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Christmas in July in the Blue Mountains

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by Linda Moon (subscribe)
... a dreamer, freelance writer, naturopath, mother & former social work student based in the Blue Mountains. Continue the journey with me- Soul Home:
Published May 14th 2012
Santa at Mountain Heritage Guesthouse
Yulefest celebrations in full swing at Mountain Heritage Guesthouse.

Christmas in July refers to celebrations held in the Southern Hemisphere that try to evoke the atmosphere and charm of traditional white Christmas's in the Northern Hemisphere. This generally means the appearance of the fat bearded man in red and that carol singing, Christmas themed decorations, roast dinners, log fires, port and plum pudding will be on the cards. If that sounds tacky to you, Christmas in July probably isn't going to be your piece of cake (pardon the pun).

The upper Blue Mountains with its cold weather and extensive history of entertaining tourists, is a veteran when it comes to hosting this pseudo version of European Christmas. In fact, tourism to the area hits its peak in winter as people are lured by the pleasurable combination of mind gutting cold and a roasting log fire. Let's face it, where else so close to Sydney can you find the equivalent amount of blustering wind, bone cold air, hoar frost, fog and deciduous trees to build the appropriate wintry ambience.

The Christmas in July tradition in Oz has its roots in the Blue Mountains. Options for Christmas in July generally consist of a combination of dinner with festive type indoor entertainment (ranging from carol singing, music and shows). Onsite accommodation is included in many packages. Staying locally overnight is recommended. After you've consumed all that port and rich food, the sleepiness of over-indulgence does set in and it suddenly seems a long distance from the log fire to the car door. My personal tip is to choose a host that makes more effort with the trimmings than the five course dinner. After all, you can get a meal anywhere.

Below, you will find a list of some of the top venues to experience a Blue Mountains Yulefest (as it is known in this area) celebration. Vegetarians or people on a health kick, won't find much, if anything, on such menu's, with their emphasis on roasts and rich sauces. Do vegetarians actually exist in Europe? Yes, Yulefest menu's are very thin on salad. Expect mince pies though. But, hey, this is an English based tradition. Say no more. On the upside, the pro's include an accessible winter ambience, a warm place from the cold of winter (not to be sneezed at) and the closest thing Australians can experience to a white European Christmas.

A word of warning: don't come up expecting Yulefest at any random time you choose. Yulefest is offered on limited days and at specific times. You probably need to pre-book.

Another warning – this time for snow-seekers: be wary of websites and advertising hinting at snow-falls during your Yulefest weekend. In reality, it snows up here at most two to three times a year, only ever for a few hours at a time (if that), often only leaving a freckling of snow. So you'd be damn lucky to see snowflakes, though you might well see frost and Swedes in beanies. Trust me: I'm a local.

That said, I have extremely fond memories of Yulefest in a past life as a functions waitress at top-notch establishment and Yulefest host, Mountain Heritage Guesthouse. As an insider, I can personally attest to the professionalism and mountain's atmosphere that go hand in hand with this establishment.

Click on the links below to go to straight to the web-pages for these Yulefest hosts. Browse through the options for dinner alone, or an accommodation package. These are bona-fide guesthouses and resorts – remember.

Let the heartiness begin. Ho ho ho!

Mountain Heritage Guesthouse
Local legend has it that the Christmas in July concept in the Blue Mountains was conceived here by proprietor Gary Crockett – and, might I add, still endures in very accomplished and hearty form. The weekend Yulefest package here includes cabaret, carol singers around the open fire, pre-dinner and after-dinner treats, buffet breakfast, Christmas dinner, piano music and so on. If you are here in the day (such as for breakfast) expect awesome panoramic views in the dining room. Also, expect your wallet to down-size significantly. Mountain Heritage Guesthouse was a Blue Mountains Lithgow and Oberon Tourism Award of Excellence 2011 winner.

Mountain Heritage Guesthouse
Mountain Heritage Guesthouse - charm, views and professional carol singers

Jenolan Caves House – Chisolm's Restaurant
Enjoy log fires and Christmas decorations at Caves House and festive fare at the restaurant. The ultimate winter getaway from everything. You won't find Coles here, but you will find caves, atmosphere and seclusion. There are various packages available including accommodation weekends. See their events page for July.

Jenolan Caves
Santa at the Caves

]The Carrington Hotel
This icon of Katoomba offers Yulefest dinner in its' gorgeous Grand Dining Room complete with carolers, entertainment, Santa and more. Cost is about $140 per person. Or grab an accommodation package. Check out the events webpage.

Grand Dining Room
The Grand Dining Room, venue of Yulefest at the Carrington Hotel

The Clarendon
This 1920's inspired theatre restaurant, cum guesthouse, offers live music with a Yule twist, the customary open fireplace and a pretty groovy bar. Weekend accommodation and entertainment packages are available.

The Clarendon Hotel, Katoomba
The Clarendon - don't let the ugly exterior deceive you.

Victoria and Albert Guesthouse, Mount Victoria
Offers accommodation packages. Or attend the Saturday night Yulefest dinner for $80 per head.

Victoria and Albert Hotel
The Victoria and Albert Hotel

For these and more Yulefest Options, check out this dedicated Blue Mountains Yulefest webpage.
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Why? Something fun to do in Winter
When: Usually June to July
Where: Various Yulefest venues in the Blue Mountains
Cost: Varies with dinner only or accommodation packages
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