5 Ways to make the most of winter in NSW

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It might be a few degrees cooler than you’re use to, but that doesn’t mean you need to stay tucked under those blankets.

Winter is a great time to explore and head out on some adventures around New South Wales. From the winter wonderland of Yulefest in the Blue Mountains to the fresh crepes at the famous french Bastille Festival in Sydney, here’s some fun-filled winter activities suitable for the whole family.

Best of all, we’ll show you how to get there using public transport.


1. VIVID Festival

Around the world Sydne is known for its summer sun and golden beaches, but during the long dark winter nights the VIVID Festival showcases a whole new side to the city.

The annual festival sees some of Australia’s most iconic landmarks and locations (Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Rocks, Taronga Zoo) transformed into a wave of vibrant colours, mesmerising animations and dazzling neon lights.

You’ll find giant visuals are projected onto the Sydney Opera House, GPO Building and Museum of Contemporary Art whilst dozens of interactive artworks are displayed around the harbour foreshore and surrounding suburbs.

But it’s not just outside where all the creative is proudly on display. VIVID also sees international and local artists performing at multiple venues during the festival run. From live music to inspiring talks and gripping theatre, VIVID is celebration of creativity, colour and energy.

This years musical line-up included Ice Cube, Cat Power, Iron & Wine, Solange, St. Vincent as well as local artists Daniel Johns & Luke Steele.

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With so much to see, experience and enjoy Vivid 2018 has something for everyone.

  • Where: Various locations around Sydney Metropolitan area
  • Dates: May 25 – June 16
  • Getting there: Plan your trip using Trip Planner
  • More info: vividsydney.com

2. Go ice-skating on the beach at Bondi

It’s one of the most famous landmarks in Australia, but each June the normally sun-soaked Bondi Beach is transformed into a winter wonderland.

For starters there’s the popular beachside ice skating rink, which is suitable for all ages. It’s not huge, but it does offer some of the best views of the beach whilst you’re whizzing around with your skates on.  During the festival the iconic Bondi Pavilion becomes home to live local music, art stands, food stalls and even theatre performances on selected nights.

But by far the biggest attraction is the Bondi Eye, a 32-metre high ferris wheel which offers breathtaking 360-degree views across Bondi itself.

Due to its popularity, tickets do sell out. Make sure your plan your trip and order your tickets in advance so you don’t miss out on all the winter fun.

Don’t forget you can also go ice skating to Cathedral Square (directly in front of St. Mary’s Cathedral) you can find more information about that event here .

  • Where: Bondi Winter Magic at Bondi Beach
  • Dates: June
  • Getting there: From Bondi Junction take the 380, 381, 382 or 333 bus service for 15 minutes directly down to Bondi Beach
  • More info: sydney.com/bondi-winter-magic

3. Celebrate Christmas in July (Yulefest) in the Blue Mountains

Throughout June, July and August, the Blue Mountains is home to a wealth of traditional Christmas celebrations and events.

Known as ‘Yulefest’ local restaurants, cafes and bars throughout the region offer up log fires, winter feasts, festive singalongs and if you’re extra lucky even an appearance from Santa himself.

Make sure you pack a warm jacket and a big scarf, during the winter months, the average temperature in the Upper Mountains is around 5°C.

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  • Where: Blue Mountains and the surrounding regions
  • Dates: June – August
  • Getting there: From Central Station take the Blue Mountains Line direct to Katoomba Station. Travel time is 2 hours and 10 minutes.
  • More info: bluemts.com.au/getting-here

4. Ski down the stunning Snowy Mountains

Located in the breathtaking Kosciuszko National Park, the Snowy Mountains is a true alpine wilderness. It’s also home to the highest peak in Australia at 2,228 m,  Mt. Kosciuszko. There are countless natural wonders to explore including glacial lakes, hidden caves and in winter ski fields that stretch to the horizon.

There area is comprised of 4 ski resorts, Thredbo, Charlotte Pass, Perisher and Selwyn Snow Resort each with their own unique features and benefits. One of the most popular is Thredbo, due to its long ski runs, challenging bike and hiking trails and picturesque alpine village at the very centre of the valley.

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  • Where: Snowy Mountains, Kosciuszko National Park
  • Dates: July – August
  • Getting there: You can book a coach and rail trip with NSW TrainLink from Sydney to Cooma for around $120 return. You will still need to book a private shuttle to get you from Cooma to your ski resort.
  • More info: snowymountains.com.au

5. Enjoy French food and wine at the Bastille Festival

Bastille Festival Sydney celebrates the French National Day ‘Bastille Day’ and is  a fantastic way of sampling the French way of life in Australia. The free event brings together some of the finest French food and champagne into the heart of Sydney.

The giant street gathering celebrates not only the inclusive spirit of Bastille Day but highlights some of best cheeses and wines from the country itself.

There’s plenty to do here, with 4 food villages serving up popular French dishes and desserts, 8 wine and beer gardens to choose from, live music to enjoy, a cabaret show for the family and over 40 street performances that run across the three days. Unique cheese and wine tastings are also available but you’ll need to book in advance.

  • Where: Bastille Festival at Circular Quay, The Rocks Sydney
  • Dates: July 12 – 15
  • Getting there: Take the train to Circular Quay Station, the festival is a 3 minute walk away.
  • More info: bastillefestival.com.au

Plan your winter trip

Use our Trip Planner tool or download one of our handy travel apps to see the transport options available to you.

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