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Five Wintry Sydney Pop-Ups Where You Can Fully Embrace (or Escape) the Cold in the City

You don't have to leave the city to make the most of winter — on any given night you can go ice skating, drink hot buttered rum by the harbour and eat cheese in a teepee.
By Concrete Playground
June 18, 2019

Five Wintry Sydney Pop-Ups Where You Can Fully Embrace (or Escape) the Cold in the City

You don't have to leave the city to make the most of winter — on any given night you can go ice skating, drink hot buttered rum by the harbour and eat cheese in a teepee.
By Concrete Playground
June 18, 2019


You don't have to leave the city to make the most of winter — on any given night you can go ice skating, drink hot buttered rum by the harbour and eat cheese in a teepee.

As we approach the winter solstice — and shortest and coldest days of the year — our sights are firmly set on winter cabins, hot springs and wintry weekends away. But staying in the city doesn't mean you can't take advantage the best bits of winter — after all, it's your biggest opportunity to gorge on hot cheese, down endless mugs of steaming mulled wine and spend time by the fireplace.

But if you're looking to go all out and really immerse yourself in Sydney's winter (which is comparatively mild, mind you), put on a beanie and head to one of these pop-ups. From winter wonderlands to cosy cheese-filled teepees to a tropical harbourside 'beach', they're all designed to let you embrace (or, in some cases, escape) even the most toe-freezing days of winter.

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    Winery Glamping

    Crown Street staple The Winery has transformed its expansive wine garden into a cosy hideout for the winter months — then added in raclette stations and bottomless mulled wine for good measure.

    Walk through the macramé archway to one of two private teepees, which fit up to 11 of your best mates. They’re decked out with floor cushions, ottomans and Persian-style rugs — the ideal setting for sipping on endless pours of mulled wine or sangria (in red, white or rosé). A two-hour bottomless booze deal in a private teepee is on offer for $79 per person, with the package also including your own private raclette station, plus additional honey-roasted camembert and a tiramisu-flavoured bombe alaska for dessert. Or opt for the $59 package, which, apart from all that raclette, includes a four-wine tasting paddle, onion and gruyere toastie and hot chocolate cannoli for all.

    If you don’t want to sit in a teepee, you can can book the raclette station separately for $20 per person (minimum two people), and order all other food and booze items a la carte, while hanging out in the rest of The Winery’s courtyard oasis.

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    Pink Winter Garden

    Darlinghurst’s East Village has transformed its rooftop terrace into a winter wonderland. The fairy light-lit, pink-hued winter garden offers an inner-city oasis where you can rug up, sip hot cocktails and eat European fare. The charming surrounds take inspiration from Europe’s winter night markets and feature hearty eats from Germany, Switzerland and France. Expect Berlin-style currywurst (bratwurst topped with sauerkraut, fries and curried ketchup gravy); a take on the French coq au vin (wine-braised chicken pie served with mash and smoked rosemary camembert); and a four-cheese fondue, spiked with maraschino liqueur and served with assorted veg, cured meats and bread for dipping.

    You can also heat your insides with a spiced mulled wine, warmed mead, mulled cider by Young Henrys or a Tasmanian gin toddy. All of these specialty cocktails are available as two-for-one during daily happy hour from 5–7pm, along with select beer and wine. While entry is free, bookings are recommended.

    Image: Kitti Gould.

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    While Australian winters can get pretty chilly, we’re not often blessed with really fun cold weather (much to our disappointment). We don’t really get snow — or any of the fun activities that it encourages. Thankfully, the Winterlight wonderland in Parramatta’s Prince Alfred Square‚ creates the kind of winters you see in movies. The festival has all the icy activities you could ever want to try — from zooming down a slick ice slide to gliding gracefully across an ice pond (otherwise known as ice skating).

    Winterlight will be decked out with a delicious range of market stalls serving up belly-warming winter treats. Parramatta’s Live and Local musicians will provide the soundtrack while you eat and, once you’ve suitably warmed yourself back up, you can enjoy the amusement rides (including a ferris wheel), circus skills workshops and the interactive neon art installation.

    There are a couple of themed nights on the agenda, too. First up is ‘date night’ on Thursday, July 11, which includes a free silent cinema and love song dedications by live string musicians as you ice skate. Meanwhile, Thursday, July 18 is ‘neon night’, which will see the ice rink lit up under vivid UV lights — plus, free UV face painting and roving neon performers. Oh, and if you visit between Monday, July 8 and Thursday, July 11, the first-ever Parramatta Night Markets will be happening nearby. Take some time to head over to Market Street and peruse the stalls offering food, fashion, gifts and homewares.

    Image: Katrina James.

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    Winter Igloos

    If you have lived in Sydney for frankly any time at all, you should be familiar with King Street Wharf mainstay Cargo. It’s the place that you inevitably end up when, already a few drinks down, someone in the group (occasionally you) suggests finding a dance floor to tear up. But this winter, the venue is keeping things cosy, filling its waterfront space with lit-up igloos.

    The transparent igloos will be glowing with fairy lights, and decked out with cushions and blankets so you can people watch (just minus the winter chill). Each igloo houses up to eight people, and for a very reasonable $25 per person, you’ll get a grazing plate for everyone to share and a warm cocktail each.

    When you’re done with that, you can order more snacks — like vegan tacos, fried chicken and loaded waffle fries — straight to your igloo. Keep your insides (and your hands) warm throughout the night with hot mugs full of pumpkin hot toddy, buttered rum and dirty chai martinis. Availability is limited, though, so we recommend rounding up the crew and booking in a session pronto Even if you miss the lights, the igloos will be hanging around until the end of August.

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    The Island Kanak Beach Village

    This one is more about escaping the cold (or at least pretending to) than embracing it. The banks of Circular Quay are about to get a taste of New Caledonian beach life, as part of a four-day pop-up this July. A whole heap of sand will transform the eastern side of the quay, between the ferry terminals and the Sydney Opera House, into a tropical oasis inspired by the French island’s beach villages. The summery beach is part of the city’s annual Bastille Festival, which also includes a wintry Christmas in July Village over in the Rocks.

    From July 11 to 14, the sandy stretch is set to be the ultimate playground for those avoiding winter, dotted with beach chairs and palm trees and filled with cocktails, treasure hunts, games and island-inspired fare. Imagine lazing beneath the beach umbrellas while you tuck into the likes of barbecued prawn and pineapple skewers and coconut-glazed roast pork, before sampling limited-edition Noumea-style ice cream treats and desserts from your mates at KOI and Messina. Yep, the Sydney dessert big guns are getting involved for this one.

    To match, there’ll be a bar serving a cocktail selection heavy on rum, coconut and pineapple, along with a tidy lineup of French rosé and bubbles. But it doesn’t have to be all lounging and lazing. If you prefer a more adventurous sort of summer getaway, round up your own crew of pirates to take part in a giant treasure hunt, trekking all through Circular Quay and the Rocks. Or, have a crack at ‘coconut pétanque’ — a riff on the classic European game, which plays a little like Aussie lawn bowls.


Top image: Winterlight by Katrina James.

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