We rounded up several seasonal activities that will keep the whole brood entertained from activities and festive markets, to family favourite theatre and live performances. Joburg is full of fun venues and excursions that are perfect for kids of all ages, but that can feel crowded during regular weekends throughout the year. Take advantage of the fun-packed events by taking the family to one of the museums, adventure zones or parks listed below.
CHRISTMAS LIGHTS DISPLAYSUntil Sun, 31 Dec
Destination Christmas at Melrose Arch
Say, "Christmas in Joburg" and most people think of Melrose Arch, where every year this upmarket shopping and dining precinct is transformed into a wonderland with the most impressive lights and festive activities. In addition to the glittering light display, Melrose Arch is pulling out all the stops with a busy Destination Christmas programme of festive events this season including extended retail hours during December. Join in the fun with a performance by the Jeppe Pipe Band on Fri, Dec 15. See what else is on the programme here.
Until Sun, Jan 7, 2024
Monte Magic at Montecasino
Montecasino will dazzle with its enchanting Monte Magic programme, transforming it into a festive wonderland with plenty of activities and delights for everyone. You can expect a Festive Holiday Market with over 40 stalls, 3D festive-inspired projections on the outside of the Piazza Hotel, over 285,300 LED lights in their Italian Village of Lights and plenty of productions already on.
See what else is on the Monte Magic programme here.
Until Sun, Jan 7, 2024
The Festival of Lights at Joburg Zoo
Joburg Zoo's annual Festival of Lights will brighten up your festive spirit with its month-long programme of events. Fun for families, the zoo's main pathways are decorated with enchanting displays of light. This is also a great opportunity to explore the zoo after hours and see some of the nocturnal animals. Open Thu – Sun from 19:00 – 22:00. Get tickets here.
FAMILY-FRIENDLY THEATRE AND LIVE ENTERTAINMENT
Until Sun, Jan 7
Momo’s Magical Adventure at Sandton City
Momo's Magical Adventure is a proudly South African story filled with joy, friendship and generosity. It's the kind of tale that will warm your heart faster than a cup of hot chocolate. This entertaining live show is perfect holiday entertainment for young families. Catch the performance at Sandton City's centre court (outside Checkers) with four shows daily – except for Mondays. R50 p.p.; book your tickets!
Until Sun, Jan 28, 2024
Urban Circus by The Cirk
The Cirk's newest show is a thrilling adventure; a journey through city life with acrobatics, ensemble performances and comedy at Cresta Shopping Centre. Directed by Cirque du Soleil alumnus, Daniel Buckland, Urban Circus comprises 10 storylines, each following a central character’s interaction with different parts of the city. With a mix of humour and drama, the show invites the audience to join in a wild ride through a city turned upside-down, hanging by its toes from skyscrapers. The show is a story of survival and struggle, but, just like Joburg, it's not without an element of fun as it portrays an exciting and delicate dance through the thrills of urban life. Tickets from R180, book here.
ACTION AND SPORTSAerial escapades at Acrobranch
Kids can burn off the excess energy and test their skills and stomachs for heights by zip lining from tree to tree and climbing across rugged woodland at Acrobranch’s aerial adventure playgrounds. Find Acrobranch at James and Ethel Gray Park in Melrose or at Huddle Park.
Hang out at Joy Jozi
Whether climbing, jumping, or enjoying a delightful meal, Dunkeld's Joy Jozi promises a joyous escape for families looking to make the most of their holidays. Positioned as 'a place where kids can take their adults,' Joy Jozi centres family-friendly entertainment with its innovative design and a variety of activities. The venue offers a dreamlike experience for kids with features like the action court, treehouse, bicycle track, mini splash park, and kids' vegetable garden. Culinary delights at Joy Jozi, crafted by renowned Chef Luke Dale Roberts, cater to both adult palates and fussy children alike. Read more about Joy Jozi and what you can expect.
Mzansi Happy Island Theme Park
Nestled in the Muldersdrift area just off Beyers Naude Drive, Mzansi Happy Island Theme Park is touted as Joburg's biggest water park. The park offers a memorable experience for all ages from mild adventures for young kids like a spray garden to adrenaline-pumping water slides and rides with age or height restrictions. Beyond the rides, Mzansi Happy Island Theme Park includes two in-house restaurants, from fast food to Asian cuisine, Chip and Dip, Spur and other food trucks. Find out more and book tickets here.
Play a game of padel
It's the fastest growing sport in the world and new courts seem to be popping up in Joburg every day. Incredibly fun and ideal for socialising it's not hard to see why padel has caught on the way it has. If you haven't tried it yet or are wondering which court is close by, our list of padel clubs in Johannesburg and Pretoria has you covered. Read our intro to padel here so you know what to expect and find out where to play padel.
Spiderman fun at a trampoline arena
Crazy trampoline fun for both kids and adults. Bounce off the walls, practise your flips, and generally unleash your inner Spiderman at two of the trampoline fun houses in Joburg, iJUMP in Roodepoort and Bounce at Fourways Mall and Mall of Africa. Each adrenaline-pumping location features dozens of interconnected trampolines in a giant warehouse. Space is limited so booking your spot online in advance is highly recommended.
Rollercoasters and thrills at Gold Reef City
Gauteng's leading theme park is open throughout the holidays and you'd be hard-pressed to find a better place to keep surly teenagers amused. Extreme rides like the Anaconda, Jozi Express and Tower of Terror are for the brave, and for toddlers, there's the option of a gentle train ride around the park with a soft-serve ice cream in hand. The theme park is open Thu – Sun from 09:30 and on extended days from Dec 15 – Jan 1, 2024. Tickets must be booked online in advance and cost R250 p.p. Note that tickets are limited and can sell out, so make sure to book online in advance.
Catering for super-active kids from five to 75, Bryanston's Jozi X offers loads of physical fun for fans of extreme adventures. There's mountain boarding, a slackline park, big wheel trike drifting, a parkour gymnasium and the star attraction, an extreme wipeout course.
Cool off at the pool
We may not have frigid tidal pools or bobbing ocean waves. However, Joburg's summer heat is undoubtedly made more bearable at one of the city's many public swimming pools. The city has just under 60 public swimming pools and for many Joburgers, weekend mornings or afternoons spent splashing about at the local pool is one of the highlights of a city summer. Note that load-shedding has affected the filtration and purification systems for some of Joburg's pools, necessitating the closure of these pools (we are told that notices will be displayed outside the pools in question). Find out where to go swimming at the city's best public swimming pools.
DAY TRIPSA day at the zoo
Both Joburg Zoo and Pretoria Zoo are open for the holidays and budding conservationists can even visit on public holidays. With over 2,000 animals in residence, start the day at Joburg Zoo and end off with a picnic at Zoo Lake across the road.
Montecasino Bird Gardens
With hundreds of fascinating bird species, from domestic to exotic, birds of prey plus a huge pelican and a sloth (who gives slothfulness a good name), this is a super attraction for all ages.
Explore the city with the Joburg City Sightseeing Bus
See the city from the top of the open-top, hop-on hop-off City Sightseeing bus. Two connected routes make 14 stops in the City Centre and the leafy northern suburbs of Saxonwold, plus a whistle-stop Soweto mini-bus tour link. Kids get discounted tickets plus their own child-friendly commentary and a special activity book to keep them amused. Among the most interesting stops for kids are the Gold Reef City amusement park and the hands-on science museum Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Newtown.
Discover your origins at Maropeng
The extensive exhibition at the Maropeng Visitor's Centre in the UNESCO-protected Cradle of Humankind takes an interactive approach to the history of life as we know it from the Big Bang to the present day. A visit starts with a fun boat ride through the ages before you enter the museum proper where there are plenty of interactive and educational displays.
Take a trip with Gautrain
For a day of sightseeing, Gautrain is your go-to, landing you near many of Gauteng's top attractions wherever you happen to stop off. The shiny-gold Gautrain rail service links Joburg's City Centre with the northern suburbs and beyond to Pretoria and O.R. Tambo International Airport. The 80km railway line makes regular trips throughout the day and has a network of midi-buses that expand this reach even further, travelling out into the neighbourhoods that surround the Gautrain's main stations. Head to Sandton and take in sweeping views from Africa's tallest building to the many excellent restaurants and bars in the area, plus shopping aplenty and contemporary African art worth your while. While Rosebank has undergone significant development in the past decade, which certainly shows up in its changing skyline, the district draws a diverse crowd daily to explore its central trio of shopping complexes and a short walk (or even quicker drive) to the neighbourhood's many other attractions. Once largely defined by centrality, Midrand has come into its own as a destination following steady development over the past decade which includes the epic Mall of Africa, a wealth of dining and lifestyle destinations and the biggest mosque in the Southern Hemisphere. Expect more day-trip guides with Gautrain; watch this space.
Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens
One of Gauteng’s most beautiful nature reserves, this garden is home to an abundance of wildlife including an estimated 240 bird species. From the entrance, wide expanses of immaculately maintained grassy lawns lead down through cycad gardens to the impressive Witpoortjie Falls. There are various hiking routes crisscrossing the gardens, the longest trail (5km) leads to the top of the waterfall, where birdwatchers may be lucky enough to spot one of the elusive black eagles who nest there.