There’s no time of year more joyous and festive than Christmas. A lot of people choose to use the holidays to rest and recharge. We usually dream of a white Christmas, with a lot of snow, hot chocolate, presents and cookies for Santa. It rarely even occurs to us that, on the other side of the globe, Christmas actually marks the beginning of summer! A visit to Australia during the holidays is a completely different experience to what most of us are used to, and a brilliant way to step out of the routine.
Sydney is a gorgeous metropolis, full of tourists, interesting events and fascinating sights. During the holidays, it offers a plethora of possibilities for a great time. Here are some things you shouldn’t miss!
#1. Tree Lighting
What better event to mark the start of the season than the annual lighting of the tree at Martin Place? The event usually takes place at the end of November, and is accompanied by a concert. Thousands of families gather at the event and take part in the city decorations.
The lighting of the tallest tree in Sydney is usually followed by spectacular fireworks. Although the air is balmy and warm, Christmas cheer spreads as Santa arrives on his sleigh. The location later hosts various other festive events in the days leading up to Christmas. Other parts of the town are decorated as well, and the whole city seems to twinkle and shimmer, making it a sight to behold.
If you miss the event, make up for it by visiting St Mary’s Cathedral any day before Christmas, to marvel at the glorious light and sound show called “Joy to the World”.
#2. Shopping for Presents
While Sydney is a great place to shop at any time of the year, the holiday season elevates the experience and imbues it with magic and cheer. Carolers can be found in many of the malls, shops and boutiques providing the sounds of Christmas spirit and joy.
The shops are decorated meticulously in different styles. If you prefer to shop in the open, head down to The Rocks any Friday leading up to Christmas. You will find The Rocks Very Merry Markets, where you can purchase cute handmade gifts and local seasonal produce for your nearest and dearest.
#3. Enjoy Holiday Delicacies
If you love eating (and who doesn’t?), you absolutely shouldn’t miss the Christmas Fare. This annual event, organized as part of the Sydney Living Museums program, is held at the Hyde Park Barracks Museum. Local chefs and artisans gather to present and sell traditional and modern takes on holiday treats and specialties.
Take the opportunity to stock up on delectable, fresh, homemade Christmas treats. Gourmet hampers found at the Fare are an amazing gift for any foodie in your life. The Fare also features live entertainment that you can enjoy with a drink in your hand, from the open bar.
#4. Jingle Bells and Other Merry Sounds
Nothing can put you in the holiday mood better than music. If you enjoy traditional Christmas choirs, you can listen to them every evening at Martin Place, and every Thursday in Pitt Street Mall. Many parts of the town will host free concerts in the days before the holiday, and Santa is rumored to be making an appearance at every one.
One of the most beloved Sydney traditions is Carols in the Domain – a free concert where a surprise guest comes to perform Christmas songs. Previous years, Sydneysiders have enjoyed performances by such superstars as Hugh Jackman and Josh Groban. People flock to the location with their picnic blankets and celebrate the holiday season by singing along to their favorite songs.
#5. Eat, Drink, Be Merry and Enjoy the Fireworks!
Darling Harbour is amazing any time of the year, but especially during the holidays. The world famous skyline shimmers brighter than ever at this special time of the year. Every December, the city organizes a feast for your eyes at Darling Harbour.
For twelve days before the big day, fireworks light up the sky above the harbour. The best way to enjoy the fireworks is to combine it with Sydneysiders’ favorite pastime – heading to a great bar for a few drinks and a festive bite to eat. Choose one of the many Darling Harbour restaurants, preferably one with a great view of the display, embrace the Australian way, and don’t forget to have fun!
All of the wonderful events culminate on Christmas Day. If there is one thing that Australians absolutely excel at – it’s partying! As Christmas Day draws to a close, parties pop up in bars and restaurants all over the city. Many hotels take care to prepare a special evening for their guests.
Tourists are treated to a holiday dinner, followed by a party to cap off the festivities. However, as hotels can be expensive, it might be a good idea to share accommodation in Sydney with fellow travelers.
Wouldn’t it be strange and wonderful to, at least once, experience a different Christmas, in your bathing suit, at the beach? In Sydney, you can!