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  1. Darling Harbour giant floating Christmas baubles
    Photograph: Supplied/Placemaking NSW
  2. A family enjoy some drinks at a restaurant in Darling Harbour
    Photograph: Supplied/Placemaking NSW
  3. A family are having fun on a pedal boat
    Photograph: Supplied/Placemaking NSW
  4. Santa Clause waving at kids at Darling Harbour
    Photograph: Supplied/Placemaking NSW
  5. Firework display at Darling Harbour
    Photograph: Supplied/Placemaking NSW

Why Darling Harbour should be at the top of your Christmas list

From pedal boats to fireworks displays, mini golf, live music, buzzing restaurants and giant floating baubles, Sydney’s sparkling harbourside playground is turning it on this Christmas

By Avril Treasure for Time Out in association with Placemaking NSW

An oasis found in the heart of the city, Darling Harbour is home to vibrant eateries, cool cocktail bars, wildlife experiences and fascinating museums set against a stunning harbour backdrop.

This Christmas period the waterside precinct is turning the dial right up with festive activities and fun to be had for everyone. So whether you’ve been naughty or nice this year, here’s why we think the destination should be at the top of your Christmas list to experience.

If you’re looking for an enjoyable Christmas time activity, why not explore beautiful Cockle Bay by pedal boat? As the sun begins to set, stroll along the harbourside and check out the gigantic floating baubles (Nov 19-Dec 27) or enjoy a drink at one of Cockle Bay’s bars and take in the majestic sight. Get the whole family together for a day out in the sunshine and a lighthearted game of putt-putt as Pixar Putt returns to Darling Harbour this year (Dec 16-Feb 5). An interactive game inspired by some of Pixar’s most loved films including Toy Story and Finding Nemo, Pixar Putt is sure to get the competitive juices and laughs flowing. And, there's an after dark session for adults from 7pm on Thursday to Saturday nights where you can enjoy a drink at the on-site pop-up bar before your game. And be sure to nab a Christmas selfie in front of the six metre tall giant bauble (Nov 19- Dec 27) cloaked in a kaleidoscope of colour!

On Friday and Saturday evenings from 9pm (Dec 9-24), Darling Harbour will come alive with a spectacular display of fireworks. End your night with a bang and watch the sky light up over Cockle Bay. Also, put on a Santa Hat and come and celebrate at Darling Harbour’s Christmas Festival (weekends Dec 10-11;17-18) featuring free outdoor live music, entertainment and tasty food stalls. Plus, be sure to ride the famed Darling Harbour Ferris Wheel before it goes for good on Jan 2, 2023.

Come on down to Darling Square this festive period and see it come alive with Christmas sparkle! Discover the walk-through light tunnel and be sure to nab a selfie; treat yourself to some delicious sweets found across the Square; meet Santa (weekends Dec 10-11; 17-18) and enjoy the Christmas-themed dance battles, DJs and entertainment. 

Hungry and thirsty? Thankfully, Darling Harbour is not short on first-class dining and drinking options perfect for Christmas parties, date nights and family get-togethers. Kickstart your day with harbour views and cocktails and Helm Bar; treat yourself to a festive G&Tea High Tea at Hyatt Regency Sydney; dine on a Christmas Eve luncheon at Café del Mar; enjoy a have a lavish Christmas Eve dinner at Sailmaker Restaurant; feast on fresh seafood on Christmas Day at Nick’s Seafood, Crowne Plaza or Atelier by Sofitel; and finish with gorgeous views and chic cocktails at Champagne Bar by Sofitel.

Stuck on what to get your loved ones this Christmas? Give the gift of a fun experience with one of Darling Harbour's passes or tickets to popular attractions including concert tickets and a multi-attraction annual pass where you can visit Sea Life Sydney Aquarium and the Wild Life Sydney Zoo.

If Christmas is a time for making memories, then Darling Harbour is the place to do it! So come on down to Darling Harbour this festive period, lap up the jolly vibe of the Harbour and make some Christmas memories with your friends and family.

Find out more information here.

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