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 at the original Sydney show grounds at Moore Park, before heading home late at night with show bags dangling off both arms.
First held in 1823, the Show is a two-week period every year when the country comes to the city to give Sydneysiders a taste of rural life.
It’s also an event dear to the heart of millions of Australians, attracting more than 860,000 people every year. There’s also growing international appeal, with more than 20,000 visitors from 60 countries visiting each year.
In 2021, the Royal Easter Show will run from Thursday April 1 to Monday April 12 at the Sydney Showground at Homebush. The gates open each day at 9 am and close at 9.30 pm.
The huge crowds and packed attractions will be scaled down in 2021, with caps on the number of people who can attend each day.
The Show will have an app with a traffic light system to monitor the number of people at events and exhibits, and public transport will no longer be free with a ticket.
People must purchase tickets online and choose which day they want to attend.
There'll be increased cleaning, hand sanitisation stations, COVID marshals and socially distanced queues.
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.
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, ducklings 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. In total, there’ll be 14,000 animals at this year’s show.
Be Amazed by the Fruit & Veg Displays
It’s been a tough time for Aussie farmers with crippling drought and devastating bushfires across many parts of the country. So get along to the District Exhibits and show your support for farmers and marvel at their stunning produce displays. 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.
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.
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 to purchase an Unlimited Ride Wristband on opening day will pay just $35. But it’s only good for use between 10am and 2pm that day – so be prepared to spend the day on back-to-back rides.
Splurge on Show Bags
Show bags are one of the great traditions of the Royal Easter Show – and another great Aussie invention. Sample bags were originally given away by brands hoping to spruik their wares by providing free products. But by 1928, brands like Cadbury’s and Aeroplane Flour started charging for them, and they soon became big business. This year there are more than 350 bags to choose from, including traditional favourites like Snakes Alive, Caramello Koala and Smith’s. There are also various 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.
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 km 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.
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.
Due to Covid restrictions in 2021, all tickets must be purchased online and you must choose what day you want to attend.
A day at the Show can easily burn a hole in your pocket, especially for families.
But you can make some big savings buying tickets ahead of time and by buying online, including ride coupons.
There are actually a mind-boggling number of ticket deals so check for the latest information before you go. There can also be administration and delivery fees, depending on how the tickets are purchased.
Early Bird ShowLink tickets are usually the cheapest option, but these tickets are only available for a limited time, so act fast. An adult Early Bird ticket is $38 (up from $37 in 2019) while for a child it’s $23 (up from $22). There’s also a concession and family option.
You can also save money by visiting the Show after 4pm. A child ShowLink Twilight ticket now costs just $10, and still gives you five hours of sideshow fun before closing.
This blog was update in February 2020.
© 2020 Bernard O’Riordan (Travel Instinct). All Rights Reserved
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