Christmas in Sydney can be heart-racingly overwhelming. Just hearing the c-word can put some in a tizzy of department store stampede flashbacks and sweaty dread about the office Kris Kringle. This year, let us hold your hand through it with our guide to absolutely nailing it when it comes to gifts, experiences, and stress-free snacks (with booze of course). Pop open your Lazyboy, set the aircon to arctic, sit back and scroll with our list of how to do Christmas right in Sydney.
Where to spend your time and dosh this Christmas
Sydney Seafood School at Sydney Fish Market holds inspiring cooking classes that follow a three-in-one format: cooking demonstration, hands-on cooking experience, then dining with a glass of wine. Learn how to make Singapore chilli crab, barbecued Thai squid salad, chermoula prawns and vine-leaf wrapped garfish. Or hone your techniques at weekend workshops with leading chefs including Alessandro Pavoni, Paul Carmichael and Mark Jensen. Sydney Seafood School Gift certificates are available for any dollar amount and are valid for three years. Time Out readers can use promo code TIMEOUT to get a 25 per cent discount (offer valid for any gift certificate purchase made before 11.59pm on December 31, 2019).
Innovative Kentucky whiskey producers Woodford Reserve have taken their multi-award winning Distillers Select variety and aged it in a heavily toasted American Oak barrel for a further 12 months. The process extracts further notes of cocoa, vanilla and dark fruits (among others). Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon has a long and creamy finish with lingering hints of honeyed apple. It has won numerous awards in its own right, including Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. This is an excellent addition to any whiskey collection and a fantastic gift idea, and at under $80 offers value for money.
For the first time in forever Sydney is getting a blockbuster show before Melbourne – before even London’s West End! Disney’s Frozen – the Musical comes direct from Broadway, bringing the denizens of Arendelle to glorious life on stage, with lavish costumes, stunning stagecraft and goosebump-inducing songs. The chance to hear somebody live on stage belting out 'Let it Go' while an entire icy castle materialises around them is not one to be passed up. The show opens at the Capitol theatre in July, but why not make like Olaf and snap up tickets in summer? They’re on sale now and the perfect Christmas surprise for the Frozen fanatic in your life.
They get the soup into the xiao long bao dumplings at Din Tai Fung by working gelatinised pork stock into the minced-meat filling. When the dumpling is steamed, the stock leaves its solidified state and fills the bottom of the dumpling with soup. Magic! Sydney’s demand for theses silky morsels has become so great that Din Tai Fung now have dumpling houses in Broadway, Chatswood, Chippendale, North Sydney, Pyrmont, Chinatown and the CBD. When you give the gift of Din Tai Fung this Christmas, Din Tai Fung will give a little gift to you. For every $50 gift card purchased, you’ll receive a free additional $10 voucher. For every $30 gift card purchased you’ll get an additional $5 voucher.
Our summers are only going to get hotter from here, so it’s comforting to know that sweet relief is available after a day’s pounding the CBD pavement doing all of those end-of-year errands. Stroll from the city through the Domain and the Royal Botanic Gardens and you’ll reach one of Sydney’s most modern pools perched on the shore of Woolloomooloo Bay, Andrew Boy Charlton Pool. Andrew (Boy) Carlton Pool offers an eight-lane 50m pool, learners’ and toddlers’ pools, a sundeck and a café. The pool’s harbourside edges are glazed, allowing swimmers views across the sparkling bay. Right next door to Central Station, Prince Alfred Park Pool is a 50-metre lap pool that also has a designated kid-friendly family splash pad as well as plenty of shade under the signature yellow umbrellas to escape the scorching sun. And Victoria Park Pool is an oasis in the middle of a nine-hectare park offering a 50-metre swimming pool, a shaded children’s wading pool, gymnasium, crèche, swim shop, café and the toddlers’ pool with a fountain water feature.
Walk down the stairs off Barrack Street in the Sydney CBD into the first Australian branch of New York speakeasy Employees Only, and chances are you’ll find the place pumping, the bar thronged, the larger dining area packed and the tarot-reader by the door plenty busy. The bar is brass and gleaming, the garnishes laid out on it in heavy tumblers. The music is ’80s pop, and the bartenders wear chef’s jackets with the word “Bartender” embroidered where a person’s name might go. During summer they are offering the perfect marriage of a Martini and two oysters for just $15, every night from 5-7pm. That’s one hell of a happy ending for your Christmas shopping spree, and if you make it all the way till 3am they will see you on your way with a complimentary cup of chicken soup.