Mince pies are in the supermarket, Christmas decorations are adorning shop fronts and Christmas trees will soon be erected in lounge rooms across the Central Coast.

If you love the merriment of the silly season, Playing in Puddles has you covered with festivities across the Central Coast, Sydney and the Hunter Valley. This year promises to deliver a ton of festive fun with a whole bunch of exciting Christmas events for families to enjoy – from carols and markets to Santa meets and nativity performances!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Central Coast Christmas Fair, Mingara

The Coast’s BIGGEST Christmas event is back again this December and promises all the usual festivities, excitement, and merriment, symbolic of the countdown to Christmas, only this time, it has a completely NEW date and location, and it’s completely FREE! Yep, for the first time in many, many years, this fabulous event has free entry!

The Central Coast Christmas Fair has moved to Mingara for 2023! And, while last year saw it being held in the week before Christmas, this year it’s returning to the first Sunday in December (Sunday 3 December), so that you can get Christmas-ready nice and early.

Families heading to the popular event will enjoy a fun-filled day of Christmas shopping with the opportunity to peruse 160 high-quality market stalls selling everything from candles and Christmas decorations to hand-crafted jewellery and kids’ clothes.

There’s plenty for those simply looking for a day of outdoor fun too, with live music and a whole heap of eating options from international vendors. The FREE kids’ entertainment area is also a winning pull – with free face-painting, crafts, games and activities. You’ll also find inflatable games and amusements, PLUS, Santa will be making an appearance with his old pal The Grinch!

When: Sunday 3 December 2023, 9am-2pm.
Location: Mingara Recreation Club, 12-14 Mingara Drive, Tumbi Umbi.
More info: Stay up to date by visiting the Central Coast Christmas Fair’s Facebook page. Pets are welcome!
Free entry!

The Christmas Lights Spectacular, Hunter Valley Gardens

The Hunter Valley Gardens’ Christmas Lights Spectacular has gone bigger and better this year, with 100 new installations and 1 million more lights! It was already the BIGGEST Christmas lights display in the southern hemisphere, and now it’s well and truly secured that gong by upping their tally from 3 to 4 million lights! How lucky are we that this stunning event is just a hop, skip, jump from the Central Coast!

This year, the Christmas Lights Spectacular welcomes several new additions including Mr & Mrs Claus, a 5-metre-tall snowman, 1.8-metre-tall dandelions, 3-metre-tall butterflies and a light-up classic Kombi van. There are also new walk-through installations that provide perfect photo opportunities, such as the Twinkle Tree Trail, Santa’s Arch & Candy Cane Tunnel. Photos with Santa will be available right up to Christmas Eve and kids can write a letter for Santa and post it in the special letterbox for express delivery to the North Pole!

Kids stage shows are making a return in 2023 and the Gardens’ famous rides will be open every night throughout the event. There is an epic 35-metre-long Super Slide, an incredible Ferris Wheel for those who want to take it easy and take in the view, swing chairs, a traditional Venetian Carousel, and spinning teacups! For families wanting to visit on New Year’s Eve, there’ll be a fabulous fireworks display lighting up the sky at 9:00pm.

A visit to The Christmas Lights Spectacular is an annual tradition for our Playing in Puddles family. We absolutely love the beauty and magic of this event, and we just know that you’ll love it too. 

Playing in Puddles visited; click here to read our review.

When: Friday 3 November 2023 – Sunday 28 January 2024 (closed 25 December 2023).
Gardens open daily 9am-5pm; lights open 5.30pm-10.30pm (last entry 9pm). Rides are open from 6pm until 10pm.
Location: The Hunter Valley Gardens, 2090 Broke Road, Pokolbin.
Tickets and more info: Click here.
Price: Adult $38; Child (4-15 yrs) $28; Children 3 and under Free; Family Pass (2 Adults + 1 Child) $88; Family Pass (2 Adults + 2 Children) $94; Extra Child on Family Pass (4-15 yrs) $27. Rides can be purchased singly for $6/person or purchase a Bonus Pack and get 6 rides for $30 ($6 off). Ride passes cannot be pre-purchased; they are available at the ticket booth at the rides area in the Hunter Valley Gardens.

Central Coast Road to Bethlehem, Erina

After a three-year absence, we are super excited to share that the Road to Bethlehem is back in 2023!  

The Road to Bethlehem pageant is a drama tour portraying the story of the first Christmas. You’ll see winged angels, the Three Wise Men bearing gifts, and Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus in the stable. It’s a really special way to share the true meaning of Christmas with your kids and to remind us all why we celebrate this day. 

The tour starts inside the Jerusalem Market where you’ll find a haven of entertainment including artisan market stalls, live music, a petting zoo, kids’ Christmas craft activities, camel rides, a woodwork tent, face painting, and more!

There’ll be a huge range of food options at family-friendly prices including burgers, curry, Mexican, hot chips, pancakes, donuts, and more. You can visit for the tour, you can visit for the markets, or you can do both!

When: Monday 11, Tuesday 12 and Wednesday 13 December 2023. The gates open from 6.10pm each night. The drama tour sessions leave every 10 minutes from 6.20pm and you need to register for a (free) ticket to attend these. Be sure to arrive early to pick up your tickets and enjoy the food, entertainment, markets, and children’s activities while you wait for your tour!
Location: Central Coast Adventist School, enter via Karalta Lane, Erina.
Tickets: Online bookings for the performance will be available from 1 December 2023 or you can get tickets at the gate (be mindful these are limited to 800/night). To book online, visit the Road to Bethlehem website. Tickets are required for anyone over 2 years of age to go on the drama tour.
Tip: Parking available at Harvey Norman.
Price: FREE

Christmas Under the Stars, Mingara

The Coast’s most popular carols event – Mingara’s Christmas Under the Stars – will be back again in 2023 with another fab line-up of entertainment for the whole family! Expect to see the amazing Phil Burton from Human Nature headlining the event this year, plus everyone’s favourite Canadian act for kids – “PAW Patrol”. Other artists include Gina Jeffreys, Nathan Foley and Elaskia, plus many local musicians. And it wouldn’t be Christmas Under the Stars without a visit from Santa to keep the kids well amused!

You’re welcome to BYO picnic or grab dinner from one of the many food trucks that will be on-site throughout the evening.

This event is supporting VRA Rescue NSW this year – with volunteers collecting donations on the night.

When: Friday 22 December 2023, gates open at 4.30pm with entertainment starting at 5.30pm.
Location: Mingara Regional Athletics Centre, 12-14 Mingara Drive, Tumbi Umbi.
Cost: $9 per person. Children under 5 go free. Tickets go on sale on 27 November 2023.

Choose Your Own Christmas Tree

Christmas on the Central Coast

There’s something very special and ceremonious about bringing home a real Christmas tree. The smell of the fresh pine needles, the excitement of decorating it, and the anticipation of what Santa might leave beneath it are guaranteed to spark joy among all members of the family. Yet decorating the tree with tinsel and baubles is only half the fun; the first and most thrilling task for little kids – and big ones too – is choosing the tree!

For locations across the Central Coast where you can buy a real Christmas tree, check out our feature.

Central Coast Christmas Lights

Christmas on the Central Coast

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, spending an evening slowly driving around the neighbourhood to spot the most colourful and quirky Christmas lights display is a ritual for many Central Coast families. To make it that much easier for you to plan your route, we’ve written a feature that includes a map of all the best-decorated homes up and down the Central Coast! We are currently updating this feature with the 2022 lineup of the best Christmas Lights on the Central Coast so stay tuned to see the best-decorated homes this year!

Are you planning on decorating your home this year? We’d love to include you on our 2023 Central Coast Christmas Lights map! Please add your address to the form at the bottom of our feature below and we’ll include you. Or email your address, light-up date, and a few photos to [email protected].

Pearl Beach Twilight Carols, Pearl Beach

Families, friends and locals are invited to the Pearl Beach Twilight Carols for a singalong with the Pearl Beach Singers and to meet Santa! The event is being put on by The Pearl Beach Progress Association. Bring a picnic and enjoy the evening.

When: Friday 22nd December 2023 from 5:30pm .
Where: Pearl Beach Arboretum (access via Tourmaline & Tennis Courts).  
Learn more here.

Sydney City’s Christmas Lights and Festivities

In the weeks before Christmas, a wander through Sydney’s CBD is a beautiful way to celebrate the festive season. We recommend you spend a night touring the city’s lights.

Here’s our recommendation for a walking tour you can follow to see Sydney City’s main Christmas Light sites:
1) Start at Town Hall. Get to the street level and see the QVB projections.
2) Cross over to the QVB and walk through the QVB.
3) Walk up George Street to The Strand Arcade – walk through the arcade to Pitt Street Mall.
4) Walk down Pitt Street Mall to Market Street.
5) Walk up Market Street to David Jones – look at their Christmas windows and do a walk through the ground level to see their performances and pianist.
6) Cut through Hyde Park to St Mary’s Cathedral to watch the projections.
7) Walk up Elizabeth Street to Martin Place to view the Christmas Tree.

Christmas at the Cathedral, St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney

Lights of Christmas image

We’re very excited to share that the St Mary’s Cathedral Christmas projections are back in 2023! Held each evening for the 12 days leading up to Christmas, a visit here is a very cherished annual tradition for many families. This year there will be food stalls, Christmas gift stalls and live Christmas perfromances every night on the Cathedral steps.

Pack a picnic or enjoy Portuguese tarts and donuts from Natas, gelato from Gelatissimo, pizza from Rosso Pepe and more.

Can’t attend in person? This year they’re live steaming the opening night for all to see. Click here to view the live stream at 6.30pm on 14 December.

When: 14 -25 December 2023. 5:30pm till 10:30pm every night.

Martin Place Christmas tree and fairy lights

The Martin Place Christmas Tree takes the prize for being the tallest Christmas tree in New South Wales and it’s quite the sight to behold. Its 800 branches are decorated in more than 110,000 LED lights, a 3.4-metre colour-changing star, 330 specially created glossy baubles and 15000 flowers! There are nine Australian flowers featured – banksia, waratah, bottlebrush, wattle, eucalyptus gum flower, kangaroo paw, flannel flower, pink wax flower and white wax flower: see if you can spy them all.

As well as the tree, there are 8000 icicle fairy lights and 6 large stars spanning Martin Place.

Dates: Saturday 25 November to Wednesday 27 December. Decorative light show every 15 minutes from 8pm to midnight.

Martin Place Christmas Markets

Experience global hot food stalls, live music, visits from Santa and market stalls selling everything from fashion and Christmas goods to candles and jewellery.

November: Friday 24, Saturday 25, Sunday 26, Thursday 30 – 11am-8pm.
December: Friday 1, Saturday 2, Thursday 7, Friday 8, Saturday 9, Thursday 14, Friday 15, Saturday 16, Thursday 21, Friday 22, Saturday 23.

Choirs in the City, Martin Place and George Street

Enjoy live choirs singing Christmas carols such as Jingle Bells, Silent Night, Good King Wenceslas” and more at Martin Place’s Christmas Tree and on George Street in December.

Choir schedule:

  • Friday 1 December: Australian Girls Choir
  • Saturday 2 December: Circular Keys
  • Sunday 3 December: Glee Bees
  • Monday 4 December: Sydney Sakura Choir
  • Tuesday 5 December: Coro Innominata
  • Wednesday 6 December: Kevinwood Bells
  • Thursday 7 December: Da Vinci Singers
  • Friday 8 December: The Jingle Belle Singers
  • Saturday 9 December: Aurora Australis
  • Sunday 10 December: With One Voice
  • Monday 11 December: Sydney Harmony Choirs
  • Tuesday 12 December: Leichhardt Espresso Choir
  •  Wednesday 13 December: Cafe of the Gate of Salvation
  • Thursday 14 December: Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir
  • Wednesday 15 December: Joubert Singers
  • Saturday 16 December: Northern Beaches Chorus
  • Sunday 17 December: The Merry Minstrels – Martin Place / Cantabile Choir – George Street
  • Monday 18 December:  Sydney Street Choir – Martin Place / Belle Acapella – George Street
  • Tuesday 19 December: Honeybees – Martin Place / Alouette – George Street
  • Wednesday 20 December: Sydney Philharmonia Choir – Martin Place / Fiestaville Choir – George Street
  • Thursday 21 December: – Soulfood – Martin Place / Cleftomaniacs – George Street
  • Friday, 22 December: Salvation Army – Martin Place / Australian Girls Choir – George Street
  • Saturday, 23 December: Salvation Army – Martin Place/ Endeavour Harmony – George Street
  • Sunday, 24 December: Salvation Army – Martin Place

When: Every day. 6pm to 8pm Friday 1 December to Sunday 24 December.

The Strand Arcade’s Christmas Decorations

Image The Strand Arcade

The Strand Arcade is a stunning shopping precinct to walk through any day of the year, but at Christmas, it reaches next-level grandeur. This year they’ve adorned the arcade in a specially commissioned installation of native flowers. The beautiful, oversized, eucalyptus branches and blossoms float from the ornate ceiling and are illuminated in 3500 twinkling lights.

Where: The Strand Arcade, 412-414 George St, Sydney.
When: Tuesday 31 October 2023 to Sunday 7 January 2024.

Christmas Light display on the QVB Building and Woolworths Building

We recommend you walk through the QVB building to witness their stunning Christmas decorations and central Christmas Tree. Then head outside to watch the dazzling lights adorning the façade and awning of the Queen Victoria building. The Woolworths building across from Sydney Town Hall will also be draped in a curtain of light.    

QVB High Tea with Santa

Image from QVB

For a truly regal and magical affair, book in for High Tea with Santa at the QVB Tea Room.

More details and tickets can be found here.

Barangaroo Bells

Barangaroo is home to three gigantic interactive Christmas bells. A swing sits under each bell, and as you swing the bell lights up and rings.

When: Every day, 8am to 10pm Thursday 16 November 2023 to Friday 5 January 2024.

Christmas at David Jones

Image from David Jones

David Jones’ Christmas Windows, Elizabeth Street, Sydey

The David Jones Christmas Windows have long been magical to behold, and this year is sure to be no different. The unveiling of the iconic Christmas windows at the Elizabeth Street store launches the magic and joy that is Christmas at David Jones and this year that’s occurring on 8 November. Inspired by the book The Twelve Dogs of Christmas, this year’s display promises to be a paw-some spectacle!

High Tea with Santa at David Jones, Elizabeth Street, Sydney

Image from David Jones

Enjoy High Tea with Santa at David Jones, Elizabeth Street. Packed full of magical moments you will be treated to a high tea menu, an exclusive gift bag, a Christmas pantomime, crafts, painting and much more. Bookings essential. Tickets $60. Children or babies who can sit on their parent’s lap can attend for free. 

Click here for details and tickets.
When: December 2nd, 3rd, 9th & 10th
Where: David Jones, level 7, Elizabeth Street stall, Sydney.

Christmas Instore Entertainment at David Jones, Elizabeth Street store

Image from David Jones

Magical Christmas in-store entertainment will return this year in November and December. Visit in-store for your chance to see the Toy Solider Troupe, David Jones Belles, Nutcracker Ballerinas, Baubles, Roving Carollers and The Hounds.

Plus, not forgetting, our personal favourite, David Jones’ fabulous pianists! They’re so talented and wonderful.

Pitt Street Mall, Sydney

Pitt Street Mall is being transformed into a canopy of suspended lights, featuring 80,000 LEDs and ten stunning two-metre-high stars.

When: Every day. aturday 25 November 2023 to Monday 1 January 2024.

Other merriment across the Sydney CBD

Christmas trees will be erected at Sydney Town Hall, Customs House Square (31 Alfred St, Sydney) and St Mary’s Cathedral Forecourt.

There will be choirs at Town Hall station and Wynyard station.

Events that won’t go ahead this year

Christmas on the Central Coast

Central Coast Carols

Star 104.5’s Central Coast Carols , the much-loved, festive community event usually held at the Central Coast Stadium and in more recent years, on your doorstep through their Ho Ho Home Delivered event, sadly won’t be going ahead this year.

♥ Share this feature with your friends and invite them to join you in celebrating Christmas together. ↓