week. To  book tickets (free) or to get more information visit: Art and About Sydney.

Thanks Finn and Nick for sharing your world.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Thomas - Tale of the Brave

My five year old son has been into Thomas the Tank Engine since he was about two years of age. As soon as he started school this year aged five, he has become influenced by the older kids at school and therefore is now completely obsessed with superheroes, and unfortunately all that comes along with them like the violence and weapons.  So, I was a bit afraid that he would not be interested in seeing 
Thomas And Friends: Tale Of The Brave, as he hadn't shown much interest in the series lately through watching his DVD's or playing with his train set.

The movie is along the lines of the previous films; Thomas and his friends learning important lessons. In Thomas And Friends: Tale Of The Brave, Thomas and Percy learn that bravery can be shown in many ways and that being supportive and encouraging of others is an important part of friendship. Thomas learns to deal with his fear of the unknown and also deals with negative peer pressure and how it affects himself and his friends. My son sat through the whole film and I could see that he really felt connected to the situations that Thomas was placed in, and as being of school age those situations arise with him daily. We later talked about the movie and how Thomas dealt with his problems, so it was refreshing to have a dialogue with my son that enabled him to open up about his emotions and their connection to Thomas's experience, rather than our usual conversations of generic superheroes challenging evil!

Thomas And Friends: Tale Of The Brave was enjoyable for both myself and my son. I'm glad I took him along to see the movie as it has reinvigorated his friendship with Thomas the Tank Engine. My son is back to watching his Thomas DVD's and has also begun playing with his train set again, so hopefully Thomas will stay with him a few more years before the superheroes take him over completely.

Review by Rose Miller

Thomas - Tale of the Brave is now screening nationally.

We are giving away three family passes  to a Hoyts Jnr screening of Tale of the Brave (2 adults and 2 children) - email with your name and postal  address and tell us what your child loves about Thomas the Tank engine before the 7 August.  

Only winners will be notified. Terms and conditions.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Friday Finds | Arts Rocket

I found some time last night to put together a small selection of our Friday Finds.......

Here is my official list of Friday Finds for Friday 4 July 2014:
  • Expose your kids to cinema.... Last month I re-watched DO THE RIGHT THING with my eldest son (now 16) and as it celebrates it's 25th anniversary - the messages are still very clear.  It was wonderful to share this film with him for the first time. Search out films in your local dvd store that show them the world but are also age appropriate. 
  • Let your kids have their own space in your garden - let them dig it up and go crazy. If you don't have space for a garden - get a herb box
  • Lastly - have fun over the school holidays and enjoy your time together.

Kids in the Garden - Butterflies, birds and planting peas

We asked Sarah from Grow Eat Enjoy for some tips on how to get creative outside over the school holidays........

Ok, so we’re nearly through the first week of school holidays, the weather is great, hopefully your children are too and I’m sure we’re all having fun.  But there’s another whole week to go so here’s some garden ideas to keep up your sleeves in case you find yourself lying in bed at night wondering how you’re going to fill another day.

Make butterflies out of used milk bottles. This is a little tricky to cut but a good tracing exercise if your kids haven’t fully mastered scissors yet.  Cut out the shape of a butterfly from the sides of your milk bottle.  When you have 5 or more you can thread them with fishing line and hang them in your garden.  They look sweet, flutter in the breeze and may even signal to cabbage moths that these plants are taken thus saving you that annoying task of picking caterpillars off your brassicas.
Make birds out of used milk bottles.  This is like a magic trick and children of 8 or over love it.  You can paint them afterwards and string them up in a similar way to the butterflies.  Instructions here Persist, with practise these get easier and better.

Plant peas.  Big seeds for little fingers.  Even if they sit on the surface they’ll still often germinate so hard to go wrong.  And they grow quick, and taste sweet.  You can eat the tips or wait for the pods.  You can even grow chick peas at this time of year which are a pretty alternative.  Soak your store bought chick peas in water and watch them sprout.  Plant them out or keep them in damp cotton wool and watch the plant unfold before your eyes.

If nothing else just get them outside observing.  Dig a hole, climb a tree, pick your neighbours rosemary, smell it, taste it, stick it in a jar of water and pretty soon it will sprout roots and you’ll have a rosemary of your own.

Monday, 30 June 2014

LEO | Sydney Opera House

The stage consisted of a large screen and an empty room - the lights darkened causing tiny apprehensive whispers to circulate around the room. When the lights went up we are introduced to a man and his suitcase - how did he get there and most importantly - why was he there?

LEO is a beautiful performance incorporating physical theatre, video projection, dance, music and a piece of chalk. French acrobat William Bonnet glides around the room with his movements projected onto the big screen pulling us into alternate worlds. Bonnet's strength is spectacular but not surprising with his extensive background in aerial acrobatics.

The young audience were in fits of laughter as they jumped from screen to room in delight of this gravity defying adventure.  A small segment consisting of a repetitious dance routine may have little ones restless but will be enjoyable for older children and parents.

How does this lone man eventually leave the room?
Well......we will leave that up to you to find out.

Recommended for school holidays.

until 13 July
Sydney Opera House
for ages 8 and over

Monday, 23 June 2014

School Holidays - IMAX

School holidays have started for some or about to for others. We love heading to the movies as we turn the outing into a full day - it has become a ritual for us - take public transport, get lunch out, check out the surroundings and then head home after the movie.

Our friends at IMAX have given us 2 family passes (2 adults and 2 children)to give away so you can make a day of it in Darling Harbour over these school holidays. They will be screening How to Train your Dragon 2 and for older children Transformers 4: Age of Extinction.

For your chance:
Win 1 of 2 family passes to IMAX Darling Harbour to see the best in 3D film these school holidays like HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 and TRANSFORMERS 4: AGE OF EXTINCTION releasing on June 26. To enter email before Monday 30 June with your favourite ritual over the holidays. Winners will be notified by email on Tuesday 1 July. CLOSED

Competition details

Monday, 16 June 2014

Rio 2

It was with much excitement that I took my three sons (11, 9 and 4) to the preview screening of Rio 2.  My four year old couldn't remember the first movie when we spoke about it the night before but quickly remembered as soon as we walked in and he saw those familiar images again.

All the favourite characters are back in this one plus some new ones and it was the new characters that seemed to catch my children's imagination.  So much so that I wondered if some of the characters from the first movie seemed a little superfluous.

The movie was fun with similar environmental themes, lots of music (and songs, were there songs in the first one?  I can't remember) and colourful flying/dancing sequences.  The laughs were slow to come but were definately there a little after mid-way.  All three children enjoyed it.  My eleven year old said he enjoyed how distinctly different all the characters were from each other.  If I told you what the nine and four year old liked I'd be ruining the end and a minor twist.

Sarah Brill

Release date: 3 July 2014

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Next Goal Wins | Sydney Film Festival 2014

I wanted to take my eldest son (16) to one of the classified films within the Sydney Film Festival.  He is a mad soccer fan and with the World Cup coming up soon, the documentary Next Goal Wins was an easy choice. 

In 2001, Australia famously beat the American Somoa team 31 - 0 taking them to the bottom of the ladder and was the worst defeat in international soccer history. The documentary follows the American Somoan team in their quest to move on from their past humiliating defeat and to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.  It was a joy to meet the team and be a part of this uplifting journey - especially Jaiyah Saelua and Dutch coach Thomas Rongen.

Next Goal Wins is a celebration of team work, acceptance and perseverance and is a breath of fresh of air in a world of sporting endorsement deals and badly behaved players.  You don't need to be soccer or even sport mad to take something away from Next Goal Wins. 

rated M
Screening at Sydney Film Festival
7 June and 11 June 2014

Not classified at the festival but from what I have seen so far I will be taking all or some of my family to see the following films when they get released: 

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

How to survive Vivid Sydney with your family

As we are heading up to the last weekend of Vivd expect more crowds and from experience - crowds and strollers do not work! The team at Vivid have given us some family tips to survive this event with your family (stroller optional).  Vivid is something every family should see and for more information on what is on offer visit

1.       Go early in the week and early on!
Tuesday is set for fine weather and earlier in the week is less busy!  The crowds build at the weekend so we suggest you make your Vivid visit on a weeknight.

2.       Take an early mark: Martin Place now opens at 5.30pm every night!
Beat the rush and get to Vivid early – Martin Place opens at 5.30pm.  There’s The Urban Tree to mesmerise the littlies, as a tree grows out of the ground and up a building, complete with birds and bugs!

3.       Enjoy Vivid from one of the new precincts
There are newer Vivid precincts including Walsh Bay, North Sydney and Martin Place.  Head to one of these spots for installations, projections and much more!

4.       Leave the car at home and remember, ferries are very busy
There are an extra 3,500 bus and train services to help get families in and out of the city this year during Vivid, so families should plan their trip at www.vividsydney/transport

Ferries are also busy so bus and train are probably the way to go!

5.       Catch a show – a water show that is!
Darling Harbour is again transformed each hour from 6pm into a theatre of water with spectacular water displays, fountains, water jets and lasers. There are also fireworks displays during the week as well as weekends - Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7pm.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Leo - Sydney Opera House

Dancing on the ceiling like Fred Astaire, scaling the walls like Spiderman and floating mid-air like an Indian guru – escape with Leo into an impossible world, where perception and imagination are turned inside out and upside down.
Through an ingenious combination of staging and video projection, Leo rockets you to a world where the laws of gravity are thrown out the window.

We have two family passes to give away (2 adults and 2 children) for the 28 June - 3pm performance of Leo. For your chance email with your child's favourite dance scene from a movie.
Entries close Friday 13 June. ENTRIES CLOSED

28 June - 13 July 2014
Sydney Opera House
Ages 8 and over

Arts Rocket is not responsible for prizes once they have been dispatched to the winner. Tickets are are not redeemable for cash. Full Terms and conditions

Navigating the Sydney Film Festival - Youth Guide - Under 18's

The Sydney Film Festival takes off this week and for under 18's we look at the best way to  navigate yourself around the festival.

Head to Martin Place for SFFTV
Every day over the festival -  SFFTV will present a special program of animated shorts, Big Window on a Big Screen curated by guest programmer Malcolm Turner, director of animation festivals in London, NZ and Australia.

Learn about the process
If you have a teen interested in film making - head  along to the Apple store talks.

Catch a classified screening
Check out the list of classified films screening at the festival that under 18's are permitted to attend.

Experience the world of the Vladmaster
Attendees are given a View-master viewer and a set of disks, and led through  strange and fascinating 28-picture stories created by the artist Vladimir.

Sydney Film Festival
4 June - 15 June