We've got you covered for summer holiday getaways, Christmas festivities and New Year's Eve spectacles all around Australia this December.
New South Wales
Why not start the month at the 65th annual National Cherry Festival from the 5th to the 7th of December in the charming south-western town of Young? The self-proclaimed 'Cherry Capital of Australia' attracts thousands of visitors each year to this festival which celebrates the town spirit, harvest season and all things cherry! During the festival, you can watch the tractors, floats, cherry costumes and Cherry Queen candidates make their way through town in the street parade. Stalls at the festival offer freshly-baked cherry pies, regional specialities and more. There are buskers, rides and entertainment for the whole family and you can even pick your own cherries at several of the local orchardsiii.
Sydney's world-renowned New Year's Eve fireworks spectacular will conclude 2014 with all the glamour and glitz expected of a Sydney celebration. The NYE fireworks attract over a million and a half peopleiii to the Harbour foreshore and vantage points around Sydney. There's a host of events on during the night, with an aerobatics display above Sydney Harbour kicking off proceedings at 6pm, followed by the Fire Tug Water Display, images projected onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons, an Acknowledgement of Country ceremony, and the Family Fireworks Display at 9pmiv. Finally, at midnight, the showstopper fireworks display will illuminate the night skies with 11 shells, 100,000 pyrotechnic effects and 25,000 shooting comets. The display will be seen by an estimated billion people worldwideiii. Bring a picnic basket and friends to ring in the New Year at one of many accessible viewing spots - just remember that certain vantage points have a strict policy against bringing your own alcohol.
The Spirit of the Square festival will bring Federation Square alive from the 1st to the 25th of December. This free family-friendly Christmas celebration includes a long list of entertainment and fun activities such as films, video games, secret picnic places, community choirs, live bands, food stalls and much morev. The Orphans' Christmas will take over the Square on Christmas Day starting with a huge breakfast buffet that, as the organisers say, is "open to everyone - travellers, international students, families, homeless, asylum seekers, the poor and the rich." Events through the day include a movie marathon, games and activities.
The annual Boxing Day Test draws thousands to the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). This year, Australia will be taking on India from the 26th to the 30th of Decembervi. Find out about tickets early to secure your spot at one of Australia's most prominent events on the annual cricket calendar.
Immerse yourself in the wonders of nature at the Capricorn Caves in the National Park at Mount Etna Caves, just a 30 minute drive north of Rockhampton. The patterns and reflections unique to this Summer Solstice Light Spectacle are a result of the sun's alignment with the Tropic of Capricorn, which allows direct sunlight to enter the cave at midday through a 14m vertical shaft in the cave's roof. During December and early January, a curious natural phenomenon that is unique to the Southern Hemisphere floods the Belfry Cave with light creating an unforgettably magical display of natural light and colour. Book in advance to avoid disappointment and don't forget to wear enclosed walking shoesvii.
The Taste of Tasmania festival is on during the summer break from the 28th of December to the 3rd of January in Hobart. Food stalls with local cuisine, performances, live children's entertainment, cooking demonstrations, competitions, and film screenings are just some of the free events that will take place on the waterfront at Princes Wharf No. 1, Parliament House Lawns and Salamanca Lawns during the event. You can also travel the newly formed Tasmanian Whisky Trail or learn about Tasmania's wines, beers and ciders directly from the makers at tasting table demonstrations.
Australian Capital Territory
On the 6th and 7th of December, the Handmade Christmas Market will be celebrating its 6th birthday at the National Convention Centre in Canberra. The markets include a selection of uniquely Australian handcrafted designs, from artisanal home wares and gourmet foods, to handmade jewellery and clothing. They're perfect for picking up personalised Christmas gifts for your friends and family.
Come all ye faithful to the Carols by Candlelight events held in Alice Springs and Darwin this December. On the 7th of December at Darwin's Botanic Gardensviii and on the 14th of December at the Anzac Oval in Alice Springsix, the night will be filled with choral performances and mesmerising fireworks suitable for people of all ages.
Get your swimmers on and head to Rottnest Island for the annual Swim Thru Rottnest competition on Saturday the 6th of December. This popular swimming competition, now in its 38th year, involves a 1600m course that starts at the Army Jetty.
The Loxton Lights Festival will be turning on the bright lights from the 29th of November to the 31st of December this year. Loxton is a three hour drive west from Adelaide, located near the Murray River National Park. Fairy lights, garlands, tinsel and all sorts of Christmas decorations, which are sure to entrance and amaze, will be part of the colourful displays seen on the streets of Loxton. The town will also become home to the Christmas Tree Festival - a glimpse at Christmas traditions and trees from around the world - as well as the Christmas Wonderland in Loxton East, where thirty Christmas displays, including the nativity scene and Santa's North Pole residence, will be lit up at nightx.