Things to do in Sydney

Christmas Events in Sydney for Festive Celebrations

Christmastime doesn’t mean snow and hot chocolate in Sydney. Experience the festivities in a whole new light.

Maybe it’s the bright lights or festive cheer. Something about Christmas just brings our dreams and imagination to life in December.

Whether it’s traditional Christmas tales, the joy of the children who celebrate, or the festivities themselves, one thing's for sure. Christmas is a time for loved ones to gather.

From traditional events to Christmas ballets, the holidays are a time of cheer. There's so much to do during the holidays. Luckily for you, we’ve gathered some of the best Christmas events in Sydney to help you enjoy the holiday season in true Australian style.

Traditional Christmas Celebrations

In the Northern Hemisphere, Christmas recalls snow-covered trees, hot chocolate, and warm fuzzy sweaters.

In Sydney, however, Christmas falls firmly in the summer season. Nevertheless, all sorts of traditional Christmas celebrations take place, embracing the warmer weather and longer days while delighting the senses.

Whether you’re looking for dazzling Christmas lights or Christmas markets for your holiday shopping, there are all sorts of things to do in Sydney.

1. Martin Place Christmas Tree

Nothing says Christmas quite like a sparkling Christmas tree towering over you. The Christmas Tree at Martin Place is the tallest Christmas tree in New South Wales.

This Christmas tree is truly a sight to behold, featuring 330 glass baubles and a massive, 3.4-meter color-changing on top. This Christmas tree is truly a sight to behold, with 330 specially cultivated glass baubles and a massive, 3.4-meter color-changing on top. The tree’s hundreds of branches are adorned with 15,000 flowers, representing nine of the most notable Australian flowers. It's a testament to the country’s unique flora.

Throughout December, the tree lights up in an unforgettable light show lasting 15 minutes. Choirs sing traditional Christmas carols beside it.

Around the tree, there are Christmas markets and a Santa’s Workshop photo booth. Here, elves work around the clock to create a fantastical experience for believers and dreamers, young and old.

Daylight view of the iconic Martin Place Christmas tree decorated for the season in Sydney, Australia.

2. Pitt Street Mall Canopy of Light

There are even more dazzling lights just minutes from the Martin Place Christmas tree at the Pitt Street Mall Canopy of Light. Walking below thousands of glimmering LED lights elevates the whole experience.

Here, you can get your Christmas shopping done on walking paths illuminated by suspended golden light. Or, simply stop and admire them while people-watching. On Thursdays and weekends, carolers add to the ambiance with their music.

The lights remain on until 1 a.m. for the month of December, giving ample time to enjoy this illuminated Christmas display.

3. The Rocks Christmas Market

At The Rocks December markets, you’ll feel like you’re in a movie, with people happily shopping and streets lined with lights and Christmas trees.

Of course, there’s no snow in this Australian market, but it’s an unforgettable experience nonetheless. You’ll discover all sorts of local brands and support local businesses at the myriad of stands comprising the street market.

You’ll find almost everything from jewelry and handcrafted leather bags to candles and delicious bites. Indulge in Christmas classics, such as mulled wine. It's the perfect place to pick up some souvenirs or get a bit of holiday shopping out of the way.

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4. Paddington Christmas Night Markets

Each Christmas season, Paddington Markets transforms into a holiday wonderland. The Paddington Christmas Night Market surrounds the Paddington Uniting Church. It offers a setting where people can live their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs, selling their wares to all who approach.

There are over 150 stalls at this not-for-profit artisan market. Locals offer everything from creative fashion to vibrant handmade candles.

Family-Friendly Events

Family-friendly Christmas events not only bring your family members together. They also help create annual traditions and unforgettable memories with loved ones. These are our top picks for family-friendly Christmas events in Sydney.

5. The Australian Ballet’s The Nutcracker

No matter where you live in the world, The Nutcracker is a Christmas staple, bringing the holiday to life through the eyes of a child. Watching the Australian Ballet’s The Nutcracker is a true treat. Tchaikovsky's music and expert choreography come together, bringing this 19th-century classic to life.

This is a Sydney musical we can get behind. Clara, a young ballet student, celebrates with her family on Christmas Eve. When the clock strikes midnight, she enters the dream world. There, her nutcracker guides her on a journey through the Land of Sweets to the Nutcracker Prince.

Younger children marvel at the stunning costumes and lilting melodies. Older family members can appreciate the artistry and skill that goes into performing such a classic. Whether you go once to experience the show or you choose to make this part of your annual holiday traditions, it's an experience not to be missed.

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6. Sydney Opera House Christmas Concert

Bring on the Christmas cheer at one of the city’s most iconic venues. The Sydney Opera House was built with exceptional skill that parallels that of the performers who grace its stages.

With its curved, sail-shaped shells, the venue itself has been deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's a must-visit while in Sydney. If you happen to be in town at Christmastime, there’s something extra special awaiting you.

During the holiday season, the Sydney Opera House hosts Carols at the House. Shows typically rotate frequently, with some including the entire dinner and show experience. Be sure to browse what’s available in advance and book tickets early. This is an incredibly popular experience, and tickets can sell out quickly.

Religious Services

Christmas nowadays is as much a secular holiday as it is religious for many people. But, we’d be remiss to leave out traditional religious services in the area. At these religious services, everyone is welcome to experience the festivities.

7. St. Mary’s Cathedral Christmas Mass

St. Mary’s Cathedral is one of Australia's most significant buildings, first built in the early 1800s and destroyed in 1865 by fire.

It’s since been rebuilt, rising from the ashes as the magnificent Gothic revival building it’s known as today. Built from golden Sydney sandstone, it was the first Catholic church in the nation, and its splendor remains for all to appreciate.

St. Mary's Cathedral Christmas Day mass is a tradition ripe with celebration and can be attended in person or watched live-stream. The cathedral puts on a vivid light show every night leading up to the main event, and people flock for entertainment and food.

Even if you don’t attend the religious services, a trip to St. Mary’s Cathedral is a way to experience Christmas Sydney style.

Photographer: Kina

8. St. Andrew’s Cathedral Christmas Services

Situated in the heart of Sydney, St. Andrew’s Cathedral hosts an Evangelical ministry with daily services. The building recalls the English Gothic revival architecture popular during the mid-19th century.

Christmas events at St. Andrew's Cathedral abound the week before the big day. The halls fill with the exalted voices of attendees singing carols. They typically involve carols and a communion service, complete with an organ accompaniment and a sermon.

On Christmas Day, the archbishop leads two services, with the Christmas celebration hosted on a live stream. Come back a few days later for one of Sydney's more popular religious New Year's Eve events.

Unique Sydney Christmas Experiences

Looking for something less traditional to do to celebrate the season? In Sydney, all sorts of less conventional events and traditions take place. Join the locals and experience the holiday through their eyes at these unique Sydney Christmas experiences.

9. Bondi Beach Christmas Day Picnic

In Australia, Christmas is the perfect occasion to picnic and barbecue, and Bondi Beach is one of the prime locations. If you’re a tourist, you might not be accustomed to soaking up some rays on Christmas, but it’s a great way to join in on the local culture. Celebrate Christmas Day at Bondi Beach with a picnic for a whole new way to enjoy holiday cheer.

On Christmas Day, it’s not uncommon to see sunseekers decked out in red swimsuits and donning traditional Santa hats atop their heads. Some ambitious beachgoers even drag their Christmas tree along with them to set up next to their beach towels.

Pack a picnic, and throw on your best Christmas gear to join the festivities. If you want a prime spot, show up early. This is one of the most popular Christmas traditions in the area, and the beach will be positively teeming with festive visitors.

Photographer: Simone Viani

10. Carols by the Sea at Bondi Beach

Also at Bondi Beach, Carols by the Sea is a Christmas event that pops up in early December each year for one night only. While it’s hosted at Bondi Beach in 2024, the event is occasionally hosted at surrounding beaches, such as Coogee Beach and Woolgoolga Beach. Be sure to check beforehand to ensure you arrive at the right location.

Entertainers of all kinds take the stage. Catch young performers to choirs serenading the audience with Christmas classics. The performances are free, and song sheets are available so you can sing along.

However, the numerous activities that dot the beach may come with fees. Face painting, craft booths, and food options spread across the sandy shores, and funds raised go to local charities. Be sure to bring the whole family with you for a night full of festivities.

11. Christmas Lunch Cruise on Sydney Harbour

Don’t want to cook an elaborate meal for Christmas in Sydney? The Christmas Day Lunch cruise on the Harbor takes the effort out of the day, leaving you free to enjoy the festivities and relax with those you love most.

Hop aboard the ship and spend three fabulous hours seeing some of Sydney's best scenery. The cruise typically departs from Darling Harbour, drifting up past the Sydney Opera House and into Sydney Harbour. Then, it loops back around past the Royal Botanic Gardens before returning to its starting point.

This event is perfect for dressing up in your Christmas best and celebrating the day. Select from one of three decks, each offering a different menu that’s announced when the tickets go live for purchase.

12. Boxing Day Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race Viewing Cruise

While family barbeques and cricket matches are a part of it, the biggest celebration of all is the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. People across the nation gather around to watch it on TV, but if you’re in Sydney already for the big day, you can get an even better view.

Captain Cook Cruises hosts its annual Boxing Day Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race cruise. If you get a spot on the cruiseliner, you’ll be able to watch the start of this 628-mile race up close and personal, skipping the crowds lining the shore.

Listen to the live commentary while sipping premium beverages and eating gourmet canapés as you enjoy a day of luxury under the sun.

Discover the Joy and Magic in Sydney’s Christmas Festivities

Christmas holds a special place in so many people’s hearts. In Sydney, this shows in its own unique way, with all sorts of Christmas staples that put a unique spin on the holiday.

We love how the festivities in Sydney, like the annual Boxing Day yacht race and picnicking on the beach, aren't quite like other traditions.

We know the importance of symbolism in living art. It’s what we do best. Our shows embrace these qualities too. We know all about crafting unforgettable stories with cutting-edge visuals and stellar music.

Catch one of our shows in Sydney. You'll be in awe at our performers’ feats of legendary athleticism. We’ll take you on a visceral emotional journey through otherworldly settings. Our creative storylines will immerse you right alongside the characters.

When you come to see us, you’ll see just how far imagination can carry you and learn about breaking past perceived limitations. After all, we don’t believe the sky's the limit when it comes to storytelling — we believe there’s no limit at all.

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