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Winter is coming. In fact as of 3 days ago, winter is officially here! It’s that time of year again where we dig out our coats, gloves and scarfs from the bottom of our cupboards. BBQ’s by the beach become a distant memory and we start swapping cold beer for mulled wine and hot chocolate. Luckily for us, Sydney has got heaps of activities to offer to keep us busy in the colder months.

1. Christmas in July

If you’re from the northern hemisphere and you’ve spent Christmas in Sydney you’ll know that Christmas just isn’t the same here. Spending the day on the beach in the heat enjoying an Aussie BBQ just doesn’t feel like Christmas should: spending the day at home with family, in the cold, drinking too much wine and lying on the sofa in a food coma. This is where Christmas in July comes in to it! Sydney will turn into a real winter wonderland during the coldest months this year so we can enjoy the festivities, in the cold, the way it should be! Wrap up, hire some ice skates and workout on one of the ice rinks at Bondi Beach or Sydney’s winter garden in Darling Harbour. Can’t get enough of that Christmas feeling? Market stalls will be set up around the ice rinks to guarantee the ultimate cosy Christmas atmosphere. Nothing better than celebrating Christmas twice in one year with a hot cup of mulled wine! You could also take the train to the Blue Mountains where the famous Yulefest was born twenty years ago. Join one of the many fundraising events or organise a roast dinner with your friends!

2. Eat & Drink

It’s the perfect time of the year to indulge in hot, comforting meals. Eat your way through Saturday night’s hangover with one of Sydney’s amazing Sunday roast dinners. My personal favourites include the Anchor in Bondi and The Riverview hotel in Balmain – great meat, veg, yorkshire puds and gravy- yum! The Taphouse in Darlinghurst is also running Smokin’ Sundays winter warmer, the last Sunday of every month. Head down to enjoy spiced cider, mulled wine and beer by an open log fire!

3. Beach Walks

It might be a bit colder, but it will never be too cold for a beach walk! The Coogee to Bondi walk is one of Sydney’s most famous coastal walks and is well worth doing. A six kilometre long stroll along five picturesque beaches with the possibility to spot whales, what more could you want? On a sunny day you could even have an Aussie barbie using one of the public barbecues at Tamarama, Bronte or Coogee beach! Just catch a bus to Bondi or Coogee and walk all the way back, it’s as easy as that!

4. Vivid Sydney

Head down to circular quay to check out Sydney’s annual light festival. See the opera house, Museum of contemporary art and Circular Quay office blocks lit up with light installations and don’t miss BBC Earth’s light installation narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Hurry though- Vivid ends on the 8th June!

5. Imax Cinema

One thing you definitely have to do during winter is pay a visit to the IMAX! It’s the biggest screen in the whole world; you won’t know where to look! They show the world’s best movies here and even though it is quite expensive (approx $33) it’s well worth the visit!  There are places like the information centre around the corner and Grill’d (a hamburger restaurant in Darling Harbour) which offer some good discounts. Don’t forget to check out Groupon too – they offer cheap tickets every now and then!

6. Sydney Attractions

If you haven’t already been to Sydney’s main inside attractions, winter is the perfect time to do it! Check out the attractions in Darling Harbour: admire some beautiful sea creatures at Sydney Sea Life, meet one of your favourite celebs at Madame Tussauds or check out some Aussie animals in Wild Life Sydney Zoo. You could also hop on the ferry over to Manly to check out the Sea Life centre over there or head up to Sydney’s tower eye at Westfield for panoramic views of the city (perfect on a clear winter’s day!) Our travel team can help you book Sydney’s best attractions at discounted rates so get in touch for info! If you’re feeling lucky, go and put some money in one of the slot machines at The Star, Sydney’s casino! It’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and serves you all entertainment you could ever wish for. When all bars have closed, this is the place to be! You don’t necessarily have to gamble all your travel money; just enjoy a drink watching a sports game on one of the TVs. Want to do some shopping? Try out Westfield in the middle of the city or in Bondi Junction, World Square or Broadway Shopping Centre.

7. Sydney Day Trips

Winter is the perfect time to head a bit further afield and go on day trips. You could spend the day in NSW’s wine region, The Hunter Valley, tasting the local wines, chocolates & cheeses and explore the Hunter Valley village. You could even head to the wildlife park to see some of Australia’s wildlife including koalas, kangaroos & emus. Another day, wrap up warm and visit the famous Blue Mountains. Take a bush walk through the national park to keep warm and explore the local village, Katoomba. Get in touch with the ULTIMATE travel team for day trips this winter!

8.Australian Culture

Did you come to Oz to get to know this beautiful country better? Expand your background in one of the numerous museums all around the city. History buffs should wander around in the Australia Museum or Nicholson Museum. If you’re an art lover don’t miss out on the Museum of Contemporary Art. More into small and cosy museums? Give Sydney Jewish Museum or Hyde Park Barracks Museum a try! Oh and don’t forget the Museum of Sydney itself of course!

Hope this gives you some inspiration & ideas on what to do in Sydney this winter. If you’ve got any other suggestions for fun winter activities in Sydney, we’d love to hear from you! Check out our Ultimate Travel Facebook for blogs, travel inspiration and photos and follow us on Instagram for travel pics! Tag #myultimatemoment to your Instagram pics – we will repost our faves.

– Freya, ULTIMATE intern 🙂

The nights are drawing in and the temperature is dipping (highs of 28 degrees today – freezing!) but that doesn’t mean Australia is going into a hibernation, far from it!

May 23 sees the return of one of our favourite yearly activities in Sydney – Vivid!

If you’ve never heard of it before …

Vivid is a spectacular festival of light, music and ideas that runs throughout Sydney. The main highlights are unbelievable as phenomenal projections are beamed onto the side of the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge and a host of other buildings throughout the city for just over 2 weeks.

The Opera House sails were officially lit on May 23rd and the festival is now in full swing and we are loving it!!

The city is a hive of activity as thousands of onlookers descend on circular Quay and Darling Harbour to marvel at the spectacular projections.

So what do you need to know? …

First and foremost, you are going to want a good spot for the Opera House projection! set to music, the sails of the Opera house act as a spectacular projections screen as the lights whir through a host of amazing images. From animal prints to psychedelic colours to underwater scenes, it is an unbelievable series that cannot be missed.

Head down to Circular Quay and find a spot amongst the crowds and wait for the wonder to begin. once you’ve gasped at the beauty of the Opera House, head behind Circular Quay train station to see Custom’s House in all its glory!

A library and information centre during the day (head in there during daytime for a scale model of Sydney if that’s your thing) at night, when the Vivid lights are turned on, the building becomes a giant musical instrument!

The colours swirl and change as you select the instrument you and your buddies want to play, then head onto a little stage and your movements control the enormous projection. No two projections are the same and the 3D mapping technology used to create the designs is out of this world!

Keep walking away from the Opera House and you’ll arrive and the Museum of Contemporary Art. The MCA is a perfect blank canvas, a big rectangular block with one of the most dazzling displays of the entire festival.

The organisers arrange world-renowned artists to design and create these one-off light shows and the MCA is a jaw-dropping journey through shape and colour.

Keep walking around the bend until you arrive just before the Harbour Bridge. The Rocks will be booming and has a handful of its own mini displays (want your face temporarily spray painted onto a wall?! Of course you do!), the final display are four giant white rabbits. Don’t ask us what they symbolise, they’re still pretty awesome though!

Head under the Bridge and you can watch the show projected onto one side of the most recognisable landmarks in the world – The Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Is it any different to last year? …

It sure is! This year is bigger an better than ever before! It isn’t just the Sydney Opera House or the Sydney Harbour Bridge that is transformed during the Vivid Festival in 2014. There is also a light and water show at Darling Harbour which is fantastic in its own right. Imagine a 40 metre tall peacock made of light and water and you get the idea. You have to see it!

For the first time since Vivid was launched in 2009 the light show has moved into the city too – namely Martin Place. Not as amazing as the other locations, the Martin Place section has a fantastic falling water effect that boggles the mind. The water and light are used to write tweets, which is pretty amazing!

Martin Place also features a great little food market too where some of Sydney’s best food trucks have set up shop. Messina Gelato (aka the best gelato in Sydney) also has a pop-up shop here serving the craziest sundaes you will ever taste!

The music and ideas section of the festival is a little bit of a sideline but it is definitely worth checking out.

Pixies opened proceedings last week and acts such as Lauryn Hill, James Vincent McMorrow, and many more following over the next two weeks there is something for everyone!

There is also a vast program of lectures and interactive seminars with some of the brightest minds in all kinds of creative industries. From marketing to content creation, education to art take a look at the Vivid website for more details.

Make sure that when you check out Vivid Sydney 2014, you tag your pictures with #UltimateVivid … we will re-post the best photos on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and the best shot of the week will win an Ultimate Travel SOMETHING!