Heard about the famous Christmas in July in Blue Mountains but unsure whether it’s worth visiting? Our new resident writer Lucy Timperley is sharing everything you need to know about how to make the most of celebrating a winter Christmas in the Sydney region!
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Why is Christmas in July a thing in Australia?
It has become tradition for both expats and Aussies to celebrate a second Christmas in July during Australia’s winter months. But where did the idea originate?
Christmas in July was first celebrated by a group of Irish men in the 1980s who were lucky enough to experience one of the Blue Mountains’ occasional snow falls, making them miss the festive atmosphere of Christmas spent back home.
Rumour has it they persuaded a Blue Mountains hotel owner to throw Australia’s first Christmas in July celebration, now known as ‘Yulefest’, with more traditional Christmas style celebrations.
Ever since, exciting winter Yulefest packages are offered by many venues across the Blue Mountains throughout July.
Why will Brits love the traditional Christmas style celebrations?
Let’s face it! While great fun, a hot Aussie Christmas on the beach just isn’t quite Christmas so Christmas in July is a great opportunity to get your dose of a traditional cold Christmas complete with Christmas dinner, think roast turkey, glazed ham, Yorkshire pudding, roasted vegetables and Christmas pudding!
Throw in terrible Christmas cracker jokes, log fires, mulled wine and perhaps even Santa Claus! It’s also a great excuse to get a group of friends and/or family together and do something fun in the winter months whilst you wait for it to be warm enough to head back to the beach!
How to get to Blue Mountains by train
Driving from Sydney takes about 1.5 hours and is definitely the easiest option – its also useful to have a car to get around for the weekend.
However, there is also the option of getting the train from Central Station – they depart once an hour and take two hours to Katoomba. You’ll struggle to get an Uber in the Blue Mountains but Katoomba taxis run all night and were reasonably priced. They also have maxi-taxis available for larger groups.
Where to get a decent Christmas lunch in Blue Mountains
If you would prefer to go out for dinner, there are a range of exciting winter Yulefest packages available with varying offerings and prices. When I was looking to book in May, there were a few places that were already sold out so I would recommend booking in early, especially if there is a big group of you.
Step back in time at The Carrington Hotel in Katoomba
The Carrington Hotel is the Blue Mountains landmark hotel in the heart of Katoomba – built in 1883, it’s like stepping back in time and is absolutely perfect for your Yulefest celebration.
They offer a gala buffet dinner, drinks and accommodation package for the weekend. These packages sell out very quickly so you may want put your name on the waitlist via their website to avoid disappointment.
Alternatively, you can just enjoy a glass of champagne or a warm mulled wine by the log fire at their Champagne Charlie’s cocktail bar! We found this was a great spot to get everyone together on the Friday night.
Dance the night away at the grand view hotel in Wentworth Falls
The Grand View Hotel is one of the more budget-friendly options for a three-course meal and while the food wasn’t amazing, we had such a fantastic evening. If you’re a large group, you’ll want to book the private room (min. 20 people) where you can connect your own music to the giant speaker and dance around to Christmas songs all night!
The restaurant ask for the food order prior to the evening which makes it very easy on the night and were happy to cater for all dietary requirements. Drinks were available to purchase separately at the bar by the glass or bottle and were also very reasonably priced.
Enjoy a 5-course degustation dinner at The Mountain Heritage Hotel in Katoomba
For something a little more fancy, pay a visit to The Mountain Heritage Hotel in Katoomba for a 5-course degustation menu with paired wines. This is the original home of Blue Mountains Yulefest celebrations and you can enjoy a delicious dinner cooked by their executive chef with live music provided by their resident pianist Alan Johnson. Alternatively, the Hydro Majestic Hotel in Medlow Bath also offers a 5-course degustation menu.
Have fun with the family at the popular Fairmont Resort in Leura
The Fairmont Resort & Spa offers something for the whole family every Saturday and Sunday with their log fires and ice skating rink! Enjoy a buffet dinner with a range of delicious dishes as well as a 2.5 hour bottomless drinks package and live music all night.
Work off the Christmas celebrations with a short Blue Mountains walk
There are plenty of things to do in Blue Mountains around your Yulefest celebration. Of course, no visit to the Blue Mountains would be complete without a hike! The Prince Henry Cliff Walk between Katoomba and Leura takes you past the Three Sisters lookout with spectacular views over the Jamison Valley on a clear winter day. After the hike you can stop in for a well-deserved lunch (or beer!) at The Lookout cafe at Echo Point.
Other things to do in Blue Mountains
Aside from hiking, there are plenty of quaint shops and cafes to wander round in Katoomba and Leura so you might like to check out our popular guide Best Things To Do In Blue Mountains.
If you’re visiting Blue Mountains with children, they will love paying a visit to Santa inside the Jenolan Caves whilst the adults can enjoy dinner at Chisolm’s restaurant every Friday and Saturday night in July.
On Sunday morning, you can enjoy a lovely breakfast in the garden at Megalong Valley Tea Rooms – the sign outside often says they are fully booked but if you’re happy to sit in the garden and brave the cold winds then you can still just walk in!
What to bring with you for your Christmas in July Weekend
Where is Primark when you need it?! I actually really struggled to find a Christmas jumper in Sydney in July – I tried Kmart, Cotton On and BigW with no luck so actually ended up ordering one online from Asos.
Aside from your Christmas jumper and Christmas party outfit, you’ll need hiking gear and lots of layers to keep warm! The Blue Mountains are only about 1.5 hours drive from Sydney but it was noticeably a lot colder with very cold winds.
While it was quite warm (around 15C) in Sydney, one morning in the Blue Mountains it got to -2C! You might even be lucky enough to see even the occasional snowfall that hits the Blue Mountains over winter making you feel like you could be back home for a magical winter time!
We had so much fun I think we will make Christmas in July in the Blue Mountains an annual tradition!
Christmas In July In Blue Mountains Guide
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This article is written by Londoner In Sydney resident writer, Lucy Timperley.
Hi, I’m Lucy, originally from Manchester, UK! I was lucky enough to be able to swap London life for Bondi’s beaches in 2019. I love exploring as many places in Australia as possible and have become an avid hiker since moving to Sydney. Follow me on Instagram: @lucytimperley