Looking at this photo you would be forgiven for thinking you were seeing a winter wonderland from some European city graced with a Gothic Cathedral, last northern hemisphere winter.
It is however, in Sydney Australia and the Cathedral is the iconic St Mary’s, the nation’s largest Catholic Church.
And with an enthusiasm peculiar to the lusty city they inhabit, Sydneysiders have been quick to embrace the unusual and are heading in droves to the Down Under festival known as Christmas in July.
Sponsored by Swissotel, the delights of an authentic European winter have come to the heart of the city, as the Australian Winter Festival tours the country from June to September. After enjoying great success in the Sydney CBD, Bondi Beach and Melbourne, the 2011 Winter Festival will also take place for the first time in Brisbane.
This year, the festival offers its most exciting line-up yet; an array of gourmet winter food sensations, some dazzling action on the ice, and authentic après ski experiences to enhance the atmosphere.
2011 Winter Festival dates include:
SYDNEY CBD: 22 July – 12 August
MELBOURNE: 18 August – 4 September
Thrillseekers can enjoy a skate on one of the country’s largest outdoor ice skating rinks, while food-lovers can sample some of the most delicious dishes from over 20 winter-loving countries. There will be 15 delicious food stands to choose from and an amazing Alpine Ski Hut, which includes a gorgeous heated outdoor terrace.
Lunch Magazine’s intrepid Jonathan Porter headed down there where he reportedly “skated like a gargoyle’’ after relaxing with traditional glühwein (authentic mulled wine) at the Festival’s stylish Alpine Ski Hut, a schnapps or two and a couple of Spaatens.
Entry to the Festival is free. Ice skating can be booked online at www.winterfestival.com.au and costs $20 for adults / $15 for kids, which includes a 45 minute skating session. An additional $7 for ice-skate rental. In previous years ice skating for most sessions sold out prior to the event, so we highly recommend booking your tickets online beforehand.
Lunch Magazine then repaired to the nearby Swissotel for a banquet with guests who included the Swiss Ambassador to Australia His Excellency Daniel Woker, and Consul General Markus Meli.
“We encourage those who already have the idea of coming to Switzerland to put these things in a framework.’’
He said the Swissotel was the perfect venue.
“It represents the things the Swiss are famous for: precision and quality and so on,’’ he said
Mr Meli said the Winter Festival and Swiss Food Festival culminated in the Swiss National Day celebrations which included performances Piano Concerts with world-famous Dutch/Chinese pianist See Siang Wong, who presently calls Switzerland home.
Swissotel’s masterchef Daniel Frutiger and executive chef Justin Zammit mesmerised guests at the Festival with a buffet at Jpb Restaurant.
The dinner buffet is from $79.00 and include a welcome drink and $25.00 for children under 12.
Diners stand a chance to win a 7-night stay for two persons in three luxurious destinations with return flights courtesy of Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts and Swiss Air. For dining reservations, please call 02 9238 7088
For the latest news on the Winter Festival visit: www.facebook.com/winterfestival