Sydney is not a particularly enjoyable place to be in winter. The concept of central heating never really took off in Australia, leading to frigid houses and evenings curled up on the couch next to the space heater (a fire safety hazard in and of itself), but I digress. The sun sets by 5pm, leading to long, dark, evenings. Warm, sunny days at the beach become a wistful memory, and depressingly high electricity bills from your space heater become reality.
But, thanks to an El Nino year, probably with a sprinkle of global warming thrown in, at least this winter will be a mercifully short one. Instead of hiding under the covers and waiting for spring, here’s a few good things that you can look forward to- the five best things about winter in Sydney:
1.Vivid Festival-The shiny icing on the cake of Sydney’s winter events calendar, this free festival of light, sound, and colour sees Sydney come alive with creativity. Circular Quay and the Opera House, Darling Harbour, and other parts of the city become home to installations by international and local artists. Hipsters furiously Instagramming and amateur photographers lining up get the perfect shot of the Harbour Bridge covered in light complete the scene.
Check out Mountain of Light, a pop-up videogame bar in Martin Place for a giant game of Pong, or peddle an exercise bike to make a pterodactyl soar in Chatswood’s dinosaur-inspired precinct.
Vivid runs from 27 May- 18 June, http://www.vividsydney.com/
2. City to Surf– Instead of overindulging in comfort food and wishing away the cold, why not embrace it and take advantage of the cooler weather to get into running? Not as crazy as it sounds, Sydney’s iconic City to Surf race, which stretches 14km from the city and ends at Bondi Beach, is a great challenge and a fun day out. It’s also accessible to walkers and families with strollers, so it can suit all fitness levels.
Marching bands, Elvis impersonators, and kids handing out candy cheer on the 60,000+ runners, the atmosphere is electric and it would be impossible not to feel a great sense of accomplishment afterwards. June and July are great months for running, since the cooler weather makes being outside a bit more pleasant than the 90+ days, drenched in sweat just by walking out the front door, so start training now.
This year’s race is Sunday, August 14th.
3. Mulled wine– If running’s not your thing, there’s always wine. Idly pass by the cold nights by the fire or in a cosy pub with a mulled wine, a quintessential wintery drink. Served warm, this spiced wine will toast even the coldest of hearts and make you feel like you’re at a German Christmas market.
Check out Time Out’s guide of where to find the best mulled wine and winter cocktails in Sydney.
4. Christmas in July– Being that winter in the Southern Hemisphere is at its peak in July, a Christmas in July weekend away makes sense. The Blue Mountains, just west of Sydney, is a cosy place to spend a few nights away, and join in on their Yulefest celebrations. Find a romantic B&B in Katoomba or Leura, and curl up by the log fire and hope for snow (which, on rare occasions, actually falls in the Blue Mountains).
For accommodation ideas, check out http://www.bluemts.com.au/things-to-do/yulefest-2016/. If you happen to be out that way June 18th, the Winter Magic Festival in Katoomba is a great (albeit crowded) day out with entertainment, vendors, and a parade.
5. Ice skating on Bondi Beach– It might be too cold to swim at Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach, but that doesn’t mean you need to neglect this fun beachside suburb until spring.
Bondi Winter Magic operate an outdoor ice skating rink from July 1-17th. Rug up and go for a skate as you listen to the surf break.