Alexandra Spring is a former features director of Vogue and a celebrity interviewer for the magazine. She has lived in Sydney for 15 years

Falling in love with Sydney was even better than falling in love with someone new. Yes, there was an initial excitement when I landed 15 years ago in a city that was playful and vibrant, and more than a little cheeky. But from there it was a slow burn, as I discovered charming nooks and crannies, and little idiosyncrasies that more than made up for any niggles. Then one day I woke up and realised I was in it for life.

Sydney is not quite Australia – it’s something special, a city of multicultural villages filled with diverse people. It’s a generous city that welcomes newcomers and offers opportunities for those who’ll step up. It’s given me a career I love, friends and family I adore, and a lifestyle I wouldn’t trade. And one of my favourite things is showing Sydney off. It’s a love thing.

The city goes into cruise mode post-Christmas, before the Sydney Festival opens with a bang at the beginning of January. The licensing laws were changed a few years ago and the small bar scene immediately exploded with quirky little bars in odd places. Sydneysiders embraced them and make a sport of following the latest openings. There are some steady favourites, including the chintzy but charming Grandmas, the 1950s-themed Hinky Dinks, the jazzy cool of Baxter Inn, the grown-up glamour of Honey Rider and the urban wonderfulness of Stitch, all with great cocktails and good music.

The organisers of the crime exhibition City of Shadows, which opened at the Police Museum in 2005, were astonished at its popularity. They shouldn’t have been – Sydney was founded by convicts, and mug shots and crime scene photographs from between 1912 and 1948 are compelling viewing. Visitors were so inspired that they sent in information about the people in the pictures, revealing some forgotten stories.

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