Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Winter Arts for Kids: Melbourne 2013

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post. I am not affiliated with any of the events or organisations listed below, I was not asked to write this post, and no financial incentive was asked nor offered for the information presented. I have subsequently been offered complimentary tickets to one of the MSO Kids events mentioned here and will disclose that again when I review the performance after it occurs.

Winter is on foot here in Melbourne, which means a lot of things - cold days, icy nights, less or no outdoor eating, an uptick in viruses, cranky kids, a never-ending battle with laundry ...

On a more positive note, the period from May to September has traditionally been a busy one for indoor cultural activities and festivals in this town. Excepting the Comedy Festival in April, and to some extent White Night in February and Chinese New Year in February, most of the bigger indoor events happen in this window, as Melbournians put on their mandatory winter black, scarf up and prepare to warm minds, if not bodies.

The great thing is that these cultural experiences aren't limited to adults. There's a lot going on for kids this winter, and I thought I would highlight five
in particular that look good to me.

1. Melbourne Writers Festival Schools / Kids Program
In my life before kids, the MWF was my favourite thing about winter. I used to go to several events every year and I saw some wonderful speakers - one of my favourites was Bill Bryson, who was as genial and interesting to listen to as to read.

Discovering that the MWF has a schools program was therefore quite exciting for me. My kids' school is not likely to take any classes to sessions, as excursion budgets are very tight, but I am seriously considering taking my big girls out of school for a day on Monday 26 August to go see Paul Jennings, Nick Earls and Jacqueline Harvey.

2. MSO Classic Kids Education Week series
I have taken my girls to three of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO)'s Classic Kids performances and all have been brilliant. We've been offered tickets to what looks like it may be the best yet - Magic and Monsters, a performance inspired by mythical creatures, complete with built-in Monsterologist :-)

3. Melbourne International Jazz Festival: Daily free concerts
The Jazz Festival is warming up Melbourne in the first 10 days of June, and one of the featured events is a daily free concert series at Federation Square (12-1pm daily). As luck would have it, we'll be in town on both Saturdays in that period, and I'm very much looking forward to taking the kids to some free jazz.

4. Local theatre company productions
A lot of local theatre companies and regional theatres amp up their family / kid oriented offerings in the colder months, which is a happy coincidence (or good planning, you decide). Not too far away from us, Wyndham Cultural Centre, one of the biggest in Melbourne's west, is putting on Possum Magic for the litties and Emily Eyefinger, based on Duncan Ball's popular books of the same name, for the older kids. (We're going to both!) Possum Magic is also showing at the Karralyka Theatre in Ringwood and the Drum in Dandenong for those on the eastern side of the city.

5. Carnival of Science at Scienceworks
Scienceworks is always a fun day out for kids and adults alike, and this exhibition, exploring the science behind carnival games and tricks, looks pretty awesome. My kids are quite science-oriented, especially the eldest, and I think they will really enjoy this. I've marked it down for the July holidays.

Between the Emerging Writers Festival this weekend for me (my big cultural treat of the season), the theatre performances, MSO, jazz, MWF and the Cyndi Lauper concert I'm taking my big girls to in August, the pain of winter is thoroughly dulled for us by the life of the mind - for the kids as well as the adults!

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