Christmas in Sydney is done differently, with two celebrations – one in July and one in December! The trend of sending out Christmas cards adorned with snowmen and reindeers or welcoming Santa dressed in red woollies does not make any sense as the Southern Hemisphere experiences summer in December. If you’ve been to Sydney during the ‘real’ Christmas season, your memories would revolve around sun-kissed beaches, cricket tournaments, Carols by Candlelight and Santa dressed in shorts!
Christmas is the perfect season to chill-out in comfortable clothes and thongs, with a stubby. Seafood platters, BBQs and Pavlova cover the dining table instead of cakes and gingerbread. Many tourists from the Northern Hemisphere visit popular Christmas party venues in Sydney to escape the cold and indulge their long-overdue desire for the perfect tan. Locals also organise public events and celebratory year-end parties, with corporate party planners coming up with Christmas party ideas that are unique to Sydney.
But being home to many European descendants, the city has a strong attachment to the tradition of celebrating Christmas in cold weather. Many Sydneysiders crave for that part of Christmas when they can laze in their recliners and slip into woolly outfits. ‘Christmas in July’, also known as Yulefest or Yuletide is the perfect excuse to satisfy their yearnings.
The concept is rumoured to have started with a group of Irish tourists holding a Christmas party, back in 1980, in the Blue Mountains to celebrate the cold weather. Even though the origin is uncertain, Yulefest is celebrated every year in the month of June-July, following the X’mas customs. Celebrations even include carol singing and the traditional five-course Christmas feast with all the trimmings.
Food is the vital element for this season. There is no official holiday; yet people gather with family and friends to dine on roasted turkey and rich plum pudding doused in brandy. The famous ‘Christmas in July’ dinner is held every year, over two nights somewhere in Sydney’s inner west. The location will remain a secret until the day and guests bring along a gift to swap with a stranger to keep up the Christmas routine.
Most of Australia doesn’t receive snow during July. Thus, most ‘Christmas in July’ celebrations occur without it. But if you want to try skiing and other snow sports, you can visit Snowy Mountains or Mount Selwyn. The Australian ski season traditionally starts on the Queen’s Birthday holiday weekend in June and ends on the Labour Day weekend in October.
But what makes this festive season better is the comparably cheaper price for almost everything in these months. As it is off-season for tourism, prices go down, giving your wallet a little more leeway. Plus, less crowded beaches and roads will give you more peace of mind!
There’s no other city like Sydney which is lucky to have the ‘best of both Christmases’!