The lowdown on tinseltown

The Lights of Christmas display at St Mary's Cathedral Square. File photo.

Christmas may not have the same hype and hustle this year, but the magic is still there. Rita Bratovich highlights some of the goings-on that’ll get you into the festive spirit. 

Please note: Every event listed has its own conditions and restrictions. Some will require prior registration, others are paid. Times, dates and other details are correct at time of publication but may be subject to change. You are strongly encouraged to visit the listed event websites for current details.


No matter where you live in Sydney, you’re bound to have one of those streets in your neighbourhood where the houses all look like mini-amusement parks. It’s also worth venturing out to other suburbs – there are some incredible displays like the magnificent house in Mallee Street, Quakers Hill or the gorgeous one in South Street, Tempe. For a list of suggestions, visit

Lights of Christmas

For a spectacular laser show, you need to visit St Mary’s Cathedral Square. This stunning kaleidoscope of patterns and images projected onto the facade of the city’s iconic cathedral has become a must-do Christmas event. 

St Mary’s Cathedral Square

Every day, 8:30pm to 11pm until 25 December

Cnr College St and William St, Sydney (entry from William St)

Martin Place Christmas Tree

From there, you can head over to Martin Place and bear witness to the tallest Christmas tree in NSW. It also might be the most patriotic with its 800 branches decorated with Australian flowers: banksia, waratah, bottlebrush, wattle, eucalyptus gum flower, kangaroo paw, flannel flower, pink wax flower and white wax flower. Enjoy a light and colour show every 15 minutes from 7pm to midnight every day until 31 December.

A tour of Sydney Christmas lights featuring the Martin Place Christmas Tree. Video: City of Sydney/YouTube.


Illuminate the Hills at Christmas

A delightful stroll among illuminated sculptures in Castle Hill. Huge candy-cane shrubs, fluorescent-coil Christmas trees and giant luminous inflated bears. The centrepiece is the huge, vibrant ‘Joy Tree’ that looks like a pyramid of sunlit soap bubbles.

Arthur Whiting Park,  cnr Old Northern Rd and McMullen Ave, Castle Hill

Until 5 January, 2021

David Jones Window Display

Another Sydney Christmas institution is the magnificent window display created each year by David Jones’ city department store. The large casement windows feature selected images from a popular book or story. This year, Australian children’s author and illustrator Megan Hess’s very popular character, Claris, is the star of the display. 

David Jones, cnr Elizabeth St and Market St, Sydney

Until 3 January, 2021


Woolworths Carols in the Domain

Thanks to the wonderful Christmas weather we have on this side of the globe, Sydneysiders can enjoy carols by candlelight events outdoors. Many local areas host their own but, of course, the biggest is Carols in the Domain in the city. With 2020 being what it is, this year the event will take place over two evenings and will not actually be in the Domain; to allow for safe distancing, it will be held at the ICC Sydney in Darling Harbour. The star-encrusted, ticketed event will be recorded over both nights and then screened on the Seven Network at 7.30pm on 23 December. 

18 and 19 December

ICC Sydney, Darling Harbour

The Sebastian Foundation Carols from Parramatta

Guy Sebastian, Human Nature, Samantha Jade and a host of others will perform in a live-streamed concert. The Sebastian Foundation’s Carols from Parramatta is supported by the City of Parramatta and Disney+ and will include a debut of a new animated Christmas short film. The concert features and all Australian line-up. It’s free, but you’ll need to register. Donations are being collected for The Sebastian Foundation. 

7pm, 18 December


The Rocks Christmas Markets

One of Sydney’s favourite markets, The Rocks Markets meanders from Argyle Street, through the stony pathways of this gorgeous historic area. Its stalls offer unique handmade and artisan goods, gourmet treats, novelties and many more rareties. During Christmas there will be additional Christmas themed items, entertainment, and workshops, plus a special market on Christmas Eve. 

10am – 8pm, Fri to Sat;  10am – 5pm, Sunday; 4 December to 23 December

Special Christmas Eve Market, 11am – 6pm, 24 ​December

The Rocks Christmas Markets. Photo: The Rocks/Facebook.

Sydney Vegan Market

This extremely popular market features a wide and varied range of vegan products. They aim at being plastic-free, sustainable and as kind to the Earth as possible. The December market falls five days before Christmas – in time to get a special, unique, organic, home-made, all natural, cruelty-free, good-feels, gift. You can bring your fur-baby too. 

9am – 4pm, 20 December

Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park

Family fun

Santa’s Fun Fair

Head to Rouse Hill this Christmas, if for no other reason than to experience Australia’s only double decker carousel. However, there are plenty of other reasons as well: bungy trampolines, a toboggan slide, snow frozen tea cups, pirate ride, mini chairs, fairy floss, snow cones, games and more.

From Friday, 11 December

Rouse Hill Town Centre, Cnr Windsor Rd & White Hart Dr, Rouse Hill

Christmas Fun Fair

Plenty of rides out in Edmondson Park too: Free Fall, Kite Flyer, Fiesta Ferris Wheel, Auto Bee Car, plus rides for the littlies. Entertainment, games, photos with Santa, activities and you can bring your little furry friend along. 

12 – 13 December; 19 – 24 December

1744 Camden Valley Way, Edmondson Park

Luna Park

Just for fun, why not get a ferry over to Luna Park (or drive or catch a bus or train). From December 19 to 24 they’ll be open every day, adding Christmas cheer to that big iconic smiling face that greets you at the entrance. Santa will be available for snaps and who knows what will be discovered at the North Pole Talent Show. Nine new rides and the best view from any ferris wheel anywhere in the world. 

Luna Park, 1 Olympic Dr, Milsons Point

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