Sydney always seems to be celebrating one thing or another. Whether it's winter or summer, there’s music, food, film, art and sports festivals, and all manner of events that embrace the city’s vibrant lifestyle. Here are just a few to mark in your diary.
January: Sydney Festival
This three-week celebration of the world's performing and visual arts takes over the city, and it’s one of the best times to be in Sydney. There’s more than 100 events on the bold program, from circus acts to rap dance, trail-blazing theatre, and indigenous arts.
February/March: Australian Open of Surfing
It’s all about the beaches in Sydney in summer, and visitors can see the world’s best men and women surfers compete in this World Surf League event, along with skateboarding demonstrations and free evening concerts; over nine hair-raising days on the sands of Manly beach.
March: Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras
This three-week long festival is the world’s loudest and proudest celebration of gay and lesbian diversity. More than 100 different events, including cabaret, theatre, exhibitions and talks, culminate in the ultra-camp Mardi Gras float parade along Oxford Street Darlinghurst on the first Saturday in March.
March/April: Opera on Sydney Harbour
One of Sydney’s most spectacular cultural events, arranged by Opera Australia, sees world-class operatic performances on a purpose-built stage floating on Sydney Harbour. Arrive by water taxi, drink and dine in style at pop-up bars and restaurants, then sit back and take in the drama.
Vivid Sydney warms up the city in winter with a 23-day celebration of light, music and ideas. The city’s buildings and public spaces become a kaleidoscope of light, with grand projections and outdoor light installations. There’s also an ‘enlightening’ range of cutting-edge live music performances.
June: Sydney Film Festival
Screening more than 180 films from more than 50 countries, the Sydney Film Festival is a major event on Sydney’s cultural calendar. It’s one of the world's longest-running film festivals, with red carpet openings, documentaries, short films and animation shown in venues across the city.
September: Sydney Fringe Festival
Throughout September, Sydney Fringe takes over the suburbs of Newtown, Erskineville, Marrickville, Redfern and Surry Hills, with more than 300 events encompassing stand-up comedy, music, theatre, cabaret, and visual arts, although some events are so unconventional it’s hard to put them into any category.
October: Good Food Month
October serves up a whole month of food events in Sydney, when chefs, restaurateurs and producers throughout New South Wales pull out all stops to showcase the state’s gourmet offerings, through tastings, workshops, and masterclasses, plus the popular Asian-style Night Noodle Markets in Hyde Park.
October/November: Sculpture by the Sea
The Bondi to Tamarama Coast Walk is spectacular any time of year, but even more so when this free annual outdoor art exhibition is staged along the coastline. The two-kilometre walk becomes a temporary sculpture park, with both Australian and international artists creating thought-provoking works.
December: Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race
You don’t need to be a sailor to enjoy watching the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Boxing Day [26 December] each year. Sydney Harbour is pumping, and the ferries are packed, as the sleek international fleet of yachts perform their manoeuvers.