Your complete guide to New South Wales’ favourite winter festivals.
The first flurries of snow have fallen over the wild Blue Mountains landscape – just in time for New South Wales’ favourite winter festival – Yulefest.
During Yulefest, visitors can enjoy warming winter activities such as toasty fireside dining, river cruising, vintage motorcar tours and heart-warming classic humour, all just 90 minutes from Sydney.
A regional tradition since 1980, mid-winter Yulefest is the season for which the Blue Mountains is most famous. Here’s your complete guide to all the fun.
After the exhilarating zing of a chilly day spent exploring the lookouts and bushwalking tracks, shopping in the charming villages and visiting attractions, sojourners are warmly invited indoors for steaming drinks, fireside dining and rousing entertainment at one of the many venues in the region.
Numerous hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs, cafes and restaurants celebrate Yulefest with special menus and lively entertainment.
To make the most of the festival, visitors should stay at least one night in one of the charming B&Bs or hotels, says Meagan Iervasi, guest services manager of the Escarpment Group collection of luxury hotels,.
“Yulefest in the Blue Mountains offers the European-style atmosphere people associate with Christmas – a chilly landscape outside and cosiness inside with roaring fires, hot food and drinks, traditional decorations and festive music, but without the stress and frosty relatives. Sometimes there’s even snow,” she says.
But you better get in early and book your Yulefest bed, table and experience, so you’re not left out in the cold.
Celebrate Yulefest in traditional European style – with a modern Australian twist – while overlooking the enchanting village of Leura. Dine on a five-course menu featuring distinctive European flavours, then retreat into the wooden cosiness of the 19th century mansion for roaring fireplace dining or take in the spectacular mountain view in the crisp fresh air from the beer garden, while sipping on a Belgium beer.
Further details and bookings: www.flemishflavours.com.au
Blue Mountains Chocolate Company
Wrap your hands around a mug of steaming hot chocolate within an enticing cocoon right in the centre of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. Here shelves are chock-full with an extensive range of luscious handmade goodies crafted from the finest Belgian couverture and locally sourced premium-grade fillings.
Grab a fireside seat, sip a hot chocolate and nibble on cake while watching the in-house chocolatier create mouth-watering decadence.
Afterwards, drench your tastebuds in velvety sweet ooze from the selection of chocolate bars, individual treats, gift boxes and other items.
Further details and bookings: www.bluemountainschocolate.com.au
Blackheath Golf and Community Club
The most magnificent golf club in the region will celebrate Yulefest with a special mid-winter dinner in its restaurant on 20 July.
For $55 per person, including wine on arrival, you can tuck into a belly-warming, two-course buffet feast of all your favourite roasts, accompanied by an array of side dishes and desserts. The feast will be heralded by carols and other entertainment, and Father Christmas will make a special appearance.
Surrounded by glass, daytime diners have a spectacular view of the 18-hole golf course and its cool-climate gardens and waterways. And the club has plenty of cosy spots, heated by a slow combustion fire, in which to relax anytime.
Further details and bookings: www.blackheathgolf.com.au
Arrive in style
Vintage vroom or modern glitz: you choose how you make a grand entrance this Yulefest.
From $59 per person, Blue Mountains Limousine & Vintage Cadillacs will collect you and a guest (minimum two passengers per trip) for a return trip to any location between Hazelbrook and Mount Victoria in the Blue Mountains (hotels, guesthouses, railway stations or private homes included) in a stretch limo or Cadillac. Explore the breathtaking scenery of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area before hitting your restaurant or event of choice.
“Whichever car you choose will make for an unforgettable, head-turning experience,” says co-owner Robert Spitz.
Further details and bookings: www.bluemountainslimo.com.au
Bygone Beautys Treasured Teapot Museum and Tearooms
Yulefest luncheon is served at 1.15pm daily among one of the world’s largest private collections of tea wares, including more than 5500 teapots from all over the world and spanning five centuries, most of which were collected within Australia.
Guests can tuck into a traditional Northern Hemisphere Christmas-style feast with all the trimmings (bon bons, serviettes and table decorations), followed by plum pudding or pavlova dessert, tea/coffee and homemade shortbread (minimum four people per booking).
Further details and bookings: www.bygonebeautys.com.au
Mountain Whispers, Leura and Katoomba
How does French champagne on ice, handmade chocolates, scattered fresh rose petals, a private chef to cook a three-course festive dinner and a personal waiter to serve it, followed by an in-house massage and/or facial in opulent surrounds, sound to you?
“While Christmas is about family, Yulefest is a great time to take a mid-year break to focus on romance or time with your friends to indulge and escape the daily grind,” says owner Lorraine Allanson.
Each of the multi-award-winning self-contained, immaculately restored heritage properties – Varenna, Leura Rose and Strawberry Patch in Leura and The Gatsby and Chatelaine in Katoomba – promises a luxurious getaway in total privacy and comfort for couples and small groups.
Further details and bookings: www.mountainwhispers.com.au
The Goon Show LIVE! Dinner and show
The cult comedy tour de overacting, which incorporates loads of sound effects, silly voices and a platoon of crazy characters, promises to have audiences belly laughing all evening.
The dinner and show are held in le Salon Grand at the Palais Royale, Katoomba, each Saturday night from 29 June to 20 July, with a special afternoon tea on 14 July.
Further details and bookings: www.goons.com.au
Nepean Belle river luncheon cruise, Jamisontown
’Tis the season to cruise the tranquil waters of the Nepean River aboard the regional aquatic icon on your way to or from the Blue Mountains.
The heritage-style Nepean Belle paddle wheeler will be festooned with festive decorations and guests will board for luncheon to the strains of popular carols against the picturesque backdrop of the Blue Mountains escarpment. Tuck into two-course Yulefest fare, with all the trimmings, followed by a dessert platter of festive favourites, washed down with your choice of freshly brewed tea or coffee.
“We love Christmas so much that we’re holding it again in July – but without the in-laws, expensive pressies and weather that matches the heat of the roast dinner,” said Nepean Belle owner Carol Bennett.
Hydro Majestic Hotel, Medlow Bath
Relish the romance and nostalgia of Austria’s operatic golden age, led by Opera Australia, Oper Köln, Opéra Comique and Théâtre du Châtelet and English National Opera tenor Brad Cooper, against the magnificent backdrop of the Megalong Valley. Or be serenaded rock’n’roll-style by one of Australia’s favourite adopted sons, Mark Lizotte (aka Diesel). Both performances are matched with degustation or dinner.
If dinner and a show aren’t your cup of tea, well, maybe an afternoon high tea is? The Wintergarden Restaurant at Hydro Majestic Hotel is renowned for its elegant three-tier servings featuring nostalgic flavours such as ginger, cranberry and roast pork. Accompany your repast with a delicate blossom tea, freshly brewed coffee or a glass of sparkling wine.
Further details and bookings: www.hydromajestic.com.au
Lilianfels Resort & Spa, Katoomba
Sink into the refined five-star surrounds to nibble on delicate finger sandwiches, fluffy scones with homemade jam and fresh clotted cream, and a selection of Yulefest sweet treats beside a cosy fireplace.
Further details and bookings: www.lilianfels.com.au
Darley’s Restaurant, Katoomba
For the ultimate Yulefest decadence, the hatted restaurant in the historic home of former Chief Justice of NSW Sir Frederick Darley will serve five and seven-course degustation dinners each Saturday throughout July with special winter flavours.
Further details and bookings: www.darleysrestaurant.com.au
Have you been to the Blue Mountains? Have you been during Yulefest? Can you recommend any events or places for our members?
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