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While many holiday revellers spend Christmas tucking in to a bird with all the trimmings, Sydney locals eat from a cold menu of seafood and prawns before heading to the beach on Christmas Day. The holiday falls during the Australian summer, where red sweaters and snow are swapped for red board shorts and Santas with sunburns.

It’s for this reason that the Sydney Fish Market, located in the harbour suburb of Pyrmont, has been operating its extended Christmas trading hours since 1995. The market stays open for the 36 hours leading up to Christmas Eve — from 5 am on 23 December to 5 pm on 24 December — to help the 100,000 expected shoppers festively feed their friends and family. More than 600 tonnes of seafood are purchased during the marathon, with an average of 50kg of prawns and 500 oysters bought each minute.

More than just fish, the market also has a bottle shop, bakery, fruit and vegetable market, deli and gift shop. Gift certificates to the Sydney Seafood School are available for last-minute presents as well.

Even shoppers not planning a holiday meal will find a trip to the 36-hour marathon market worthwhile. Onsite cafes and seafood bars are open all hours for a late-night snack between purchases — stop for a bite at the Deep Seafood Cafe and Oyster Bar, located between Poulos Bros Seafood and All Seas Wholesale, before having dessert at Scoop Ice-Cream and Coffee.

The Sydney Fish Market closes on Christmas Day but is open every other day of the year from 7 am to around 4 pm, depending on the vendor. Special Behind the Scenes Tours run on Monday, Thursday and Friday by reservation only.

Brooke Schoenman is the Sydney Localite for BBC Travel

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