April holidays mean the Sydney Royal Easter Show. From sheep shearing to sideshows, it’s a tradition for many Sydney families. It’s not my thing, so I go about once a decade to watch the wood chopping and check out the cake decorating. Find out here if it’s for you.
The Sydney Royal Easter Show started in 1823. It’s when the country comes to the city to show its crafts, skills and way of life. And much of the city loves it.
The sideshows, rides and entertainment tend to predominate today, but the basic country craft and skill structure can still be found, especially if you’re interested in animal husbandry, breeding and showing.
Sydney Royal Easter Show Dates & Times
The Sydney Royal Easter Show always starts on the Thursday of Easter week, thus the day before Good Friday. The last day is always a Wednesday, two weeks later.
During these two weeks the Sydney show is open every day from 0930 (9.30am) to 2100 (9pm). The carnival rides stay open until late. Although you can go on any day, some days are designated as special days with additional activities.
- Opening Day: Opening ceremony at 1740 (5.40pm). Careers in agriculture expo.
- Excellence in Agriculture Day: Showcases innovation in agriculture. Parade of Champions and the annual city vs country cricket match.
- Seniors Days: All day entertainment with plenty of nostalgia
- AFL Day: That’s Australian football and it’s your chance to learn a bit about it.
- NRL Day: Today it’s the turn of rugby league. Stars of the game, up and comers, they’ll all be there with tips.
- Youth in Agriculture Day: Young Farmer challenge: teams of four young farmers compete in a range of skills.
- Scouts Days: Children interested in joining Scouts can try a range of activities including rock climbing, knot tying and a tricky obstacle course.
- Kids Day: Always the last day of the show. Lots of activities and always lots of bargains across all of them.
Shopping at the Sydney Show
There’s lots of shopping at the Sydney Easter Show. Everything from fashion and homewares to the dreaded show bag.
I’m not sure if show bags are a particularly Sydney initiative. Probably not in this shopping-centred age.
But the Sydney Royal Easter Show must be the pinnacle of show bag shopping. Hundreds – yes, really, hundreds – of bags with a mixture of products, promises and vouchers are there to tempt you to spend, spend, spend.
The bags start at $1 and go to over $30, with every price point in between. You’ll either love them or hate them, and you’ll know which group you’re in so I’ll say no more.
Farm Country Crafts
Traditional skills and crafts used to be the backbone of the Sydney Easter Show. Sadly, they’re disappearing quickly as are the skills underlying them.
The decorated cakes, crocheted baby clothes and hand spun and woven garments are still there, but their numbers are dwindling.
And the felting, quilting, tatting and any other textile-related skills that used to be seen in profusion have virtually gone.
The bottled produce has completely gone. The days of precision placing each stoned cherry in the jar to make your signature pattern are sadly over.
Still, the woodchopping remains one of the best shows in town. These days it’s not just for the boys either, there are individual and team events for women too.
And the horseback events continue, the cattle, sheep and pigs still get judged, poultry fanciers will find plenty of birds to study and kids can watch baby chicks hatch in the incubator.
Somewhere in your day at the show, you absolutely must make room for tea, scones, jam and cream, all provided by the CWA, the Country Women’s Association.
My Sydney Royal Easter Show Experience
I recently joined the crowds at the show on Easter Sunday. It’s been years since I’ve been to the Sydney Royal Easter Show and it has changed a lot since I last visited.
For me, it’s lost a lot of its soul. It’s now like every other show anywhere in the world. Yes, you’ll still see Australian country crafts and skills. But they’re no longer the main event.
The main event is shopping. Whether it’s show bags, food products, clothes or beauty items, it’s all about the shopping. Right at the entrance you can buy shopping trolleys, for those who didn’t bring their own. And there are plenty of people wheeling them around, too.
Young families might enjoy it. Children still get to see and pet animals, even help with shearing a sheep.
A lot of the younger adult crowd started arriving after 1700 (5pm) and headed for the rides, sideshows and some of the evening events in the main arena.
There’s a special late entry price and it seems to tie in with how the younger crowd uses the show. So that’s another possibility.
Apart from that, if you’re in Sydney for only a short time and you’re not passionately interested in one or another aspect of the Sydney Royal Easter Show, I’d give it a miss and spend the day elsewhere. Check out what else is on in Sydney