Get the kids into the festive spirit with crafty workshops, meander through ghostly tree-lined paths at twilight, and kick start your New Year’s resolution with a calming nature therapy walk or gardening workshop. No matter what you choose, the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney will transform into a botanic playground to keep the feel-good energy of summer alive.
Here is a breakdown of the top 13 events, workshops, tours, and exhibitions that are destined to transport everyone into their own world of summer fun:
Family-friendly festive experiences
For the first time ever, the Garden will be home to a brand new, magical Christmas celebration called Noel Sydney to set festive spirits soaring across 16 nights in December. The Garden will stay open late, inviting friends and families to discover enchanting Christmas markets, light installations, and nightly entertainment. This includes buildings lit up with scenes from the much-loved story of The Nutcracker and the dancing drone show, the spectacular Noël Christmas Skyshow. For further information, please visit noelsydney.com.
Back for another year of festive fun, Elfis and Elvin the Elves have been sent to Australia to prepare for Santa’s visit, but things don’t go to plan. These two cheeky elves will have you laughing and singing as they battle the harsh Aussie environment to make sure Christmas happens! Kids can dress up in their best festive dress and enjoy a day out in the Garden.
A picnic party like no other! The Bridgeview New Year’s Eve event offers stunning views of Sydney's iconic New Year’s Eve fireworks from the Tarpeian Lawn overlooking the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera House and Circular Quay. Ring in the new year with live entertainment and gourmet picnic hampers along with alfresco bars and food trucks. The perfect family-friendly occasion to celebrate 2023 in style.
School holiday fun in the New Year
Jump into the wild world of water this summer at the Gardens. Keep cool as kids go dip-netting by the pond to see freshwater ecosystems come to life. The young explorers will even learn how plants use their superpowers to save water in the midday heat before becoming Horticulturalists for the day as they learn how to start their very own mini succulent and cacti nursery to take home.
For something a little more cultural, accompanied by a First Nation guide, kids will experience a taste sensation with Indigenous bush foods and ingredients. Discover how Indigenous foods were traditionally prepared and consumed and how these foods are still enjoyed and savoured in our cooking today. They’ll also learn how to make their own bush-tea to enjoy.
7. Garden grubs: Multiple dates in Jan
Drop the kids off and enjoy some alone time while the little ones have a sensory adventure at the Garden Grubs vacation day program, participating in creative activities across three jam-packed weeks. Each day will bring a new adventure and unique theme, from Lunar New Year nature play days, all the way to wild adventures with the Garden’s birds and beautiful bugs.
Sensory summer experiences for everyone
Explore the fascinating world of plant love in this new immersive horticulture exhibition at The Calyx, which has over 20,000 colourful plants on display to celebrate plant diversity. From seductive scents to masterful mimicry, this new exhibition invites you to explore a kaleidoscope of colour, plants, and passion, as well as one of the largest green walls in the southern hemisphere. From stunning sex-changing cycads, awesome a-sexual algae, and ostentatious orchids that trick their pollinators, things will be getting steamy this summer!
Witness the fascinating night life come to life with this twilight adventure perfect for the whole family to enjoy or for that nature lover in your life. Explore the 66-hectare heritage Garden by torchlight as you peer through the bio-diversity hotspots using scientific tech gadgets to help identify animals such as Golden Orb Spiders, Possums and Tawny Frogmouths.
Back by popular demand! Learn from the Garden experts about how to identify and treat common garden pests in the Sustainable Pest and Disease management class (14 Jan). Or perhaps you would be more interested in understanding what plants to select in your home garden depending on the climate, location, and weather in the Plant Selection for Sydney Gardens workshop (4 Feb). The perfect Christmas experience gift for plant lovers.
Hailing all the way from Japan is a traditional Japanese Shinrin-yoku preventative health practice, which allows you to let go of your physical stress and melt away into an immersive state, lowering your pulse and blood pressure while inviting calming energy in through mindfulness, quiet aware walking, and nature appreciation. For the first time, 3 Hour Nature Therapy Walks (22 Jan & 19 Feb) will also be offered; these longer sessions are specially curated to allow you to soak up the sights, sounds, textures, smells, and tastes of nature in Sydney's oasis. The experience invites room for listening, reflection, healing, and mindful presence. You can even linger longer at the extended Japanese-inspired tea-sharing ceremony.
Explore our hometown Sydney with a First Nations guide and admire the beauty and history of the Sydney Harbour through the lens of the Gadigal lifestyle, traditions, history, and connection to country and community. You can also take an Aboriginal Bush Food Tour and explore how Indigenous bush foods were used traditionally and adapted to the modern plate and palate.
Take a twilight adventure through the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney in this spine-tingling storytelling event. This is a rare opportunity to enter the Garden after hours where you’ll journey along shadowy tree-lined paths, creep past gloomy ponds, and tiptoe through eerie grottos. You'll even hear spooky and kooky stories of the Garden's past — tales of people long-since dead — as bats flit above your head and night-creatures stare from the treetops on this unforgettable tour of the 'Ghostly Garden'. Suitable for families and adults.