Sydney Royal Easter Show

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Sydney Royal Easter Show
Sydney Royal Easter Show logo.svg
Begins12 April 2019
Ends23 April 2019
Location(s)Sydney Showground
Most recent23 March 2018-3April 2018
Attendance922,000 (2017)
Organised byRoyal Agricultural Society of New South Wales

The Sydney Royal Easter Show, also known as the Royal Easter Show, The Easter Show or The Royal, is an annual show held in Sydney, Australia over two weeks around the Easter period. It comprises an agricultural show, an amusement park and a fair and combines the elements of each, showcasing the judging of livestock and produce. The Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales is responsible for the event. Queen Victoria awarded the society and its show the right to use the word "Royal" in its name.[1]

Since its first iteration in 1823, the show is historically an event where "city meets country"; it acts as an annual celebration of the rural industries of Australia.[2]

The fair has many competitions, including arts and crafts, photography and cookery, as well as tests of strength and skill such as wood chopping. The show also has shopping, restaurants, commercial stands, such as a showbag pavilion and exhibits, a horticultural display, and stage and arena shows. It also even hosts a breed based conformation dog show and cat show, which are nationally-accredited. In 2017, 922,000 people attended the show.


The District Exhibits are one of the most popular sights at the show. In 2001 the South East Queensland District won First Prize for Display, celebrating the Federation of Australia
The Clyde Engineering Pavilion at the Royal Easter Show, circa 1900

The Sydney Royal Easter Show is the largest event held in Australia and the sixth largest in the world[citation needed]. The Agricultural Society of New South Wales (formed a year before the event) held its first Show in 1823. Its initial purpose was of encouraging the colony's rural industries. The site was at Parramatta Park, 24 kilometers west of the town of Sydney. It initially showcased horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, and poultry.

In 1869, the event moved from Parramatta to Prince Alfred Park. In 1881, the Government of New South Wales provided land for the Royal Agricultural Society at Moore Park; the show moved to that venue for the next 116 years. In 1998, the event moved to a new showground within the Sydney Olympic Park precinct at Homebush Bay. The former Sydney Showground at Moore Park has since become Fox Studios Australia, with associated development known as The Entertainment Quarter.[3]

The show since continued uninterruptedly after 1869, except in 1919 (during the Spanish flu outbreak) and the years of 1942 and 1946 (during World War II).[4] As per the event's namesake, it starts on the Friday before Easter and ends on the Tuesday following Easter (with closures on Sundays and Good Friday). During that Thursday, it becomes a Children's Day, when goods such as discounted showbags are on sale.

The Grand Parade at the showground at Sydney Showground Stadium

At the RAS Showground at Moore Park, the largest single event of the show was the Grand Parade on Easter Saturday when hundreds of beasts representing the various classes of livestock were paraded in a series of concentric circles. To the public eye, this spectacular sight, which involved creatures ranging from newborn lambs and Shetland ponies to Brahman bulls and Clydesdale stallions, was staged with such skill that it invariably took place without a hitch. However, on one memorable occasion a steer broke loose and plunged into the quarters of the Royal Agricultural Society. The Grand Parade continues to take place, though on a somewhat smaller scale, at the Sydney Showground Stadium.

Yielding to pressure from the public, the show was later to be opened on Sundays and Good Friday. With the move to Homebush Bay, the show was extended to 16 days. In 2000 it was reduced to 14 days. In 2007, a revised program took into account changes to NSW School Holidays, the show commencing on the Thursday before Good Friday in order to increase the holiday time for families to attend.[5] In 2018, it returned to its traditional 12 days.[6] If Easter falls in March the show is held outside of school holidays.


The District Exhibit for the Central District of New South Wales 2009 features Barrington Tops

Rural industry[edit]


The first purpose of the show is specifically to encourage agriculture. Although other aspects of the show have developed including competitions, entertainment and commerce, the display of the products of rural industry remain of major importance, the RAS claiming 30,000 rural exhibits in 2007.[7] One of the most popular sights at the show is the "District Exhibits" competition. These displays are set up by four districts of NSW and South East Queensland. A theme is selected and created pictorially on a large scale, to strict rules and using only the produce of the particular district which typically includes wool, wheat, apples, pumpkins, sugar cane, citrus fruit, vegetables and brightly coloured bottles of preserves. Also displayed are other primary products such as fleeces, carcases of beef, wine, honey, cheese and sausages. There is also a flower show at which are judged both horticultural specimens and floral displays.


During the course of the show, a large range of livestock is judged. This includes the famous Merino sheep, whose fine wool was a major source of Australia's wealth in the 19th and 20th centuries. Also shown are dairy cattle of which the major breeds are the Australian Illawarra Shorthorn, Friesian, Ayrshire, Jersey and Guernsey. Beef cattle are predominantly Hereford, Aberdeen Angus and Murray Grey with other breeds including Brahman, Devon and Charolais. Other livestock judged at the show include a variety of sheep, pigs, goats, alpacas and poultry of all sorts.

Lining up for the judging

The central arena of the showground is used throughout the show for the judging more than 1,000 equestrian events. The classes include events for horses, riders, pairs, teams, rodeo riders, show jumping and driving. Horses are shown in 24 different breed classes including Australian Stock Horses, Buckskins, Clydesdales, Hackneys, Miniature Horses, Australian National Saddlehorses, Palominos, Percherons, Pintos, Shetland Ponies, Shires, and Warmbloods etc. A large section of the ridden classes are pony, galloway and hack height classes, and the "Sydney Royal" is considered one of the hardest and most prestigious shows in Australia. A popular sight in the arena is the Carlton & United Breweries wagon, drawn by the team of "Carlton Clydesdales".

Domestic animals[edit]
An English Springer Spaniel taking part in the Dog Show

As part of the Royal Easter Show there is a Dog Show in which about 3,000 dogs are displayed and judged. There is also a Cat Show and competitions for caged birds, rabbits, mice and rats. There is a large pigeon show. Displays are given by working dogs, Australian Kelpies, Border Collies and Australian Cattle Dogs.

Animal Nursery[edit]
The Animal Nursery is popular with children

One of the most popular exhibitions of the show is the Animal Nursery. In this large purpose-built shed a great variety of common and uncommon domestic animals are put on display, in a way that is highly accessibly to families with young children. Animals are shown with their young. Children are allowed to pat most of the animals and areas are reserved where children can enter the enclosures with explainers and get closer to small animals such as rabbits, lambs and ducks. Popular features are the chick hatchery and the duckling water slide.

Rural competitions[edit]

"The Woodchop" is one of the most popular demonstrations and competitions, taking place in a purpose-built stadium. The timber used is Australian hardwood so the splinters really fly.

Other popular events are the Tent Pegging and the Polocrosse with the NSW Mounted Police on their well-matched bay horses always competing. The Dressage and Show Jumping are the culmination of Australia-wide gymkhanas held at the annual circuit of local agricultural shows, with successful competitors going on to Olympic competition. The equally demanding but less fastidious skills of buckjumping and steer-roping draw young men from across Australia and Northern America to compete in the Rodeo.

Arts and Crafts[edit]

An exhibit in the floral competition featuring strelitzias

Since the 19th century competitions have been held "for the ladies". These competitions have traditionally included the making of scones, fruitcake and preserves. Crafts have traditionally included three crochetted doilies, a smocked baby's dress and a man's knitted sleeveless sweater. Over 100 years the classes have been expanded to include a vast range of cooking and crafts in which men may also compete. Among the crafts are the spinning, weaving and dyeing of wool, woodwork, leatherwork, enamelling, lacemaking, embroidery, toymaking and patchwork.

The various fashions in craft have changed dramatically over the years and these changes are reflected in the number of exhibits and in the classes. From 1960 until about 1990 one of the most popular crafts was cake decorating, with numerous expert decorators vying for fineness in their "extension work" and creating designs of extraordinary delicacy and intricacy. In the 21st century these technical skills have almost disappeared. On the other hand, the art of paper tole, also requiring of much fine control, has become a popular craft, as witnessed by the large number of entries to the competition.

Associated with the show, and displayed in the same pavilion as the craft competitions is an Art Show with classes for Rural subjects, Still Life, Watercolour and Figurative painting. There are competitions for sculpture, photography, silverwork and ceramics.

Other contributors[edit]

Government displays[edit]

Silhouette artist, S John Ross, part of the show for 50 years

The State and Federal Governments both contribute exhibitions to the show though their presence has diminished significantly since the relocation to Homebush Bay in 1998. Many government departments such as NSW Lotteries, CityRail and NSW Health have axed their annual displays. However bodies such as The New South Wales Rural Fire Service, New South Wales Police Force, the Ambulance Service and the Army Reserve continue to set up displays to inform and promote goodwill to the public.


Foremost among the charitable bodies and service organisations with an active presence at the show are the St John Ambulance Australia who not only provided on the spot attention for sunstroke but also injuries sustained while steer-roping. Providing sustenance of another sort is the Country Women's Association who have a prominently placed cafe selling Devonshire Teas and other goodies.


An important tradition of the Royal Easter Show since 1900 is the selling of merchandises known as showbags.[4] Originally called 'Sample Bags' (and free),[4] they were a means for manufacturers to market their products to the general public, today showbags often come in the form of promotional merchandises, as well as toys targeting children.

Apart from Showbag Hall there are many other commercial enterprises who are "stall holders" at the Royal Easter Show. These range from international companies providing finance and agricultural plant to purveyors of fairground ephemera, fairy floss and meat pies. Many of the manufacturers represented are providing goods closely associated with rural industry such as work boots, woollen sweaters and the iconic Akubra hat and Driza-Bone raincoat. S John Ross, master of the silhouette, won the Legend Award at the 2007 Royal Easter Show. S. John Ross worked until his death at age 89.


The Skywheel

The Royal Easter Show has a sideshow alley along which are the amusement rides, sideshows and competitive stands. The provided entertainment includes pop music concerts and, in 2007, a staged sideshow program has been introduced as well.

In 2009, the show debuted three new amusement rides, Pirate's Revenge(a Reverchon Log Flume), Buried Alive (a motion simulator simulating being buried alive) and the Haunted Hotel (Ghost Train). These join such traditional delights as Frank Laurie's Steam Merry-Go-Round, built in the 1890s and touring Australia for 80 years.

In the evening the Sydney Showground Stadium becomes the venue for spectacular entertainment which regularly includes the NSW Mounted Police Musical Ride, the Precision Driving display, originally performed in Holdens, but in recent years Toyotas. The entertainment culminates with fireworks. The Australia versus New Zealand Rodeo Teams Challenge is also an exciting event with plenty of action.


Arriving at the Showground

The show organisers received public criticism for the pricing of the 2006 show.[8] The cost was approximately $30 per adult and $20 per child for entry, but including food and souvenirs the estimated cost per person ran to A$80. It was widely expressed that the show was out of reach of low income earners and poor families. The 2013 prices were $37.50 for an adult, $23.50 for children and $28.00 for concessions.

Tickets for the show can be purchased on line via Ticketmaster and from Woolworths Supermarkets where the pass includes travel. Tickets were previously available at railway stations and on some buses however as of 2015 this option has been discontinued. In 2015 showbags were priced from $1 to $30.


With only limited parking available, most people arrive by passenger transport. The event is classified as a major event by the State Government with Sydney Trains operating regular services from Central and Lidcombe. NSW TrainLink Blue Mountains Line and Bathurst Bullet services make an additional stop at Lidcombe for the duration of the show.[9]

On weekends regular services operate to and from Penrith and Schofields along with a few Central Coast & Newcastle Line services from Newcastle Interchange and Wyong. The Olympic Park bus network also operates from various locations across Sydney.[9]

Photo gallery[edit]


  1. ^ "Historical Summary". The Royal Agricultural Society of NSW. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 19 February 2007.
  2. ^ "About the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW". Sydney Royal Easter Show. 10 March 2007. Archived from the original on 27 February 2007. Retrieved 10 March 2007.
  3. ^ "Overview of the Show". Sydney Royal Easter Show. 10 March 2007. Archived from the original on 7 March 2007. Retrieved 10 March 2007.
  4. ^ a b c "Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales-History Timeline Archived 2008-12-05 at the Wayback Machine",, Retrieved 29 March 2010
  5. ^ "About the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW". Sydney Royal Easter Show. 10 March 2007. Archived from the original on 27 February 2007. Retrieved 10 March 2007.
  6. ^ The last 14 day Sydney Royal Easter Show attracts best crowds in more than a decade Sydney Royal Easter Show 20 April 2017
  7. ^ "Sydney Royal Easter Show". Archived from the original on 14 March 2007. Retrieved 9 April 2007.
  8. ^ Welch, Dylan (20 April 2006). "Show boss 'damn sorry' about prices". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 November 2006.
  9. ^ a b Sydney Royal Easter Show 2018 Transport NSW

External links[edit]