There’s so much happening in Australia’s biggest city that a visit at any time of year is sure to be eventful. Sydney is perhaps most famous for its festivals, including the eponymous Sydney Festival – a celebration of the world’s most exciting visual and performing arts, which lasts for almost three weeks. January 26 sees an explosion of festivities as the Yabun and Australia Day festivals kick off, showcasing the spirit of both traditional and modern Australian culture. But, of course, what’s a festival without glitter and feather boas? If you’re around during February, make sure not to miss the legendary Sydney Mardi Gras.
Sydney is also home to dozens of weekly markets, where you can find anything from gourmet food and fresh produce at The Rocks Foodies Market to crafts, jewellery, clothing, recycled homewares, novelty items, and souvenirs at markets all over Sydney, including the Rozelle, Paddington, Bondi, Glebe and Kirribilli markets, as well as the most famous of them all: Paddy’s Markets in Flemington and Haymarket.
There are so many more events taking place in Sydney throughout the year. Be sure to check out an event calendar before your trip to find out what’s on during your stay.
Get the chance to attend ...
- Free classes and workshops during the school holidays
- Exhibitions at the Powerhouse Museum, the Art Gallery of NSW, and more
- Major sporting events, including V8 Supercars and the Apia International
- Performances and shows at the Sydney Opera House and other venues
Since 1977, the month of January has signalled the start of Sydney Festival – a bold celebration of some of the world’s most exciting visual and performing arts. The festival lasts for almost three weeks and features a staggering 150+ events at top venues spanning from the city centre to Parramatta.
Sydney doesn’t get any more fabulous than in February, when the annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras shimmies down its streets. Join more than 400,000 partygoers in one of the world’s loudest and proudest celebrations of LGBTQI pride and culture.
Sydney Comedy Festival
Tickets to Sydney Comedy Festival’s gala event sell out nearly every year. Secure yourself a seat to a Comedy Festival performance and watch as some of the best local and international comedic acts leave you in stitches throughout nearly four weeks of side-splitting entertainment.
Sydney Film Festival
First hitting screens in 1954, the Sydney Film Festival is one of the oldest events of its kind in the world. The festival showcases about 250 of the finest feature films, documentaries, short films, retrospectives, restorations and animated films from around the world at various locations across the city.
Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes
The Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes give rise to annual exhibitions reflecting the latest achievements in Australian art. Each year’s entries capture a snapshot of contemporary Australian life and culture, captivating artists and audiences alike. Browse incredible portraits and iconic landscapes, and nominate your favourite piece for the People’s Choice Award.
Believe it or not, this is the world’s largest running event, with more than 80,000 people registering to participate every year. The 14-kilometre race from Hyde Park to Bondi Beach has raised millions of dollars for charity since its inception in 1971, so come along and run, jog or walk in the Sun-Herald City2Surf.
The Gangsters’ Ball
Take a cheeky peek at Australia's biggest and longest-running cabaret, vaudeville, burlesque, swing and fancy dress event. Each year, The Gangsters’ Ball sees one of Sydney’s top performance venues transform into a classic 1930s-style speakeasy club. Gamble, jive, grab a cocktail, and prepare yourself for a night of glamour and debauchery!
Sculpture by the Sea
From late October to early November, Bondi Beach plays host to the largest free sculpture exhibition in the world. Come and watch as the spectacular Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk is transformed into a two-kilometre-long outdoor exhibition of more than 100 sculptures by visual artists from more than 15 countries.
Sydney New Year’s Eve
The arrival of the new year is certainly a time to celebrate, but few places in the world do it better than Sydney. The city’s annual fireworks display attracts more than a million awestruck spectators every year, as well as a global TV audience of more than a billion. If you’re lucky enough to see it in person, make sure to arrive early to score a front-row seat to one of the most spectacular pyrotechnic displays in the world.