It’s currently 33 degrees (Fahrenheit) where I am. As much as I tried to prepare myself for returning to the cold of the East Coast, my body is screaming out in protest every time another blast of wind smacks my face. I can’t help but fuel my frigid veins with hot drinks, bundle up under cozy sweaters and daydream about the weather in the southern hemisphere home I left in June.
But it’s not just the weather. Sydney in summertime is excellent. Not only does it seem like businesses shut down for a whole month, but there are a number of events and festivals — many free — that take place in the city between December and March. Except for a few uber-hot days in February, it’s generally a great time to do things outdoors, whether it’s shopping, surfing or sitting sipping suds at a beer garden.
The city comes alive with a drunken hippy vibe as free music, dance and art take over. The main events happen in the Domain where hordes gather on the grass with bottles of wine and picnic baskets while they listen and dance to a range of musical acts (usually there’s at least one “big” one). You can pay to see extended concerts by some of the free acts and cabaret-style entertainment set up in Hyde Park.
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race
If you’re feeling up to it the day after Christmas, this race launches on Boxing Day from Nielsen Park on the way down to Tassie. The fleet is an international one with all kinds of boats.
I arrived in Australia the day before Australia Day and I sort of wandered into the various events going on in the CBD. There are concerts, food stalls and booze, but you could also just set up a picnic with your buds and head to the grass on Milson’s Point to take in the Harbour away from the massive crowds.
Chinese New Year
This February holiday is a big deal given Sydney’s large Asian population. Red lanterns adorn the tree branches, and talent contests, food huts, shopping stalls and a parade make up part of the festivities.
Shirtless men in swim trunks, colorful costumes and elaborate floats make up this annual parade celebrating the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community on the streets of Darlinghurst.
This was always my favourite market because they had free food samples and the glass blower at the end who sits there making cool vases and sculptures out of colorful glass. They take place Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., though they have later night hours on Fridays at different times of year. In addition to food like fudge and hot sauce, it’s a good place to browse for gifts and trinkets (one of the most memorable was a bag made from kangaroo genitals). Like any market, they do get kind of cray cray with the crowds. Just take a deep breath and plow on through.
This market is near and dear to my heart because I lived down the road in Balmain for the majority of my time in Sydney and had a few friends host stalls here. This isn’t as “nice” as the Rocks Markets because most of the items are second-hand. But if you’re in a pinch for a last-minute party dress or costume to put together, this is the place to come. I got a Christmas party dress here last year for $10, sandals for $5 and earrings for $2. There are also old books, furniture and some interesting knick-knacks.
These markets to me always seemed to be a little more orderly. It’s a mix of old and newer items and the prices tend to be a little higher. But Glebe is such a groovy place that it’s fun to walk around and see the eclectic wares and then duck into one of the suburb’s many cafes and bars.
This is an obvious one, but I include it because a lot of first-time visitors to Sydney automatically think “Bondi.” Bondi’s beautiful and full of good people watching, but there are other gorgeous and less touristy beaches. Try Coogee, Tamarama or Balmoral. You can still surf, snorkel and swim and enjoy a bit more of a local, family feel.
If you’re looking to plan a trip to Sydney during the summer, it can be tough with higher prices not just for the weather but for the holiday season. But it is possible: I moved to Sydney in the summer and I had friends visit during this season. Look into the YHA hostel chain for cheaper accommodation or try couch surfing, a great way to meet other travelers in the summer. Alternatively, you can check HotelsCombined for a range of accommodation options in Sydney with the cheapest rates.
Traveling on actual holidays like Christmas can save you money on airfare. I highly recommend using Zuji to book flights. They were my go-to online travel booking site while in Oz (and even still in America) and always gave a good list of options within my price range.
What do you like or look forward to about Sydney in summertime?
This is a sponsored post, but as always, all opinions are my own.