23 November 2023

Nine things to do in the Illawarra this week (24 - 30 November)

| Dione David
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Girl wearing reindeer antlers is writing a letter to Santa

From this week, Wollongong’s littlest library members are invited to send a letter to Santa at their local library. Photo: File.

Ready or not, at the end of this week we bid farewell to November and spring. The Illawarra has stepped well into the festive season with Santa letterboxes and Santa photos in full swing at your local library, shopping centres and beyond.

Other highlights this week include Wollongong’s big race day, the local architecture and design festival and a festival by Rotary with a focus on youth.

You’ll also find comedy shows, a music festival and a wine fair. Here are our top nine picks for the week.

Multiple days

Santa mailbox at Wollongong City Libraries

Send your letters to Santa at your local library by Saturday 9 December to get a personalised response. Photo: Wollongong City Council.

Santa’s Mail Service

When: Until Saturday 9 December, library opening hours
Where: All seven Wollongong City Libraries
Cost: Free.

A personalised Santa mail service has been set up at all seven Wollongong City Libraries for your littlest library members. Until Saturday 9 December, you can drop off your letter to Santa at your local library and, if it is correctly addressed with the letter writer’s name and address, it will prompt a personalised response from Santa Claus.

For those too little to write, a drawing is just as appreciated by Santa and his elves.


The War on 2023 – Annual Comedy Gala

When: Friday 24 November, 7:30 pm
Where: Main Auditorium, Wollongong Town Hall, corner Crown and Kembla streets
Cost: VIP (includes a copy of Shovel/Chaser Annual valued at $34.95) $79, A-reserve $59, B-reserve $49, B-reserve pensioner/senior/student $39, book here.

For those who could use a good belly laugh right about now, join 7:30’s Mark Humphries, The Chasers’ Charles Firth, The Shovel’s James Schloeffel and musical comedy genius Gabbi Bolt in a side-splitting satirical dissection of the best and worst bits of 2023, live on stage. The show is billed as a “non-stop barrage of one-liners, satirical sketches, audience quizzes and musical numbers”.

Note: Patrons are invited to dress in black tie this year to attend this year’s gala. A red carpet will be provided for those suitably attired.


One Music Festival 2023

When: Saturday 25 November, 2 to 9 pm
Where: Kiama Showground and Pavilion, 2 Bong Bong Street, Kiama
Cost: Children 6 to 17 years $15 to $25, adults $20 to $30, family $65 to $75, book here.

This interdenominational music and arts festival for all ages is run by local churches in partnership with Scripture Union. There will be an amazing lineup of live music to enjoy as well as food and drink vendors, lawn games, a kids’ zone, market stalls, bible messages and more.

The message of one of hope in an intergenerational community.

A field of horses and jockeys during a race

Frock or suit up and head trackside for the running of the $1 million TAB Gong. Photo: File.

The GONG Race Day – Kembla Grange Racecourse

When: Saturday 25 November, 11 am
Where: Kembla Grange Racecourse, Princes Highway, Kembla Grange
Cost: General admission $30, lawn marquee reserved seating $75, Grandstand bistro $140, Bert Lillye Lounge $210, book here.

This highly anticipated race day is set against the backdrop of luncheons, live racing, Fashions on the Field (with more than $10,000 in prizes), live entertainment, food trucks, bars and more. Grab your mates, frock or suit up and head trackside for the running of the $1 million TAB Gong.

The top-tier tickets provide access to the racecourse, betting ring and grandstand, antipasto platters, luncheon, dessert, afternoon tea and a five-hour beverage package, as well as reserved seating in the AJ Bert Lillye Lounge.

Flyer for Illawarra Festival of Architecture & Design 2023

Rub elbows with the local architecture industry’s finest and find out about the latest trends at this architecture and design festival. Image: IFAD.

Illawarra Festival of Architecture & Design

When: Saturday 25 November, 7 am to 5:30 pm
Where: 16 Bellambi Lane, Bellambi
Cost: Archibike tour $55, panel discussions $20, house tour $45, package $90, book here.

This family-friendly event showcases the best of regional architecture and design innovation – and there’s a lot of it in the Illawarra. Explore the latest trends in design and construction, and connect with other design enthusiasts from around the region.

The festivities kick off early morning with an Archibike ride from Scarborough to Austinmer, pausing by the beautiful homes that have shaped our community to learn more. This is followed by a series of house tours in the northern Illawarra where you can take a peek at some of the area’s stunning homes and meet the architects and builders behind them.

In the afternoon, bring your family and friends along to Buckaroo Leatherworks, Bellambi for a series of panel discussions from the local industry’s finest. There will be drinks and nibbles for sale and the kids will be entertained with games and a dedicated childcare professional.

All profits from the festival panel discussion will be donated to Supported Accommodation & Homelessness Services Shoalhaven Illawarra (SAHSSI).


People mill around Thirroul Cellars at a wine event

Jacqui, Rory and the Thirroul Cellars are staging their annual wine fair again. Photo: Thirroul Cellars Facebook.

Thirroul Cellars Annual Wine Fair

When: Sunday 26 November, 3 to 6 pm
Where: Thirroul Cellars, Suite 2/281 Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Thirroul
Cost: $10, payable upon entry.

Looking to stock up on your festive season drinks? Thirroul Cellars’ in-store Annual Wine Tasting Fair will allow you to sample more than 60 wines – both local and imported varieties – before you buy. You’ll have the opportunity to engage with in-house wine professionals and take advantage of great discounts on the day. Local distilleries and beer brewers will also be showing off their wares.

Your ticket price gets you a glass upon entry which you can use for the tastings.


Flyer for Rotary Youth Belonging Festival

The focus of this year’s Rotary Youth Belonging Festival is diversity, equity and inclusion in the youth space. Photo: Rotary Club of Kembla.

Rotary Youth Belonging Festival

When: Monday 27 November, 6:15 to 8:30 pm
Where: West Illawarra Leagues Club, 1 Hargreaves Street, Unanderra
Cost: Adult $55, young person 12 years to 24 years $30, book here.

This festival will bring youth and youth advocates together from across the state to Wests Illawarra for discourse around new projects aimed at addressing gaps in diversity, equity and inclusion in the youth space. These opportunities, identified by youth, will inform change in youth programs.

The workshop dinner will cover seven areas of discussion for youths via a SWOT analysis in teams: Team First Nation, Team Young Women, Team Youth Disability, Team Youth Cultural Diversity, Team Youth, Team Young Men and Team Youth LGBTIQA+. Registration closes at 11:59 pm on Friday 24 November.


Man puts Santa hat on golden retriever

How could you pawsibly resist a picture of your fur baby with Santa? Photo: File.

Paws and Clause

When: Thursday 30 November
Where: Stocklands Shellharbour, 211 Lake Entrance Road, Shellharbour City Centre
Cost: Various, book here.

It’s a well known fact that Santa is an animal lover, so whether your pet is a dog, cat, bird or lizard, you can take them for a cuddle and a photo at Stocklands Shellharbour this Thursday for the first of just two photography sessions set up especially for pets. A trained team will follow safe procedures, taking extra time to ensure loud noises and sudden stimulation that could cause anxiety are avoided and your pets are taken care of.

Slots are booking out fast, so book soon to avoid disappointment.

Rhys Nicholson and Joel Creasey with a toppled Christmas tree

Banish the holiday blues with this ultra camp Christmas comedy tour by self-described drunk aunties Rhys Nicholson and Joel Creasey. Photo: Common State.

Rhys & Joel’s Family Christmas

When: Thursday 30 November, 7:30 pm
Where: Wollongong Town Hall, Crown and Kembla streets, Wollongong
Cost: Adult $40, student or group 6+ $36, book here.

From the inimitable and self-described drunk aunties Rhys Nicholson and Joel Creasey comes this ultra camp Christmas comedy tour featuring the nation’s finest comedians, drag artists and musicians. The lineup includes comedian and TV personality Nikki Britton, ARIA Award-winning singer-songwriter Georgia Mooney, RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under’s Hannah Conda and a special surprise guest.

Billed as a way to “banish the holiday blues and bring people together this yuletide, spreading Christmas cheer”, this is an evening of pure unadulterated hilarity, storytelling and conversation.

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