The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney is set to transform the St Mary’s Cathedral forecourt into the spectacular centre of Christmas celebrations in Sydney.

Commencing Thursday, 8 December and running right up until Christmas Day, the newly created ‘Christmas at the Cathedral’ event will see Australia’s mother church and forecourt shine brightly each night with a unique, and spectacular light display.

The Cathedral forecourt will offer Christmas market stalls, live music and activities in an event the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher OP, hopes will bring the spirit of community back into Christmas after several trying years.

“I want to put on something really wonderful for the families, for the young people, for the people of Sydney,” he said.

“There will be of course the great Nativity scene, the beautiful images projected onto the Cathedral, with music and with a story to tell. The Cathedral itself will be open for people to visit.

“We’ve been building up over the years what we do in the lead up to Christmas and I think this is going to be the best year” – Archbishop Fisher 

While St Mary’s Cathedral is one of the country’s most important places of worship for Catholics, it is also one of Sydney’s top 10 tourist attractions, visited by more than a million tourists from around the world each year.

“Everyone is welcome, this is something we are doing for Sydney, for Australia. Whatever your background, spiritually, ethnically, linguistically, whoever you are we want to share Christmas with you,” Archbishop Fisher said.

Light shows and designs for this year’s event will be delivered by award-winning Australian company The Electric Canvas, the same team responsible for delivering world-class displays at events such as VIVID Sydney and the Melbourne International Arts Festival.

The Electric Canvas Managing Director Peter Milne said they are thrilled to be connecting the community with the joy and spirit of Christmas.

“Through a series of familiar biblical narratives, woven together with moments of rousing emotion, audiences will be taken on a journey that captures and highlights the true meaning of Christmas,” he said.

“From the first passages of the Old Testament through to Mary and Joseph’s pilgrimage to Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus, the projections invite the viewer to explore and contemplate each scene.”

Also assisting the Catholic Archdiocese in creating Sydney’s premier Christmas celebration event is the major events company behind celebrations such as New Year’s Eve on the Cahill Expressway, The Epic Team, Director Ian Steigrad explains.

“Drawing loose inspiration from the great Christmas markets of Europe, we wanted to create a space where the community could gather to celebrate the joy, happiness and warmth of Christmas” – Ian Steigrad

“Live performances on the forecourt of St Mary’s Cathedral aim to lift spirits and draw the community together to share in the excitement of Christmas, with Christmas décor lighting up the event and Christmas-themed stalls giving the attendees an opportunity to shop, enjoy a tasty treat and engage in the unique offerings.”

The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney also expressly thanks its presenting partner, Paynter Dixon for assisting it in bringing this magnificent gift to Sydney this Christmas season.

Paynter Dixon’s Executive  Chairman James Boyd, said it is a wonderful opportunity to partner with charities and make a real difference.

“Through our philanthropic partner the PAYCE Foundation, we have been fortunate to support joint initiatives which address the key drivers of homelessness,” Mr Boyd said.

“This includes past event charity partner, End Street Sleep Collaboration, which we have proudly supported from their inauguration. St Mary’s Cathedral occupies a special place with Sydneysiders, especially in this festive season. We look forward to joining with the community in celebration and reflection over the coming weeks.”

Prominent jazz singer, Monica Trapaga, who has been performing for over 35 years across stage and television, said she is very much looking forward to Christmas at the Cathedral.

“Christmas has always been a joyful time for me, not just because the family comes together and the oven gets a real workout. What I love most importantly is the music. No matter where you are from, jazz plays a big part in the cultural celebration, almost a universal language of Christmas. It will be so exciting to have a swinging time at St Mary’s Cathedral with me and the marvellously merry Pocket Trio”, Monica said.

First published in The Catholic Weekly.