Sydney / Lifestyle / What to do in Sydney over the Christmas Holidays

What to do in Sydney over the Christmas Holidays

The festive season is almost upon us, and in Sydney, that means a sparkly line-up of parties giving way to long, lazy days in the sunshine. They all lead up to Christmas and New Year, those glorious couple of weeks when you don’t really know – or care – what day it is. If you’re spending your holiday break at home, you’re in for a treat! From beaches to boats, museums to markets, here’s how to make the most of your time off over the festive break.

Christmas Events in Sydney

Festive Party at Jamie's Italian

Gather your friends and tuck into delectable holiday feast at Jamie's Italian. With a range of festive menus on offer, you'll be spoilt for choice with their delicious lunch and dinner packages. Starting at $40pp, upgrade your meal and add the drinks package. Believe us, you won't be disappointed. 

107 Pitt Street, Sydney 

Sleep Amongst Botanics at West Hotel

The team at West Hotel are hosting a special summer activation where guest can sleep in a stunning botanical-inspired room. With beautiful botanics by Sydney florists The Hunted Yard suspended from the roof, the room takeover also include items from Melbourne-based textile design brand, Bonnie and Neil.

The package includes:

  • Overnight accommodation for two in the Bonnie and Neil-styled Banksia Deluxe Room
  • Full breakfast at Solander Dining for two
  • Two ‘Summer of Gin’ Archie Rose cocktails and bar snack menu items at Solander Dining
  • Biology Skin 2-Step “In the Buff” gift pack 

December 2018 to mid-January 2019

Priced from $332 per night

65 Sussex St, Sydney

Boulevarde of Light

Pitt Street Mall will turn into a canopy of twinkling lights and Christmas lights. During the week there will be carols on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday nights between 6-8pm.

Until 1st January 2019


Pitt Street Mall, Sydney CBD

Sydney Santa Spectacular

Round up the kids and head to Rosehill Racecourse for this festival. The entry fee includes unlimited amusement rides and access to all of the festival’s features, including the Little Elves Craft Workshop and Enchanting Winter Forest, where snow falls daily.

7th-27th December

From $40

Rosehill Gardens

Carols in the Domain

The much-loved outdoor concert is back again, for its 36th year. Go early to score a spot, and spend the night singing along to your favourite Christmas songs and carols. 

Monday 17th December


The Domain

Christmas lunch at Mode Bar & Kitchen

Get yourself in the festive spirit at Mode Bar & Kitchen this Christmas Day, who will be treating diners to a luxurious gourmet spread. Feast on festive classics including fresh Sydney rock oysters, roast turkey with all the trimmings, wood-roasted snapper and Tuscan-style Porchetta, all washed down, naturally, with a glass of the finest French Champagne. Tempted much?

Tuesday 25th December 

Lunch $190pp; dinner $175pp

Four Seasons Hotel Sydney,  199 George St, The Rocks

Boxing Day Events in Sydney

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

Make your way down to Darling Harbour to watch the boats set sail for the world-famous yacht race, which finishes up in Tassie. Otherwise, pack a picnic and spot them from Milk Beach (Vaucluse), North Head National Park (Manly) or Headland Park (Mosman).

The Huskisson Carnival

On the South Coast, this family-friendly kicks off on Boxing Day. Known as ‘The Husky,’ it’ll have roller coasters, dodgem cars, an outdoor roller-skating rink and a jumping castle.

26th December- 28th January

Tomerong Street, Huskisson

Shop the sales

For shoppers, Boxing Day is synonymous with sales. Rise, shine and line up for your local Westfield or department store, or bargain-hunt from the comfort of your bed.

Go to the movies

Those long-awaited summer flicks drop the day after Christmas. Be one of the first to see Aquaman, Cold War, The Favourite, VICE or Ralph Breaks the Internet (for the kids and kids at heart).

Climb the Harbour Bridge

If you haven’t climbed the ‘coathanger,’ skip the crowds and do it on Boxing Day. Admire the city skyline and the harbour glittering in all its glory, and you’ll remember just how lucky you are to live in Sydney!   

Explore a museum or gallery

A bunch of the city’s best cultural destinations  will be open on Boxing Day. Check out the Australian Museum, Australian Maritime Museum, Powerhouse Museum, Art Gallery of NSW or the Museum of Contemporary Art – its Today, Tomorrow, Yesterday exhibition is nothing short of show-stopping.

Ballina Boxing Day Races

In the Byron area? Dress up and head to the Ballina Jockey Club for the annual horse race.

Racecourse Road, Ballina

Watch the cricket

The Boxing Day test match is an Aussie tradition. Switch it on at home, or go to a sports bar like Churchill’s Sports Bar (Kingsford) or Pyrmont Bridge Hotel (Pyrmont).

New Year's Day in Sydney

Field Day

Kick off your year with a day of live music in The Domain. In 2019, the festival will be headlined by the likes of CHVRCHES, Cardi B, Migos and Rufus.

Client Liaison at Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel

The duo will be spinning the decks for the harbourfront pub’s annual NYD party. Expect 80’s nostalgia, a menu to match, and those million-dollar views, all day long.

From $226.08

1 Military Rd, Watsons Bay

Get a culture fix

The Sydney Opera House, Hyde Park Barracks Museum, SEA Life Sydney Aquarium, WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo and Taronga Zoo will all be open on NYD.

Things to Do Over the Sydney Summer

Be a tourist in your own city

Fall in love with Sydney all over again with stand-up paddleboarding in Manly, fish n’ chips at Watsons Bay, sunset drinks at Opera Bar and the other top touristy activities that locals love. Or, work your way through our guide to three days in Sydney.

Set off on a hike

From the beaches to the bush, the city and its surrounds are just waiting to be explored. Lace up your walking shoes and tackle one of the best day hikes in Sydney. If you’d rather stick to relaxed, scenic walks, these are our favourites.

Wander a little further from home

Hop in the car and cruise to the top hiking trails in Central Coast, Blue Mountains or South Coast.

Go all the way up – to the city’s best rooftop bars

These are our sky-high picks.

Escape to the Central Coast

Just 90 minutes north of the city, the Central Coast is breathtakingly beautiful, with a burgeoning dining scene. Find out where to eat, play and stay in our guide.  

Or the South Coast

See the whitest sand in the world up close with a trip to Jervis Bay on the South Coast. Then, linger a little longer to soak up the coast’s foodie scene – and its romantic side.

Or the Blue Mountains

Three hours from Sydney, the misty mountains have so much to offer: art, adventure, culture, culinary delights and pure peace and quiet. Set aside a couple of days for a Blue Mountains getaway.

Or the Hunter Valley

Discover the other side of wine country with our family-friendly guide to the Hunter Valley.

Or the Hawkesbury

On the outskirts of Sydney, the Hawkesbury is gorgeous, with lush wilderness, walking trails, charming towns and hints of colonial history at every turn.

Sleep under the stars

Forget about leaving your creature comforts behind. These glamping spots near Sydney are seriously luxe – and there’s nothing better than sharing stories over a roaring fire.

Do a day trip to Palm Beach

At the tip of the Northern Beaches, Palm Beach is the quintessential summer destination, and it’s only an hour from the CBD. Tuck into brunch at The Boathouse, splash out on lunch at Jonah’s, and work it all off with the Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk.

Catch the ferry to Manly

Eat, sip, swim and live like a local during a day in Manly, and don’t be surprised if you start contemplating a move up north!

Unleash your inner child at Luna Park

The amusement park will be open every day over the break except Christmas Day and NYE for repeat rides on the Rotor and Wild Mouse, plus all the fairy floss you want.

Go on a road trip

Create a playlist, pack some snacks and head off on one of the best drives outside Sydney.

Learn how to surf

It’s only fitting to do it at Sydney’s most iconic beach, Bondi, where Let’s go Surfing runs a two-hour beginner course. It runs classes in Maroubra, too.

Check out the Chinese Garden of Friendship

It may be in the middle of the city, but the garden feels like a world away. Weave your way through the bamboo forests and stone bridges until you get to the lake, where you’ll spot the Dragon Wall and schools of koi.

Swim in an ocean pool

Ocean pools offer the best of both worlds. Don your cossies and refresh with a dip at McCallum Pool (Cremorne), Bronte Baths (Bronte), McMahon Pool (Maroubra), Wylies Baths (Coogee), Bondi Icebergs (Bondi), Fairlight Rock Pool (Fairlight) or the South Curl Curl Rockpool (Curl Curl).

Enjoy a scenic picnic lunch

Stretch out in the sun at Sydney’s best picnic spots with a view. We love Barangaroo Reserve (Barangaroo), Blackwattle Bay Park (Glebe), Bradfield Park (Milson’s Point), Centennial Park and Clifton Gardens (Mosman).

Saddle up for horse-riding at Centennial Park

The park is lush and flush with activities, and now that you have the time, why not try horse-riding? Centennial Stables, Papillon Riding School and Sydney Horse will take you on a ride around the 3.6km track.


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