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Things to do in Sydney this weekend

All the best ways to make the most of your weekend at home or on the town

Written by
Time Out editors

Update, Jan 27 2022: in light of the evolving Omicron surge, many events across Sydney have been postponed, rescheduled or cancelled. Things are changing rapidly. Always check ahead to see if an event or venue you're planning to attend is still open, and what precautions and conditions of entry are in place. 

City life and all the fun that comes with it has been reviving across Sydney. There are plenty of exciting things to go out and do, but make sure you're looking out for yourself and others. Many restrictions have lifted, and many more health restrictions will stick around until the end of February. Stay safe, mask up, and keep those hands sannied, Sydney. 

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 show to see in Sydneythe best art exhibitions to check outthe best new restaurants and bars in town, and outdoor cinemas for alfreso flicks.

Recommended: How to go out safely in Sydney this summer.

  • Film
  • Film festivals
  • Sydney

These short films have a long, long history. Now entering its fourth decade, Flickerfest showcases the best short films from at home and across the world, and plays an important role in global film culture by helping makers of short films reach an audience here in Australia and internationally. 

In January 2022, Flickerfest returns with a pop-up festival garden at North Bondi Park. Screenings will take place at the outdoor lawn cinema and inside the Famous Spiegeltent. There will also be a panoramic beachside bar serving delicious food and drinks where you can rub shoulders with the cinema stars of today and tomorrow under the stars, before or after your film session or at Flickerfest's glam opening and closing night red carpet party events.

Two hundred of the best films selected from more than 3,150 entries are set to inspire and entertain audiences across 29 dedicated festival sessions of roughly two hours each. Apart from Flickerfest's hotly contested competitions for Australian, International Shorts and short documentary, expect a showcase of youth filmmaking from across Australia (SAE FlickerUp); amazing LGBTQIA films (Rainbow Shorts); family-friendly films (FlickerKids); films about relationships (Love Bites); comedy (Short Laughs); and a Best Of European Union finalists screening.

Highlights this year include the world premiere of the quirky black space comedy ‘The Home Team’ starring comedy legend Paul McDermott and Tara Morice (Strictly Ballroom); the NSW premiere of the intimate sibling drama ‘You Me Before and After’ starring Yael Stone (Orange Is the New Black) and Emily Barclay (Babyteeth); and the Australian premiere of a new short film, ‘Mask of the Evil Apparition’, by award-winning veteran Australian feature director Alex Proyas (Dark City, I Robot). 

As an Academy® Qualifying short film festival, the shorts in competition at Flickerfest are vying for prizes including the Flickerfest Award for Best International Short Film, the Yoram Gross Award for Best International Animation, the Panasonic Award for Best Australian Short Film and the Flickerfest Award for Best Documentary. 

Flickerfest takes place January 21-30, 2022 and tickets are on sale here.  

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  • Things to do
  • Sydney

Returning to the Royal Botanic Garden for the second year across six weeks this summer, this free outdoor series brings together all the things you want on a balmy January evening: live tunes, outdoor dining and glorious views of the Harbour. Oh, and G'n'Ts, all night long. 

With views spanning from the grassy hills of the RBG over to the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, there's no more quintessential Sydney scene to feast your eyes on this season. Not that you'll just be feasting your eyes – line up for delicious food courtesy of pop-up eateries which will set up alfresco to feed garden frolickers in the evenings and during the day on weekends. 

This year, a unique floral custom light installation will welcome guests as they make their way to a central dome tent, where they will be able to enjoy refreshing beverages from the four-sided bar and al-fresco catered dining.

And all this set to the dulcet tones of musicians fresh from Sydney's Conservatorium of Music – they'll be serenading you with live music performances throughout the event. The event takes place on the Tarpein Precinct Lawn. Entry is via Macquarie Street (opposite the Moore steps). It's a completely free and Covid-Safe event – just walk on in. 

The Garden Social series runs from January 6 to February 14. It'll be open Thursdays and Fridays from 5pm; Saturdays and Sundays from 11am. 

  • Music
  • Music festivals
  • Sydney

Sydney’s original Speakers' Corner in the Domain was historically a place for activism, eccentricity and free speech – where anyone could jump on a milk crate and make themselves heard. This summer, Sydney Festival is swapping out the milk crate for a main stage sidled up next to St Mary's Cathedral and Hyde Park, and audiences of up to 1,000 people, giving a platform to an eclectic line-up of Australia’s finest musicians and comedians.

Take your pick from 22 nights of live music, DJs, a dash of comedy and a fat splash of street art in the CBD. With sunset sessions and late shows catering to the early birds and the night owls, acts include the fierce new face of Aussie punk, Amyl and the Sniffers; indie-pop songstress Washington will pay tribute to her EP Insomnia on its ten-year anniversary; B Wise presents Jaime, a special collaboration show with a cast of friends to celebrate his new hip-hop record and ode to Western Sydney; and you can also catch sets from Cash Savage and the Last DrinksEmma Donovan and the Putbacks, King Stingray, the Beths, and loads more. The season runs throughout the festival from January 5 to 30, and tickets range from $39 to $59 plus booking fee.

Note: some acts have withdrawn from the festival and the evolving Covid situation means things change quickly. Always check ahead to make sure an event you're planning to attend is still going ahead. All visitors to Speakers Corner will be required to check in with a QR code and provide proof of double-vaccination or a valid exemption. Find out more here.

  • Things to do
  • Fairs and festivals
  • Darling Harbour

Down at Sydney’s seaside museum, the Year of the Tiger is getting off to a swimming start with art, workshops, kids’ activities and music for everyone. So throw away any preconceptions about cats and water not being a good mix, and dive in. The Maritime Museum has partnered up with 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art and the Korean Cultural Centre for three big weekends of art and activities that explore traditions and push boundaries.

Over the first weekend from January 28-30, synchronised dance and synth beats meet the sea with fun, energised open-age dance workshops from K-POP cover groups 9bit and Magic Circle. 

Elsewhere, artist Eugenia Lim will suit up as a gold Mao-suited ‘Ambassador’ for The People’s Currency, an interactive exhibition and performance. Lim will inhabit a ‘factory’ printing counterfeit currency of her own design and act as floor manager to this ‘factory’ of workers. Taking its name from Renminbi (China’s currency), the work explores the social impacts of globalisation upon those who seek their fortunes in the factories of China – or the ‘workshop of the world’. You can simply observe, or if you’re game, you can register to be a worker in Lim’s factory. This work will be accompanied by children’s dance workshops.

During the second weekend from February 5-6, you can join in creative Lunar New Year inspired artmaking in family friendly drop-in workshops. 

Lion and dragon dances with martial arts displays will create a big finish for the Lunar New Year celebrations on Sunday February 13. Over the final weekend, February 12-13, families can also drop in for printmaking workshops inspired by the year of the tiger and tiger camouflage patterns. Or tantalise your senses with a snack making workshop with colourful drag personality Radha. This workshop costs $15 and you can register here.

Throughout the Lunar New Year, the museum also presents artist Cindy Yuen-Zhe Chen’s exhibition Spaces to Stir. This newly commissioned body of work responds to unique landscapes and stories of women-identifying diaspora. Presenting a bespoke exhibition comprising video, sound and installation, Spaces to Stir will amplify the quiet and considered lived experiences of the artist.

Kids can also adventure around the museum’s maritime inspired displays with the Lunar Seas activity trail, inspired by Lunar animals and constellations that feature in the museum’s collection. You can complete the trail to receive a lucky dip pack filled with creative activities.

Most activities are free with museum entry (hot tip: you can use your Dine and Discover vouchers). Find out more here.

Want more? Check out the best Lunar New Year events in Sydney.

  • Things to do
  • Fairs and festivals
  • Chatswood

Get out of the house this Lunar New Year with Chatswood's series of events, installations and activations. The North Shore suburb is celebrating the Year of the Tiger in style with jaw-dropping art installations, its very own comedy festival and a heap of delicious food. Add this nearly month-long festival to your calendar and invoke all the luck, prosperity and good health for the new year ahead with some fabulous activities and feasts to boot.

This year's Lunar New Year festival will bring back some events Chatswood's iteration is know for with some exciting new happenings thrown in for good measure. Don't miss Chatswood's inaugural Lunar New Year Comedy Festival on Saturday February 12. The two-performance festival will see a line-up of hilarious Asian Australian comedians take the stage including Alex Lee (The Feed), Lawrence Leung (Why Are You Like This?), Michael Hing (The Feed), Annie Louey (The Project), Diana Nguyen (Phi and Me), Suraj Kolarkar (Triple M), Suren Jayemanne (Tonightly with Tom Ballard) and Harry Jun. If soothing melodies are more your thing head to the Year of the Tiger in Concert on February 5 with stunning performances from young musicians from the Conservatorium of Music playing traditional, folk and classical pieces, plus martial arts demonstrations, lion dancers and contemporary dance performances. 

Art plays a big part, with exhibitions and installations popping up around Chatswood. Head to Willoughby’s Incinerator Art Space for group shows and works from Australian artists exploring cross-cultural themes including Tracey Moffatt, Tim Johnson, Owen Leong, Ginger Jingzhe Li, and Huajie Zhang. There will even be a larger than life inflatable tiger and her cubs taking up residence at the Concourse Reflection Pool.

What would a festival be without the food? Never fear, the Chatswood Year of the Tiger Festival has got you covered with their sense-tingling Golden Market. Popping up in Chatswood Mall from 9am on Thursdays and Fridays and on Saturday February 5 you can feast from over 35 stalls laden with food from all across Asia. Throughout the festival period you can also follow some of Chatswood's exciting food trails to get a taste of the diverse and delicious local businesses. Explore the Festival Eats interactive map here or if you want to hit the streets for sweets there's also a dessert trail you can follow here. Let your food adventure begin!

The festival runs from January 27 until February 20 with a myriad exciting events. Be sure to check the full program and plan your visit here.

  • Things to do
  • Erskineville

Feeling frisky? Sydney’s home of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the Imperial Hotel in Erskineville has brought back its X-rated drag n’ dine experience, Rood Food, for another round. Tried and tested by the Time Out team, we can really root for this one. 

This three-course, choose-your-own-adventure-style dinner paired with an adults-only drag revue in the Impy’s Priscilla’s Restaurant is not for the faint of heart (BYO pearls to clutch), but a happy ending is on the table. Naughty performances and drag antics tickle you with laughter as you work your way through a menu of deftly designed dishes with blush-inducing names that put private parts on the plate.

You’ll be salivating over the return of some of our favourite dishes. Get the party started with the ‘pussy pâté’ (a gaping, gushing valley of vegan-friendly cashew pâté), or opt for a ‘pearl necklace’ (Sydney rock oysters with coconut and finger lime dressing). Our choice to finish you off? The ‘panna knockers’ of course, which are jiggling their way back onto the menu. 

For the main event, the Imperial’s chefs tantalise your tastebuds with what Priscilla’s does best: vegan-friendly dishes that bring the humble veggie out of the closet (‘hot root’), slow-cooked meats (‘bareback ribs’), and wood-roasted seafood (‘under the sea-men’).

Up on the stage (and elsewhere, keep an eye out) the cast are serving up an incredible drag production show that’ll fly you around the world to the USA, Russia and beyond. The star cast includes the fabulous Danni Issues, Dakota Fann’ee and Riot with the boylesque stylings of Kalin Klein and the draglesque fusion of Mama Medusa, and more.

With dancing still restricted to bopping along in your seat at venues across Sydney until the end of February, dinner and a show is one of the liveliest nights out on the town right now. And this raunchy take on drag 'n’ dine is a whole lot of fun that encourages us to be playful and see the silliness in sexuality.

Rood Food dishes up every Friday and Saturday night until February 26. There’s two physically-distanced sittings each night at 6pm and 8.30pm. Tickets start at $89 per person, which includes three courses and a welcome cocktail. For an additional $45, you can add on flowing alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks for the duration of your seating.

Fancy another slice? The Impy is also hosting Rood Food After Hours in the basement, running from 8.15-10pm every Friday and Saturday night that Rood Food runs. Expect a naughty show that’ll have you dancing, screaming and begging for more with ruling queens Ruby Royale, Dammit Jannet and Peach Fuzz. Thirsty? You’ll also be able to sip on Rood Fluids, a delightful series of cocktail concoctions with names like ‘Toe Sucker 5000’ and more. Pre-sale tickets are $10 online, or $15 on the door.

Book your tickets for the main course here and the after-dinner show here.

Want more? Check out the best things to do in Sydney this week.

  • Things to do
  • Fairs and festivals
  • Sydney

This January, Darling Harbour becomes a vibrant playground that enthralls from morning to night. The Summer of 20You is a month-long program with experiences to delight every person, and every version of them – whether that’s one who rises early for a free barre class in Tumbalong Park, or prefers evenings of live music in Darling Square (or both).

If you love a good boogie, you’re in business. Popping up on the Convention Centre forecourt from January 3-30 is an interactive dance floor that transforms your steps into shimmering light. Drop by any time, night or day to have a play. The dance floor will also host DJs every Thursday to Saturday evening, live choreographed performances from street dance group Destructive Steps Dance Association (DSDA), free hip-hop classes on Saturday nights and a free salsa class on Thursday 27 January. There will also be thrilling dance battles each week encompassing genres such as ‘70s, ‘80s and G-funk music. 

Over at Tumbalong Park a free otherworldly show will take place as part of the 2022 Sydney Festival. Airship Orchestra comprises a platoon of 16 giant inflatable creatures – measuring up to six metres high – pulsating with glowing light and mesmerising melodies. Having delighted audiences from Washington DC to Shanghai, it’ll enchant Sydneysiders of all ages this summer while providing bountiful photo opportunities. Then on January 20 and 21, acrobatic school the Construct will wow crowds from a cube apparatus on the harbour as they weave, flip, dance and contort their bodies in an expression of freedom and joy. 

Coasting around Cockle Bay on pedal boats is one of Darling Harbour’s favourite traditions, but this January you’ll also get to explore up close a large-scale inflatable artwork while you’re on the water. Macrocosm is a colourful, playful installation inspired by the beautiful ecosystems in our waterways, featuring vivid designs that respond to the Darling Harbour location while evoking coral reefs.  

Back on land you can book tickets to Nature Illuminated, an new immersive experience at the Chinese Garden of Friendship. From the Garden’s foliage emerges a spectacle of theatrical light set against soothing live strings, arranged to convey the changing seasons. Explore the Garden with augmented reality technology, ‘capturing’ plants and animals while interacting with friendly forest sprites scattered throughout. For a complete night out you can also book an eight-course feast at the Gardens by Lotus and sip on themed cocktails at the pop-up bar. 

The Summer of 20You will also feature Indigenous art on flags lines the foreshore of Cockle Bay. Bright colours along with the layering and mapping of the area are intended as an Acknowledgement of Country that allows visitors to immerse in the location, reflect and enjoy the awakening of the city. The designs are by Frances Belle Parker, a proud Yaegl woman, mother and artist, from Maclean, New South Wales.

Swing by Darling Harbour on January 26 for a big, boisterous barbecue from midday. It won’t be just snags on sandwich bread though, with stalls serving barbecue dishes that celebrate our country’s diversity. The little ones can cool off by running through misting tunnels, while grownups relax on the grass and enjoy live entertainment on stage.

For the kids, there’s an entire suite of family entertainment at Darling Harbour over summer. These include shows and workshops at the Australian National Maritime Museum; performances by the Listies at Monkey Baa Theatre Company; the Darling Harbour Children’s Playground and Ferris Wheel; and a Junior Garden Master Challenge at the Chinese Garden of Friendship. Need to feed the ravenous littlies afterward? Check out the best kid-friendly restaurants in Darling Harbour.

A special feature for all Sydneysiders will be the Summer Club at Darling Quarter, which will highlight the outdoor areas that Darling Quarter has to offer. Beautiful seating options, live music, food, dog-friendly amenities and interactive games will ensure the Summer Club is the sought-after space for hanging with family and friends from noon-7.30pm, Thursday to Sunday, January 6-23.

Ready for sunshine and great music? Sounds in the Square on Fridays and Saturday, 5-9pm, will see live music in Darling Square, ​​from reggae to pop, jazz and folk.

Summer of 20You at Darling Harbour is part of the NSW Government’s the Festival of Place– find out more about what's on.

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  • Things to do
  • Classes and workshops
  • Darling Harbour

Could you use a little body movement and a healthy boost to kick off your weekend in these uncertain times? The lofty rooftop bar sitting atop the Hyatt Regency is swapping sunset cocktails for early morning smoothie bowls, with a six week long series of yoga and mindfulness sessions taking over Zephyr Sky Bar every Saturday morning from January 15. 

Get ready to take in sweeping views of Darling Harbour as you salute the sun, and pick out your cutest activewear set for a candid snap amongst Zephyr’s nautical themed aesthetic – because it's 2022 and it's not like we have fresh sweaty clubbing photos to upload to the ‘gram. And don’t worry about little miss La Niña raining on your downward dog parade, in the event of rain, the session will still go ahead under cover. There will also be Covid-safe practices in place and yoga mats will be appropriately spaced.

The event kicks off from 8am and your $45 ticket includes a 75-minute vinyasa yoga class and mindfulness session hosted by Yogamigos, followed by a smoothie or smoothie bowl which you can assemble yourself at the Zephyr Smoothie Station. Executive chef Sven Ullrich will serve up the sweetest ingredients and freshest superfoods so guests can curate their own brekkie with all the fuel they need to get recharged and tackle their day.

Get limbered up and make your booking over here.

Want more? Check out the best things to do in Sydney this weekend.

  • Theatre
  • Comedy
  • Darlinghurst

After receiving rave reviews when Darlinghurst Theatre debuted this throughly contemporary play in 2021, Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner is back on the Sydney stage in 2022 ahead of a national tour. Read on for Time Out's five-star review from the 2021 season.

Cleo tweeted that she wanted Kylie Jenner dead. She was (mostly) joking. Knife emoji.

A blue-lit phone is the only source of light when Cleo (Moreblessing Maturure), waking up in her bedroom, scrolls down to see a tweet proclaiming that Kylie Jenner, youngest of the Jenner/Kardashian klan, has become Forbes’ ”youngest self-made billionaire”. Riled by the idea that Jenner could profiteer so blatantly by appropriating Black culture and aesthetics, she sends a tweet into the ether.

Jenner made fuller lips fashionable by injecting lip filler, says Cleo, “but when Mac Instagrammed a picture of a Black model with lips of the same width she was called ugly”. 

She hashtags it #kyliejennerfidead. 

Over the next 90 minutes, the sharply delivered, jaw-achingly funny play written by British playwright Jasmine Lee-Jones and directed in its Australian iteration by Shari Sebbens, follows Cleo and her best friend Kara as they wade through murky waters: unpicking old resentments, hurling accusations of light-skinned privilege and homophobia, and reckoning with the experience of being a Black woman today. It unravels the life-cycle of a tweet: from praise to virality, backlash and public shaming to a counterstrike in the form of dredged-up old tweets, and culminating finally in public contrition. 

The power of the internet to amplify and obfuscate – and its ability to synthesise joy, mockery and even death threats into GIF form – is realised on stage in the form of a three-dimensional lightbox suspended above the actors, designed by Wendy Yu. It flashes with tweets as if in real-time. In the play’s climactic moment, a puff of sky-blue feathers erupts from the box, like the detritus from the violent strangulation of that chirpy blue Twitter icon. 

Lee-Jones’ characters are well-drawn and sympathetic, even at their most obnoxious. Unleashing holy hell on Twitter may be her preferred MO, but Cleo is proficient in discussing structural racism in both the languages of academia and meme culture, slipping into each like they were two sides of a reversible jumpsuit. (Kara at one point asks Cleo to “stop speaking dissertation” to her.) Many of the memes in the play are garden-variety (think Michael Jackson eating popcorn, a Real Housewife sharpening a knife, Kermit drinking Lipton), but others will only be recognised by the extremely online. If you know, you know.

In some ways, the downward spiral of the tweet from witty callout to unbridled mess is just a vehicle for the friendship of Cleo and Kara to play out in. It’s one rooted in chaos, strengthened in conflict and underpinned by a deep, clawing love. Under Sebbens’ deft direction, even in moments when Lee-Jones’ dialogue threatens to move into the didactic, Maturure and her co-star still make it feel like a whole lot of fun. 

When Cleo and Kara’s rage at the world threatens to fracture their friendship, they begin to speak in shorter, more clipped forms of internet-speak. It’s only here, when the ‘OMG’s tumble over the ‘NGL’s in too quick succession, after a litany of ‘RN’s and ‘S2G’s, that the production threatens to lose a little of its pace and sacrifices some verisimilitude. No-one says 'JS' that much. 

But wherever they go, their audience – made up on opening night by mostly Black and Brown people – is there with them. They snap appraisingly, gasp collectively and laugh riotously. 

Near the end of the play, the lights go up. The surveyors become the surveyed for a minute, and there is a mirror reflection of youth and brownness and blackness, from on-stage to the seated crowd. “They’re just sat there,” Cleo says, looking out to the audience, awed at the sight of those who’ve been watching her all evening. “Not saying anything.” That’s true – but they sure are tweeting about it. 

This performance was reviewed at Eternity Playhouse in April 2021.

  • Things to do
  • Sydney

Darling Harbour's beautiful hidden garden has been lit up in an immersive world of lights, colour and natural splendour, transforming the tranquil sanctuary of the Chinese Garden of Friendship in the heart of the city into a digital art playground. 

Using augmented reality technology, the heritage-listed gardens have been transformed into a reflection of the four seasons. Meet giant koi fish, cacti and birds all while enjoying the gentle sounds of a string quartet. Wander through the illuminated world with a cocktail in hand, as the dulcet sounds of a string quartet fill the air. Use your phone to scan QR codes throughout the experience, and you will be able to watch the nature around you come to life. 

If you fancy a feast, the Gardens' teahouse-style dining space, The Garden by Lotus, is dishing up a premium Chinese banquet before the illuminations light up. It features popular dishes like Pacific oysters with finger lime dressing and flying fish roe, jade prawn dumplings and duck pancakes. Pescetarian and vegan banquet options are also available.

Entry is $50 per adult and $30 per child, with tickets including the Chinese banquet starting from $165. After-dark sessions are set to run at 7.30pm and 9pm each night (except Mondays) until March 27. This event is following Covid-safe guidelines. Things change quickly, so always check ahead with the event organiser before heading out to any events in Sydney.

Want more? Here are the best public gardens to explore in Sydney

  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Sydney

Note: performances of The Wedding Singer from from Jan 6 to Jan 12 inclusive were cancelled due to members of the company contracting Covid-19. The show is back with a new dates, running from January 15-30. Read on for our review from the Melbourne season.

The 1998 Drew Barrymore-Adam Sandler film The Wedding Singer is a mulleted, leather-gloved, parachute-panted nostalgia trip to 1985. The stage musical, now much further from 1998 than the film was from 1985, has an extra layer of nostalgia, recalling both the fashions and gender politics of the 1980s and the uncomplicated innocence of a late-’90s romcom. 

Far from being weighed down by these expectations, however, the show fizzes and pops like Mentos dropped into New Coke. It's as high energy as a Jane Fonda exercise video, sweet as a Ring Pop and pulls you in like a dancefloor filler at a wedding. 

The gist, in case you haven’t seen the film, is this: wedding singer Robbie Hart (Christian Charisiou) and waitress Julia Sullivan (Teagan Wouters) meet-cute the night before Robbie is left at the altar by his fiancée. Julia soon gets engaged to her Wall Street boyfriend Glen (Stephen Mahy), who cheats on her, worships money and fulfils his obligations as a panto villain. No points for guessing whether there’s a wedding at the end. 

As the two leads, Charisiou and Wouters have far more chemistry than Sandler and Barrymore ever did – and here both parties are charming and adorable. They are both vocal powerhouses, with Broadway voices made for this kind of music. Charisiou is particularly outstanding, with an expressive face that telegraphs his emotions all the way to the last row of the dress circle. A lesser actor would be upstaged by that tightly permed mullet, but self-assured Charisiou wears it with ease. 

The person who seems to be having the most fun on stage is Nadia Komazec as Julia’s best friend, Holly. She’s the spitting image of Like a Virgin-era Madonna, down to lace gloves, Boy Toy belt buckle and playful sexuality. She leads the act one closer ‘Saturday Night in the City’, a rocked-out club banger that promises “being young and stupid is what Saturday is for”. Komazec is mesmerising, in constant motion, and when the leads leave the stage in the middle of the number no one even notices. 

Almost all the songs are specifically composed for the show (with the exception of the two Sandler wrote for the film), and they are synth-y, electric guitar-led bops that fit perfectly into the genre of 1980s musical theatre. Think the overly synthed music from Cats and you’ll have an idea of the flavour. Although Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin wrote the music and lyrics respectively for this show, the songs are so catchy you’ll swear you already know them. Ode to 1980s greed-is-good capitalism ‘All About the Green’ will likely be stuck in your head for days. 

Michael Ralph’s choreography is sharp and clever, combining Broadway high kicks and jazz hands with loving tributes to Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince and other icons of the age. The cast are without exception fantastic dancers, bringing Ralph’s choreography to life in Kim Bishop’s costumes of sparkles, shoulder pads and rah-rah skirts. These, along with Declan O’Neill’s pink and blue neon lighting and Nathan Weyers’ set design, transport the audience straight back to 1985, at least as imagined by ‘90s romcoms. 

There are some welcome additions that would never fly in the actual 1980s, including a few queer side characters. The show risks turning Robbie’s keyboardist George (Ed Deganos) into a queer-baiting stereotype, with a running gag that bassist Sammy (Haydan Hawkins) is oblivious to George's obvious homosexuality. But when George comes out during a blink-and-you’ll miss-it moment in a song about how men are better off without women, Sammy’s reaction is surprisingly touching and mature. It would be easy to elide the line, but Hawkins turns it into something of a lovely, flashing surprise, confusion, trepidation, understanding and acceptance across his face in a matter of seconds. 

Under Alister Smith’s direction, The Wedding Singer shines brighter than day-glo, with big hair and an even bigger heart. It’s like the perfect pink piece of bubblegum, full of sugar and pop. And if your favourite part of the film was the rapping granny, well, the show doesn’t disappoint there, either. Tease your hair, dust off those shoulder pads and hit that disco ball dancefloor with The Wedding Singer.

This production was reviewed in Melbourne in May 2021.

  • Film
  • Special screenings
  • Moore Park

You’ve heard about multisensory experiences, but this is extrasensory. Get ready to experience a new reality at Wonderdome, where stunning visuals and bleeding-edge technologies dissolve the boundaries between the digital and physical worlds. 

This pop-up 360-degree theatre is the largest of its kind to ever be seen in Australia, and it makes its down under debut at Sydney’s Entertainment Quarter this December and January after beguiling audiences at Coachella and Burning Man. 

Audiences are invited to venture into a pulsating new world, where art, film and music are fused together to create a wholly unique experience. Think virtual reality, without the goggles.

The program is out now and features a catalogue of the world’s most successful and thought-provoking 360-degree film experiences, made to entertain all audiences with something for everyone. Headline films include Coral Rekindling Venus, a stunning Australian production written and directed by Emmy Award winner Lynette Wallworth; Flying Monsters, a David Attenborough narrated National Geographic film about flying dinosaurs; and Dynamic Earth which explores the inner workings of Earth’s great life support system, the global climate, narrated by Liam Neeson. 

The program will also feature the stunning Carriberrie, an exhilarating journey across Australia celebrating the depth and diversity of Indigenous dance and song from the traditional to the contemporary. If you’d like to dabble in the psychedelic side, check out Wonderdome’s art film program. Get lost in an M.C. Escher-inspired world with Labyrinth or get psychedelic with Samskara, an awesome visual feast filled with mystical creatures and lush fantasy environments by visionary artist Android Jones.

For pint-sized thrillseekers, Wonderdome is also screening family-friendly films during the day on weekends and the school holidays. 

Need some movie munchies or a tipple to go with that? Wonderdome has food and beverage offerings available pre- or post-screening, including hot jaffles, chips, chocolates, slushies, icecreams, a gin bar and craft beers.

Check out the full program and snap up your tickets here.

Want more? Check out the best things to do in Sydney this week.

  • Art
  • Sculpture and installations
  • Sydney

If you were mystified when the luminescent, inflatable arches of the outdoor Sky Castle installation popped up in Sydney in late 2021, then get a load of this meditative and multi-sensory installation that is taking its place in Tumbalong Park at Darling Harbour this summer.

Airship Orchestra, the latest public work to visit from Melbourne-based art and technology studio Eness, touches down from January 6 to 30 as part of Sydney Festival. Made up of 16 inflatable sculptures rising up to six metres high, this interactive installation pulsates with glowing light and supernatural song and is the perfect spot to snap some summer selfies. 

Visitors of all ages will be transported into a realm of choral sounds and rhythmic light, as Airship Orchestra’s charismatic band of voluminous astral creatures guide your imagination. 

This work has previously shown in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Shanghai and Washington D.C. – and now Sydneysiders can wander and be soothed as they seek respite from the world’s dramas. 

Airship Orchestra is free to explore every day between 10am and 10pm (last entry at 9.45pm). 

Want more? Check out the best events in Sydney this week

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Marrickville

The days of the daggy old Marrickville Metro are well behind us, after a multi-million dollar refresh in 2021, and the new (and improved!) precinct is making strides in the Inner West food scene. One of the myriad multi-cultural eateries that have swung the doors open is China Fusion, a mainland franchise bringing together highlights from Shanghai, Hong Kong and beyond. 

In the ramp up to the Lunar New Year, the folks at China Fusion are dishing out one dollar dumplings all the way up until January 31, so you can get your dumpling fix on a shoe-string budget all month. You read that right. One. Dollar. A buck. A smackeroo. You can gorge on steamed pork and chive dumplings, vegetable dumplings, prawn dumplings, and prawn and spinach dumplings until your heart's content for just one dollar a piece.

As with all good things, there are certain terms and conditions to contend with — you must order a minimum of one serve, each serve comes with 10 dumplings and each table can have one serve at a time — though we're sure you won't have any trouble polishing them off before round two.

Want to know more about the Marrickville Metro food precinct? Check out our guide to the best of the best right here.

  • Restaurants
  • Sydney

Slide on your glass slippers and get ready for a feast that will leave you feeling happily ever after. Affordable fine dining favourite Nel has announced the third chapter of of its hugely popular Disney-themed degustation, which happily coincides with a grand re-opening after a holiday facelift.

‘Once Upon a Time’ involves eleven dishes with a nostalgia-inducing creative touch. In 2019, the menu gained international notoriety for the controversial ‘Bambi’s Mum’, which came complete with dukkah served in rifle casings.

In 2022, chef Nelly Robinson is focussing his attention on happier childhood memories, but much of the menu is under wraps – though, we have been granted a quick peek into the magic mirror. If Disney references galore are what you're hungry for, this bounty is the Cave of Wonders you seek. A little taste of Piglet (pork belly) is served up glazed in Pooh’s favourite honey, and topped off with Eeyore’s carrots in the dish 'Hundred Acre Wood'; the 'Boo’s Best Friend' is a white chocolate and mint parfait made to look like Mike Wazowski’s eye; and the 'Dead Man’s Chest' serves up seafarin' squid topped with a black garlic emulsion. There are lovely bunches of coconuts, flounder from the deep sea, and elote and chimmichurri to celebrate the Day of the Dead, just like in Coco

Bookings are now open for this fantastical degustation, which will be on the table between January 18 and April 9. The Once Upon a Time menu will set you back $145 per person, with optional drink-matching packages available in alcoholic ($105) and non-alcoholic ($50) beverages. 

  • Things to do
  • Darling Harbour

Between the first rickety flight of aviation pioneers the Wright brothers, and Neil Armstrong’s historic giant leap for mankind on the Moon, is a gap of just 66 years. And yet, despite the mind-boggling speed with which humanity went from earthbound to astronomical, the Apollo program, which took the first people to the lunar surface, was cancelled just over a year after its inaugural Moon landing. These extraordinary feats of engineering and courage had become too passé to hold the public’s attention.

Well, for anyone still under the illusion that space is boring, a new immersive exhibition is ready to prove that there’s nothing dull about space exploration. Presented by M-Live and created by NEC Partners, the projection virtuosos behind the wildly successful Van Gogh Alive exhibition that delighted Sydneysiders earlier this year, this dazzling light show will transport you on a planet-hopping odyssey through our solar system, including visiting Mars, Venus, Pluto and Jupiter, without you ever having to leave the ICC in Darling Harbour.

In orbit around these cosmic projections, visitors can find real space paraphernalia from notable missions including spacesuits supplied by NASA, as well as model spacecraft and interactive touchscreen displays for an even more detailed journey through the cosmos. While the exhibition has toured internationally, with more than a million people worldwide having seen the show to date, the Sydney shows are some five times larger than any previous production of Neighbourhood Earth and feature some exhibits that have never before been on display to the public. 

While people in the early '70s may have become bored with jaunts to the Moon, humanity has never stopped looking to the stars. In the last few years, commercial space companies have accelerated the speed of space exploration, and we now stand on the brink of new era of spaceflight, in which regular folks like you and I will be able to take to the stars. Until then, this out-of-this-world exhibition is the next best thing. 

The Australian premiere of Neighbourhood Earth will have a limited season at the ICC, Darling Harbour, from November 19 to January 31. Tickets are $25-$45 per person, and are on sale now.

What else are you up to? Check out the best things to do in Sydney this week.

  • Film
  • Outdoor cinema
  • Sydney

Westpac OpenAir returns to Mrs Macquaries Point for the summer with the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge as its staggering backdrop. Pull up a folding chair, grab a snack (or an entire bottle of Champagne, ice bucket and all) and settle down to a film projected on a huge screen which starts running as night begins to fall over the harbour. 

If you really want a run-up for the view, take a stroll through the Botanic Gardens to the cinema (but word to the wise, don't leave it too late, lest you be caught wandering through the gardens in the dark and missing the start of the movie). You'll always have something to awe at, even if the film you've chosen doesn't turn out to be to your taste – though that's unlikely, given your plethora of options.

Screening from January 6 to February 22, the 2022 program is headlined by a dozen premiere or preview screenings, commencing on opening night with the inspirational tennis bio-pic King Richard, which stars Will Smith as the father of young tennis prodigies Venus and Serena Williams. There’s the Australian premiere of Kenneth Brannagh’s Death on The Nile, as well as previews of Guillermo Del Toro’s Nightmare Alley (starring Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett and Toni Collette); Joe Wright’s Cyrano; Pablo Larrain’s Spencer starring Kristen Stewart as Lady Diana; and British charmer The Duke starring Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren. Closing night will feature a gala preview of Leah Purcell’s The Drover’s Wife The Legend Of Molly Johnson.

You can also catch blockbusters including Daniel Craig's swan song as James Bond, No Time To Die, Lady Gaga's Oscar-buzzing turn in House of Gucci, the much anticipated new entry to plug in the Matrix universe, The Matrix Resurrections, as well as a fabulous selection of high-quality arthouse films including Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch

As part of a new partnership with AFTRS, each Sunday night the event is given over to the best new independent films, including previews of Kenneth Brannagh’s Belfast (Jamie Dornan), Cmon Cmon (Joaquin Phoenix), Pablo Almodovar’s Parallel Mothers (Penelope Cruz) and the comedic masterpiece that beat it to become Spain’s Oscar nominee, The Good Boss (Javier Bardem).

Looking to be fed and watered? The selection here is a step up from your average cinema candy bar. Kitchen by Mike is doing a Mexican barbecue twist on his movie night boxes and lighter picnic menu, and leading local DJs from FBi Radio will be setting the sunset vibe.

The perfect kick-off to a summer season of popcorn-ready films by the water. You can sign up for Westpac OpenAir's newsletter here and get tickets online

What are you up to? Check out the best things to do in Sydney this week.

  • Art
  • Paintings
  • Sydney

After the winter that was, we all need a massive dose of vibrant colour in our lives right now. Well, Art Gallery of NSW (AGNSW) listened and delivered. Matisse: Life & Spirit, Masterpieces from the Centre Pompidou presents the largest collection of the revered painter’s joyous work to ever wing its way to Sydney, with thanks to the world-famous Parisian home of contemporary art.

You’ll be able to soak up the spirit-lifting sight of more than 100 of his brilliantly inventive creations – not just paintings but also sculptures, drawings, cut-outs and more – from November 20 right through to March 13, 2022. The show takes in the full scope of his six decade-spanning career, with many of the inclusions having never been displayed in Australia. A special presentation focused on his work in Chapel of the Rosary in Vence, in the south of France, is at the heart of the exhibition. It’s considered to be the culmination of his life’s work. Sydney-based architect Richard Johnson has conjured up life-sized maquettes of the chapel windows.

AGNSW head curator of international art Justin Paton worked with special exhibitions curator Jackie Dunn and Centre Pompidou’s Dr Aurélie Verdier to bring this glowing exhibition to life.

AGNSW director Dr Michael Brand is delighted. “We are proud to offer our visitors an encounter with one of the world’s greatest collections of Matisse’s work here in Sydney on Gadigal country. The exhibition traces the development of the artist’s practice from his early breakthroughs into fauvism through to his late, great experiments in colour. These masterworks from the Centre Pompidou will reveal Matisse’s profound lifelong search to convey the vitality, joy and energy of the world as he saw it, which couldn’t be more relevant to our audiences today.”

And in honour of Matisse’s endless creativity, the gallery presents a gallery-wide festival in his honour, dubbed Matisse Alive. It brings together artworks form the collection that speak to his work, plus a free program of art, music and performance, opening up a dialogue with contemporary artists. Contributors include American artist Nina Chanel Abney, who explores race, gender, homophobia and politics in her work; Australian Sally Smart, a proponent of cut-out art; Angela Tiatia, who unpicks neo-colonialism; and New Zealander Robin White. There is also be a stunning display of tivaevae – the Polynesian art of quilting – crafted by the Cook Islands community of South-Western Sydney.

The gallery is open daily 10am-5pm, and tickets are on sale now.

Are you an art lover? Check out our must-see guide here

  • Art
  • Digital and interactive
  • Chippendale

White Rabbit Gallery has done it again, with a multidimensional and multilevel exhibition of contemporary art that will transport you through various worlds and sensations. 

You might have heard the term “big in Japan” bandied about. It usually describes Western bands who achieve success in Japan but not necessarily in other parts of the world and implies their success is possibly unverified, ironic, oddly specific, or “less than”. Making it big in an Eastern country used to be a second choice for Western rockstars. But China is now a global powerhouse, and these days companies, brands, and even nations from around the world all scramble to win the favour of Chinese consumers.

The exhibition Big in China hands the power to Asian artists to speculate on the peculiarities of Western customs and trends. These artists bring intriguing perspectives to how we process our ever-globalised world. 

The centrepiece of the exhibition is a humongous Corinthian column which appears to have been stretched out like dough, lazily coiled like a colossal serpent in the centre of the room, with a “head” that animatronically moves around like a charmed snake, with sensors enabling it to search out and follow spectators in the gallery. Created by artist Xu Zhen, the work titled Eternity vs Evolution was first seen in Canberra before coming to roost in Chippendale. 

Elsewhere, Tang Nannan’s wrap-around video installation Faith Mountain submerges viewers in mountainous waves until we become, as the Zen saying goes, simply one drop in an endless ocean. Lin Yan humbles and unites us as mortals under her vast, textural sky in a walk-through paper and ink installation. A live performer is frozen in a precarious falling pose. Paintings that appear fluffy and soft are constructed from tiny, hand-pasted shards of paper. An encompassing video game scene playing out across either side of a dark alley looks familiar, but reveals the struggles of living under contemporary capitalism in China. And the Gingerbread man (the one who knows the Muffin Man) makes an appearance in a line-up of shiny, hyper-bright resin artworks that see popular characters from Western media smooshed into vaguely distinguishable heaps. 

As stated on White Rabbit’s website: “These artists show us that it is not simply brute force that drives a nation and its people. Rather, it is the grand and overarching narratives, outstanding creativity and unique art practices that have the power to move a population en masse.”

Big in China is showing now at White Rabbit Gallery in Chippendale until May 22 2022. Entry is free. (Save your appetite for tea and dumplings in the café while you digest the art.)

  • Things to do
  • Food and drink
  • Bondi North

Seafood and tequila: the combo we never knew we needed.

This summer, the ultimate Bondi team-up will be brought to life, between stylish Sydney-based resort wear brand, Double Rainbouu, and the popular waterside seafood hangout, North Bondi Fish. Patron tequila and their perfect Palomas will be flowing all summer long and the venue will be brought to life with Double Rainbouu’s vibrant tropical style, including bespoke uniforms for staff and plenty of epic merch up for grabs. 

North Bondi Fish is known for its delicious seafood, so if this isn't an ideal time to visit, we’re not sure what is.   

To book a spot, head over to the North Bondi Fish website.

  • Things to do
  • Food and drink
  • Alexandria

A visit to the foliage-filled Grounds of Alexandria is always an enchanting experience. But ma chère Mademoiselle, get ready for your next visit to this Inner West haven to be entirely more magical. 

A powerful spell has been cast over the precinct to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of Disney’s animated classic Beauty and the Beast, filling the Grounds with spectacular scenes inspired by the beloved classic film. Come on and lift your glass and be their guest, there are also some on-theme treats and cocktails to sample on your visit. After all, no one's gloomy or complaining, while the flatware's entertaining.

Access to this incredibly photogenic activation is only for guests with a dining reservation, so book a table in the Grounds of Alexandria Café (open seven days for breakfast or lunch) or the Potting Shed (open for lunch or dinner Thu-Sat, or lunch only Wed or Sun) and take yourself on a stroll. You’ll discover walls of leather-bound books, gargantuan chandeliers, magic mirrors, masses of red roses, and all the finery you’d expect of a dilapidated castle overseen by a strangely attractive man-beast (we’re all in agreement that his beast form is hotter than his human form, yeah?) and anthropomorphic furniture and dinnerware. 

The whole aesthetic should serve as a nice taster for what we can expect from the Grounds ballroom-like event space, one of two new venues the group is opening in South Eveleigh

On the menu you’ll find the Belle of the Ball mini cake, a coconut sponge layered with passion fruit curd, pineapple and mango compote, covered in vibrant yellow vanilla buttercream and topped with a red rose. Thirsty? The Enchanted Rose combines passion fruit, coconut water and lemon and is topped with fairy floss and its own red bloom. 

Don’t get lost in the woods. The last petal falls on this fantasy on Sunday, January 30. 

Looking for more sweet selfie opps to jazz up your grid? Wander down lollipop lane to Sugar Republic in the Rocks

Want more? Check out the best things to do in Sydney this week.

  • Things to do
  • Potts Point

The Bamboozle Room is an entire fantasy of its own with ritzy flapper energy and Great Gatsby-esque style. The immersive charm is switched on from the moment we enter. We feel like we've stepped back into a bygone era – just ignore the fact that we received a text with directions to the location earlier that day, and there’s a QR code to scan on our table to keep the drinks flowing. 

This full-time haunt for cabaret dinner shows gathers all the feathery, glittery, charming best expectations of proper burlesque and throws in some oddballs and unexpected elements. It implores you to rethink who you expect to see on a burlesque stage as you sip, nibble, giggle and blush your way through the evening. The atmosphere is ripped straight from the KitKatClub – Weimar-era Berlin meets geographic patterned carpet that would be right at home in the Stanley Hotel. 

Checking out the current production, the Night Cap, we are welcomed into the home of wealthy, silk-robe-wearing bachelor Charlie (vaudevillian entertainer Daniel Gorski) and exposed to a variety of burlesque, comedy, magic and cabaret acts wrapped up in an evening he spends waiting on a visit from a lady friend. As a character, Charlie has the potential to be creepy, but Gorski brings an Alan Cumming-esque warmth to the stage, with a pencil-thin moustache and masculine-yet-camp energy à la Gomez Addams or Vincent Price.

Along the way, there are boozed-up antics from two mischievous maids (Cat Bolitho and Daniele Clements, both serving major feather duster from Beauty and the Beast energy), unexpected visitors like ‘the Uninvited Guest’ (played with deft improvisation and a friction of cringe-humor endearment by comedian Jared Jekyll) and the big voice and big personality of ‘Charlie’s Date’ (Scottish lass and songstress Nicolajayne Campbell). But the most captivating presence in the show is that of top-tier burlesque entertainer Eva Devore, who brings her Art Deco-styled charm (complete with a cropped black bob) to the role of the reappearing siren, whose numerous acts are introduced through an inconsequential plot device. Her acts are impressive enough without knowing that she made all the bejeweled costumes herself. 

Throughout the night, we're kept fed and watered, with a light and tasty à la carte two-course menu (don’t expect stodgy chips and pub grub, although there’s a pub downstairs) and an extensive drinks list with some cocktails curated with specific era-appropriate flair. The Bamboozle Room brings the fun, the funny, the sexy, a little bit of oh-là-là, and a little bit weird, and wraps it up in a thoroughly charming package – complete with a selfie opp on a crescent moon with a charming face that looks like it belongs in a silent movie.

It is curious to compute that this vintage-style, hidden cabaret gem is the brainchild of a former punk rock frontman and surf filmmaker, Tim Rowland, who co-founded it in 2016, but we’re grateful to be in on the secret. 

The Night Cap runs most Friday and Saturday nights (interspersed with the odd more casual Talk and Tease shows), doors at 6.45pm for a 7pm start. Dinner and show packages range from $120-$170, and there are a limited number of show only tickets for $75. Check availability and book in here.

  • Attractions
  • Theme parks

Scenic World is a fun way to experience the Blue Mountains at any time of the year but over summer 2021-2022 visitors can get more bang (or roar) for their buck with the return of Dinosaur Valley. 

A friendly apatosaurus with its long, long neck greets you in your vehicle as you arrive at Scenic World's gates. Then there's the awe-inspiring sight of a life-size T-rex swishing its tail and flexing its jaws as you make your way to check in. 

Led by a friendly guide, you'll first make a spectacular descent via the Scenic Cableway, then be led out along the Scenic Walkway for a one-kilometre journey along the rainforest floor glimpsing fossils, eggs and startling replicas of local Australian and other dinosaurs. 

Try not to panic as a family of triceraptopses lumbers into view, or a pair of pteranodons swoops in from up above. Meet Queensland's answer to the velociraptor, the Australovenator, as well as stegasaurus, and a pair of pachycephalosauruses with their weird, spiky crown of thorns head gear, and more.

At the end of your journey you'll return to the top of the escarpment via the Scenic Railway – aka the world's steepest railway, a vertiginous experience that always manages to get the heart racing as it reverses back up the valley through sheer rock.

Families with dinosaur-obsessed little ones will love this experience, and while there is nothing here to cause lasting trauma in anyone over the age of two it's not an attraction you can bring a pram to as there's a steep stairway at the end. Kids can get a junior ranger pack to expand upon the experience with a cardboard pair of binoculars, reusable water bottle and Dinosaur Valley bandana.   

As a bonus this year a life-sized Fukuiraptor will also take centre stage from December 18 with Raptor Tales, a 20-minute puppet performance delivered in conjunction with Erth Physical Inc – tickets to that one are sold separately.

  • 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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