Christmas can be a tough time when you’re traveling as, more often than not, you’re away from your family and usual holiday traditions. The good news is that although it may be a lot warmer than what you’re used to, Sydney during Christmas is one of the most special places to be. Create your own fun, make new friends, and start your own new holiday traditions.
Here are 13 ideas for celebrating Christmas Sydney-style:
For the ultimate Australian experience, the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb is an absolute must. Christmas Day climbs are only available in the afternoon, so be sure to book early to avoid disappointment. The BridgeClimb is closed on the 30th and 31st December so as to allow for the new year fireworks set up. The climb takes 3.5 hours and the view has to be seen to be believed.
The Queen Victoria Building has long been thought of as the most majestic place to shop at Christmas, with an incredible Swarovski Christmas tree and an even more beautiful Swarovski Crystal Garden. For families looking for some special Santa photos, the Crystal Garden is adorned with over 12,000 glistening crystal ornaments, forestry, and traditional Santa settings.
The Christmas windows of the Elizabeth Street David Jones store have long been a favourite tradition of Sydneysiders. Enter inside and you’ll find Santa’s enchanted world, complete with a magic cave, talking tree, and hard working elves.
For one whole month, Darling Harbour will celebrate all things Santa, starting with paddleboat rides on November 29. Each Saturday night there will be fireworks over Cockle Bay, along with carollers dotted here and there, Santa Movies Under the Stars, kids activities and workshops, and more.
There’s fun to be had at Martin Place this Christmas with several interactive activities centred around its giant tree. Text a message to appear on one of the tree branches, play with the tree’s colours using a touch pad kiosk, or hop on the interactive dance pad. There’s also a Street Light Disco, complete with mirror ball effects that will bring some sparkle to the surrounding streets. For those after something sweet, there’s a pop-up dessert bar selling some decadent Christmas treats.
Not to be outdone by Martin Place, the skies above popular shopping precinct Pitt Street Mall will feature an impressive light forest that, should you download the free app, can be controlled from your phone. Change the colour of thousands of LED lights, and further along at King Street and Sydney Town Hall, watch as projections light up the building facades.
The Sydney Fish Markets are the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, and the third largest seafood market in the world. Trading around 500 different species of seafood, this is the place to get your Christmas seafood. You’ll also find a gourmet deli, greengrocer, bakery and restaurants, but be warned, it gets busy during the festive season.
The five weeks leading up to Christmas will be full of laughs at The Comedy Store as they host their annual Christmas Spectacular. Each Thursday, Friday, and Saturday you can sit down to two hours of festive gags by some of Sydney’s best-loved comics.
When: 20 Dec
Australia’s largest free Christmas concert is back for its 32nd year, and this year will see stars such as Samantha Jade, Taylor Henderson, The McClymonts, Lee Kernaghan, and The Wiggles performing Christmas classics on the big stage. If you can’t make it to the real thing, you can watch the show live on the Seven network from 8:30pm.
When: 25 December
Vagabond’s popular Christmas Day cruise takes you on a special journey across Sydney Harbour while serving a three hour luncheon complete with seafood buffet, traditional roasts, fresh salads, and yummy festive desserts. Can’t make it out on Christmas Day? Not to worry, there are plenty of other festive cruises to choose from.
When: 25 December
The world’s most famous beach, Bondi, will be hosting its annual Christmas party, and this year it looks set to be better than ever. From 2pm until 10pm, 24 artists will play across three stages, with a lineup including Ember, Tigerlilly, Social Hooliganz, and Urby. The ticketed event will be hosted by Gary Beadle aka ‘Gaz’ from Geordie Shore.
When: 26 December
This year’s incredible race – which begins on Boxing Day in Sydney Harbour – has seen an impressive 119 entries, the first time it has topped 100 in a decade. This means that there will be three start lines this year, and more excitement for the thousands who flock to the harbour to catch the sensational sight of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Fleet.
When: 31 December
No matter where you locate yourself for New Year’s Eve, if you’re in Sydney, you’re guaranteed a good time. Sydney is famous for its New Year celebrations, with no less than seven major fireworks displays on the Harbour. Leading vantage points for the fireworks include: McMahons Point, Millers Point, Dawes Point Park, Mrs Macquaries Point, Duff Reserve, and Yurulbin Park.