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Refreshed Yulefest in the Blue Mountains NSW

The most famous season in the Blue Mountains has experienced a renaissance and refresh, with new businesses embracing the festival and traditional venues renewing offerings with gusto.

Crackling fireplaces, steaming drinks, cheery decorations, rousing entertainment and even the possibility of snow-dusted landscapes can be found just 90 minutes from Sydney by car, tour bus or train.

Blue Mountains Tourism president Jason Cronshaw said: ``Yulefest 2022 is a time to celebrate the warmth of togetherness and community, whether you’re a visitor to our region or a local.

``We have new owners at the `Home of Yulefest’ (the Mountain Heritage Hotel) who have recharged their festival offering, new businesses embracing the festival with fresh energy and even a new ice rink for the season.’’

Katoomba Chamber of Commerce is kicking off Yulefest with Snowmania (June 18 – July 30) Snowman Festival, with Winter shopfront displays, and the Carrington Hotel spilling free entertainment into their driveway.

Many cafes and restaurants, hotels and guesthouses throughout the region will host Yulefest celebrations every weekend throughout July. Some establishments will stretch festivities into August, and others serve Yulefest throughout the week.

Visitors in self-contained properties and locals can also join in the festivities.

The Blue Mountains Yulefest story

One freezing night in 1980, a small group of Irish visitors relaxing in front of a fire at Hotel Mountain Heritage (formerly The California) in Katoomba. They glanced out the frosted window, saw snowflakes dancing on the wind and thought of home.

``Celebrating Christmas in Australia during the heat of summer just doesn’t feel quite the same,’’ one said to then hotel owner Garry Crockett.

As he listened to his guests, Mr Crockett remembered stories his own Irish father Bill used to tell about a northern hemisphere white Christmas with traditional cards, sleigh rides, frosted windows, hot feasts and singing.

So he put on a festive feast with all the trimmings to ease the pangs of homesickness for the group of nostalgic Celtic guests.

It was a hit, so he laid out Noel every Saturday throughout winter.

Word soon got out, Yulefest became a regional festival and Winter is now the season for which the Blue Mountains is best known.


P: 02 4782 2155

Friday and Saturday nights, June 24 – August 6

The original Yulefest dining room offers three festive menus – a five-course degustation, five-course vegetarian menu and a three-course children’s menu, accompanied by live music from resident pianist Alan Johnson. A creative spin is given to traditional offerings, with courses including a Jerusalem artichoke velouté with fresh black truffle, venison with beetroot puree and Botrytis poached pears with meringue and eggnog. And what would Christmas be without smoked turkey, accompanied by fig, pancetta, chestnut and heirloom carrots?

Tickets: $145pp, children $45pp. Sommelier-selected wine pairings available ($50pp).

P: 02 4782 1111

Saturday, June 18

Everyone can join the fun with free afternoon performance by Hands, Heart & Feet on the driveway, followed by fireworks at 6pm.

Then, immerse yourself in the Winter wonderland world of Aslan, Jadis and the Pevensie children at the Narnia-themed ticketed event, The Lion The Witch & The Carrington, from 7pm.

There will be live entertainment, a three-course feast, drinks and prizes for the best dressed (the dress code is Narnia so faux fur, Renaissance and Medieval themed costumes would do the trick). Tickets: $165 per person.

The Old City Bank Bar & Brasserie will also be open from 12pm - 9pm, and Champagne Charlies Cocktail Bar will serve an all-day menu from 11am - 6pm, while the cocktail bar and lounge will stay open into the evening.

Snowmania, throughout Katoomba

Facebook page: @Katoomba.Snowmania

June 18 – July 30

Katoomba Chamber of Commerce is leading the inclusivity charge with Snowmania, when cafes and restaurants prepare hearty Winter meals, hotels and bars light cheery fires, play music and serve hot buttered drinks and mulled wine, and shops display their finest Winter stock and snowmen in the windows.

P: 0402 358 100

Saturday, July 23, 12pm to 5pm

Celebrate Yulefest in the MCE Barn with a hot roast lunch, a glass of wine or mulled wine and live music entertainment from local group The Orchard Boat. Transport and festive cheese graze boards are also available as add-ons. Tickets: $55 adults, $25 children.

P: 02 4785 0000

Saturdays June 25 to July 2, 6pm-9pm

Kids of all ages can immerse in ice magic at the new Blue Mountains Ice Skating Rink at the resort.

As well as the 599sqm arena open to beginners and experts, visitors and locals, there will be a kiosk and skate shop.

Scheduled to open during July, it will be part of the resort KidsZone facilities that already boast four child-friendly spaces, an original Gasparini organ and working model train set, the Fairmont Express Train, mini merry-go-round and pony rides.

End the day with a festive Grand Ballroom dinner. The sumptuous buffet includes a whisky eggnog on arrival, 2.5-hour beverage package (adults) and live music throughout the night.

The sumptuous buffet overflowing with fresh seafood, soup and a full carvery (with plenty of selections for vegos).

Tickets: $195 adults, $118 teens aged 12-17 and $42 children aged 4-11.

P: 02 4782 6885

Every Saturday, July 2 – 30, 6pm – 9pm

With two Chefs Hats and magnificent views, a Yulefest celebration at the iconic Wintergarden Restaurant at the Hydro Majestic Hotel is a special treat. On offer is a five-course degustation, with mouthwatering creations including a raspberry coulis and caramelised baby pear Crème Brulee, Blue Fin tuna and cured salmon mosaic, pan-seared duck breast served with spiced celeriac puree and a trio of pork cuts. An equally enticing menu is available for vegetarians, with a two-course menu for little ones.

Tickets: $159 adults, $139 teenagers and $55 children aged 4-12

P: 02 4784 1358

Friday & Saturday nights and Sunday lunch (12pm – 2pm) throughout July

Staying true to its Italian roots, Hotel Etico offers a European-inspired five-course Buon Natale meal featuring antipasto starters, seafood entrees and a main of either roast porchetta or vegetarian parmigiana, rounded out with cannoli and biscotti. Tickets: $75pp or $100 with a trio of wines.

P: 02 4782 5544

Dinner throughout July

Snuggle in front of a raging log fire in this traditional Mountains guesthouse with singalongs, festive fare, occasional snowfalls and perhaps even Santa Claus. The menu features all your festive favourites. After a glass of bubbly, chef will present a selection of appetisers, followed by a warming bowl of butternut pumpkin soup. Roast turkey and glazed ham with all the trimmings is the main, followed by a sorbet palate cleanser and an assortment of traditional cakes and desserts.

Tickets: $95 adults, $45 children aged 5-12

P: 02 4787 8108

Saturday lunch throughout July

A Yuletide series of dining events will feature a two-course set menu of roast Turducken (turkey, duck and chicken) with roasted vegetables straight from the Kyah garden, Yorkshire pudding, followed by Christmas pudding with eggnog custard (ask about the kids' menu too). There will be a fun Christmas-themed playlist, Edwardian ornaments (bonbons, baubles, holly and ivy from Kyah’s garden) and a complimentary glass of bubbles for guests wearing an ugly Christmas jumper.

P: 02 4784 3117

Daily luncheon July 16 – 31, 12.30pm

Traditions are centre stage at Leura’s beloved teapot museum, with all your seasonal favourites on the set menu. Catering specifically for groups (minimum booking four people), the menu features a canapé platter for the table, entrée of either pumpkin soup or cauliflower, leek and bacon soup (alternative drop), followed by a turkey and ham roast with all the traditional trimmings. Finish the meal with a homemade plum pudding drizzled with brandy custard or mini pavlovas and, of course, a cup of tea accompanied with a homemade shortbread biscuit.

Tickets: 4-9 people, $79.95pp; 10-19 people $69.95pp; 20+ people, $67.50pp + complimentary teapot talk; children under 12 $33. BYO with corkage $3.30pp.

P: 02 4733 1274

`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 paddlewheeler 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, beginning with a shared platter of succulent roast turkey with fruit seasoning and tender roast pork with apple sauce and gravy garnished with honey-roasted vine tomatoes and accompanied by creamy sautéed potato; a selection of hot seasonal vegetables.

A dessert platter of festive favourites will follow, with White Christmas, chocolate rum balls, fruit cake, chocolate mud cake and rich butter shortbread biscuits washed down with your choice of freshly brewed tea or coffee.

Tickets: Weekdays: Adults $66, Seniors $59, Teen 13-16yrs $49, Children 3-12yrs $25

Weekends: Adults $73, Seniors $65, Teen 13-16yrs $55, Children 3-12yrs $29.

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