A free-spirit studying psychology at the University of Sydney.
Published December 15th 2013
9 of Sydney's Christmas attractions
The Christmas festivities have lit up Sydney city as we countdown to one of our favourite times of year. Like with the decorations we put on our trees and throughout our homes, the CBD has been brightened with some beautiful, whimsical Christmas decorations that are free for you to enjoy. Here I have for you a list of some cool and colourful, Christmas-themed highlights of Sydney. Keep an eye out for these to brighten your day as you make your way around the city, or as you embark on a stroll to see what Christmas has brought to town. For those of you who are new to Sydney city, this can be used as a colourful and festive way to explore some of the main attractions of the CBD.
1. The Martin Place Christmas Tree
In the midst of one of the CBD's busiest working areas stands a tall, brightly-lit tree. This tree has always been one of the largest and most popular marks of Christmas being in Sydney. It is a mark of how everybody in town during this time can share the festive spirit. This year the tree has been revamped to be more interactive than previous years. There is a feature allowing you to text a festive message that you would like to see traveling along the colourful, bright, electronic ribbon that spirals up the tree. Contribute your Christmas wishes by sending an SMS to 0427840851.
Adjacent to one side of the tree (the side that faces George Street), there is an electronic sign board with Christmas wishes and a sensitive LED floor - take a walk across it and see what happens. The tree is a nice complement to the old Sydney buildings that have remained in Martin Place, including the clock tower, which makes a picturesque backdrop for this Christmas symbol. Be sure to also keep an eye out for choir performances, and other entertaining events that occur around this giant tree.
Map address: Martin Place, Sydney.
2. The Strand Christmas Tree and Decor
Built in 1891, Sydney's Strand Arcade is a very shiny, Victorian-style shopping plaza (featuring many designer labels) located in one of the most bustling parts of the city - between George and Pitt Street. This festive season, the Strand Arcade once again features some artistic Christmas decorations.
The main attraction in the arcade is the Alex Perry-inspired Christmas tree. This, unlike traditional trees, radiates a vibrant and glossy red colour with the neatly packed Christmas decorations - look closely, and you will notice that some of these are in the shape of butterflies. Gold LED lights form the base of the tree and outline the golden, shining star atop it.
In addition to the central tree, the Strand has some smaller, more traditional looking trees for you to see. You will also see some decorations hanging above your head, in line with the store names, and some pretty fairy lights lining the Victorian-style railing that runs across the multiple levels of the plaza. You are sure enjoy both the festive aesthetics and a glamourous form of Christmas shopping during your December visit to the Strand.
Sydney's Queen Victoria Building, commonly referred to as QVB is definitely a landmark of the city - it is also a popular meeting point. It was built in 1898 in honour of the monarch and features some extravagant romanesque architecture and the works of stained-window artists.
Every year the QVB appropriately plays host to Australia's famous giant Swarovksi Christmas Tree - I say 'appropriate' as the tree seems to complement the elaborate architecture of this city landmark. The tree sits underneath the QVB's monumental dome and spans three levels in its height. It is made whimsical and fairytale-like by the thousands of sparkling Swarovski crystals and lights that twinkle like stars. The forty plus hours put into assembling this artwork is worthwhile as it makes this a beautiful Christmas wonderland in the heart of Sydney.
Map address: 455 George Street, Sydney
Learn more about QVB at www.qvb.com.au
4. Westfield Centrepoint's Neon Decorations
Westfield Centrepoint, the glamourous super shopping complex of the CBD, takes the traditional shopping-centre Christmas decor to a more contemporary level. From what I have seen so far, there are light-up spiky globes suspended in between balconies which remind me of sea-urchins. Their organisation makes them appear as a more abstract form of Christmas tree, and their changing colours enhance the festive feel in this place. Out on Pitt Street, there were also some street performers playing Christmas-themed music and some people dressed up in costumes to match the season.
While you are around Westfield Centrepoint, be sure to check out David Jones from both the outside and the inside. The window displays along the street contain cute set ups of Christmas scenes. There are some crafty decorations on the inside too. On top of this, you will see some cute chocolates, sweets, and other festive delicacies in the David Jones food hall.
The world iconic Darling Harbour also joins in the Christmas spirit. The waterside venue is a beautiful and buzzing context for a bright Christmas tree, which is known as the 'Tree of Light'. This tree outside the Sydney Convention & Exhibition centre is entirely electronic, with its fluorescent lights easily spotted from all parts of the harbour. Like the Martin Place tree, it also has some interactive features to be discovered.
There are also some giant balloon Santas scattered around the water that provide some more festive family fun. These will be out until the 25th of December. Furthermore, the weekly Saturday fireworks display will shoot from 9pm - these are sure to make any Christmas-themed outing feel bigger and more magical.
Back up beside the landmark QVB, stands another great landmark of Sydney City, the sandstone Town Hall building - also built in the 1800's. It hosts a diversity of events, from formal award ceremonies, to concerts and music events during Sydney Festival in January. Throughout the Christmas season, the front of this building becomes a canvas for colourful animated Christmas projections. There are a series of different Christmas scenes on rotation, so if you are not in a hurry you should stick around and enjoy the whole show.
As you can see the city's prime Christmas motif is the tree. This tradition is also carried on in the colonial foundation district of The Rocks. Take a stroll from Circular Quay station and enjoy views not only of the world-famous Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House, but also of bright and luminescent Christmas decorations, namely the tree that stands close to the Contemporary Art Museum.
Map address: close to 140 George St, The Rocks.
For more about the Rocks, its Christmas events, and other events happening throughout the year, go to www.therocks.com
9. Christmas bus.
Now this last thing was a surprise to me, and is perhaps a bit elusive in nature. With some good luck, when you step foot onto one of the public buses running around the city, you will walk into a Christmas wonderland as I did the other afternoon. This bus was decked out in Christmas decorations - a tonne of colourful tinsel lined the aisle, seats and windows. There were cute stuffed toys at the front next to the ticket machines, and Christmas stickers on the windows. All of these decorations made this a rather artsy, festive, and indeed quite jolly ride. I don't know how many buses are running around with these decorations going on, but I hope that you come across one at least once before the end of the Christmas season.