The streets are aglow with holiday lights and the Christmas vibes in the air have put a spring in our step. With exhibitions, immersive events, festive lights, nostalgia-filled art crawls and dazzling musicals, Sydney is ending 2023 with a flourish. The silly season is stocked to the brim with activities for cultural connoisseurs, foodies and music buffs. Here are some exciting things to do this December in Sydney.
1. Dig out your beret for the Le Jolly Christmas market
The team behind the Bastille Festival is returning with the popular Le Jolly Market and it comes with shopping, dreamy jazz music, authentic wood huts and all the French food and vibes. Plus there’s jewellery, toys, distillery, Christmas snow globes, clothing, organic tea, and French gourmet goods. Find it in front of Customs House from December 15-22.
2. Celebrate Christmas at St Mary’s Cathedral
One of Sydney’s favourite holiday traditions — Christmas at the Cathedral is returning from December 14 to 25 with lots of festive fun for everyone. Dreamy projections, food trucks, Christmas carols and markets are all on the agenda this year. Head here for the details.
3. See the wonderful Beauty and the Beast musical
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast musical is continuing its run throughout the holiday season. The splendid production stars Shubshri Kandiah as Belle and Brendan Xavier as Beast and features stunning sets, costume design, and state-of-the-art technology. Book your tickets here.
Attend one of Sydney’s beautiful Candlelight concerts and get lost in a number of familiar tunes this December. Tickets are available to tribute shows to Hans Zimmer, Ludovico Einaudi and more.
🕯️Candlelight: Hans Zimmer’s Best Works at SMC
🕯️Candlelight: Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake & More ft. Ballet at The Concourse
🕯️Candlelight: Tribute to Ludovico Einaudi
🕯️ Candlelight: Best of Joe Hisaishi at St. Stephens Uniting Church
🕯️ Candlelight: Holiday Pop Classics
🕯️Candlelight x Sofitel: Christmas Special Love Actually, Home Alone & more
5. Enjoy Carols in the Domain
Woolworths Carols in the Domain returns on Saturday, December 16 with some of Australia’s biggest stars coming together for a huge Christmas celebration. This year’s line-up includes The Wiggles, Dami Im, Casey Donovan and more. Get more information here.
6. Get into the holiday spirit with Love Actually in Concert
What’s a better way to welcome the festive season than binging on Christmas classics? This December you can elevate the experience and watch Love Actually with a live orchestra on December 16 at the ICC. The Christmas staple is still super rewatchable and even better with a live orchestra playing the movie’s memorable soundtrack.
7. Don’t miss this mega Kandinsky Exhibition
Art lovers can look forward to a huge exhibition with the works of celebrated artist Wassily Kandinsky being showcased at the Art Gallery of NSW until March 10, 2024. Get the details here.
8. Check out Luna Park’s Dream Circus
Luna Park is launching a brand new immersive experience called Dream Circus this December with 360-degree visual and audio projections, live music performances and cutting-edge technology. Be amongst the first to experience it and grab your ticktes here.
9. Cool off at Western Sydney’s new beach
Did you hear the news? Western Sydney is getting its very own beach just in time for summer. Penrith Beach will open to visitors from late December through to March 2024 with the exception of Christmas and New Year’s Day. Read all about it here.
Can’t get enough of Christmas classics? The Holiday will screen in Sydney this December alongside a live orchestra playing the iconic soundtrack. The screening will take place at the intimate Darling Harbour Theatre on December 23. Book your tickets here.
11. Get in the festive spirit at The Rocks
The cobblestone laneways of Sydney’s oldest neighbourhood have transformed into a twinkly wonderland for Christmas and you can enjoy the fun throughout December. There are markets, Christmas trees, a miniature village and a lot more to explore. See the full program here.
12. See the dazzling Tina Turner Musical
The brilliant Tina Turner musical is continuing to dazzle theatregoers in Sydney. The musical premiered in London in 2018 to widespread critical and commercial acclaim; it tells the story of the singer’s humble beginnings in Tennessee to her meteoric rise to global fame and a comeback story like no other. It leaves Sydney in January 2024; grab your tickets here.
13. Enjoy an alfresco movie night with Moonlight Cinema
Moonlight Cinema is one of the most exciting outdoor events of the year and it’s back in town for its summer season. Christmas enthusiasts will find heaps of holiday classics to fuel their excitement for the season with the December line-up. On the list is How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Holiday, Die Hard and Elf. Check out their website for more.
14. Get whisked away to a snowy wonderland at The Grounds
The Grounds of Alexandria has turned into a sparkly wonderland for Christmas with snowcapped gingerbread houses, festive food and drinks, a colourful laneway and more. Get more information here.
15. Attend a blockbuster Egyptian exhibition
The giant Ramses & the Gold of the Pharaohs exhibition is coming to Sydney with 181 priceless artefacts from ancient Egypt. It has also been confirmed that the coffin of one of the most powerful Egyptian Pharaohs, Ramses the Great, will be travelling to Sydney in a rare loan to the city. See it at the Australian Museum in Sydney from November 18 to May 19, 2024. Get more details here.
16. Shop at Carriageworks’ Christmas Market
Carriageworks’ popular Christmas market is returning for one day of food, produce and artisanal gifts on Saturday, December 23. The markets are a huge celebration of all things local and you’re likely to find all your Christmas needs under one roof at this giant shopping event. Get the details here.
Have you ever had dinner blindfolded? At the unique Dining in the Dark experience, you can look forward to a delicious 3-course menu at Italian restaurant Capriccio Osteria, in complete darkness. Get your tickets here.
18. Check out Darling Harbour’s Christmas program
Darling Harbour is also cranking up the festivities for Christmas with colourful baubles, fireworks, a harbour village and dance crews bringing the entertainment. Check out everything that’s happening here.
19. Head to this 36-hour seafood marathon
Did you know the Sydney Fish Market is the largest market of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere? It’s especially famous for its 36-hour seafood marathon which sees the market swing open its doors for 36 hours straight, from 5am on December 23 until 5pm on Christmas Eve. Find more information here.
20. Enjoy a night out with Blanc de Blanc Encore
Blanc de Blanc features acrobats, cabaret and heaps of cheeky fun. The adults-only experience will transport you to1920s Paris with an indulgent dose of acrobatic artistry and risqué revelry. It’s playing until December 17, grab your tickets here.
21. Visit the most famous Christmas tree in NSW
The Martin Place Christmas tree is back and shining brighter than ever before. Sydney’s most popular Christmas tree and the largest tree in all of NSW is covered in hundreds and thousands of LEDs, a giant colour-changing star and over 300 baubles. Check out these other stellar Christmas trees in Sydney.
22. Head to the Opera House for a holiday spectacular
Another festive event paying tribute to Love Actually is taking place at the Opera House from December 6 -9. Dubbed Christmas Actually, the event will feature an all-star cast performing iconic hits from artists including Mariah Carey, The Beatles and Kelly Clarkson. Grab your tickets.
23. Book a Wonka-themed high tea
In celebration of the new Wonka movie, Shangri-La Sydney is hosting a Wonka-themed high tea with many sweet and savoury treats including a decorate your own chocolate bar station, and even a chocolate fountain on December 9 and 10 and again from December 15 to 17. Get your tickets.
Wicked the Musical has returned to Sydney for its 20th anniversary. One of Broadway’s biggest blockbusters has taken over the Emerald City in style and tickets are available throughout November. Get your tickets.
25. Spread the cheer with a festive lamington
Tokyo Lamington is bringing a festive twist to its popular menu offerings. For Christmas, you can expect candy cane lamingtons, gingerbread lamingtons and yuzu fruit mince tarts. See the full Christmas menu here.
26. Get Christmassy at Sydney Zoo
Celebrate Christmas with 4,000 animals, millions of twinkling lights, rides and free activities at Sydney Zoo until December 24. Highlights include a snow land, a roller skating rink and Elf craft village and much more. Head here for all the details.
27. Start prepping for NYE fireworks
Sydney hosts one of the most spectacular fireworks displays in the world and this year, most popular sites around the city are completely free to visit. Start planning your day with our NYE guide here.
28. Get delighted by the Hunter Valley Christmas lights
Get whisked away to a magical place with over 4 million dazzling lights on display at the Hunter Valley Christmas Spectacular. The most stunning holiday display in the Southern Hemisphere comes with a light sequence set to music, a massive bauble tree, and plenty of festive photo opportunities. You can see the lights until January 2023.
29. Dig into a festive feast by the beach
Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel has launched a brand new festive menu that’s best enjoyed with friends and family. Australian tiger prawns served with Watson’s secret recipe cocktail sauce, roasted pork belly with spiced apple puree, and orange honey vin cotto and lemon myrtle and chilli butter are just some of the many delicious offerings you can look forward to. Make a booking here.
30. Get festive at the Camden Valley Inn
A short drive out of town, you’ll find a ton of festive fun planned at the Camden Valley Inn. Markets, free Christmas carols and movie nights are just some of the things to look forward to. Head here for more details. Want to do something outdoorsy on your trip? You can book a hot air balloon flight and watch a spectacular sunrise.
31. Don’t miss this Louise Bourgeois exhibition
Louise Bourgeois: Has the Day Invaded the Night or Has the Night Invaded the Day? has opened at the Art Gallery of NSW and it’s the largest showcase of the French-American artist’s works in Australia. See the iconic nine-metre-high metal spider Maman alongside 120 diverse artworks and sculptures by the acclaimed artist. Find more information here.
32. Watch your favourite Christmas movies under the stars
The Rock’s super charming outdoor cinema needs no introduction. The free-for-all cinema hosts weekly movie nights at the beautiful cobblestone laneway of Atherden Street. This December they’re screening Gremlins, Scrooged and more Christmas staples.
33. See all the Christmas light displays
Some truly brilliant Christmas light displays have taken over the city. From hotels to churches, streets and shops, Sydney is drenched in glowing light and colour for Christmas. These are the must-visit spots to see Christmas lights in Sydney.
✨Martin Place Christmas Tree
✨Canopy of Light, Pitt Street
✨Queen Victoria Building, Town Hall
✨The Golden Tunnel, Darling Square
✨Christmas Lights Spectacular, Hunter Valley Gardens
Find more information here.
Enjoy breakfast surrounded by cute koalas and other Aussie animals at Wild Life Sydney Zoo this November. This special experience also includes a guided tour of the zoo and photo opportunities. Get your tickets.
The Magician’s Cabaret is super popular for its extravagant shows and excellent dinners. There’s no other show in Sydney quite like The Underground Burlesque Experience or La Belle Rose—Sydney’s longest-running cabaret show. Grab your tickets before they sell out.
36. Explore Australia’s oldest museum
The Australian Museum is a must-visit all year round. Currently, visitors to the Australian Museum can find on display a giant Egyptian exhibition and learn more about dinosaurs while they’re there. Head here for more.
37. Enjoy sunset sessions at Q Station
Enjoy the long, balmy summer evenings in Sydney at Q Station where you can enjoy live music, drinks and food while watching a dreamy sunset over the Sydney Harbour. The event will be held from December 3 to December 23. Book your tickets.
At this exclusive photo studio, you’ll find multiple rooms and props to pose with. But for Christmas, they’re switching things up and transforming four rooms into a selfie heaven. From a winter wonderland concept to selfies with Santa, this is the place to go for the perfect festive picture.
39. Head down to Parramatta for a laneway disco party
This December, Parramatta is hosting a laneway party complete with fun lighting, mural artwork, live music and takeaway food stands. Other fun activities include face painting and balloon twisting. The event is completely free and will take place every Saturday throughout December from 6pm to 10pm. Find more information here.
40. Have a cheeky night out with Magic Men Australia
Magic Men are Australia’s best male dancers and their shows serve up a heart-racing and sweat-inducing spectacle. From the hunky stars in their eye-catching costumes to the gorgeous waiters, who will be serving you a glass of sparkling on arrival, this is one live show that is not for the prudish. Get your tickets.
41. Explore this glow-in-the-dark laneway
Sydney is full of hidden gems and one of our favourites is a neon-lit laneway in Haymarket that features a row of glowing cupids and floor and wall murals. Read all about it and how to find it here.
42. Plan an Italian escape just 45 minutes from Sydney
If you’re all out of annual leave and pining for a European getaway, we’d like to put Guestlands on your radar. The cosy bed and breakfast is designed exactly like an Italian village with Tuscan-style gardens, alfresco dining and lots of wine. Read all about it and plan a trip here.
Walking through the Blue Mountains never gets old. On this guided tour, you’ll be accompanied by an astrophysicist who will answer all your questions. Get all the details plus tickets .
44. Pig out at a night food market
Three exciting night markets will take place across Sydney this December with a variety of exciting cuisines on offer. There’s African food, cheese wheels, Sicilian sweets and much more. Get the details here.
45. Camp out at this Dark Sky Park
If you love stargazing and don’t mind a long drive out of Sydney, head to Warrumbungle National Park, the Southern Hemisphere’s first-ever Dark Sky park with endless views of the Milky Way, constellations and more. You can even camp there.
46. Watch a movie on the beach
Sunset Cinema has launched in Bondi and you can watch new releases and classics six nights a week until December 23 at Bondi Pavillion. Christmas classics like Home Alone and Elf are on the menu this month. Get your tickets.
47. Grab plant-based goodies at the Sydney Vegan Market
The Sydney Vegan Market will be back on December 17 for a day of vegan treats, yoga, music and more. In its final edition of the year, the market is going big with lots of fun events lined up. Find them at the Entertainment Quarter from 9am to 4pm.
Drink various exotic teas and learn all about them at this intricate and tailored tea ceremony by Altitude Teas. An excellent way to unwind and unplug from your daily worries, this ceremony features over 30 rare and exotic tea samples for you to try. Book your tickets.
49. Road trip to this bookish town near Sydney
Did you know Bowral and surrounds are considered Australia’s first booktown? The charming spot, just a 90-minute drive from Sydney is filled with bookshops, cafes and libraries and it’s perfect for a day trip out of town. Read all about it here.
50. Make a splash at a natural swimming spot
Summer 2023 is expected to be a hot one so you can expect Sydney’s popular beaches to be chock full of people. If you’re looking for a more private swimming spot to cool off, we’ve got a few suggestions here from Karloo Pools to Collins Flat Beach and more.
A Magical Soirée, by Bruce Glen combines fantastic stories with fascinating magic tricks to leave audiences in awe and wonder inside a heritage building. Grab your tickets here.