A 3-day Christmas itinerary in Sydney
It really is the most wonderful time of the year. And there’s no better place to spend Christmas than Sydney.
For the whole month of December, Sydney is in Christmas mode; expect lights, trees, carols and gifts galore all across the city. Plan a visit to the Harbour City during the festive season to experience a magical Christmas under sunny skies. And if you can extend your stay, Sydney’s New Year’s Eve celebrations are famous around the world.
The largest Christmas tree in the state stands tall in Martin Place; standing more than 24m tall, it’s ringed with 110,000 LED lights, decorated with 330 specially created glossy baubles and topped with a 3.4m colour-changing star. The 800 branches hold 15,000 flowers, made up of nine different kinds of Australian natives – banksia, waratah, bottlebrush, wattle, eucalyptus gum flower, kangaroo paw, flannel flower, pink wax flower and white wax flower.
Check in to the hotel with the best view of the tree; The Fullerton Hotel Sydney. Occupying the historic former General Post Office Building, as well as a modern tower, it’s a stylish blend of history and luxury. Opt for one of the heritage rooms that overlook Martin Place – and the iconic tree.
The show begins at 7pm, with the tree erupting in a kaleidoscope of light and colour every 15 minutes. Once you’ve had your fill, wander up Martin Place to admire the more than 4,000 icicle lights that are strung above the walkway. Then turn into Pitt Street Mall, where the Canopy of Light awaits with another 85,000 LEDs strung between the buildings along with 10 stunning two-metre-high stars.
Before heading back to the hotel, stop off at Bar 83 for a Seasonal Spritz (a mix of white rum, rhubarb and strawberry liqueur, rosé syrup, pineapple and prosecco) while enjoying 260-degree views of the Sydney skyline.
Take things slowly with a leisurely breakfast at The Place, The Fullerton’s signature restaurant. By the time you’ve finished your pancakes or eggs, you can step straight out into the festive cheer of the Martin Place Christmas Market (every Thursday to Saturday from 25 November to 23 December). Browse an array of stalls featuring gifts, food and fresh produce, all with a backdrop of the grandest decorations.
If you need more Christmas gifts, head back to Pitt Street Mall, where you’ll a large selection of major retail chains. David Jones is, of course, a must-stop to admire the Christmas window displays, an annual tradition that has been celebrated since 1838. Other festive activities at the department store include having high tea with Santa, sipping on a glass of champagne at the pop-up Christian Louboutin Bar and singing along with the in-store Christmas choir.
Don’t miss the Strand Arcade, one of the city’s finest shopping arcades that dates back to 1881. It’s lined with local high-end designers and chic boutiques, and during the holiday season will be decked out with a spectacular display of Christmas decorations inspired by the Australian landscape.
Just a further two-minute walk down the road, check out the Queen Victoria Building’s Christmas tree. Inspired by Australia’s native Wollemi pine, the decorations – which include interactive art installations, such as a soundscape of the nation’s endangered birds – were designed in collaboration with First Nations artists from Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative. Guided tours from the top (Level 2) to the bottom (Ground Floor) of the tree are available. Afterwards, book into the High Tea with Santa experience, set under the glistening chandeliers of the Tea Room QVB, or indulge in a decadent cup of the TikTok-viral French hot chocolate at Manon Brasserie.
Wander over to Deck the Harbour - Darling Harbour Christmas tonight for bright lights and plenty of family-friendly fun. Get out on the water on pedal boats, get competitive during a game of mini-golf, watch the weekend fireworks, write letters to Santa, get crafty at Santa's workshop, have a dance-off with Santa's DJ helpers and much more. And with more than 150 places to eat and drink, you can happily spend the whole night by the water bathed in the glow of Christmas lights.
For those looking for that perfect Instagram shot, stroll 15min up to the Barangaroo Precinct to get a pic on the Barangaroo Bells – three gigantic interactive Christmas bells with inbuilt swings that light up (and play music) every time you reach the top.
Take the short walk down to Sydney’s oldest neighbourhood today for Christmas Wonderlanes, an immersive installation that takes over The Rocks’ picturesque laneways. From Friday to Sunday, a special Christmas edition of
Sydney's hottest new restaurant has opened its doors just in time for the festive season. Housed in a heritage-listed building in The Rocks dating back to 1838, indulge in a long lunch of Mediterranean plates cooked over charcoal at Le Foote. Try the cheese pie or calamari and pancetta skewers, before moving onto mains such as barramundi or rib eye cooked over charcoal and served with sides.
Once the sun sets, take a seat in one of the bean bags or deck chairs to watch a movie under the stars at the Laneway Cinema. All throughout December, Christmas classics are screened against the stunning backdrop of Playfair Street's sandstone buildings and cobbled lanes – and entry is free!
Leave some time before or after the film to wander down to the Jolly Market surrounding Circular Quay's Customs House. Inspired by Europe's Christmas markets and running from 15-22 December, the festive fun includes wooden huts, artisanal giftwares, delicious food and wine, and live music.
Hot tip: Download the Sydney Culture Walks app to for a guide to the city’s must-see Christmas lights and events on your mobile.
Spending New Year’s Eve in Sydney?
Spending New Year’s Eve in Sydney?
With its world-famous fireworks, exclusive island parties, harbour cruises and rooftop bars with spectacular views, Sydney is the best place in the world to ring in the new year. Discover the best places to watch the fireworks, exclusive events and more.