Australians have an odd adherence to Northern Hemisphere Christmas traditions – a touch of FOMO perhaps? Surely, then, the best time for this festive spirit is in July. Here’s where to find it.
We stoically sit through stodgy meals of turkey and boiled pudding smothered with hot custard, even as the sun beats down with stifling intensity. We spray our windowsills and alpine fir trees with fake snow despite spending weekends at the beach. We festoon fireplaces with woolly stockings in a feeble attempt at recreating the scenes from the corny Christmas movies we insist on screening year upon year (really? Love, Actually again?).
That’s why, in one of our chilliest months, July, Australians simulate a traditional cold-weather Yule to satisfy our white-Christmas dreams. Naff? Maybe a little. But who said you have to be cool to have fun? It’s our chance to enjoy all the good things about winter: warm fires, comfort food, cosy nights with friends and family; and none of the bad things about Christmas: shopping crowds, Aunt Shirl after too many sherries, hours spent over a hot stove. And what’s not to like about eggnog and Christmas crackers? Here are some of our favourite things to do this Christmas in July.
Best Christmas-themed hotel stay
These hotels rooms look like an ugg boot factory exploded in them. And do you know what? We like it. The Hilton has partnered with woolly boot purveyors Ugg Australia to transform rooms in its Melbourne properties (Hilton Melbourne South Wharf and DoubleTree by Hilton) into Winter Wonderlands. We’re talking Christmas trees, fairy lights, sheep-skin-covered everything and a special Christmas room service menu including mulled wine, mince pies and warming slow-cooked meats.
Head out to do a little “Christmas” shopping then return to the woolly comfort of a Winter Wonderland themed room. They’re available until the end of August. Ugg is also giving guests 10 per cent off Uggs at their Little Collins Street concept store.
DoubleTree by Hilton, Melbourne
270 Flinders Street, Melbourne, Vic
Hilton South Wharf
2 Convention Centre Place, Melbourne, Vic
Best Christmas murder mystery
Add a little mystery to your Christmas festivities. Peel Manor House’s Christmas in July Murder Mystery dinner is an annual event at the idyllic rural property south of Perth. They’re calling it “Ho, Ho, Homicide” which we rather like. Dress up, enjoy the bountiful buffet and try to figure out exactly whodunnit.
July 9, 6.30pm-11.30pm
164 Fletcher Road, Karnup, WA
Best chance to see real snowflakes
Just west of Sydney, the Blue Mountains are still the place where mid-year Noël is celebrated with most fervour. It’s definitely the place Sydneysiders are most likely to get a real taste of cold weather and possibly snow.
Restaurants, hotels and even museums get into the spirit of the celebration but our favourite is the Yuletide Dinner at The Lookout Echo Point. It’s a uniquely Australian take on the festive feast and includes things like slow-cooked pork belly with local apple puree and spiced sticky dating pudding with cinnamon ice-cream.
July 23, from 5:30pm
33 Echo Point Road, Katoomba, NSW
Best opportunity to feel like Lady Mary Crawley
The Abbey of the Roses is an 1891 heritage-listed manor-house-cum-B&B just south of Toowoomba. Approaching the grand old house will satisfy any Downton Abbey yearnings and the feeling won’t dissipate inside the historical property.
Sit down for a three-course dinner with all the trimmings (for dessert you can have pud or pav) and set your dial to festive. Between courses there’s Christmas trivia, secret Santa, and plenty of wine to warm your cockles. The Abbey is also teasing a mid-dinner snowfall.
Every Saturday in July, from 6pm.
8 Locke Street, Warwick, Qld
BOOK THE ABBEY OF THE ROSES HERE.
Best chance to wear your worst jumper
Irish pub Durty Nelly’s is asking punters to don their most embarrassing Christmas jumper for its Christmas in July party. Partake of the Guinness, hot buttered rum and Christmas glazed ham with all the trimmings while you check out the competition. There will be live music until late and the jumper judged the best worst Christmas garb will score its owner a prize.
July 24, 2016; from 11am
397 Murray Street, Perth, WA
Best way to avoid Christmas carols
Daylesford Cider Company is holding a musical Christmas in July event but thankfully the entertainment won’t be well-meaning-but-tone-deaf carollers. The Logan Duo, a Melbourne band, is playing at Daylesford Cider’s English-style tavern where guests can enjoy a crackling log fire, a Christmas feast and delicious mulled cider made on site.
July 9; from midday
155 Dairyflat Road, Musk, Vic
Best chance of meeting la Befana
Golden Grove Estate in the Ballandean Valley in Queensland is holding a Sicilian-themed Buon Natale in July. The winery has been in the Costanzo family since 1946, who is now producing crops of shiraz, merlot, chardonnay and more. Local folk singers Tre Amici will serenade guests, who may be too busy scarfing homemade gnocchi, Italian meatballs and Sicilian cannoli to notice.
July 9 and July 30; from midday
337 Sundown Road, Ballandean, Queensland
Best gold-rush Christmas experience
Ballarat is really into winter. The Victorian town is so enamoured of the season that it’s home to the Ballarat Winterlude festival, where an ice-skating rink is set up in the middle of town and the streets echo with the dulcet tones of carollers. Sovereign Hill, Ballarat’s 1850s gold-rush-themed “living museum”, holds Christmas in July festivities until July 24.
Photography by @ChippyRivera.
By day, there are frequent (faux) snowfalls, a program of performances, activities for kids and delicious Christmas treats. As night falls, Main Street becomes host to Winter Wonderlights, where the buildings are lit up by amazing light projections. Everyone in town is there, and if you’re lucky you’ll see Santa himself.
Daily, until July 24; 10am-7pm
Sovereign Hill, Bradshaw Street, Ballarat, Vic
Best way to drift off into a food coma
After a day of festive indulgence, the idea of eating another morsel of anything on Christmas day – or ever – is unthinkable. At the Sheraton on the Park, visitors can recreate that feeling of extreme satiation throughout July with a Christmas lunch and dinner being held at its signature restaurant, Feast.
Indulge in Christmas buffet turkey, ham, crab, prawns, cheese, and myriad puddings and, in between, pull a Christmas cracker and admire the decorations. Afterward, continue the Christmas tradition of returning home and vowing never to eat again only to emerge for a turkey sandwich around midnight.
Throughout July; lunch from 12-2.30pm and dinner from 6pm
161 Elizabeth Street, Sydney, NSW
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