Get us in your inbox

Search
A wide shot of the Rocks with Christmas stalls lining the streets and the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background
Photograph: Supplied/Anna Kucera

Ten ways to experience The Rocks' Christmas Wonderlanes this holiday season

Sydney’s favourite historic neighbourhood is your home for festive cheer

By Time Out in association with Place Management
Advertising

The heritage sandstone buildings and cobbled laneways of The Rocks are set to become an epicentre of holiday activity as part of the The Rocks Christmas Wonderlanes. Decorations go up from November 12, then from December 3 the precinct will be a whirlwind of delicious food, enchanting entertainment, beautiful decorations and buzzing markets. There will be jolly surprises at every turn, and the precinct’s many cafés, restaurants and bars are now open for celebrations. Find out more about Christmas in The Rocks.

Ten ways to immerse yourself in the festivities

Shimmy to Christmas classics with fab local drag queens
Photograph: Supplied/Place Management

Shimmy to Christmas classics with fab local drag queens

On December 3, Christmas will officially launch in The Rocks with a free Christmas Wonder Queens Drag Show to be held in First Fleet Park from 6pm – and it's set to be every bit as fabulous as the name suggests. Bewitching local queens Hannah Conda, Carmen Geddit, Charisma Belle, Vanity Faire, Vybe and Sia will perform a showstopping medley of songs – including a boisterous rendition of ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ and a Mean Girls-inspired number – in an explosion of feathers, glitter and costume changes. Stick around afterwards for a meet-and-greet, plus photo opportunities.

Discover enchanting Christmas decorations
Photograph: Supplied/Place Management

Discover enchanting Christmas decorations

The Rocks will be dressed to the nines this Christmas, with delightful decorations to adorn every nook of the neighbourhood. See it all on a self-guided tour starting at a special Wonderlanes installation on Nurses Walk. Spy dozens of elves coming in commando-style from all directions, and see how many cheeky antics you can spot. You should also keep an eye out for the Moët & Chandon Effervescence Christmas Tree (inspired by the world-famous Champagne), a giant snow globe that's ideal for selfies, a five-metre-high tree in Jack Mundey Place, plus lots of bells, nutcracker soldiers and fairy lights that create a truly magical atmosphere.

Advertising

Laneway Cinema is back and free every Wednesday night this summer, ramping up over December with a schedule full of merry Christmas flicks. Watch classic titles as you hold a house wine or sangria in one hand and some hot pizza in the other, both courtesy of local pizza parlour Caminetto. Come dressed in your ugliest Chrissy sweater and enjoy gifts from local bath shop Get Drenched with every food purchase. There will also be comfy bean bags and deck chairs to snuggle up in, making it a lovely low-key catch-up to offset the mania of the festive season.  

Get a head start on your Christmas shopping with a dawdle through one of Sydney’s most picturesque markets. Every Friday night, Saturday and Sunday, The Rocks’ cobbled streets come alive with stalls selling locally made homewares, jewellery, art, fashion, beauty products and gourmet food. It’s a true maker’s market, with talented artisans available to share both their stories and their finely honed crafts. While you’re there you can also enjoy a roving lunch via street food stalls selling everything from freshly fried gözleme and okonomiyaki to Turkish doughnuts and vegan cookies.

Advertising

The Rocks Square is lighting up with free Christmas cabaret performances every Saturday night in December in the lead up to the big day. It’ll be a razzle dazzle of music and colour, with festive costumes, swing carols and circus acts to delight the whole family. Hosted by jazz singer and former Play School host Monica Trapaga along with vintage-styled chanteuse Miss Pia, the performances will win over even the hardest of holiday sceptics (after all, who doesn’t love a spot of hat juggling?).

Have a raucous time (and win prizes) at Drag Christmas Bingo
Photograph: Anna Kucera

Have a raucous time (and win prizes) at Drag Christmas Bingo

Launch into the weekend with free Drag Christmas Bingo on December 10 and 17 in The Rocks Square. Hosted by four of Sydney’s most charismatic queens – Sia, Carmen Geddit, Hannah Conda and Coco Jumbo – it’s set to be a raucously fun extravaganza with DJs, light shows, audience interaction and a score of mini-drag performances. Grab a few rounds at the pop-up bar and settle in for an evening of fun and games. There will also be prizes from local retailers awarded to bingo winners, as well as surprise categories such as best dressed. 

Advertising
Dine outdoors while listening to free live music
Photograph: Supplied/Place Management

Dine outdoors while listening to free live music

This festive season, the streets, lanes and squares of the Rocks will be ringing out with tunes from some of Sydney’s best musicians. You can soak up the sounds of rising indie-pop talent Little Green, soothing acoustic soloist Loki Hough, upbeat R’n’B band Boomchild, pop-rock duo LamBros, the Sydney Jazz Collective and many more as you dine outdoors or grab a bite to eat from the market stalls. And to really get the mood going the artists will each incorporate Christmas classics into their sets, while DJs will appear on Friday and Saturdays for extra party vibes. Catch the live performances every Thursday to Sunday until December 12, and then every day from December 16-24.

These days pet owners treat their furry friends like children, taking them to cafés, dressing them up and even throwing them birthday parties. And now they can even pose for a free photo with Santa, which makes for both a hilarious memory and an unrivalled Christmas card. Your precious pet will be perched on Santa’s lap atop an ornate throne, so make sure you bring along treats to encourage your pup to take a great paw-trait. There are three Saturday sessions in the lead-up to Christmas (Dec 4, 11 & 17, 9am-noon), and includes high-res digital photos you can share with family and friends.

Advertising
Be surprised by delightfully dressed roving performers
Photograph: Supplied/Place Management

Be surprised by delightfully dressed roving performers

Keep an eye out for roving performers as they prance around The Rocks precinct on Saturdays and Sundays in December. You never know when an army of elves on stilts, a parade of circus elves or a flock of light-up angels might pass by, so keep your cameras at the ready to capture these moments of spontaneous entertainment. 

Catch up with friends over festive eats and drinks
Photograph: Anna Kucera

Catch up with friends over festive eats and drinks

We’ll never take for granted the simple pleasures of cocktails and nibbles with friends again, and luckily The Rocks has evolved into quite the bars precinct. Check out gin and cocktail bar Frank Mac’s; George Street maritime bar the Keel; Barossa winery Château Tanunda’s cellar door; and the brand new Hickson House Distillery Co in a converted heritage warehouse. And if you’ve ever asked ‘What’s the deal with Christmas?’ then Festivus, the alternative yuletide celebration invented by George Costanza in 1990s sitcom Seinfeld, is coming to the Glenmore on Thursday December 23 from 11am. Come dressed like Jerry, Elaine, George or Kramer, hang out with friends discussing life’s unwritten rules and petty annoyances, take part in an Elaine Benes dance off, contribute to an ‘air your grievance’ wall, and enjoy live music on the rooftop. Time to break out that puffy shirt.

Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising