Giant pumpkin displays, heart-thumping rides, show bags and cute farm animals: the Royal Easter Show is an iconic Sydney experience.
As a child growing up in Sydney, the Royal Easter Show was always the jewel in the crown of the Easter school holidays.
From the fun of the fair, with its carnival rides and show bags, to agricultural traditions like the farmyard nursery, the wood chop and the fresh produce displays – it just wasn’t Easter unless you’d been to the Show.
I still have fond memories of watching the Rodeo and fireworks display as a child in the main arena, before heading home late at night with show bags dangling off both arms.
The Easter Show, first held in 1823, is an event dear to the heart of millions of Australians, attracting more than 850,000 people over two weeks every year.
It also has growing international appeal, with more than 20,000 visitors from 60 countries visiting each year, mainly from China.
This year, the Show runs from March 23 until April 3 at the Sydney Showground at Homebush. The gates open every day at 9am and close at 9.30pm.
But attendance numbers are under pressure before the gates even open. That’s because April school holidays in NSW this year don’t start until mid April – well after the Show has ended.
If you do make it to the Royal Easter Show, there’s plenty to see and do in the day or at night. Here are six things every first-timer should aim for.
1. Fall in Love at the Farmyard Nursery
The Farmyard Nursery and Animal Walk should be one of your first stops when visiting the Show. Perfect for the young and young at heart, the Farmyard Nursery allows you to get up close and personal with lambs, duckling and chicks, as well as puppies, bunnies and even goats and deer. There are more than 800 free range animals in this open-plan indoor paddock. It's also highly educational for kids. You can see a horseshoe being replaced, learn about the milking process for cows and even feed the animals.
2. Be Amazed by the Fruit & Veg Displays
The District Exhibits have to be seen to be believed. These towering works of art contain more than 10,000 pieces of the country's best fruit, vegetables and grains arranged in spectacular designs. A team of judges scrutinise the produce that goes into creating these works of art. Everything is judged individually – fruit, vegetables, grains, pulses, oils and fibres - to determine who has the best in each region.
3. Have Tea and Scones with the CWA
The Country Women’s Association (CWA) has long been a part of the Sydney Royal Easter Show’s history, and a visit to the Show wouldn’t be complete without a serve of freshly-baked scones from the CWA Tea Room. Take a break from exploring the Show and enjoy tea and cakes from some of the best bakers in NSW.
4. Get an Adrenaline Rush
Thrill-seekers can get their adrenaline racing on Carnival rides such as the Mega Drop, where you’ll experience a terrifying 45 metre (148 feet) free-fall, or Mayhem Manor, where zombies run rampant. There are more than 100 rides, including a Super Slide and good old-fashioned dodgem cars. Kids Carnival has more subdued rides for young children. If you pre-purchase your ride coupons before you go, you'll save more than 20 per cent. The first 6,000 people at the Show on Friday March 23 can also purchase an unlimited ride wristband for just $35.
5. Splurge on Show Bags
Show bags are one of the great traditions of the Royal Easter Show and this year there are more than 350 bags to choose from. There are many different themed show bags, from Minions and Dora the Explorer to bags full of treats and toys. NRL and AFL fans will even find there’s a bag for their favourite sports team. Show bag prices vary, but the cheapest bag is the Bertie Blue bag for just $2.
6. Enjoy the Rodeo and Fireworks
When your feet just won't carry you one step further, settle in at the main arena and watch the country’s best bull riders, steer wrestlers and barrel racers as they perform in the Sydney Royal Rodeo Series. Featuring an All-stars competition, you can find it at the Spotless Stadium nightly from 6:30pm. And be sure to stick around because at 8.50pm each night there’s a thrilling 12-minute fireworks finale.
How to Get to the Sydney Royal Easter Show
Sydney Showground is located at Olympic Park, around 16 kilometres west of the CBD. But getting there couldn’t be easier.
During the Show, express trains will run between Central Station and Olympic Park Station every 20 minutes from 8am until 11:30am each morning, and then every 30 minutes until 11pm. The journey should take around 20 minutes.
If you’ve pre-purchased a ShowLink ticket, your train or bus ride to Olympic Park is free.
You can also catch a train to Lidcombe Station then head to the Platform Zero for a direct service to Olympic Park, running every 10 minutes until midnight.
Tickets and Deals
A day at the Show can easily burn a hole in your pocket, especially for families. But you can make some big savings by purchasing tickets ahead of time and by buying online.
There are a mind-boggling number of ticket deals so check for the latest information on tickets before you go. There can also be administration and delivery fees, depending on how the tickets are purchased.
Early bird tickets are the best option for anyone visiting the show, but these tickets are only available until March 22, so act fast.
Purchasing tickets at the venue is the most expensive option.
You'll save a few dollars and avoid the queues by pre-purchasing your Showlink tickets online or at participating Woolworths supermarkets.
You can also save money by visiting the Show after 4pm. Twilight tickets cost just $10 for children and $31 for adults when the sun goes down.
Seniors can buy tickets online for just $15 on March 28 - Senior's Day. The final day of the Show, April 3, is traditionally Kid's Day. All children get in for just $12.50 if tickets are bought online.