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TRAVEL & LEISURE

Five Ways to Get Into the Festive Spirit Around The Rocks This December

Pick up one-of-a-kind gifts, sit down to a fine diner feast and catch cheery live tunes right in the heart of the city this season.
By Tamar Cranswick
December 16, 2020
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By Tamar Cranswick
December 16, 2020
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With its gorgeous cobblestoned laneways, an abundance of bars and a bustling Christmas market, The Rocks is a pretty special place to be in December. Every year the precinct decorates its streets and shopfronts with fairy lights, tinsel and trees aplenty, transforming it into a festive oasis — smack-bang in the middle of the city. Whether you want to catch up on some last-minute gift buying from The Rocks' Christmas Markets, grab a drink under a canopy of twinkling lights or catch some live Christmas tunes, The Rocks has it all.

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WANDER THROUGH A CHRISTMAS WONDERLAND

There's plenty of Christmas magic to behold in The Rocks this holiday season. Start your adventure at the First Fleet Park stairway, which will have ambient lighting aplenty, then make your way into The Rocks. Along George Street and Nurses Walk, you'll find Christmas trees, lamp post decorations and fairy lights all adding to the festive atmosphere. Next up is the Instagram-worthy Mistletoe Lane that's taken over Kendall Lane, festooned with a 30-metre-long canopy of baubles. If that wasn't enough, The Rocks has gone all out this year with an epic installation that's taken over Playfair Street, dubbed Jingle Rock Station. Here, you'll find more pine trees, plus cheery Christmas tunes, station signs and toy soldiers keeping watch over a custom-made golden train. Climb aboard The Rocks Express — think The Polar Express vibes — for your very own chariot experience this Christmas.

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Anna Kucera

CATCH UP WITH MATES OVER AN AL FRESCO APERITIVO

Thanks to Sydney's laneways, streets and car parks recently transforming into al fresco dining areas, you now have more places to pick from for your end-of-year catch-up with the crew. The Rocks is no exception, with 19 of the precinct's pubs, restaurants and cafes now operating with expanded outdoor seating. So you're spoilt for choice, really. If you're after a G&T, head to Tayim, which has opened a gin garden along the cobblestoned Nurses Walk laneway, or you could hit up The Doss House, which has added a cocktail bar in its upstairs courtyard. Otherwise, go-to pub The Glenmore is a perfect spot for a casual drink. There's a reason why The Glenmore is always popular: those million-dollar rooftop views look out over The Rocks, Circular Quay, the Sydney Opera House and beyond. Nab yourself a spot up high and watch the world below while sipping an aperitivo. Order another round and settle in — there's not many places better on a summer's eve as the sun goes down.
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Anna Kucera

PICK UP UNIQUE GIFTS

Got some impossible-to-buy-for people in your life? The Rocks Christmas Market is the perfect place to finalise your gift list. Browse through the openair bazaar and pick up an array of goodies, from handmade jewellery to clothing, funky homewares, leather goods, natural skincare products, toys, candles, hand-crafted wooden cheese boards, soaps and more. Pass by the AHW Studio stall to pick up steampunk-inspired jewellery pieces, too, then grab something for your sweet-toothed friends — think artisanal chocolates, liquorice and cookies. You can also hit up some of The Rocks' shops for one-of-a-kind pressies. Squidinki in Nurses Walk has a range of gifts, including clothing, homewares, Christmas hampers and bric-a-brac; while at Atty Gallery, located in Playfair Street, you'll find quirky, fun art prints of Aussie animals. And, just down the street, you'll come across Hunting Hue, which sells a range of textiles depicting quintessential Sydney scenes.

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Pony, Anna Kucera

HAVE A FINE DINING FEAST

After all that shopping, it's time to treat yourself to a fine dining dinner — 'tis the season, after all. And you can't get much better in The Rocks than Pony Dining. Located on the corner of Argyle Street and Kendall Lane, the converted warehouse space has stood the test of time and is now an institution for locals and tourists alike. Tucked away from the bustle but close to all the action, Pony is the ideal spot to unwind with a next-level feed and glass of vino. Woodfire is its modus operandi, with the freshest Aussie meats, seafood and veggies all cooked over an Argentinean-style grill. Think roasted cauliflower with garlic shoots, pickled raisins, macadamia cream and curry leaf; blue swimmer crab linguine; charred zucchini and squash with miso dressing; dry-aged rib eye with Vegemite glaze; and, for dessert, chocolate fondant with passionfruit ice cream. If you'd rather eat while you're on the go, you'll find plenty of street food vendors serving up tasty snacks throughout the Christmas Market.

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Craven Images

CATCH LIVE CHRISTMAS TUNES

Keep your festive cheer high with all the live tunes that'll be playing throughout The Rocks this December. You can catch DJ sets and live bands every Thursday to Sunday — the perfect accompaniment to your al fresco bevvies at one of the many outdoor dining areas in the precinct. Listen to reimagined Christmas hits (hey there Wham!, hello Mariah) as you think about what you want under your tree this year. As the main event draws closer, there'll be even more festive jingles on high rotation from December 21–24.cp-line

The Rocks Christmas Markets is open from 10am–8pm each Friday and Saturday and from 10am–5pm on Sundays. On Christmas Eve, the market is open from 11am–6pm.

Published on December 16, 2020 by Tamar Cranswick

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