Worldwide icon-chevron-right South Pacific icon-chevron-right Australia icon-chevron-right Sydney icon-chevron-right The best things to do in Sydney between Christmas and NYE
Moonlight Cinema crowds at twilight in Centennial Park
Photograph: Supplied Moonlight Cinema in Centennial Park

The best things to do in Sydney between Christmas and NYE

Savour the best of Sydney as the year comes to a close

By Divya Venkataraman and Time Out editors

The five days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve are a strange, awkward, in-between time for everyone. Most places have closed shop for the summer, while others have new holiday hours that are tricky to wrap your head around. This year, many of us will be sticking around the city – so why not make the most of it? Here's a list of the best things to do between December 25-31. 

Recommended: The best coastal walks in Sydney

Things to do between Xmas and NYE

1. Scale new heights with BridgeClimb

Things to do The Rocks

Dates open: December 25-31

Price: From $198

If you’re a Sydneysider and you’re yet to climb the Harbour Bridge, now is as good a time as ever. BridgeClimb is offering some sweet discounts this year, so if you happen to have a bit of spare cash left over from Christmas, you could use it to stand atop the Bridge and see Sydney like never before. Take in the iconic white sails of the Opera House, the silhouette of the Blue Mountains and the endless ocean that flows beyond the east.

Artist’s rendering of new touring exhibition hall at the transformed Australian Museum.
Photograph: Supplied/Australian Museum | Artist’s rendering of new touring exhibition hall at the transformed Australian Museum.

2. Check out the newly reopened Australian Museum

Museums Darlinghurst

Dates open: December 26-31

Price: Free

Officially reopened to the public after closing for 15 months for an extensive 57.5 million dollar face lift, this Sydney icon has new exhibitions, artefacts and 3,000 square metres of new public space. 

Lindy Lee's bronze, liquid-like globule sculpture 'Unnameable’
Photograph: Anna Kucera

3. Check out what's on at the MCA

Museums The Rocks

Dates: Dec 26-31

Price: Free

After months of lying dusty, the MCA is back in a big way, and it's fully embracing the new normal by throwing focus on Australian artists. Lindy Lee: Moon in a Dew Drop celebrates the Australian-Chinese artist’s genius through a retrospective, nimbly dancing through four decades of jaw-dropping creativity crossing mediums and cultures. 

Stone path over pond at Sydney Park
Photograph: Supplied/City of Sydney

4. Chill in Sydney's best parks

Attractions Parks and gardens

Dates open: Year-round

Price: Free

Whether you're looking to go for a run, walk your dog, have a sedate picnic or just take a break from your four walls, these are the parks to visit. They have sprawling open spaces, free barbecues and shaded spots to while away an afternoon or simply catch a break at lunchtime. Some of these parks also welcome horse riding, if you fancy a bit of equestrian exercise. 


Christmas decorations in Martin Place.
Photograph: Katherine Griffiths

5. Gaze at the city's best Christmas lights

Things to do Fairs and festivals

Dates open: Mid-December to early January

Price: Free

Christmas looks a little different this year, but if you go looking, you'll find illuminated displays to put a twinkle in your eye. There are some pockets of Sydney that go all out for the festive season. In the city centre, you'll find extravagant trees towering into the skyline. Take an excursion in the suburbs, and you'll find houses decorated by DIY merrymakers.


A huge painting across gold panels
Photograph: Supplied

6. See art at White Rabbit Gallery

Art Chippendale

Dates: December 27-29

Price: Free

This four-storey temple of contemporary Chinese art is an inner-city must-visit, especially if you haven' been this year. Over its history, we've seen things like room-filling sculptures of bondage and sex toys and flying human-insect hybrids soaring above visitors, so expect the weird and wonderful. 


7. Have a thrill at Luna Park

Museums Milsons Point

Dates open: December 26-31

Price: $50 (includes unlimited rides)

Whether you’re trying to keep the kids entertained or you just want to relive the excitement of going down a roller coaster, Luna Park is the perfect amusement park for all ages. There’s plenty of time for repeat rides on the Wild Mouse, soaking up history in Coney Island or spinning on the Rotor until you vomit (although we don’t recommend ending your night that way).

Sea Life Sydney Aquarium Penguin Expedition
Photograph: Brett Stevens

8. Head down below at the aquarium

Museums Darling Harbour

Dates open: December 26-31

Price: From $38.40 (if you book online)

Head underwater with the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, the world's largest indoor system of Australian marine life, with 60 tanks and three oceanaria filled with more than 12,000 animals from 650 different species. Highlights include Shark Valley, the Great Barrier Reef exhibit, Japanese Spider crabs and the Bay of Rays.

A pale blue and orange 3D printing of a human heart
Photograph: Supplied

9. Have your mind blown at the Powerhouse Museum

Museums Ultimo

Dates open: December 26-31

Price: Free 

It’s the perfect time to retreat into the air-conditioned palace of knowledge that is the Powerhouse. General entry to the museum is now free and allotted in two-hour session – and you'll get even more out of it if you book a guided walkthrough which involves 45 minutes of a directed tour and the rest of your time to explore. 

10. Get wild at Taronga Zoo

Museums Mosman

Dates open: December 26-31

Price: From $35.10

Why not head to Mosman for a day amongst the animals in this middle period? Whether you’re a lover of mammals, reptiles or birds, there’s plenty to see, do and learn. Hang out with zebras at the African Safari, or spend your time in a dark cave with snakes and crocodiles at Reptile World. Head to the free flight bird show or the seals for the wild show, but bear in mind audience numbers are limited.

In the meantime...

Stallholder at the market.
Stallholder at the market.
Photograph: Jacquie Manning

Christmas markets in Sydney

Shopping Markets

From arts and design markets to food fares, these Christmas markets have all the festive goods. Sort out a little something for the whole family in one trip and drag a friend along to drop some not-so-subtle Kris Kringle hints. After the rubble of the Boxing Day sales clears, continue your holiday shopping spree guilt-free at Sydney's best op shops.



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