Darling Harbour Winter Festival
Time Out says
Rug up and enjoy this cosy celebration of all things ice and nutmeg spice
While in years past, half of Sydney may have flocked to the Mediterranean for some sun in July, this year is all about embracing the cosy and the wintry vibes. The perfect place to do that? At Darling Harbour’s Winter Festival, where you can cut some action at an ice rink, see live music and eat some wintry snacks. Time to dig out your beanies and revel in this winter wonderland.
You can book in for a session at the Ice Skating Rink popping up at the ICC forecourt from June 8 to June 20. It’s for everyone, whether you’re going to be pirouetting à la Michelle Kwan or just slipping around like a baby deer. Pros can run on their own steam, and beginners can take classes. In the evenings, sit back and enjoy an ice show that lights up the waterside location with dazzling lights and skating scenes. For those with accessibility needs, a Silent Hour, run in conjunction with Autism Australia, will be run without music and disabled patrons and their carers will be able to access the rink for free (9-9.45am on Thursdays June 10 and 17).
The forecourt will also be home to a huge Arctic Blast Ice Slide, where you can jump into a snow tyre and race to the bottom. Anyone two years and older can join in the fun, from $4 for a slide or $10 for three turns. Hot tip: save some cash at the two-for-one ‘Cheap Skate’ sessions between 10am-4pm on Tuesday.
There’s also a foodie market bonanza in the park to get you in the frosty spirit. Need a warm up after a chilly slide? Grab a mug of hot chocolate (extra marshmallows, please) or a pitcher of mulled wine from one of the 20 stalls setting up shop in Tumbalong Park. There are also desserts and to-go bites galore, with offerings from Mr Bao, Koi Dessert Bar and more. The market is on June 11, 17 & 18, 4-9pm, and Jun 12-14 & 19-20, noon-9pm.
Photograph: Bronnie Barnett
Just nearby is the Tumbalong Stage, which will be providing the free live tunes throughout the winter festival. See local acts like electronic artist Casual Connection; Ebony Boadu (whose dulcet tones you may know from her presenting gig on Triple J); disco duo Groove City, singer-songwriter Jai Waetford; and drag DJs Jawbreakers.
If you’re in the Darling Harbour and Cockle Bay areas in the evening, whether that’s after an ice skate or before dinner, make sure to look up. Foti Fireworks have created a fireworks spectacular called LuminoSYDNEY, which brings together the elements of fire and light in a “pyromusical extravaganza” on a podium above the harbour. It’s on from June 13 to 14 and June 17 to 19, each night from 7.30pm and 9pm.
Kayakers have hitherto been forbidden from paddling in Darling Harbour but for Darling Harbour Winter Fest, the professional team from Sydney Harbour Kayaks is leading night-time Moonlight Sea Kayaking tours from Darling Harbour to the Glebe Island Bridge and back with a stop for refreshments.
For six nights only Sea Life Sydney Aquarium is hosting Sea Life Glow, an after-dark dance party featuring pop-up bars, food stations, magicians, glow-in-the-dark dancers and DJs. And over at Australian National Maritime Museum, find a colourful inflatable art installation, Harbour Garden, that captures the spirit of spectacular ocean creatures.
Big bonus? It’s easier to get to Darling Harbour than ever. Get the light rail, a bus or check out one of these $10 parking offers.
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