If you, like me have an adventurous busy toddler to entertain and keep going these school holidays chances are you are in search of events and places to fill up the calendar to keep them busy! I try and plan at least one activity for them a day – preferably in the morning so that she has at least had an epic holiday at the end of the month – yup, Maddie is off for an entire month!
In honour of school holidays and the festive season I have put together a list of some North Coast (cause that is where I live, work and play) events as well as a few of our favourite kid friendly spots and adventures that are all in and around Durban. In hopes of inspiring a couple of things to do with your kids these holidays. I hope you have found at least one or two fun adventures you can do with your kids over the next month…
Mark your calendar with these events…
Gingerbread house decorating
Joey’s Bakers are currently hosting gingerbread house decorating classes for kids until 14 December during various morning and afternoon time slots. The cost is R200 per child. Slots can be booked by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Durban North Pole lights
If you are in the area of Umhlanga after sunset you have to take a drive to 27 Somerset Drive to view the Durban North Pole lights. A house in the area literally drapes their entire house and front lawn in the most beautiful lights and decor. It is the most beautiful sight and the kids will love it. Check them out on Instagram @durbannorthpole for images.
Dolphins by Starlight
Dolphins by Starlight is an annual highlight for us. This year the show is back from 7 to 13 December at uShaka Marine World. Under the African Skies is this years theme and it features a never been seen before premium Dolphin Show by uShaka’s loved Sea World Dolphins, traditional Christmas performances reworked with vibrant African rhythms, magical Performances by the Durban Gospel Choir and the Glenwood Junior Primary School Choir, enchanting vocals by the Isicathimiya group, Young Mbazo and pop sensation, Lusandra Majola, exhilarating Kangaroo Zulu Warriors, contemporary dance productions, a live band performance by Burton Naidoo and a chance to meet Santa Claus. Tickets are R199 for adults and R160 for children three and older. for more information or to book tickets visit: tickets.ushakamarineworld.co.za
LEGO Play Zone
Gateway Theatre of Shopping are currently hosting the most epic Lego Play Zone where kids can explore the world of lego with a massive lego pit. Kids are encouraged to create and build to win spot prizes, try their hand at Lego gaming and discover the possibilities with Lego robotics. The fun takes place from 9am to 6pm daily until 7 December and tickets are R30 for a 45-minute session. Kids under 2 are free Tickets can be bought from www.webtickets.co.za.
Kickstart annual festive family pantomime Cinderella comes to the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on UKZN campus from 7 December to 6 January. This magical, brand new production of everybody’s favourite fairy tale about the kitchen maid with the heart of gold who wins the hand of a handsome prince will see lush sets and gorgeous Baroque costumes, toe-tapping songs and jokes aplenty. Ticket Prices range from R140 to R240 and are available through Computicket.
Sea sun fun at Ballito Junction
Ballito Junction Mall has an assortment of sea sun fun planned for their little visitors this festive season including; arts and crafts, biscuit icing, giant games and family photo fun from 8 to 24 December, 10am to 4pm daily. They will have two under the stars free movie evenings on 20 and 27 December at 6.30pm. They will have a jumping castle for the kids every day from 10am to 7pm from 26 December to 6 January. There will also be an under the sea puppet show from 3pm to 4pm daily from 2 to 4 January.
Festive Warrior Workshops will be hosting a variety of fun and creative workshops for kids at Sugar Rush Park from 10 to 14 December, 9am to 11am. Workshops include; gingerbread house decorating, make your own Christmas sack, decorate your own Christmas t-shirt and make your own Christmas decorations. The price of the workshops are R250 per class and DIY kits will also be on sale to take home. Bookings can be made by emailing email@example.com.
My Little Picasso holiday classes
My Little Picasso kiddies art studio at Cornubia Mall is hosting holiday painting from 11 to 13 December. There will be two sessions a day; 10am to 12pm and 2pm to 4pm. For bookings contact Trish on 0836543900.
Meet Father Christmas
Santa will be visiting the following shopping centres in and around Umhlanga and Ballito this Christmas season for photographs;
La Lucia Mall from 14 to 24 December from 11am to 3pm daily.
Gateway Theatre of Shopping from 7 to 24 December from 10am to 4pm daily.
Ballito Junction from 1 to 24 December from 10am to 7pm daily.
Lifestyle Centre from 14 to 24 December from 10am to 2pm daily.
Durban Botanic Gardens Trail of Lights
The Durban Botanic Gardens is back this year for another year of magical, botanical outdoor trail of lights celebrating Christmas. Follow the trail along the Garden’s paths through the trees and landscape which will be spectacularly lit and all aglow.
There’s something for everyone at this festive event, an illuminated trail that winds its way through Africa’s oldest surviving Botanic Garden providing a magical experience after dark and fun for all the family in a safe and secure environment. Tickets can be bought via Webtickets or at your nearest Pick ’n Pay store for just R50.
E.T. under the stars
The iconic movie ‘E.T.’ will be screen under the stars at Northwood Crusaders Sports Club on Friday 14 December. It promises to be loads of fun for the whole family, with entertainment for the kids, food stalls and a bar. Bring chairs and blankets and settle in for a trip down memory lane as you support the fundraiser. Gates open at 5.30pm and the movie starts at 7pm. Tickets available from Quicket or at the gate.
Sage Centre Moonlight Christmas Market
Sage Centre in Salt Rock will be hosting their Moonlight Christmas Market on 14 December from 4pm to 9pm. Families are invited to come and decorate their gorgeous Christmas Tree with a wooden star which will be available to purchase from any of their stores and write a special message or decorate it with glitter glue in support of the North Coast Courier Orphan Fund. There will be Carols by Candlelight under the stars from 6.30pm to 7pm, live music as well as craft beer and a gin bar for the parents to enjoy. For more information visit www.sagecentre.co.za.
Umhlanga Summer Festival
The annual Umhlanga Summer Festival takes place from 14 to 23 December down at Umhlanga Main Beach. The festival promises 10 days of holiday family fun for free with games and competitions for children on Millennium Stage and another highlight for us… Carols Under the Stars on 20 December at Granada Square.
Fun Park In The Sun Park
Bounce your way to the Ultimate Inflatable Wonderland at the Sun Park, Sibaya Casino from 14 to 24 December. Kids can enjoy the mechanical bull, a 6m high Giant slide, 4m high wave slide, four seat space rocket, jumping castles, zorb balls, climbing Wall, elephant ball pond and soft play. Tickets are R100 per child per day and children get to play on any item, as many times as they want each day during trading hours. Tickets sales available at Sun Park door each day.
Foam party at Flag Animal Farm
Flag Animal Farm in Salt Rock will be hosting a foam party time on 15 and 16 December from 1pm to 2pm. Pack the kiddie’s costumes and head to the farm for a fun day out!
iHeart Market festive markets
One of our favourite local markets, iHeart Market is celebrating their 10th birthday celebration with festive-markets this season with jam-packed markets so we can browse, browse some more, shop, eat and relax to our heart’s content these holidays. Their two remaining markets for December are on 15 and 22 December from 9am to 2pm. Stalls feature quality locally designed and produced items and one-of-a-kind creations. You can rest easy knowing that you’re helping to grow the local creative scene!
Holiday Express train ride to Shongweni Market
Enjoy a memorable Festive-themed train ride experience for the whole family this festive season with the Holiday Express. The train will depart from the Premier Business Lounge at Durban Railway Station at 8am and arrive at Shongweni – one of the most highly regarded and diverse farmers markets in South Africa at 9am. You will then have the opportunity to shop a selection of fresh garden produce, home-baked products, fabulous floral arrangements, creative crafts and fabrics, homebrew beers and wines, cheeses, chutneys, sauces; scrumptious desserts and eat at delectable fast food stalls. The train then departs from Shongweni for Durban at 1.30pm and you arrive back at Durban at 2.30pm. For more information or to book visit: http://www.theholidayexpress.co.za
Launch Party for Sugar Rush’s miniature train and dessertery
Sugar Rush park will be celebrate the launch of their miniature train, The Sugar Rush Express & Dessertery on 17 December. Train rides will commence at 10.30am and run until 4pm at R10 a ride and all proceeds from train tickets will go to Bloom Centre. There will also be R10 soft serves sold on the day.
Build a snowman
The Durban Ice Arena are hosting a fun ice skating session ‘Build a snowman’ where you and your loved ones can enjoy time on the ice rink on 18 December from 10am to 1pm. The event is only open to kids four-years and older (Kids under four will not be allowed on the ice but will be allowed in to watch at no cost). The cost per session is R100 for skaters and R50 for non-skater. Tickets are available via https://www.durbanicearena.co.za/purchase-tickets-online
Gingerbread houses at the Beverly Hills Hotel
The Beverly Hills Hotel will be hosting a fun morning of creative decorating for kids between the ages of four and eight-years-old. Each child is given a beautiful gingerbread house to decorate and take home. The price is R500 per person and booking is essential by emailing Lindiwe.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Festive season Wonder Markets
The Umhlanga Wonder Market will be hosting two festive season markets this December. On 20 December the market will be held at Park Square (across the road from their usual Chris Saunders Park) from 3pm to 9pm. On 30 December from 9am to 2pm will be their usual day market with the best of local food, craft and treasure.
Secret sunset Christmas carols
Secret Sunrise will be celebrating the Christmas season on 22 December with an epic SUNSET guided dance session on Umhlanga Beach. Tickets are R120 for adults and R75 for kids and are available via www.quicket.co.za. For more information contact email@example.com.
And if you’re looking for places to take your kids these holidays here are 20 of our favourite hangouts:
@Tap coffee corner
Area: Durban North
Located at the Durban North Baptist Church on Mackeurtan Avenue. It is a well-known hidden gem in my opinion. Every Durban North mom knows this spot very well and has spent a couple of afternoons letting their little ones run around, climb and ride around the gardens and playground at @Tap with the piece of mind knowing that their kids were safe and securely contained in one area, without the fear of them ‘escaping’. The coffee shop serves good coffee and boasts a simple menu of light eats and a children’s menu that appeals to toddlers from mini hotdogs to the classic toasted cheese. The playground includes slides, swings, monkey bars, a track for bikes and scooters as well as a cute little concrete colourful house which has Noah’s arch painted on it – every kid loves sticking his or her head out the windows!
Cost: Free to play
Details: 20 Mackeurtan Avenue, Durban North | @attap_coffee_corner on Instagram| The Coffee Corner on Facebook
Flag Animal Farm
Area: Salt Rock
This is one of Maddie’s absolute favourite hangouts. The Flag Animal Farm in Salt Rock is a must visit for moms with toddlers. They home over 1000 rescued animals including birds, wolves and reptiles. We first took Maddie when she was nine-months-old and she loved it! Brett carried her around in a baby carrier and she laughed away as we fed the animals. Today, as a toddler she loves chasing the animals around (the goats and chickens roam free and easily interact with the kids) and loves to feed them carrots and feed. The farm has various daily activities including wolf interaction at 11am and 3.45pm, a Barney, Dora and Marshall Show at 11:30, a milking show at 12:30, a Mickey and Minnie meet-and-greet at 1:15, a reptile show at 2pm and an Elsa, Sofia and Chase show at 3pm. They also have fun rides for the kids including a pony, tractor or train. A must visit for toddlers who love animals!
Cost: R39 per person (both adults and kids)
Area: Durban central
This is something I wish we started doing sooner and something I wish we could do more often! We live in such a beautiful city and what better way to spend a Summer’s day out than hiring bicycles to ride along the iconic Durban Beach front. We hire our bicycles from Xpressions on the Beach as they are on the Entertainer app and we buy one, get one free. They are situated near the Ushaka side of the beach front opposite the Addington Hospital. They have bicycles which have the children’s seat. Maddie loves riding on the back of Mom’s bike and stopping off at Afros for lunch is always a hit too! A fun activity for under R100 for an hours entertainment and a good amount of sunshine and fresh air!
Cost: R60 bike rental.
Umgeni Bird Park
Area: Durban North
The lush tropical landscape of the Umgeni Bird Park has been one of Maddie’s favourite visits. The park houses a collection of more than 800 birds from 200 species, some of which are the only representatives of their kind in Africa whilst others are commonly kept as pets. From beautiful colourful caged toucan birds to roaming peacocks, the Umgeni Bird Park is an awesome outing to introduce toddlers to birds. There is even a feeding cage when birds sit on your hands or shoulders and feed nectar. There is also a free bird show which is super interesting for the parents while entertaining for the toddlers who get to see the birds fly around their heads.
Cost: R55 per adult and R36 for children 3 to 12-years-old
The newly transformed Burnedale Farm is a stunning venue to take the kids to roam around and explore while you enjoy a delicious meal at super affordable prices! They have a R30 breakfast on the menu and R23 odd french toast for the kids! They have a fun farm yard with a couple of cute animals as well as fun and enticing jungle gyms including a cute concrete car which is always a hit with Maddie. There are also a selection of beautiful shops to shop at including my favourite – One of a Kind which stocks a couple of my favourite local brands including Tiny Tribe and Annapatat Kids to name a few.
Cost: Free to play, a bag of feed is under R20 to feed the donkeys and various other animals on the farm
Butterflies for Africa
Butterflies for Africa is a tropical walk-through butterfly house housing both exotic and indigenous butterflies. As you walk through the house you are able to experience them flying around your head and several feeding stations allow you to hold slices of apple and orange to encourage the various butterflies to sit on your hand and eat. It is such a fun experience for toddlers who love animals. There is also a butterfly themed shop for take home keepsakes including teddies and balloons, there is also an art gallery as well as a coffee shop to enjoy a light meal or milkshakes with the kids. Well worth the visit if you’re passing through Pietermaritzburg this festive season!
Cost: R47 an adult and R32 for children 3 to 16-years-old
Details: 37 Willowton Road, Pietermaritzburg |www.butterflies.co.za/
Strawberry picking at Cappeny Estates
I have fond memories of strawberry picking when I was little and it has been one of my favourite outings with Maddie to date. She is obsessed with fruit and one of her favourites are strawberries! I highly recommend a morning at the Cappeny Estates strawberry farm. It is a great outdoor activity for the whole family. The strawberry fields are filled with delicious strawberries which you can pick to fill your punnet which works out to be around 500 to 700gs of strawberries, there is live entertainment, a delicious variety of food all made from strawberries, tractor rides and a jumping castle. Definitely a family fun outing filled with the sweet smell of strawberries in the air!
Cost: R10 per person entrance fee (you’re able to get a water or ice cream with this ticket) and R75 per person to pick strawberries. Kids five and under are R50
Area: Gateway, Ballito or Durban North
Our favourite coffee and cake hangout for sure! We have been HUGE Chateau Gateaux fans since their opening of their patisseries. They have a huge variety of cakes and pastries and serve amazing coffee! Best part – they serve babyccinos which Maddie loves and she’s also very fond of their giant chocolate chip cookies!
The Chocolate Garden
Area: Canelands – 15 mins inland from Gateway
I fell in love with this venue the moment I stepped into the venue at their media launch. It isn’t often you find a child friendly venue that also serves amazing food! The Chocolate Garden have an amazing breakfast and lunch menu, their kids menu is also well thought out! They have a colourful jungle gym, a colouring station, a wooden house with an activity board as well as a cute little farm housing tortoises and geese which Maddie loves! They have a mothering room with a comfortable couch for moms to feed their babies/toddlers, a microwave and beautiful changing station. The area is also fully enclosed so no little people can escape!
If you are driving passed the South Coast over the festive season, a visit to Crocworld is a must! It is a fun educational experience for the little ones allowing them to get up close and personal with these massive creatures. The indigenous landscaped gardens is the perfect place to let the little ones roam free while exploring the different areas of the conservation. There are a variety of birds, reptiles and a cute animal farm where you are able to feed the goats and pigs.
Cost: R75 per person, R45 per child between the ages of 4 and 12, children under four are free
Location: Somerset Park, Umhlanga
This is just a great stop when you need a break and have your kids play. Hello Cafe is situated at Harvest Church and the homely cafe serves great coffee. Their small but tasty menu offers breakfast and lunch options including toasted sarmies, salads and burgers. The quaint jungle gum is a hit with the kids as they climb and slide down and the little bike track is also super fun for the little ones.
Area: North Beach, Durban.
Who doesn’t remember visiting Mini Town when they were kids? Oh my goodness! The little park hasn’t changed much over the last 20 to 30 odd years but it is definitely a sight to see for through the eyes of our little ones! It is still one of Durban’s iconic beach front tourist attractions and the little replicas leave their little minds in awe!
Cost: R25 for adults and R20 for children
Details: 031 337 7892
Area: Gateway, Umhlanga.
Mr Funtubbles is just a fun-filled environment for the whole family! Maddie loves visiting Mr Funtubbles and riding the various rides! The funfair works on a card system which you need to purchase for R10 and load on your credits at each visit or you can let your credits carry over. For the moms who have the Entertainer – they are on the app which allows you to purchase R100 credits and get R100 free. The centre also sell popcorn, slush puppies and candy floss giving it that real carnival feel!
Cost: Rides range from R6 to R10.
Area: Salt Rock
Sage has always been one of our favourite places to take Maddie. Maddie has swimming lessons every Saturday morning a road away from Sage so we often visit the centre for breakfast on the weekend. Sage Cafe serves amazing food and they have always been so kid friendly. With their newly launched revamp, Sage Centre has just got that much more amazing! Their kids jungle gym and play area is out of this world! Plus you can sit and have breakfast or lunch just metres from the playground. Their bathrooms deserve a mention too! Clean, spacious and drop dead gorgeous! Their changing station is kitted with the whole range of Dove Baby products! Wet wipes, bum cream and lotion – you name it, it is there! There are also some really beautiful shops worth popping into as well when visiting the centre.
Cost: Free to patrons
Details: @sagecentre on Instagram | http://www.sagecentre.co.za
Area: Umhlanga or La Lucia
I have fond memories of visiting my local library growing up. I loved reading and choosing new and exciting books. We recently signed Maddie up for a library card and will start choosing a couple of books to take home every two weeks or so. Even if you don’t have a library card, it is a really lovely outing to spend an hour amongst the books and puzzles they have lying around on the kiddie tables.
Cost: Free to join or visit
Details: Umhlanga – Shop 23, Lighthouse Mall, Chartwell Drive, Umhlanga Rocks. La Lucia – William Campbell Drive, La Lucia
This is probably one of most frequent visits. It is free, around the corner from our house and has the most awesome play sets a kid could ask for! The park is also completely fenced one one gate which has a child lock so it is safe and secure. There is also a bike track that goes around the whole park and there are large grass laws for kids to run around or kick a ball around. The only problem is there aren’t any trees so it can be very hot and direct sun between 10 and 2 so rather visit the park before 10 or after 2. Our favourite time of the day is around 4pm. The park is however closed on a Monday to maintain the gardens.
Details: 19 Millennium Blvd, Umhlanga Ridge.
Ushaka Marine World
Area: South Beach, Durban
This is a special occasion kind of visit due to the cost of visiting the park. It is such a lovely day out if you are looking for a truly special place to take your little one. We took Maddie for the first time when she was just over a year old and she loved it! A ticket into the Sea World aquarium gets you entrance into the dolphin and seal shows, which is what Maddie loved the most!
Cost: R209 for a combo ticket for both Wet & Wild and Sea World.
Vovo Telo, Umhlanga
Another one of our favourite breakfast or brunch spots. Not only does Vovo Telo serve amazing food and great coffee but they have the sweetest baker named Mr Max who allows the kids to pull a chair up and play with bread dough at his counter top while he prepares the most incredible breads including crocodiles, hearts, snakes and all sorts of amazing creatures using the dough! He interacts with the kids and even bakes what the kids have created and serves them to the table for the kids and mom and dad to enjoy. All free of charge to seated patrons! Maddie loves playing at the counter top and we can sit and seat while she plays to her hearts content!
Details: Lighthouse Mall, 14 Chartwell Drive, Umlhanga Rocks
Toddler Zone at the Wave Park
Area: Gateway, Umhlanga
Another great kids play area with lots of soft play and interesting little toys and odds to play with. The area is dedicated to under six’s and their massive wavy slide is my favourite feature at the Toddler Zone. Maddie loves climbing up the soft stairs and finding her way to the slides before sliding down into the ball pit. Other cute play features include their swinging balls which kids can hang onto and swing around (Maddie is still too small for that) and the bike that launches off a ramp. It’s clean, well-lit and their are friendly child minders on-site to watch and help the kids while you can sit and relax while enjoying a meal or coffee at the restaurant opposite the toddler zone.
Cost: R40 per toddler.
The Holiday Express
Area: Departs from Durban Station
If you missed my whole blog post about our experience onboard The Holiday Express you can read it here. A trip on the train is a whole day experience and is so much fun! Brett used to ride trains as a kid so he loved taking his daughter on a train ride. Maddie loved running up and down the isles and watching the out the windows as the train passed through the city. The Holiday Express have various train trips in and around Durban to choose from. It is safe, clean and so much fun! Highly recommended!
Cost: Tickets are R250 per adult, children (3 to 12) and pensioners are R200 per person and babies under two are free
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and have plenty ideas on how to keep your toddler / kids entertained over the next couple of weeks. I hope it is filled with lots and lots of fun adventures! Take lots of pics and please tag me in them so I can share in the joy of the moments!
Until next time…
http://www.beingmaddiesmom.com | @being_maddies_mom