What Christmas is really like in Sydney

I’ve spent a good few Christmases now in Sydney and I think it’s time we talk about how to deal with your first Christmas in the sun. The last Christmas I had in the UK was 6 years ago and I sort of feel like I haven’t had one since.

I ask my Australian partner the same question every year about whether this honestly feels like Christmas for him. Obviously the answer is yes, but I can’t get my head around how Christmas is always known to be in a winter setting, not when it’s boiling hot outside. He’s always says, “this is how it is in Sydney”.

Here’s what you’ll notice about how it couldn’t be any less Christmassy if you tried in Sydney.


1. The Weather

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Christmas in UK

We will get this one over with straight away. Even though the thought of spending Christmas in the sun sounds appealing, most (actually all) of the Brits I know in Sydney would love nothing more than a Winter Christmas. It’s really hard watching those Christmas movies we all grew up watching with the snow falling in every scene, yet in Sydney we are watching them in our shorts and t-shirt with the sound of a fan blowing in the background to keep us cool. It just doesn’t seem right!


2. Christmas lights in the city

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This year’s lights on the main shopping street in Sydney, Pitt Street Mall

One thing I really miss are the Christmas lights in London. Seeing Regent Street lit up to seeing the displays Selfridges and Harrods put on each year, there is pretty much next to nothing in Sydney except a few larger sized fairy lights. The display is bad, and I wish the city would make more of an effort over here.

Regent Street Christmas Lights 2016

Regent St, London Christmas Lights 2016 sees a magical display of angel sculpturesĀ 

But one thing I do really love in Sydney is the Christmas bus. There are a good few normal public buses which are completely dressed up, head to toe inside and out in Christmas decs! The bus driver evens wears a Santa costume!

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3. Christmas Advertising


I’ve especially noticed this year that there are rarely any Christmas movies being shown on TV in Sydney. I have my good few I love but instead, the programming schedule sees movies like Lara Croft and Shawshank Redemption – I mean the list goes on. Also, ads stay pretty much the same with one or two Christmas one’s thrown in. I saw the Marks and Spencer ad for the UK this year (above) and couldn’t believe the production and how amazing it is. Another thing I’ve noticed is you don’t hear Christmas music anywhere – so nothing in the shops, radio… nothing at all!


4. Christmas Lunch

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One thing to get your head around especially if your other half is Australian, is the fact that Christmas lunch tends to be cold meats, seafood, salad and a pav for dessert. That’s it. I remember Christmas lunch being the whole hog – that’s a big turkey, loads and loads of veggies and about a million desserts.

And what about the drinks? Don’t expect to be ordering a mulled wine at the pub in Sydney! No one wants to drink a hot drink when it’s 30C! So that’s no mulled wine and no big lunch, the reasoning is that it’s too hot to spend the day cooking and it’s just not on their agenda. It’s about spending time with the family and going down to the beach. I remember one of my first Christmases I actually left my parents house to pick someone up and I always remember thinking that I was the only driver on the road. It was like an apocalypse had happened. Here in Sydney, you’ll see lots of people around having BBQ’s at the beach etc.

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Christmas Day on Coogee Beach, Sydney


5. Santa Claus

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The Annual Santa run

Santa Claus, Father Christmas… what ever you call him, is usually dressed up in shorts over here. It’s something I found hilarious when I first saw it but obviously the poor guy would be too hot here in Sydney when it’s around 30C! Christmas Jumpers are also out of the question and it’s always a bit weird seeing people wearing them for their Christmas in July parties. Yes, Christmas In July is actually a thing, people celebrate it in the coldest month of the year!


The Good Side to Christmas in Sydney

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Sydney Festival takes over the whole of January

Christmas is a MASSIVE deal in UK whereas it’s not here in Sydney. You couldn’t walk into a shop in UK from November (I’m guessing it’s probably now from October) onwards without Christmas songs being played over and over again. I’ve not heard anything here yet. It’s just not a massive deal over in Sydney.

One of the best parts about Christmas in Sydney is because summer is in full swing, we are lucky that we can go on our summer holidays straight after Christmas. People take a good 2-3 weeks off for Christmas and tend to go back to work around the middle of January which is amazing.

Long gone is the awful, depressing month of January. This is the month where everything is going on in Sydney. From festivals, to live music, the list goes on. People don’t just stop partying once New Year’s is over, it continues on throughout the whole summer. You see, that’s why Dry July exists, it’s when people give up alcohol for the month in the middle of winter. Makes sense right?

So we might not have Christmas music everywhere (thank god really), or that Christmas vibe going on, but at least we know that there is still a lot going on for the months after Christmas. That’s surely a good thing!? And let’s not forget the public holiday Australia Day on January 26 to look forward to as well!

What’s your experience of Christmas in Sydney?

Thanks for reading

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What Christmas is really like in Sydney
3 (60%) 4 votes
  • Ben Garrett

    You know the decorations are much better than say a decade ago. There was a time when all council offered for Christmas decorations were ‘Season greetings’ or ‘Happy Holidays’ street lamp banners, the Martin Place tree and some vague geometric shapes dotted around the place. They claimed they didn’t want to be exclusionary but TBH it was probably an excuse to minimalise the decorations and save money, unfortunately much like most Australian retailers these days. If more tourists visited Sydney specifically for Christmas, possibly both would lift their game?