The countdown is on until the launch of this year's It's ON! in Newcastle and Port Stephens signature events series in November, with a fabulous and family-friendly range of activities, festivals, shows, surfing action, historic exhibits and outdoor entertainment set to cement the region's reputation as a premier tourist destination for all ages.
It's ON! for sports fans
From surfing to sailing, action fans will be spoiled for choice this season as Newcastle and Port Stephens play host to the lively Australian Bowl-riding Championships, iconic Surfest and Sail Port Stephens, all in early 2016.
February will see the excitement hot up at the Australian Bowl-riding Championships at Bar Beach's Empire Skate Park for three days of high-adrenaline action at the country's first official -nationals' contest where under 18s, women, open and masters' skaters will ride it out for serious cash prizes.
From 31 January, Surfest will return to Newcastle for the 31st consecutive year, showcasing the very finest local, national and international talent at some of Australia's best loved surf beaches. Key events during the festival include the World Surf League 6000 Burton Automotive Pro (22 – 28 February) at Merewether Beach where the world's best professional male surfers will compete for the coveted Mark Richards trophy, a World Surf League 6000 Women's Classic and the Hunter Business Board Riders' Pro Junior contest supporting our incredible young surfing talent on 20 and 21 February.
The picturesque waterways of the Port Stephens Marine Park will come alive between 11 and 17 April for Sail Port Stephens, an annual yachting regatta hosted at d'Albora Marina, Nelson Bay with plenty of social activities, entertainment and family fun both on and off the water.
It's ON! for family and friends
From museums to acrobatics to harbourside festivities, there's plenty of family-friendly fun for those days when you can drag the kids away from the beach this summer.
Young ones will squeal with delight at Newcastle Museum's blockbuster multimedia experience: Tyrannosaurs – Meet the Family, which shows off the sheer size, sound and spectacle of these fascinating predators for all the family from 31 October until 26 February 2016.
The world-famous Cirque du Soleil will churn up the stage at Newcastle Entertainment Centre from 14 to 24 January with its spellbinding production, Quidam, bringing the imaginary world to life through the performance of 46 acrobats, musicians, actors and singers in an array of astonishing aerial feats and incredible agility.
This year's New Year's Eve celebrations will include an entire afternoon and evening of family-focused entertainment, kicking off from 6pm, including live music, children's circus workshops and the Tim Silivini Duo, followed by the Ben Hanley Band. Circus performers and a brass band will play the whole precinct from 6pm. Plenty of food and drink and Newcastle's iconic fireworks (at 9pm) will complement the festive ambience of the foreshore's Honeysuckle entertainment precinct.
Kickstarting a spectacular series of summery fun right up to Australia Day, Summer in the City is packed full of family-friendly events every day, so why not make your way down to Harbour Square where there is something fantastic for everyone from 8 until 25 January?
Newcastle is renowned for its sensational Australia Day celebrations. The annual Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony will kick things off, followed by all-day entertainment including circus workshops and face painting at Worth Place Park East, live bands, market stalls, guided historic tours of Fort Scratchley and roving bands along the whole precinct.
And since one New Year's party is never enough, join the Newcastle Rotary Club's Lantern Walk on February 13th to light up the city with red lanterns to celebrate the city's maritime heritage on conjunction with Chinese New Year, all while raising money for the Seafarers' Centre in Wickham and the Newcastle Maritime Centre.