This riverside festival has your summer on the river sorted

Above: watch how fun the Slip’N’Dip is.

A waterpark on the River, floating cinema, free all-day kids activities, giant inflatable artworks, circus workshops, fireworks, food trucks. It’s a Murray River summer dream.

Drumroll please… yes folks, the Murray River Splash Festival is here to save parents this summer school holidays.

Because we know, when the novelty of Christmas gifts wear off, and as most parents start to prepare for the imminent whinge-fest about to echo through the house: “I’m bored – there’s nothing to do!” it pays to be prepared.

Yes, the challenge of the summer holidays is upon us – and we’re not talking about the heatwaves making us sweat from places we didn’t even know existed… we’re talking about something far more challenging and complex – entertaining the kids for the month of January.

Luckily for Adelaide families (and those nearby) the Splash Festival will save you for at least the first 26 days of 2020. This event is so good that it’s returned after its inaugural kick off in 2019, and you’ll have 26 opportunities to get involved in the fun until the festival wraps up on Australia Day.

For the record, this event isn’t limited to the kids. Adults will find something to do too – keep reading…

It all begins from New Year’s Eve with a party held at Sturt Reserve, the premier riverfront event space in Murray Bridge sitting on the edge of the famous Murray River and home to our famous Bertha the Bunyip. What a spot to welcome the new year, right!? Expect the launch event to impress with more than enough all-ages free activities and food trucks to keep you entertained right up until you find a spot on the grass to watch the fireworks at 9:45pm.

If you’ve already secured your stay over January in (or close to) Murray Bridge, then you might already be on to this. But for those looking for a short stay or day trip, let us give you the run-down:

Last year’s leading favourite, the Slip’n’Dip is back by popular demand, offering one-hour high-adrenalin sessions of guaranteed fun (for ages 5 and up) on their giant inflatable waterpark each day. It will be twice as big as 2019’s set-up, so challenge your friends to see who can make it around the course without falling off (we bet you can’t!).


Above: the inflatable Slip’N’Dip course with the iconic landmark bridges in the background.

Pick up the golf club and take to the mini golf course with the river as your backdrop. It’s a perfect activity to do with friends and family (or maybe to include as part of a summer date night) and it’s available every day of the festival. Continue the fun with a game of bocce, giant Connect 4 or Jenga down by the riverside beach. If the pressure of the game is making you sweat, take a dip in the supervised swimming area.

Adults will be wishing they could transform into kids again, because it’s the youngsters that will have most of the fun on-land, with loads of fun, free amusements available every Wednesday to Sunday. This includes (but is not limited to) laser tag, bouncy castles, Nylon Zoo giant inflatable artworks, circus workshops, Sandcastle City, Lego Build and Smash, rock climbing and more. Make sure you check the festival program to help plan your visit and work your itinerary around when each activity is available.

After all of those activities your squad would have worked up an appetite. If it’s a Friday or Saturday night, you need to visit the fully-licensed Sand Bar – yes you heard right, we’re talking drinks right on the river’s edge as well! You can grab a casual meal here too, otherwise nearby food trucks will offer classic carnival foods that the kids love (ie. hot chips, hotdogs, fairy floss, cinnamon donuts and more).


If you’re looking for a premium feed, we recommend booking a table at Riverscape Food & Wine (open from 9 January) which sits smack-bang in the middle of the Reserve and taking in some of the best views of the River and dual historic bridges. And it’s not only the views that it make it worth a visit here, it’s the whole dining experience – including a new summer menu of seafood laksa, pan-fried gnocchi, thai chicken salad or one of their woodfired pizzas.


Above: cool down with a fresh smoothie or get your coffee fix at Mojo’s, located in the Murray Bridge Marketplace.

(Or if you’re keen for some retail therapy during the after Christmas sales, head up the hill to the shopping mall and grab yourself a quick treat from Mojo’s, one of the best little coffee haunts in town.)

Stay a little longer for front row seats to a riverside sunset. Switch up seating arrangements and get comfy at the water-based cinema – this includes the first screening of the all-time classic, Jaws (fortunately there’s no sharks to worry about in our River). You’ll only get two Friday nights to enjoy this quirky style of cinema, so make sure you plan head.


Above: make time to visit the giraffes at Monarto Safari Park while you’re here. Image by: @bygabrielle.

We’re telling you now, Splash Festival deserves to be added to your summer holiday to-do list. Not only because it offers great day and night activities outdoors, but it’s only a mere 50-minute drive from Adelaide. But let’s be honest, with all of this action available to families, one day is not enough to take in the whole experience – plus you’ve got Monarto Safari Park only 10 minutes from town, The Bend Motorsport Park 15 minutes in the other direction and the Karoonda silo art to add to your list of things to see.


Above: choose from an extensive range of premium holiday shacks like this from River Shack Rentals.

So check in to some local riverside accommodation via our friends at River Shack Rentals or Unforgettable Houseboats and plan an extra few nights with us.

This will be the best 26 days of your summer on the Murray River, so lock it in the calendar now!