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Silhouetted figures in front if IMAX-sized projections of Degas’ famous dancer paintings
Photograph: Supplied/Grande Experiences

The best things to do in Sydney this weekend: March 19-21

Our top picks for the best ways to spend your Friday to Sunday

Written by
Maxim Boon

Just over a year ago, the devastating bushfire disaster had most of us praying for rain. And boy, did Mother Nature hear us. The arrival of one of the most powerful La Niñas in decades has soaked Sydney through much of the summer, and the forecast for autumn is looking just as damp. But even though this weekend is set to be a washout, there’s still plenty of great activities around town where you can hide from the rain. You can check out our full list of the best things to do in Sydney this weekend here, or check out these hand-picked highlights.

Monet and Friends at the Royal Hall of Industries, Moore Park

Following hot on the heels of digital art blockbuster Van Gogh Alive, this new Imax-sized art-stravaganza is an immersive deep dive into the art and culture of 19th-century France. The dreamy masterpieces of Claude Monet are the focal point, but this show also explores the writers, thinkers and other artists who inspired the great Impressionist, as well as unveiling a number of new digital artworks inspired by Monet’s use of colour and form.

Big Thick Energy at the Eternity Playhouse, Darlinghurst

In a world of face-tuned influencers and impossible beauty standards, this body positivity festival, helmed by the indomitable performance artist and “body manipulator” Demon Derriere, is the antidote we’ve been waiting for. The three-day event will feature ten skill-sharing workshops, local artisan markets and three evenings of high-energy entertainment and stereotype-shattering acts with proudly thick, curvy performers at the forefront.

Saloon 24 at Wonderland, Kings Cross

Grab your cowboy hat, throw on your chaps, and get off your horse and drink your milk, because a little slice of the Wild West is coming to the Cross. The latest themed bar from the team at Wonderland is an old-timey saloon, but you can expect more than just western-themed drinks and decor. At this 90-minute experience, you’ll take part in games and challenges to win golden coins which you can redeem for bottles containing secret ingredients to mix into a smoking cocktail barrel. Along the way you can try your hand at darts, ring toss, coin toss, card games and shuffleboard, as well as getting all fired up for a duel, you varmint.

Hamilton at the Sydney Lyric Theatre, Darling Harbour

The world’s most talked-about show has finally arrived Down Under. The Australian premiere of the Broadway megahit has begun public previews ahead of its official opening on March 27. The hip-hop and R'n'B-driven musical explores the story of the founding fathers of the United States, viewed through the lens of contemporary African-American culture. After busting box office records in New York and London’s West End, it’s Australia’s turn to find out if this musical theatre blockbuster is worthy of the hype (spoiler: it is).

Iranzamin at the Powerhouse Museum, Ultimo

To mark Nowrouz – the Persian new year – the Powerhouse Museum is unveiling an exhibition celebrating Persian arts and crafts through the ages. It’s the first dedicated show of its Persian collection featuring more than 100 artefacts and treasures. The exhibition is divided into seven themes: Joy and Happiness; Purification and Cleansing; Spirituality and Devotion; Poetry and Calligraphy; Rituals and Performance; Patronage and Craftsmanship; and finally Nature and Design. Iranzamin encompasses everything from hand-woven carpets and rugs to armour and weaponry to beautiful blown glass pieces, ceramics, tiles and embroidery.

Café Freda’s, Darlinghurst

You might recall Freda’s as the warehouse art and party bar lurking the wilds of Chippendale, but the venue’s latest incarnation at the hilt of Taylor Square is a far chicer affair. Not that its old devil-may-care all-are-welcome spirit isn’t still part of the new Freda’s DNA. Taylor Square has always had the potential to be a gathering place, not just a landmark, but we needed venues like Café Freda’s to give us somewhere we wanted to stay. The secret involves food that is delicious, local and unpredictable; drinks as varied as a house party cooler (yes, VB tinnies. Also yes, Champagne); a default setting of inclusion, right down to the Indigenous place names on the wine list. It’s not just a vibe – it’s the vibe, and one that Sydney could use a lot more of.

Still in need of inspo? Check out our pick of the 50 things everyone in Sydney should experience at least once in their life.

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