Sydney Summer Festival Guide
Sure, NSW isn't quite as lackadaisical or arty-farty as our Southern sisters when it comes to throwing festivals (okay, we're downright draconian), but there are plenty of hardworking promoters and party planners who are willing to wrestle with this state's byzantine bureaucracy and puritanical licensing laws in order to make fun times happen for small (and really, really large) groups of people. From lineups that champion the new and local, like one stage Parra festival FOMO to New Year's Eve blowouts in exotic locations (we see you Lost Paradise, Falls Festival) there's plenty to love. And, if you insist on a BYO, no-dickheads experience, you can always fly to Victoria or Tasmania.
The best clubs in Sydney
Sydney's nightlife scene has been through tumutulous times since the introduction of the lockout laws, with clubs and late night venues hit the hardest. Hats off to the venues still giving Sydneysiders a place to boogie – and the producers and DJs still dishing out stellar soundtracks. There's live music, juice bars, drag shows, cabaret and even bowling alleys, which will lure even the most sceptical clubber to one of Sydney's favourite nightspots.
Where to see free live music every night of the week
Liven up your Tuesday with some old school funk or or get yourself through hump day at a mid-week gig. Whatever night you choose, there's plenty of free live concerts every night of the week to get you groovin', right across the city and its surrounds.
So Frenchy So Chic
So Frenchy So Chic is back for a fourth year at new stomping grounds, but with all the fancy trimmings that we’ve come to expect from the wildly popular French-style picnic in the park. The line-up on stage includes the energetic six-piece Deluxe, who blur the lines between hip-hop, soul and pop; the Limiñanas sing in English and French with a sensual 1960s vibe; actor-poet-folk musician Bertrand Belin will bring his catchy tunes from Paris to Bicentennial Park; and festival royalty Nouvelle Vague are back with new songs form their latest album I could be happy plus covers of Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ and the Clash’s ‘Guns of Brixton’. Of course, one of the best things about so Frenchy is spending the day drinking Champagne on the grass. If you’re smart, you’ll pre-order the hampers from Simmone Logue, which include quiche with buttery crème fraiche pastry, goose-egg meringues and charcuterie and cheese platters. Prefer to buy on the day? There’ll be stallholders selling French delicacies like oysters, foie gras, raclette, crêpes and macarons. Plus, the Laurent Perrier bar will be open for bubbles, rosé and cocktails. So Frenchy is a family-friendly festival and kids under 12 can attend free of charge. They’ll have activities to entertain the enfant terrible, from face painting to bubble artists, drumming classes and lawn games like pétanque and croquet.
St Jerome's Laneway Festival has managed to go from just that – a festival in the backstreets of Melbourne for friends – to an internationally renowned tastemaker in a matter of year. 2017 will be no different, when the festival returns to the Sydney College of the Arts for a day of grassy fun.
If you were in Sydney in January, you’d have seen the Flaming Lips play a free concert in the Domain, built a giant cardboard tower in Darling Harbour, watched ferries race under the Harbour Bridge and you’d have ridden a flying fox at Barangaroo – all thanks to Sydney Festival. The annual cultural celebration is the big one in Sydney’s summer must-do list, and the festival’s contemporary programming always manages to surprise. Events take place across Sydney and Parramatta, attracting an audience of over 500,000 each year. In 2017, it’ll be the festival’s 41st year and they’ve already announced shows from multi-award winning artist PJ Harvey, who is playing the new ICC venue in Darling Harbour, plus the homegrown musical Ladies in Black – a toe-tapping trip back in time based on the comic novel by Madeleine St John. Look out for more announcements when the full program is released on October 26.
Your guide to Sydney's music scene
Your guide to Sydney nightlife
Shows to book now
Any aspirant highschool guitarist worth her salt will remember the shiver they got the first time they picked out 'B-E-B-E-B-E-B-E-B-E-B-E-down-up-strums'. Now, after more than half a decade between tours, The Pixies are returning to blast us with the simple magic of 'Where Is My Mind', along with tracks from their September 2016 album Head Carrier. This will be only the second time The Pixies have hit our shores without founding bassist Kim Deal (she's off releasing solo material). As with their Vivid shows in 2014, Deal has been replaced in the lineup by Paz Lenchatin, formerly of A Perfect Circle. She's been touring with the band since shortly after Deal left, and became an official member of The Pixies in July of 2016. Tickets go on sale September 2.
Get ready to relieve the glory days, dance in the dark and watch a New York City serenade when Bruce Springsteen returns to Australia. He will be joined by the E Street band for shows in both the Hunter and Sydney.
B*Witched, Atomic Kitten, S Club 3 and East 17
If you're reading this, you've gone back in time to 2002 because for no apparent reason Atomic Kitten, B*Witched, S Club 3, and boy band East 17 are doing a joint tour of Australia in 2017. Touching down in February next year, early 2000s Brit-pop stars will perform in Luna Park's Big Top. Times have definitely changed in the the decade since these groups were in last on the charts; S Club 7's club members have dwindled to just three of the original members: Jo O'Meara, Paul Cattermole, and Bradley McIntosh. The tour announcement of the UK pop extravaganza even came along with a helpful poster notifying readers of each group's popular hits during their early noughties heyday – though we're sure true fans won't need any reminding.
If you've seen Nicole Car sing, then you'll know she's got the vocal chops to pull of this role – but does she have the naughty streak? She'll need it to play Egyptian courtesan Thaïs, whose powers of seduction are enough to divert the evangelising monk Athanaël from virtue to vice – or at least, lust. Singing opposite her is Québecois baritone Étienne Dupuis. This will be a one-night-only staged concert – no set design or props, just a costumed cast and orchestra. Single tickets for Thaîs are available from October 12. Until then, you can purchase tickets as part of a subscription. See what else is in the Opera Australia 2017 season.