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  1. A Christmastime scene in the Rocks in Sydney
    Photograph: Anna Kucera
  2. The Rocks Christmas Wonderlanes
    Photograph: Anna Kucera
  3. Stilt walkers as part of The Rocks Christmas Wonderlanes
    Photograph: Supplied/The Rocks Christmas Wonderlanes
  4. Scones and coffee
    Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan
  5. Christmas_Markets
    Photograph: Anna Kucera
  6. A guitarist in The Rocks
    Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan

The Rocks Christmas Wonderlanes

Sydney's vibrant historic neighbourhood gets a festive makeover with decorations, markets, food specials and plenty more Christmas cheer

By Time Out in association with The Rocks
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From November 15-December 26, The Rocks Christmas Wonderlanes are bringing the magic to Sydney’s quayside precinct. There’s plenty to discover – from market stalls to decorations. There are lots of activities to enjoy with friends and family in the historic district – whether you want to sip on a festive cocktail or pull up a beanbag at the outdoor cinema. We’ve rounded up everything that’s happening at The Rocks Christmas Wonderlanes that’s guaranteed to put you in a festive mood.

The Rocks has always had a magical feel to it, with its labyrinth of quaint, cobbled laneways set against the glittering backdrop of the harbour. And in the run-up to Christmas, the area will get a festive makeover. Australia may be famed for its hot summers, but the giant snow globe on Playfair Street will deliver Sydneysiders a taste of a white Christmas. Enter a living fairytale at Wells Courtyard, which will be transformed into an elegant white and gold Christmas village featuring replicas of The Rocks architecture, popular restaurants and shops. The seven-metre Jack Mundey Place Christmas Tree stands at the heart of all the magic, dripping with decorations. It's the perfect photo-op to get some pics for the Gram, or to just meander through the streets and take in the magic. Whatever your preference, the Christmas Wonderlanes decorations are sure to bring the festive cheer.

This year, the bars, cafés and restaurants of The Rocks are serving up extra-festive specials, from dessert treats to hearty Christmas dinners. Take your tastebuds on a tour of the precinct and discover all of the Christmas-themed menu items. Start your foodie adventure at Tayim with a Sleigh Bell Cocktail, guaranteed to get you in the spirit with a fruity blend of cranberry and amaretto. Pique your appetite with housemade eggnog and rum and raisin scones with brandy cream at The Tea Cosy, and get a sumptuous Turkey Roast Special at the Fortune of War. You’ll want to leave plenty of room for dessert, as you'll be spoilt for choice. You can’t go wrong with a Bailey’s Tiramisu at Pony Dining, and Holly Jolly Pandan and Lychee Flavoured Lamingtons at Aslan Coffee Roasters are just as tempting. The Christmas Ale combo at Endeavour Tap Rooms is sure to bring the merriment, but if a cocktail is more your speed, then the candy-cane-inspired Grinch Cocktail at the Orient, and Mrs Jones will certainly satisfy your sweet tooth. Find all the feasts here.

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Christmas is a time for family, and that includes fur-children too. Wander through The Rocks Markets through to Dawes Point Park on corner of Lower Fort and George Street, where you can receive a free photo of your pet striking a Christmas pose with Santa – truly something for the mantlepiece, or your own Christmas cards or Insta. Santa Paws Pet Photos will be running Saturday, December 3, 10 and 17, 10am-2pm. To kick off the fun, The Rocks is hosting a Pound Paws Dog Day event on the first Saturday (Dec 3) in collaboration with Pound Paws, an Australian charity that helps to rehome pets. Have a furry little Christmas with pet market stalls and a Christmas-themed costume competition featuring celebrity judges and pawsome prizes up for grabs.

Deck the halls! Attend a wreath-making workshop and bring home a piece of the magic with you. You’ll create a festive wreath with a unique Aussie twist, using florals, dried natives and fruits. You’ll receive a glass of bubbles on arrival before at a relaxed alfresco setting where you can unleash your inner artist. The classes are $70pp and will run Sunday, December 4 and 11, from 10.30am-12.30pm at 35 Nurses Walk.

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Kicking back with a Christmas movie is all but mandatory during the festive season. Fortunately, The Rocks’ free Christmas-themed Laneway Cinema has quite the line-up. Curl up on the bean bags and deck chairs beneath the stars and enjoy contemporary Christmas classics such as The Santa Claus, Elf and Love Actually. Movies will screen every Wednesday at 7.30pm in Atherden Street. No bookings are required and you can check out the program here.

The Rocks Markets are the locus of local creativity and design. If you’re looking for the perfect Christmas present, nothing beats a gift with a handmade touch. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays the precinct comes alive with a fabulous array of stalls. Head down to peruse locally made homewares, jewellery, fashion and beauty, as well as plenty of kiosks serving delicious street food to keep you fuelled up as you browse. There’ll be a roaming elf and candy-cane stilt walkers to put you in a Christmassy mood, too – head down every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, December 2-18. For other markets experiences that will help you tick off your Christmas list check out Blak Markets at The Rocks (Dec 3-4) and Buy from the Bush Markets (Dec 9-10), both on the Tallawoladah Lawn.

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The Rocks is the perfect place to do some Christmas shopping, where you’ll find everything from quirky stores, to boutique shops and luxury labels. Don't miss Hunting Hue's pocket squares, silk scarves, napkins and children’s swimwear that feature iconic Sydney imagery such as the Harbour Bridge and Luna Park. What about a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle with an illustration of The Rocks as a gift? Find it at Squidiniki Gallery for a limited time. There are galleries and art stores that will have something for the art lover in your life –Matt Pearson Gallery for breathtaking landscape and architecture photography, and Atty Gallery for quirky animal prints. Find locally made natural candles and essential oils for someone who deserves a bit of pampering. Peruse the cobbled streets and discover why The Rocks is a unique shopping district.

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