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The Dollar Bin Darlings at the Oxford Tavern
Photograph: Supplied/The Oxford Tavern

Things to do in Sydney this weekend

All the best ways to make the most of your Friday to Sunday

Written by
Time Out editors
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Living for the weekend? In a town like Sydney we don't blame you. There are fun times to be had all over the city, and this handy guide has everything you need to know to make the very most of your Friday to Sunday.

This weekend, you'll be hard pressed not to find a funky thing to do, with the incredible National Indigenous Art Fair coming to Sydneytown for two days of art-gazing and maker-meeting, head down to Bondi for a festival of epic proportions, dance at a booze-free costume party that comes with a time machine, and – for all those who want to bust outta town, there is the golden oppurtunity to get lost in an English box maze in a secret garden at the Mayfield Garden Winter Festival. 

Plus, for all those inclined to get their jig on, head out in your weekend-best and cut a rug on the best dancefloors in Sydney.

Also, since many Sydneysiders are homebound or may not be vibing with heading out into the world, we also have you covered for the best things to do at home as well as the best things to do out and about, below. 

We also have you covered for the best shows to see in Sydney, the best art exhibitions to check out, and the best new restaurants and bars in town

Sydney, it's time to get amongst it. 

Make the most of Sydney this weekend

  • Shopping
  • Arts and crafts

The annual two-day festival of Indigenous art, design, dance, music, food and culture returns for NAIDOC Week over the weekend of July 2 and 3. Themed Get Up, Stand Up, Show Up, the fair will feature artworks from remote Indigenous art centres and artists as well as stalls that regularly appear at the ever-popular Blak Markets. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander creatives are travelling from the far corners of Australia – places like Ceduna, Haasts Bluff, the Tiwi Islands and Yuendumu – presenting a rare and exciting opportunity for Sydneysiders to interact directly with the makers.

  • Art
  • The Rocks

If you find a deep sense of calm and satisfaction when visiting an art gallery, or perhaps if you’re looking to engage with art in a more meaningful way, the Museum of Contemporary Art’s new free mindfulness workshops could be just what you need. Visitors taking part in Art Flow will be led on a 45-minute contemplative experience by MCA artist-educators during which they will reflect on an artwork in the MCA collection, and perhaps themselves, in new ways.

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  • Music
  • Music festivals
  • Fairfield

Brookvale’s Inaugural Music, Film and Culture Festival launches this July, and with 11 events over 11 days, between July 2 and 29, you’re sure to find something to tickle your fancy. Featuring everything from a roller disco to a cacao ceremony, drumming circles, burlesque performances and Japanese rope bondage – this eclectic fest is infused with skater punk, opera, Latin beats, organic house, neo-funk, trip-hop ballet, and more.

 

  • Things to do

A cool climate garden that comes with an English box maze, a cascade, and an onsite greenhouse sounds like something out of a hazy British film from 1963. It is, however, also a living reality at Mayfield Garden, a 65 hectare spread of privately owned garden estate that only gets opened to the public four times a year, for a festival for each season. Right now is, you guessed it – their Winter Festival. This year's chilly Festival is set to run from Saturday, July 2 until Sunday, July 17, with the gardens open daily from 9am to 4.30pm. 

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  • Things to do
  • Fairs and festivals
  • Bondi

Who said Bondi was just a summer destination? After a two-year hiatus, Bondi Festival is back with three big weeks of comedy, dance, theatre and all-ages hands-on activities, plus live readings, audio walks, reflective art and encounters designed to feed your curiosity and get you out and about this winter.From July 1-17, venues both traditional and unexpected will light up across the suburb for playful and immersive theatre shows, while the beloved Bondi Vista Ferris Wheel and Bondi Festival Ice Rink also make their beachside return.

 

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  • Things to do
  • The Rocks

This year for NAIDOC Week, the Rocks will be playing host to a variety of exhibitions, events and festivities all celebrating Australia’s First Nations people, with this harbourside precinct coming to life with Indigenous culture from July 3-10. Visitors to the Rocks during this week can expect a whole host of incredible activities, with everything kicking off with a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony at the Bligh and Barney Reserve on July 3. Traditional weaving and boomerang-making workshops will also be going down at the Bligh and Barney Reserve between 10.30 am and noon on July 3. 

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  • Theatre
  • Comedy
  • Dawes Point

M.Rock tells the story of recently graduated young woman Tracey (Milena Barraclough Nesic) and her  “disappearance” while travelling around the world post-exams. Deciding to follow an attractive DJ to the techno clubs of Berlin on a whim instead of heading to the Africa leg of her trip, she causes a chain reaction that results in her Bankstown-based grandmother Mabel’s (Valerie Bader) own journey to find her granddaughter, which sees her encounter love, new skills and eventual fame in unexpected places. It’s a joyous ode to the power of self-discovery at any age. 

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  • Things to do
  • Classes and workshops

When weather takes a turn for the worse, you don't need to hunker down at home. Why not take shelter in style with our guide to the most fun things to do indoors in Sydney? Whether you're in search of a crafternoon, a cultural adventure, or a cocktail with a view, there's something for everyone on our list of fun venues and activities where you can stay warm and dry, all year round.

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  • Things to do
  • Fairs and festivals

Folks of the Inner West and beyond, Marrickville Metro is throwing a two-day festival extravaganza of food, drinks, live music and local art on July 2-3, and absolutely everybody is invited. Best of all, it's absolutely free to attend. Smidmore Street is set to come alive with the ‘Retro Metro Festival’, a retro-themed party bonanza that will feature the likes of juke-boxes, a pop-up arcade alley and roller-blading performers, with these just some of the glittering delights set to light up the Inner West this coming weekend. 

 

  • Things to do
  • Classes and workshops

The Harbour City is not always a great place for fun in the sun, as this year's persistent rains have proven. But when the weather takes a turn for the worse, you don't need to hunker down at home. Why not take shelter in style with our guide to the most fun things to do indoors in Sydney? Whether you're in search of a crafternoon, a cultural adventure, or a cocktail with a view, there's something for everyone on our list of fun venues and activities where you can stay warm and dry, all year round.

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  • Nightlife
  • Petersham

If you wanted to get in on one of the Inner West’s best hidden treasures, you might want to prime your game and head down to the Oxford Tavern in Petersham on a Saturday night for their show-stopping event; Show Us Ya Tips. Hosted by city renowned DJs, The Dollar Bin Darlings, this erotic event is one that's not to be missed. This night on the town is all about raising money for SWOP – Sex Workers Outreach Project – and is geared to recognise the fact that sex work is real work, with all the peformers scoring all of the cash that they make on the night. We love ethics. 

 

  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Bowral

The brand new exhibition Land Abounds places leading contemporary artists and brothers Abdul-Rahman Abdullah and Abdul Abdullah in dialogue with four significant video installations by one of their greatest influences, renowned video collage artist Tracey Moffatt. Rarely presented side-by-side, the Muslim-Australian brothers share a visual language through their artistic practice, with the newly commissioned and existing works they present here share fascinating dialogues, enhanced by Moffat’s film works. 

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  • Things to do
  • Sydney

Discover the history of gin – and the best places to taste it – on this epic guided tour of Sydney’s boutique distilleries and hidden gin bars. On your travels, you'll sample five top gins and five superb cocktails (all free) while learning about this popular tipple's fascinating history, from its checkered days as ‘mother’s ruin’ to its present-day ascendancy and the botanical bonanza of contemporary Aussie gins. You'll walk away feeling very pleasantly buzzed.

  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Darling Harbour

That famous magical nanny is packing her bottomless bag and hitching a ride on a flying umbrella all the way down to Australia for a mainstage musical production of Disney Theatrical’s Mary Poppins. Take a spoonful of sugar and get your singing voice ready to belt along with classic songs like the tongue twisting ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ and put out your tuppence a bag for ‘Feed the Birds’. 

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  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Darlinghurst

 

A guy and a girl meet on a Dublin street. He’s busking his last set before he gives up on music forever. She needs her vacuum cleaner fixed. Through music, a delicate, hopeful connection is forged. Once, John Carney’s quiet and soulful movie musical, was a big hit with sensitive folks and indie-folk fans back in 2007, and now, as a stage production, all of us Indie-darlings in 2022 Sydney get to go see it too. 

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  • Theatre
  • Drama
  • Surry Hills

Belvoir’s Upstairs Theatre will be the scene of a timely exploration of power, truth and desire with the Sydney premiere of Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes by Canadian playwright Hannah Moscovitch. Petra Kalive directs the two-hander in which a popular creative writing lecturer, Jon (Dan Spielman), has an affair with his star 19-year-old student, Annie (Izabella Yena).

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  • Restaurants
  • Tea rooms

Crustless cucumber sandwiches, scones with jam and cream and tiered plates of petit fours.  Sydney loves a pinky-lifting high tea, and with good reason. Once you've got baked goodies, tea selections for every palette and beautiful surrounds – maybe harbour views, like at the Mosman Barracks, or cultivated gardens at historic Vaucluse House – you've got all the elements of an aspirational afternoon of ever-so fancy leisure.

 

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  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Sydney

Australia’s favourite portrait prize is back for 2022, and as always it's a delight to see which famous faces have made it into the mix of painterly interpretations. This year over 800 paintings were submitted, and you can peruse the top 52 at the Art Gallery of New South Wales until August 28, when they ship off around the country.

  • Music
  • Classical and opera
  • Chatswood

Phoenix Collective is a string quartet performing concerts in Sydney, Canberra, the Central Coast and regional NSW. Its members come from the ranks of top national and international orchestras and they showcase classical and modern classical music with a uniquely Australian edge. In 2022, they are performing four Sunday concerts designed to excite and inspire audiences with the extraordinary possibilities of the string quartet. The concerts are happening at the intimate Zenith Theatre, Chatswood. 

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  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours

Hark! What's that? If it's winter in Sydney and you're standing by the sea, it could very well be the gentle giants of the Big Blue popping up to say hello – and, y'know, breathe. In Sydney, May to November is your best bet to catch a glimpse of some humpback whales, as 20,000 of them make moves along the New South Wales coastline during the colder months. If you want to try your luck this weekend, head to one of our top vantage point picks and get ready to wave a long distance hello. 

  • Shopping
  • Markets

 Sydney is back. Weekends are back. Life is back. And with this great resurgence of good times, we are also welcoming back one of our most beloved cultural institutions - the humble weekend market. Snaffling fried brunchy fare on the grass, hanging with dogs, uncovering a mint condition leather jacket beneath some dusty leggings, jiving to a live saxaphone player before 10am - all these myriad of delights are available at pretty much any Sydney market, and the good news is that now, you get to experience it too.

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  • Bars
  • Breweries
  • Marrickville

Suspend your reality for a moment. Imagine it's 1980s Australia and you're a True Blue Bruce. This is truly your time. On the cusp of its five year birthday, Hawke's Brewing Company, the brewery co-founded by former prime minister Bob Hawke, has thrown open the doors of a flagship venue, housed inside its newly built 2,100 square-meter brewery in Marrickville.

 

  • Travel
  • getaways

Sydneysiders are a lucky bunch. Jump in the car and within just a few hours you can find yourself in some of the most beautiful spots in the state. But with so many options to choose from, it begs the question: where should you visit first? You're certainly spoilt for choice, so we've cherry-picked a selection of the best day trips from the city – featuring quaint villages, seaside hangouts and mountain escapes.

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  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours

Aboriginal Australia has a rich culture that’s survived more than 60,000 years. Aboriginal people have survived catastrophic changes to their cultures and ways of life brought about by Europeans since 1788, and there’s a lot that visitors can learn from the oldest living culture in the world. Really get to know the city of Sydney through the connection to land that its First Nations peoples have and continue to uphold through these four Sydney tours.

  • Things to do

Are you ready to chase arty escapades around the city? The Biennale of Sydney has unleashed a packed program for 2022, with over 330 artworks by 89 participants and 400 events, which are showing over three months. The largest contemporary art event of its kind in Australia, as always, the Biennale is free to visit and open to the public. Check out our highlight picks.

 

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  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Darling Harbour

While the weather has been unpredictable at best, with winds and rain set to disrupt plans for the foreseeable future, there is one failsafe place you can go to commune with nature in comfort. Sydney is taking temporary custody of the 57th Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. On loan from London’s Natural History Museum, this world-class collection of mesmerising images is being housed at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

 

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  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Newtown

What's in a name? Well, if that name is Odd Culture Newtown, there's not much left to the imagination. King Street's newest natty joint is going hard on the ferments, wild yeasts and all things bubbly. Taking over the coveted Happy Chef space (vale), Odd Culture is a two-level craft beer, natural wine and ferment-happy diner from the group that brought us the Oxford Tav, the Old Fitz and the Duke of Enmore. With friends like that, you know it's going to be all killer, no filler. 

 

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  • Things to do
  • Potts Point

Located in the notoriously colourful and historic nightlife district of Kings Cross, the Bamboozle Room will transport you to another time and place. Currently on show every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night is Talk and Tease: Comedy Burlesque, a light-hearted variety show that's a bit risqué with plenty of laughs thrown in. The night features a mixture of cheeky and unique burlesque solo acts and stand-up comedy, all presented by a quirky MC.

 

  • Things to do

Elm Rooftop Bar is redefining one of Sydneysiders’ favourite pastimes – the bottomless brunch – with the launch of the country’s first-and-only drag king brunch. With free-flowing prestige cuvée and rosé, good vibes, and delectable bites, there’s no better excuse to round up your mates. Not familiar with drag kings? Think the opposite of a drag queen. Drag kings are mostly female performance artists who dress in masculine drag and personify male gender stereotypes.

 

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  • Nightlife
  • Nightlife

Everyone's favourite party circus, basement dwelling Ramblin' Rascals are all grown up and shifting gears. Yes, the debauchery remains, but after nearly a decade of liver-smashing, whiskey shooting and rollicking party intensity, the team is letting some of Sydney's finest musos take charge by putting on gigs every dang week with a revolving line up of local acts, so there's a little something to please everyone. 

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  • Museums
  • History

Sydney is home to some pretty fascinating museums, places where you can learn about ships, time, military history, society, the police force and more. Rain or shine, head out on a journey of discovery at these all-weather-friendly houses of knowledge. You'll learn about fascinating natural histories, scientific endeavours, design innovations and the many surprising stories that have made this city everything it is today.

  • Sport and fitness
  • Walks

From easy breezy coastal walks to half-day bush hikes and multi-day expeditions, Sydney’s blessed with many different walking paths that’ll suit amblers of all abilities. Take a look at our list of 13 walks in Sydney that’ll take you over dramatic sandstone cliffs, cobbled stone paths, sandy inlets and well-trodden boardwalks.

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