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People dancing on a boat.
Photograph: Supplied

15 things to do between Christmas and NYE

Savour the best of Sydney as you bid farewell to the decade

By Time Out editors

The five days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve are an awkward 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, which is why we’ve compiled a list of the best things to do and places to go between December 25-31. If you've got it, make the most of your time off!

Things to do between Xmas and NYE

Inside exhibition - powerhouse - Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson - S
Photograph: Daniel Boud

1. Powerhouse Museum

Museums Ultimo

Dates open: December 26-31

Price: $15 

It’s the perfect time to retreat into the air-conditioned palace of knowledge that is the Powerhouse, before this mammoth museum closes in June to make a move to Parramatta. Current exhibitions include Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson: Step Into Paradise, a tribute to the Australian fashion pioneers bursting with colour; and Apollo 11, commemorating the half century since the Moon landing.

2. Luna Park Sydney

Museums Milsons Point

Dates open: December 26-30

Price: $23-$51

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).


3. Taronga Zoo

Museums Mosman

Dates open: December 26-30

Price: $35.10-$49

Taronga Zoo is open every day for the rest of the year, so why not head to Mosman for a day amongst the animals? Whether you’re a lover of mammals, reptiles or birds, there’s plenty to see, do and learn. Hang out with zebras at 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 sign up for an animal encounter with a koala, giraffe, penguin or owl.  

‘Then’ at White Rabbit, exhibition view, supplied

4. White Rabbit

Art Chippendale

Dates: December 27-29

Price: Free entry

This four-storey temple of contemporary Chinese art celebrates some of its finest moments at the end of its first decade with Then, an exhibition that brings together works from White Rabbit's earliest exhibitions alongside works from the collection that haven't been exhibited before. Over the years 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. 


5. BridgeClimb

Museums The Rocks

Dates open: December 25-30

Price: $174-$403

If you’re a Sydneysider and you’re yet to climb the Harbour Bridge, now is as good a time as ever. Climbs are pricier during this season but, if you happen to have a bit of spare cash left over from Christmas, we can’t think of a better way to spend it. Stand atop the Harbour Bridge and view Sydney like never before – observe the iconic white sails of the Opera House, the silhouette of the Blue Mountains and the endless ocean that flows beyond the east.

Sea Life Sydney Aquarium Penguin Expedition
Photograph: Brett Stevens

6. Sea Life Sydney Aquarium

Museums Darling Harbour

Dates open: December 25-31

Price: $36.80-$46

Sea Life Sydney Aquarium is 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.

Cornelia Parker MCA 2019 supplied
Image courtesy the artist, The Whitworth, The University of Manchester and Frith Street Gallery, London. Photograph: David Levene

7. Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA)

Museums The Rocks

Dates: Dec 26-31

Price: $0-$24 

The MCA’s summer exhibitions promise an enlightening day out at the gallery. This year the blockbuster spot goes to British superstar artist Cornelia Parker. At the centre of this 40-piece exhibition will be her breakthrough 1991 work, 'Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View', which features a garden shed she had the actual British Army blow up. You can also see a free exhibition of key works from provocative Chinese-Australian artist Guan Wei. Included is the landmark painting 'Feng Shui' (2004), which wraps its 18-metre length around a corner of the gallery.

8. Plants with Bite

Things to do Exhibitions

Dates open: December 25-29

Price: Free

Budding horticulturalists who like plants with attitude should head to the Royal Botanical Gardens these holidays for a free exhibition of carnivorous greenery. The Calyx will be filled with 25,000 of the world’s hungriest, most clever plants. The kids will love watching as the venus fly trap lures unsuspecting insects with nectar and snaps them up in its jaws, where they’ll spend their final days being slowly digested. 

It's the biggest night in Sydney

Aerial shot of Sydney Harbour as the fireworks go off on New Year's Eve
Aerial shot of Sydney Harbour as the fireworks go off on New Year's Eve
Photograph: Destination NSW

New Year's Eve in Sydney

Things to do Fireworks

Sydney's NYE celebrations are world famous, and for good reason. Here's how to have a good time, including hot tips for finding the most devine public bathrooms.


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