Winter isn’t coming, it’s already here at the Winter Festival.
The small pocket of Sydney’s CBD outside St Mary’s Cathedral is now aglow with twinkling lights and falling snow as the Winter Festival takes over from June 30th to July 17th. An open-air ice-skating rink, with the beautiful backdrop of the cathedral, is set to lure people of all ages to enjoy the wintery magic. Walking through the beautifully-lit Winter garden, Australians can truly experience the magical delights of European winter traditions.
Returning to St Mary’s Cathedral in 2016 after last year’s Winter Wonderland, the festival features a huge open-air ice skating rink, where you can show off your skills (or cling onto the railing) as (fake) snow falls gently from the sky. To get into the spirit as soon as you arrive, sit in a sleigh and cuddle up to a Saint Bernard or a Husky and order a drink from a pigtailed waitress in traditional Bavarian dress.
If you’ve got children, bundle them up and set them free in the powder pit where they can dodge snowballs or try their hand at building a snowman. Smaller children will love the giant inflatable slide, but if that’s too tame, let them take to the slopes for the Toboggan Terror or run across the Cathedral water feature in an inflatable zorb ball. Anyone can ice skate with Olaf, and and sing along with the Australian Institute of Music choir’s combination of Christmas Carols and Frozen songs.
Wrap your frostbitten fingers around a mug of hot cider while you relax in the Munich Brauhaus Pop-up Bier Hall, which is decked out in Christmas decorations that would make Mrs Claus proud. There’s also a large selection of red and white wines, beer on tap and four specialty Belvedere cocktails.
While you’re in the Brauhaus, make sure you don’t miss out on the nibbles. From the Urban Purveyor group comes a wonderful selection of canapés; tender slow-cooked lamb with couscous, the deliciously juicy tomato and feta poppers, the surprising tuna spring rolls and soft, succulent porcini mushroom ravioli. For a more intimate dining experience, you can hire an Après Skate Igloo, which comes complete with food and drink service from award winning restaurants such as Sake Restaurant & Bar, The Cut Bar & Grill, Café Ananas, Munich Brauhaus and the Argyle.
If you’ve got a more international palate, visit the European Food Market beside the ice rink, where you can enjoy German bratwurst, Indian curries, Swiss chocolate, Turkish gozleme, fudge, coffee and Belgian waffles. To entertain you while you sip your hot chocolate are mesmerising performances from spectacular Stars On Ice skaters.
Enjoy the wintery extravaganza from June 30th to July 17th at St Mary’s Cathedral.
You can book tickets online here, or find the Sydney Winter Festival on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
For more places to warm up in winter, check out our list of bars in Sydney with fireplaces.