Snow Time at the Hunter Valley Gardens is back and promising wintry fun for everyone.

We absolutely love Snow Time! It’s a chance for Coastie families to experience an ultimate wintry day of fun without having to make the 8-hour drive to the Snowy Mountains (or the hefty price tag of a ski holiday!) and that, my friends, is worth its weight in gold.

There’s a huge snow zone where you can build snowmen, two ice rinks, and a 45-metre ice slide for tube tobogganing that your kids are going to want to do again and again and again.

This year they’ve made the whole experience (somehow) even better. They’ve now got two ice rinks – one for little people to build their confidence on and one for bigger kids and adults. The snow zone is going to be bigger and better than ever, European wintry food is on the menu and their five wonderful permanent rides will be open.

This is such a wonderful event for the winter school holidays and one your kids will absolutely cherish. We highly recommend it.

Scroll down for more details or grab your tickets in the link below.

Playing in Puddles visited Snow Time. Check out our personal take on all the fun, plus hints and tips to make it a stellar visit!

Playing in Puddles has visited Snow Time many times over the years. We love tobogganing down the 45-metre ice slide, building snowmen in the Snow Play Zone, and gliding around the ice rink (okay, so we were more shuffling than gliding, but we had a lot of fun).

Scroll on to learn more about this fabulous event and to read all our hints and tips for a fab day at the snow.

Tobogganing the ice luge

The tobogganing was a highlight for us – for both the adults and the kids. The icy slide was a super-fast ride that had everyone laughing and many kids shouting, “Again, again! That was awesome! Let’s do it again.” Every single person who slid down that icy hill came away with a smile on their face – it was pure joy to do and watch.

They have two 45-metre ice slides that each takes two sliders. Our three-year-old sat on our lap to slide, while our five-year-old flitted between going solo or sliding with us. We never waited more than two minutes in line. Given that some Australian ski resorts have now banned tobogganing (bah humbug to that), we loved that we were able to come here and let our kids experience this fun.

Mega Snow Play Zone

We spent ages in the Snow Play Zone building snowmen and throwing snow balls. It was such a treat to do this in the glorious sunshine with no-one complaining of cold fingers or frosty cheeks. Dressed in t-shirts and sunnies, it felt like we were at the beach, and despite the balmy 19C temperatures the snow held up. We also didn’t have to navigate the normal puddles and slush that renders everyone with wet bottoms and sodden gloves – a discomfort Aussie Spring skiers know all too well. This was snow play with perfect conditions.

The Gardens supplied garden trowels and buckets for digging in the snow, plus wooden blocks that could be used for a snowman’s nose or eyes.

To get the most out of this activity (which is obviously a highlight), it’s best to come prepared. We dressed the boys in waterproof pants and we all wore gloves and shoes that had a lot of grip so we didn’t slip on the snow. Our butts stayed dry and our hands stayed warm and we were able to play in the snow far longer than others who’d dressed for the beach.

Ice Skating at Snow Time

Ice skating is a heap of fun, but if you’ve never done it before it can be a little tricky to master. This is why ice skating at Snow Time is so perfect: the skating, skate hire, helmet hire and kids seal chair pusher (more on that later) are all included in your entry fee. You have twenty minutes on the ice (which is honestly enough for most people) and they limit numbers to ensure everyone has ample space to glide, slide and occasionally take a dive.

The rink is separated into two sections: one area that provides the smallest members of the family a safe space to practise their skating skills and another area for those aged 6+ who want to show off their gliding abilities.

We all donned skates (yep, they have tiny skates so even tiny tots can have a go) and hit the ice. We shuffled, laughed, attempted to glide and had a lot of fun.

You get 20 minutes on the ice and session times work on a first-in/first-served basis. If this activity is high up on your to-do list, we recommend arriving early to get your ice skating tickets (they can be collected from 9.30am). The first session starts at 10am and the last session starts at 4pm.

We’d definitely recommend hiring a skating aid seal chair ($5), as they give little legs a rest (and parents something to hold onto). These seals are available for kids six and under and need to be booked at the same time as your skating session.

Enjoy five fabulous rides

What’s a super fun day out without the rides? There are five to check out at Snow Time in the Garden this year. There’s the lovely, gentle Venetian carousel, a twenty-five metre Ferris wheel, a speedy swing chair to get your heart racing, a thrilling superslide, and our all-time carnival favourite – the twisty teacups!

Tuck into hearty winter fare

After all the rides and activities, your tummies will be rumbling. The Hunter Valley Gardens has a heap of food stalls packed with delicious offerings perfect for winter. Think woodfire pizza, ragu pasta, hot cinnamon doughnuts, caramel-dipped churros, stuffed potatoes and more. The Garden Terrace Café will also be open from 9am to 3pm, serving up winter treats.

Playing in Puddles’ Verdict: GO!

Snow Time at Hunter Valley Gardens is honestly one of the happiest and most entertaining events we’ve attended with our kids. Our day was full of new experiences and enormous smiles and as we looked around we saw other families clearly feeling the same.

Sure it isn’t the cheapest activity around – special events such as this rarely are – but if you think about all of the experiences you get and the advantages it has, you’ll soon realise it’s worth every penny.

Your kids can spend an entire day playing in the snow in the glorious sunshine – without risk of blizzard conditions or -5C temperatures. And, drum roll, it’s only an hour away! The drive to the Snowy Mountains is eight hours! (yes, Google might tell you it’s six, but we all know that kids need toilet stops and food stops and just general “I’m going crazy in the car” stops, so the drive always takes a lot longer). If you’re not into skiing, or the cold, or just don’t have the time or money or inclination to drive more or less to Victoria, this is an absolute gem.

Snow Time is one of those special events where the whole family can truly have a fabulous time. Kids and parents beamed as they slid down the toboggan slide; families laughed in the Snow Play Zone; and the ice rink was a real leveller as parents and kids equally struggled to glide with grace. It was fabulous.

Get tickets. It’s wonderful.

Snow Time at Hunter Valley Gardens

When: Saturday 29th June until Sunday 28th July 2024. Snow Time activities open daily from 9:30am-4:30pm. Last Snow Time activity entry is at 3pm. Gardens open daily from 9am-5pm.

Age group: All ages.

Hot tip: Come prepared for the snow. We recommend wearing a waterproof jacket and waterproof pants, as well as gloves. Wear shoes with good grip to stop you slipping over on the snow too. If in doubt, it’s always handy to pack an extra set of clothes!

Entry cost: Adult (16+ yrs) $40. Children (4-15 yrs) $30. Children (3 yrs. & Under) FREE. Family (1ad+2ch) $93. Family (2ad+1ch) $99. Family (2ad+2ch) $122. Extra Child (4-15yrs) $27. You can get annual passes too; see website for details. Snow Time activities (ice skating, giant ice toboggan, snow play and ice cave) are included in your entry.

Ride costs: One single use token is $6 or you can purchase a bonus six token pack for $30. Ride tokens can be purchased from the ticket booth located in the event area.

Where: Hunter Valley Gardens, 2090 Broke Road, Pokolbin.
Phone: 02 4998 4000.
Hunter Valley Gardens Snow Time Website

This feature was created in partnership with Hunter Valley Gardens.

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Founder & Editor

After working in print and online media for more than a decade, Katie launched Playing in Puddles in 2017. A mum of three young boys and local of the Central Coast, Katie loves discovering and sharing all that’s happening in our region.