Snow falling on fir trees, wandering around miniature village, kids sipping on Ribena and you with a hot cappuccino in your hands. You wander over to have a go at tossing snow balls and then give the kids a spade and bucket so they can make their very own snowman.
Where is this? Mt Hotham? Bulla? Lake Mountain? Nup. Cranbourne Racecourse in southeast Melbourne, not far from the freeway exit. It’s on until 10 July so get in quickly!
Do you need snow chains? A snow suit? Special shoes? Nup. Gumboots, trackies and a jumper will do just fine (though bring a change of clothes in case they get wet).
The whole event is undercover so you don’t even need to worry about rain.
But it’s expensive, right? Not really. You can stay all day if you like and it’s $28.00 for kids aged 2-12, $16.50 for adults and toddlers aged 1-2. Kids under 12 months are free. Included in that you get a 4-park Phillip Island pass for each kid.
There’s also much more than just snow (as if that wasn’t enough).
Our day at the Big Freeze Winter Festival
We were lucky enough to be gifted 4 tickets to the grand opening on Saturday afternoon. We arrived at 2.00pm and dragged the boys (aged 3 and 6) away at around 4.30pm because they had been running flat out for that whole time and were hysterically tired.
We had to bribe them with Chuppa Chups to get in the car.
The Snow Village
The first thing you see when you come in – after ducking down to step through the enormous inflatable igloo and perhaps purchasing a nice hot coffee from the cart at the entrance – is snowflakes falling on miniature street lamps and fir trees.
They’re not actually snowflakes – if you look closely when they land on you, you’ll see that they’re some kind of bubbles. Not that the boys cared. They were so excited.
The Snow Village boasts a huge snow globe where the kids can go inside and have their photo taken.
Just around the corner and past the campfire is the village-proper, set up by local business Castle & Cubby. Lacking nothing, the boys traded at the shops, posted wooden block ‘letters’ at the post office, rang the bell at the fire station and dragged each other off to ‘jail’.
The Snow Pit
Our snow pit play session was at 3.00pm, immediately after fresh snow was layered over the pit – something that happens regularly throughout the day.
I haven’t seen more than a single handful of snow since I was about 14 years old. The snow pit is definitely fun for all the family! We all managed to end up a little wet from our snowball fights.
Also a note – each snow pit play session is 25 minutes, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but it actually is. The boys were more than ready to come out at the end of that time.
If they want more snow, don’t worry – the snow ball toss is right next door!
Mr 3 pretty much treated it as a huge sandpit. I managed to lose his proper mittens immediately before the festival so he ended up wearing gardening gloves, poor kid. Some sort of gloves are definitely recommended – snow is COLD!
Once the kids had their fill of the outdoor (but undercover) area, we headed indoors, figuring we’d have a quick look and head off. Little did we know, the fun was just beginning.
They spent most of their time at the Kick Bricks Construction Area. The bricks are all made of lightweight material that stacks really well but doesn’t hurt the kids at all when they drop them or push over the towers (which they had a lot of fun doing!).
There’s an entire craft area, thanks to CleverPatch, where kids can do colouring-in or make their very own mask – which is what Mr 3 is doing here. He insisted on wearing his mask to the supermarket the next day!
The boys tried every other activity inside as well:
- snowboarding – Mr 3 got to practise rocking from side to side and then hung on for dear life and squealed while he was dragged smoothly around the floor on an actual snowboard with a rope attached
- learn to be a superhero – which turned out to be a gymnastics obstacle course, but the kids got to do it while wearing a cape! The staff are awesome – yes, they wear capes too 🙂
- the stage – where Elsa and Anna regale the kids with numbers from Frozen.
4 top tips for your trip to The Big Freeze Winter Festival
- If you have them, or can borrow them or buy them cheaply, deck the kids out in waterproof pants.
- Bring an extra pair of socks – even though the boys were wearing gumboots, all those flying balls of snow somehow found their way in and soaked their socks!
- For the best snow in the pit, book a snow play session immediately after fresh snow is made (you’ll see this on the schedule when you book).
- If you’re looking for discount tickets, try sessions 2pm or later – there’s a late play discount. The Festival is open until 5pm every day and if your kids are anything like ours, they’ll wear themselves out in 3 hours anyway!
How to book your tickets
To purchase tickets, including booking your snow play session, head over to the Big Freeze Festival website here.
Have a ball! (of snow….).