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29 Things to do on February 29

Written by
Time Out editors

Once every four years, the calendar gods bless us with an extra day tacked on to the end of February for the leap year. A lot of the time it feels like we just don’t have enough hours in the day, well, now you have a whole 24 additional hours to do what you like with. Our editorial assistant Alannah Maher and staff writer Divya Venkataraman have rounded up 29 whole suggestions for how you make the most of it.

1. In Irish tradition, the extra day is also known as Bachelor’s Day, where women are allowed to propose to men. While we don’t advocate for holding fast to fiercely gendered, heteronormative constructs, guess it could be a cute excuse to pop the question? Whisk your loved one to an idyllic spot to bust out a ring, like from the south-east Pylon Lookout of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, in the shadow of the Opera House, or overlooking the harbour from Watson’s Bay.

2. Scour vintage finds and go on a sustainable shopping mission at Glebe Markets. Summon the gusto of all those Irish ladies who found the bollocks to propose to men on this additional day and channel it into haggling for a sweet deal on a second hand jumpsuit or a sweet denim jacket.

3. Get amongst nature. With the bushfire crisis impacting much of the country and choking our city with smoke much of the summer, many plans to take a hike were halted. Breathe in some eucalyptus-laced air on one of Sydney’s best walking trails

Manly to Spit Coastal Walk

Photograph: Destination NSW/James Horan

4. Make a splash at the best beaches in Sydney. Already ticked those ones off? Try the best secret beaches in Sydney

5. Speaking of nature, why not see some animals. Marvel at marsupials and primates and other creatures that are going about their business completely unaffected by the anomaly in our human calendar. Flock out west to the new Sydney Zoo or stampede on our other top suggestions for where to see animals in Sydney.

6. This leap year falls on a special date in the Sydney calendar, it’s the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade darling! Hundreds of thousands of revellers will converge along Oxford and Flinders Streets to celebrate LGBTQIA identity and community, and parties will be shimmying all across the city. Slap on some (biodegradable) glitter and browse our guide to how to get the most out of Mardi Gras

7. Looking for something to wear for the parade, or just need an excuse to tizzy up and let your freak flag fly? Get your tush down to one of the best costume shops in Sydney and have yourself a movie-style fashion montage. 

8. Be a tourist in your own city. This is your excuse to do that thing you’ve always meant to check out. Check out our list of tourist attractions that don’t suck.

Sydney Mardi Gras Parade

Photograph: Hamid Mousa

9. Get weird at one of the most unusual museums in Sydney. Get close and personal with an alien-like tumour that grows its own hair, skin and teeth at the Museum of Human Disease or visit the the home that inspired the author behind the adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie at May Gibbs’ Nutcote

10. Spend some time in Ultimo's Powerhouse Museum in all its design-y, science-y glory before it begins the first stages of closure in June in preparation for the big move to Parramatta. Peruse an elaborate weaving maze of creative fashion and flair at Step Into Paradise, a retrospective of fab Aussie pioneers Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson. 

11. Maybe you just never have time to go to see a damn movie. Fair enough, seeing as they just seem to keep getting longer. Grab yourself a giant bucket of popcorn and sink into a reclining seat with one of the most luxuriant cinema packages in Sydney.  

12. Never seem to find the time for a little pampering? Find the perfect place to have those knots worked out of your back and soak away the worries of the other 365 days of the year at one of Sydney’s best spas.

13. Maybe you just need to bugger off. Seek out the figure eight pools in the Sydney Royal National Park, or discover a forgotten seaside village in Berry. Where the bloody hell are you? You’re hitting the road with one of the best day trips from Sydney, that’s where. 

14. Step into a giant kaleidoscope at Carriageworks. For ‘Radiant Flux’, artist Rebecca Baumann has encapsulated the building in more than 100 metres of light-responsive dichroic film that washes the building with weather-responsive purples, yellows, greens and blues. You also only have until Sunday, March 1, to see the corresponding artworks – Daniel Boyd’s cosmic, room filling ‘Video Works’ and photographer Kate Mitchell's colourful snapshot of Australian society in 'All Auras Touch'.

Radiant Flux at Carriageworks

Photograph: Daniel Boud

15. Hark back to the leap days of the past and go see 80's superstars A-ha perform at A Day on the Green.

16. Get in a good old boot-scootin’ boogie at the Shady Pines’ 10-Year Birthday Party

17. Devote that extra day to becoming a more cultured member of society, or making yourself sound like you are. The MCA’s Today Tomorrow Yesterday exhibition is open until March 29 – head over to check out Natasha Bullock’s curation of stellar contemporary artists,  and to then drop it ever-so-subtly into conversation. 

18. Speaking of art, check out the best art exhibitions in Sydney this February. Our top picks? AGNSW’s epic Japan Supernatural, and Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi artist Jonathan Jones’ public artwork, untitled (maraong manaóuwi)

19. Do something you’ve never tried before. Maybe that’s performing Shakespeare in a crowded pub with the encouragement of a beer or two. If so, enter Bar’d Work

20. If you’ve got some extra time, why not squeeze in a few more laughs? Giggle your socks off at the Happy Endings Comedy Club, or check out the other best comedy nights in Sydney

21. Lockouts are officially banished and Sydney’s settling into her new groove as a party city. Stay awake for as many of those extra 24 hours as possible with the 25 best clubs in the city (one for each hour, with an extra for wriggle room). 

22. Not usually a morning person? Catch a sunrise on this special day. Maybe from the Harbour Bridge or one of our other suggestions for where to see Sydney's skyline. Or check out other things you can do bright and early in our city. (Hint: one of them involves 4am karaoke.)

Sydney by Kayak

Photograph: Supplied

23. How about something a little indulgent and also a little hair-raising? See your city from 1000 metres above water by chartering a seaplane. Take off from the revamped terminal at Rose Bay and cruise over the Barrenjoey Lighthouse, Manly, and finish with sweeping views of the Harbour. This day only comes around once every four years, so make it a memorable one. 

24. Always making excuses to get out of exercise? With your newfound time, you can finally work on your core. And it doesn't even have to be a chore (but it must rhyme). Try out rock climbing at Climb Fit in St Leonards and you’ll have worked out without even realising it. If you prefer your exercise seated, try out these top spots to kayak in Sydney

25. The Greek Festival of Sydney is coming to town just in time for your extra day and it’s going to be a two-day bonanza of crisp honeyed loukoumades, spanakopita and all-round big, fat, Greek revelry. 

26. Now, more than ever, Chinese restaurants need our support. Gather the squad and pile the table high with plates of delicious things at one of our favourite Chinese restaurants in Sydney

27. Strap in and watch the theatrical epic War Horse at the Sydney Lyric Theatre. If that’s not your theatre-going vibe, check out feminist satire No Pay! No Way!, or the opening night of STC’s production of Hamlet

28. An extra day is a great opportunity to give back to your community. From puppies to live music to Indigenous climate action, check out the list of ways to volunteer in Sydney. Volunteering initiatives often have the most impact when they’re a sustained effort, so start something positive on your extra day which could turn into a routine. 

29. There’s never a bad time to work on your personal brand. Stockpile some Insta-stories by snapping selfies with the giant red piano at the Grounds’ thoroughly extravagant Elton John installation.

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