By RIDA BABAR & ALLISON HORE
The festive season for many will be a welcome distraction from the troubled year that was 2020.
Here’s how you can put bushfires, a pandemic and economic recession behind you and experience five senses of festive sensations in the Inner West this Christmas.
What would Christmas be without carolling? With COVID-19 public health orders prohibiting group singing, questions hung over whether carolling events would be able to go ahead this year. Fortunately those restrictions have been lifted in time for everyone to belt out a few verses of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” at the local pub.
Unfortunately some community events, like the popular Carols on Norton event in Leichhardt, will not be able to go ahead this year. But for those hoping to share some festive cheer other events will be going ahead.
Marrickville can enjoy a spot of carolling at Marrickville Road Church on Christmas Eve. Attendees will be treated to the smooth tunes of a jazz band and the sound of sizzling sausages on a barbecue. There will also be a jumping castle for kids.
For those still not ready to brave the crowds, there are also online events for events running. Chapel Hill in Rozelle is hosting a livestream of Christmas carols on December 20 on Facebook live, a great option for those who would like to celebrate the festivities from home.
The Village Church in Annandale is also hosting a carolling event on December 20, which will be held live. There will be live music and a barbeque dinner available.
Locals have described the upcoming carolling events as “a huge relief from the awfulness of the past year.”
TASTE & SMELL
For those hoping to avoid the heat of the kitchen this Christmas season, but still experience those festive tastes and smells, the Inner West has a range of excellent local food options available.
Orange Grove Market in Leichhardt has a number of stalls every Saturday, many of which have handcrafted gifts and tasty festive foods. The markets are a great way to find something special for someone special and support local artisans after the huge blow that was COVID-19. Some stalls are even giving back to the community by raising money for charities such as Hope For Ollie, a charity which provides funding into research into finding a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
Another Saturday market where you can experience festive tastes this holiday season is the Rozelle markets.
We all know hitting the grocery stores around Christmas can get quite stressful. So to avoid the trolley wars in the supermarket aisles, there are a number of Christmas catering options available in the Inner West suited to all needs.
For those looking for a luxury treat, One Penny Red is a Summer Hill restaurant offering exquisite Christmas Hampers for $390. These hampers include an entire Christmas day meal ready-made and prepared with love, taking away the stress of making it yourself.
For a variety, Foot St is offering a similar package with more choices of food, delivered hot and fresh, straight to your door.
Another creative and fun festive food offer are the Christmas Baking Boxes by Hot Potato in Rozelle, for $89. These include four family friendly treats that you can create in the comfort of your own home.
Twinkling Christmas light displays around the community are certainly bringing some much needed beauty to what has been an ugly year overall. And when it comes to Christmas lights, the Inner West doesn’t disappoint.
Almost every house in Second Street in Ashbury gets into the Christmas spirit by putting up lights making it a must see spot for anyone light-spotting in the Inner West.
Some houses along the street are raising money for HOPE Charitable Foundation, a group whose mission is to support those in need, regardless of their race, gender, politics or religious beliefs through various projects.
Lilyfield Road in Rozelle have also come together to create some festive joy. 37 Lilyfield Road has been putting up Christmas displays for 15 years. This year their display includes not just lights but also oversize statues, lazers and projections, as well as window displays over three levels. The display can even be seen while travelling along the City West Link.
But a house in nearby Concord surely takes the crown for light-spotting in the Inner West.
Hailed as one of Sydney’s best Christmas houses, the family living at 191 Burwood Road in Concord has again put up an incredible display for the community to enjoy. 191 Burwood Road has been putting up Christmas lights for over 20 years. This year their display is made up of over 100,000 LED lights synchronised to five different Christmas tunes.
It’s been a tough year for everyone, but especially so for the more vulnerable members of our community. Here are a few local organisations supporting at-risk young people in the Inner West so you can give back and feel good this Christmas.
One organisation calling for community support this Christmas is Stretch-A-Family, which has provided therapeutic foster care for children unable to stay with their own family, as well as support for foster carers, since 1977. This Christmas they are hoping to raise $7,000 to thank the foster carers they work with and “give quality gifts to both them and the children in their care.”
Father Chris Riley’s Youth off the Streets is also running a Christmas Appeal this year. With the COVID-19 pandemic plunging more young people and their families into unemployment and poverty, the crisis accommodation Youth off the Streets runs in Marrickville is more important than ever. An in-kind donation to the organisation will help bring a bit of cheer to vulnerable youth this festive season.
For a thoughtful gift this Christmas, look no further than the “Gift of Empowerment” cards Leichhardt based organisation, The Girls Refuge, have put out this year. All profits from the colourful gift cards will go towards the various programs run by the organisation which is devoted to care, education, recovery and early intervention for women and girls at-risk.
Of course, there are many many more organisations doing great things for vulnerable people in the Inner West you can get behind this festive season.