Sydney Festivals

While South Australia has earned itself the reputation of “the Festival State,” I think Sydney alone (not including the rest of New South Wales) could give SA a run for its money.  Since arriving in Sydney I’ve attended four festivals in about as many months (with many more to come!) – not bad, huh?  (Oh, & just in case you were wondering, NSW has the very creative state slogan of . . . drumroll, please! . . . “The First State.”) 😉

GOOD FOOD & WINE SHOW – July 2nd @ The Convention & Exhibition Centre in Darling Harbour

Almost more exhibitors than I could visit in one day!!

Picture endless rows of exhibitors offering heaps of delectable food samples.  Then toss in more wines than you have probably ever before seen in one location at one time (or really just *ever*).  Sprinkle generously with cooking classes & demonstrations.  Finally, add a few celebrity chefs to the mix & you have the perfect recipe for a food & wine show that I will sorely miss in 2012! 😦

Needless to say, my friend Lauren & I sampled *lots* of food – I even tasted avocado oil!  I kind of wanted to buy a bottle (or just buy *something* – heck, it was a food & wine show after all!), but for several reasons I left the event empty-handed (with the exception of half a dozen cupcakes, but more on that later).  For one thing (& this was probably the biggest reason), Lauren & I were attending a US-expat 4th of July party that evening & I didn’t want to have to lug things like a bottle of avocado oil around with me at the pub.  Also, have you ever had one of those shopping experiences where you feel like you could either buy everything in sight or just leave it all?  Well, I decided on the latter.  I know, I know, but at least some of the items are available in stores, so no worries, all is not lost. 😉

I also took two classes during the event:

Adora Hand Made Chocolate Class: Essentially we learned to make butter truffles without having to temper the chocolate (tempering is the tricky process of heating & cooling the chocolate to the correct temperatures so that your finished product has the right texture, consistency & of course taste).  We only needed 4 ingredients: chocolate, butter, condensed milk & cocoa powder.  Easy!  This is a recipe I will definitely bring home & add to my repertoire – these truffles taste like they’re so much more difficult to make than they really are, which makes ME look like a genius! . . . But now you know my secret – oops, pretend you didn’t just read that! 😦

Lollies to decorate our cupcakes

Sunbeam Academy Cupcake Decorating Class: I have to say that unfortunately this class was a bit of a disappointment.  After completing several Wilton Cake Decorating classes back home I wondered if this session might be too basic but I thought maybe I’d learn a new trick or two.  Well, what I learned was how to put “lollies” (Aussie word for “candy”) on cakes to make simple things like faces or a beach scene (blue icing on half of the cupcake & green icing on the other half with a little cocktail umbrella stuck on top).  The one cake I actually enjoyed learning how to decorate was a koala.  I have to admit – he’s pretty darn cute . . . sooo, maybe the class was worth it after all. 😉

Koala Cupcake - so cute!

Highlight of the event: Seeing George Calombaris & Gary Mehigan from one of my new favorite shows, MasterChef Australia, do a live cooking demonstration!

WINTER FESTIVAL – July 12th @ Bondi Beach & August 9th @ Hyde Park

Winter in July (on the beach!) - still not quite used to that idea!

The annual Winter Festival is held in several locations throughout Australia, including Sydney & one of its nearby suburbs, Bondi Beach.  The festival is best described through the many pictures I took:

You can't tell from this angle, but this "ski lodge" was constructed right on Bondi Beach!

Relaxing inside the lodge at the beach - LOL

Grabbing a bite to eat at the "Alpine Ski Village"

The thing that most excited me about the Bondi Winter Festival was the chance to go ice skating . . . outdoors on the beach!!

OK, so the ice was a bit melty . . . well, actually so melty that at one point they had to section off part of it so we wouldn’t drown (LOL – I mean, slip), but still, I was ice skating *on the beach* – how often do you get the chance to do that?! 😀

More ice skating - at Sydney's Winter Fesival in Hyde Park.

AROMA FESTIVAL – July 31st @ The Rocks

Aroma Fest with Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background

The area of Sydney known as “the Rocks” (named for its rocky shore) was the hub of the city’s international trade for over a century.  The Aroma Festival, held at the Rocks each year, celebrates the coffee, tea, chocolate & spices that were often imported here.

Oddly enough (especially for me), I only purchased *one* cup of coffee at the festival!  I was expecting to try several different coffees, but instead I went for a chai tea latte after beginning the day with a flat white (an Australian creation – similar to a latte, but with less foam).  Of course I also had to consume some chocolate & found my fix early on with some churros (Spanish doughnuts – if done correctly, they should be crispy on the outside & chewy on the inside, typically served with a chocolate or caramel dipping sauce – yum!) from one of the vendors in “The Latin Quarter” (the festival was divided into four sections: The Latin QuarterThe Orient, The Continent (Europe) & The Oasis (Turkey)).  Unfortunately, these particular churros were not anywhere near as good as the ones Heather & I had in Barcelona, but I guess I should have expected that.

The girls were so elegant with their movements

In addition to the plentiful food & drink, the festival also provided entertainment.  Lauren & I were fortunate to come across these dancers as we were walking around the event.  The girls were so elegant with their movements & the costumes were gorgeous.

SPRING FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL – September 24th @ The Entertainment Quarter (EQ) Showring

Vendors at the Spring Food & Wine Festival

The most recent festival I attended was the Spring Food & Wine Festival.  Not nearly as massive as the Good Food & Wine Show, but definitely worth a visit.  There were heaps of fresh fruit & veg for sale, as well as numerous stalls cooking up delicious lunchtime treats from around the world, such as the Turkish gozleme I have come to love (you can sort of think of it like a crepe, but the bread is more like pita & it is served grilled with spinach & feta inside; there are other sometimes other fillings as well).

The day was overcast, but a number of people still turned up to enjoy the event

I opted not to taste any wines, since I attended this festival solo & didn’t feel like drinking alone – LOL.  Also, I didn’t end up staying for very long as the weather was looking a bit dodgy – it began to drizzle on & off while I was there, so not the best day for an outdoor event, but I’m glad I made it.  According to the calendar listing, it looks like the second & final day of the festival ended up getting cancelled as it was raining cats & dogs!  And I thought we were done with the rainy season.  Well, it is spring in Sydney, so perhaps September showers bring October flowers?  Hmmm . . . doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. 😦

Whew!  Well if you think that’s a lot of festivals, let me just tell you, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!  October begins the Crave Sydney International Food Festival, which is basically a month-long celebration of food . . . have I mentioned what a great city this is? 😉  And that doesn’t even include the Masterchef Live event taking place from October 7-9, in which the MasterChef Australia hosts, former contestants & celebrity chefs give cooking demonstrations & masterclasses.  It looks like I am in one for one busy (& fattening!) month ahead! 😉

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Aunt Penny
    Oct 01, 2011 @ 00:37:14

    Hi Niki,

    Those festivals look like so much fun, not to mention the food and wine. We enjoyed Skyping with you in Buffalo; it was great to see you looking so happy and relaxed.

    Much love…


  2. Camille
    Oct 01, 2011 @ 10:49:22

    You know how I LOVE festivals – especially when wine is included. They all look like great events to attend and I am sure you enjoyed them immensely – each in their own way. Love the photo of you (of course) ice skating “on the beach.” What a unique event. Hope you enjoy many more festivals during your time down under….Love & Miss you – MOM xoxo P.S. Hope you’ll attend some “festivals” with me next Spring in Western New York!


    • nicoleinoz
      Oct 01, 2011 @ 21:30:19

      Yeah, ice skating on the beach was really cool – even if the weather was a bit warm for it, LOL. And of course I’ll be attending all of Buffalo’s festivals come summer – you can count on it!


  3. Heather
    Oct 04, 2011 @ 02:55:19

    The festivals were some of my favorite things about my time in Oz. So bummed I am missing Crave!!!


    • nicoleinoz
      Oct 04, 2011 @ 20:55:22

      I know! I have to make sure I take advantage of some of the things Crave has to offer – I have a feeling the next month is going to fly by!

      I just read today that Sydney was rated the “best place in the world to party by the International Festivals & Events Association.” Go Sydney! 🙂


  4. Kele Schwab
    Oct 05, 2011 @ 13:44:50

    October food festival with master chef live and celebrity chefs giving cooking demonstrations??? Could one of those celebrity chefs be Curtis Stone??? I will be on the next flight! LOL


    • nicoleinoz
      Oct 05, 2011 @ 22:14:12

      Oh, I see, so I have to produce Curtis Stone in order to get you on a plane? Hahaha! No, unfortunately he won’t be there, but there will be other Aussie chefs I have seen on tv this year, along with some of the top MasterChef Australia contestants that I watched.

      Anyway, there are fun foodie events going on all month – it’s not too late to buy that plane ticket!! 😉


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Map of Australia

WA = Western Australia; NT = Northern Territory; SA = South Australia; QLD = Queensland; NSW = New South Wales; ACT = Australian Capital Territory; VIC = Victoria; TAS = Tasmania


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