Celebrate Yulefest in the Blue Mountains

Crackling fireplaces, steaming drinks, cheery decorations, rousing entertainment and even the possibility of snow-dusted landscapes, all just 90 minutes from Sydney by car, tour bus or train. Welcome to Yulefest in the Blue Mountains, writes Ellen Hill.

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The mid-Winter festival began in 1980 with a small group of Irish visitors relaxing in front of a fire at Mountain Heritage Hotel (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 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 ñ and it is celebrated still at the ìoriginal home of Yulefestíí, the Mountain Heritage Hotel.

Here are just some of the Yulefest activities happening in the Blue Mountains this Winter:

Mountain Heritage Hotel

Visit the Original Home of Yulefest and join the revelry of the 41st celebration of the mid-Winter festival.

Sit by the fireplace and learn what the original purpose of Yulefest was all about - great company, delicious food and festive spirit, all housed within traditional European-style decor.

The historic grand hotel's popular Yulefest dinner menu ($85 adults, $49 children) will be served every Saturday from June 26 to August 7. Tuck into a hearty three-course festive meal while resident pianist Alan Johnson entertains with live music.

Book now! Save $30 when you book a minimum two-night stay.

Apex & Lovel streets, Katoomba T: (02) 4782 2155 E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

https://mountainheritage.com.au/about-us/yulefest-christmas-in-july

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Archer & Hobb Fine Tea Merchants

Indulge in fine food and time-honoured civility within the elegant confines of the Blue Mountains' newest brunch and high tea venue.

Dressed in your finest smart casual attire, dine like a 19th century noble on an exquisite four-tier selection of sweet and savoury delicacies: gourmet sandwiches; freshly baked scones with strawberry jam and double dollop cream; a hot savoury selection; and four sweet desserts.

Accompany your repast with a pot of TWG tea ($45pp, minimum two guests) or upgrade to a glass of sparkling wine ($60pp) or flute of champagne ($70pp). Cocktails, wine and spirits also available.

Alternatively, treat yourself to a Devonshire tea (low tea): two scones, double dollop cream and strawberry jam and pot of tea ($18pp).

Gluten-free and vegetarian options are available with 24 hours' notice.

T: (02) 4782 9538 E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.https://archerandhobbtea.com.au

Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday - brunch & high tea (10am-3pm), high tea also available from (3pm-5pm) by booking only.

Carrington Hotel

Celebrate the season with the region's most comprehensive Yulefest entertainment offering in the timeless elegance of the restored Grand Dame of Katoomba from June 26 to August 7.

There will be carol singers, bell ringers, live piano playing, a piper at gala events, lunches and dinners and the historic landmark will be adorned in Yulefest finery for the occasion, including a 10ft festive tree in Champagne Charlie's Bar.

Katoomba St, Katoomba  |  T: (02) 4782 1111 E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

www.thecarrington.com.au

Closeburn House Boutique Guesthouse

Book a two-night weekend stay for two from just $540 during July and enjoy Yulefest in a luxuriously renovated historic guesthouse surrounded by festive trees and decorations to invoke a European Christmas atmosphere.

A sensational two-course a la carte breakfast is served each morning and warm traditional mulled wine in front of an open fire every evening.

With only eight guest suites, Closeburn House provides an intimate base at the top of the Mountains from which to access all the Yulefest activities throughout the area.

Four-course Yulefest dinners ($70pp) on Saturday, July 3 and July 24, are open to everyone (booking essential). Complement your meal with locally sourced wines and drinks available from the licensed in-house bar.

2 Closeburn Drive, Mt Victoria T: 0490 831 451 E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

www.closeburnhouse.com.au   Instagram: @closeburn_house

Blue Mountains Chocolate Company

Wrap your hands around a mug of steaming hot chocolate within this warm cocoon right in the scrumptious centre of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. Shelves are dripping with an extensive range of luscious handmade goodies crafted from the finest Belgian couverture and locally sourced premium grade flavour fillings.

Grab a fireside seat, sip a hot chocolate drink melted over a romantic candle and nibble on a luxuriant cake while watching the in-house chocolatier create mouthwatering decadence.

Afterwards, drench your tastebuds in velvety sweet ooze from the selection of chocolate bars, individual treats, gift boxes and other items.

176 Lurline St, Katoomba  |  T: (02) 4782 7071 www.bluemountainschocolate.com.au

Opening hours: 10am to 6pm seven days.

The Gingerbread House

Christmas tree, lights and fairytale-themed menu every day - the magic of Christmas is spread throughout the year at The Gingerbread House. Located in a restored century-old church, the venue is ideal for families, with large communal tables and landscaped outdoor play area and off-street parking.

The menu features Charlotte's Web bacon and egg sandwich; Clack, Clack, Moo Burger; lunch platters; jaffles; and plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options.

But let's be honest, the Gingerbread House is all about the sweets - housemade gourmet cakes, fancy schmancy Hansel and Gretel-inspired drinks, traditional creaming soda spiders, decadent hot chocolates and, of course, housebaked gingerbread.

There's also take home sweets and ginger-based goodies, teacups, mugs, teapots and other locally made goodies.

56 Waratah St, Katoomba  T: (02) 4782 4239 E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

www.gbhousekatoomba.com

Bygone Beautys Treasured Teapot Museum & Tearooms

Yulefest luncheon is served at 12.30pm every day from July 12ñ31 among one of the world's largest private collections of teawares, including more than 5500 teapots from all over the world and spanning five centuries, most of which were collected within Australia.

Guests can tuck into a traditional Northern Hemisphere Christmas-style feast with all the trimmings (bon bons, serviettes and table decorations), beginning with a canape platter and soup, followed by a traditional roast with seasonal vegetables and plum pudding or pavlova dessert, tea/coffee and homemade shortbread.

Minimum of four people per booking. Cost: $79.50pp, $69.95pp groups of 10-19 people or $66pp groups of 20 or more and complimentary teapot talk, $29.95 children under-12. BYO: $3.30pp corkage.

Grose & Megalong Streets, Leura T: (02) 4784 3117  E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

www.bygonebeautys.com.au

Mountain Whispers

French champagne on ice, handmade chocolates, scattered fresh rose petals, antipasto platters, memorable moments around the fire, followed by an in-house massage and/or facial in opulent surrounds. Yulefest equals romance, an escape with the girls or a group of great friends at Mountain Whispers The MW Collection, where every minor detail matters.

While Christmas is about family, Yulefest is a great time to take a mid-year break to focus on romance or time with friends, indulge and escape the daily grind.

Each of the multi-award winning self-contained†immaculately restored heritage properties - Varenna, Leura Rose and Strawberry Patch in Leura and The Gatsby and Chatelaine in Katoomba - promises a luxurious getaway in total privacy and comfort for couples and small groups.

Leura and Katoomba  |  T: 1300 721 321  E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

https://mountainwhispers.com.au

Nepean Belle Paddlewheeler

'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.

Board the festively festooned heritage-style paddlewheeler to the strains of carols before you tuck into two-course Yulefest fare with all the trimmings.

A shared platter of roast meats garnished with honey-roasted vine tomatoes and accompanied by creamy sauteed potato, a selection of hot seasonal vegetables and a Greek salad with feta will be followed by a dessert platter of festive favourites with freshly brewed tea or coffee.

Cost: Monday to Friday - $59 adults, $53 seniors, $39 teens (13-16 years), $20 children (3-12 years); Weekends - $65 adults, $58 seniors, $39 teens, $25 children.

Tench Ave, Jamisontown  |  T: (02) 4733 1274  E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

www.nepeanbelle.com.au

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Hydro Majestic Hotel

Indulge your senses in a decadent five-course degustation dinner with all the trimmings in the elegant surrounds of the Wintergarden Restaurant between 6pm and 9pm any Saturday from July 3 to August 14.

Before your dinner seating, admire the sunset and spectacular view over the Megalong Valley with a seasonal cocktail or regional wine, craft beer or spirit from the exotically decorated lounge and bar areas.

Then, savour mouthwatering festive-inspired flavour delights using the freshest regional produce like honey lavender duck, Berkshire pork, hazelnuts and chocolate. Vegetarian menu option available.

Cost: $139 adults, $50 children (4-12, 3 courses)

52-88 Great Western Hwy, Medlow Bath  T: (02) 4782 6885  E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

www.hydromajestic.com.au/events/yulefest-christmas-in-july

Equeva Group

The Blue Mountains is a true wonderland in Winter. As cold winds blow and the occasional snow falls, you can experience warm mountain hospitality, gas log fires, Christmas fare, singalongs and perhaps even a visit from Santa Claus at the historic Metropole Guesthouse where you will be greeted with a welcome glass of bubbly and enjoy a traditional Christmas feast with all the trimmings.

Then, retreat overnight to your preferred Equeva Group accommodation. The Metropole Guest House, Echo Point Discovery Motel and Katoomba Town Centre Motel are toasty, festive sanctuaries ready to banish the Winter cold.

Ask us about our special Yulefest accommodation packages.

T: (02) 4782 5544  |  E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  https://equeva.com.au/yulefest-bmt

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