Yulefest magic in the Blue Mountains

By | May 17, 2014

Toasty fires, roast dinners and puddings, decorations and Santa: the season the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region is renowned will once again warm the chill this winter – Yulefest.

Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism (BMLOT) chairman Daniel Myles said: ”Yulefest in this region is a magical time when this unique landscape is transformed into an icy winter wonderland yet our hotels, motor inns and guesthouses, our restaurants and cafes become warm havens with roaring fires, hearty meals and hot drinks to retreat from the winter chill.”

The history of Yulefest in the Blue Mountains goes back 34 years to a small group of Irish visitors relaxing in front of a fire at the Mountain Heritage Hotel & Spa Retreat in Katoomba after enjoying the crisp, clear winter climate.

Glancing out through the frosted window panes, they 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 of the party said to hotel owner Garry Crockett.

As he listened to his guests, Mr Crockett remembered stories his own Irish father Bill used to tell him about a northern hemisphere white Christmas with traditional cards, sleigh rides, frosted windows, hot feasts and singing.

So it was that the first Yulefest (to differentiate between the religious festival of Christmas) was born to ease the pangs of homesickness for a group of nostalgic Celtic guests at the Mountain Heritage Hotel.

That first Yulefest was a hit. Word spread throughout the region and before long, St Nick was doing the rounds twice a year.

Today, many hotels, restaurants, guesthouses and B&Bs in the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region offer Yulefest celebrations.

However, The Mountain Heritage general manager Eric Sward said the hotel boasted ”the original and the best”’ Yulefest, with guests returning each season from around the globe.

”Yulefest is not just the five-course dinner, it’s the arrival and the mingling in the lounge before that which creates a party atmosphere,” he said.

”Then there’s the cabaret show and carol singing around the piano so everyone is involved and immersed in the spirit of Yulefest.

”It’s not about who you have to have Christmas with – it’s about who you want to have Yulefest with.”