Australia & New Zealand | Destination Guides

7 ways Sydney turns on the Christmas charm each year

After spending a magical Christmas in Sydney you’ll understand why Australians love to celebrate the festive season in summer. Most Sydneysiders spend Christmas Day barbecuing at the beach, playing cricket in the backyard or taking hourly dips in their pool. It might not be snowing, but a summer Sydney Christmas is one you will always remember.

A bucket list stop at the top of any trip to Australia, Sydney is a stunning destination year round. Here’s seven ways Sydney truly turns on the charm at Christmastime.

1. It’s beach weather in December

In Sydney the only snowballs you can throw will be made of sand. December is summer and the perfect time to take your festive cheer to the city’s most famous beach. Expect Bondi Beach to be packed with local families, groups of friends, backpackers and visitors catching waves while catching up. Keep an eye for people in Christmas rashies – it’s the sun-safe swim shirt equivalent of an ugly Christmas jumper!

Christmas Day is actually the busiest day of the year for hardworking lifeguards at Bondi Beach. Maybe you’ve seen them on the TV show Bondi Rescue?

Bondi Beach Sydney

2. Seafood is fresh and abundant

Nobody wants to turn the oven on when the weather outside is over 30 degrees celsius (86°F). That’s more often than not the case on Christmas Day all around Australia. Sydney, like much of the country, instead leans into fresh seafood like prawns and oysters paired with salads on Christmas Day. Many families still opt for a roast lunch or dinner with turkey and ham, but sometimes serve it cold too.

Prawns and oysters
Image: Destination NSW

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3. Christmas lasts a whole month here

Forget the 12 days of Christmas, Sydney likes to celebrate for at least a month. From late November the city-wide celebrations kick off with the Christmas tree lighting in Martin Place. It’s the biggest tree in the city and features a mammoth 3.5-metre star that changes colour.

Across the rest of the city, expect to see streets and squares dripping with lights, hotels and shopping destinations putting up lavish decorations and locals battling their neighbours for the best Christmas home lights. Programmed concerts, carols in the park, Christmas markets and other events will pop up all around the city too.  

Christmas tree Martin Place
Image: Destination NSW

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4. The city has a mapped out festive walk

Take this self-guided wander, with the help of an app, through the city’s best Christmas decorations and light displays. Highlights along the way include Sydney’s tallest tree with 110,000 LED lights and the Canopy of Light, a sparkling installation with 85,000 lights and 10 two-metre high mega stars. This is the best way to explore all the dazzling lights and festive fun while getting to know what the City of Sydney has to offer.

Illuminated building in Sydney
Image: Destination NSW

5. Swap family time for kangaroo time

It’s a well known fact that Santa employs the help of 12 white “boomers” to pull his sleigh through Australia. No, we’re not talking about Baby Boomers. These boomers are big, muscular male kangaroos. While not in the service of the big man in red you might catch them feeding at Wildlife Sydney. Here native wildlife gets in on the festive spirit each year and at nearby Taronga Zoo, you can catch a family Christmas concert with carols and sing-a-longs in the evening after exploring the park.

6. Make a list, shop it twice

Between the shopping malls and pop-up Christmas markets, it’s easy to find unique gifts and souvenirs for your loved ones back home. The main shopping destinations in Sydney offer luxury and high street Australian brands, while the markets are the place to find artisans and small makers. Local artists love to illustrate Santa hats on koalas, kangaroos and other native animals that they make into cute Christmas cards and tea towels for the perfect stocking stuffer.

RELATED CONTENT: 5 things to do in Sydney to fix your wanderlust in 2020

7. Cruise the harbour on Christmas Day

Christmas is a time to be with your family and loved ones, but if you happen to be away over the festive season why not make the day worth remembering? Forget heading to a hotel buffet for your festive feast fix of turkey and Christmas pudding. Take to the water and soak in views of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House while tucking into plates of fresh prawns and cocktail sauce, roast potatoes and pavlova. 

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Have you experienced Christmas in Australia? Tell us about your favourite memories in the comments below…

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