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A flat lay of a picnic with cheeses, fresh fruit, a gingham rug and pink flowers
Photograph: Supplied/Unsplash

Things to do in Sydney this weekend

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

Written by
Alannah Maher
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UPDATE, SEP 23: Greater Sydney is under a compulsory lockdown until community cases of Covid-19 are under control. All in-person events in Sydney have therefore been cancelled or postponed until further notice. As of September 13, however, there are some new freedoms for the fully vaccinated. Brush up on what you can and cannot do in Sydney.

Yep, another weekend under the new normal, and we're all over it. But don't despair, we'll help you make sure your weekend is packed with more fun than any other day at home with our list of the top things to do. And for the first time in a while, that includes picnics!

As of Monday, September 20, the harsh lockdown rules in the 12 LGAs of concern in Sydney’s southwest and west have also been eased to match the rest of Greater Sydney’s restrictions, save for one rule. Find out more here. In addition to 'singles bubbles', young people's 'friends bubbles' will now allow under-18s more freedom to socialise.

We have also included the most beautiful outdoor areas where you can make the most of your outdoor time, within your LGA or 5km bubble, of course. Use this handy tool to calculate your bubble.

Got some rugrats under your roof? Make the most of the spring school holidays with our guide.

Find the best things to do this weekend

  • Things to do

Ok, we know this may be controversial, but picnics kind of suck. However, after months of lockdowns and with the weather warming up, we've been granted a little extra freedom by way of al fresco rug dining. So now that picnics are just about the only thing we’re allowed to do (provided you're double vaxxed and there's only five adults) it’s time to kick it into high gear and organise the picnic of your dreams.

 

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream and gelato
  • Freshwater

Most of Sydney can simply summon an eccentric gelato fix delivery from one of its 14 NSW outlets. But north of the harbour has been a Messina-free zone. Until now, that is. Messina has launched a new collaboration with Freshwater fave the Harbord Hotel. In the pub’s carpark, punters can roll up to the cute-AF Messina caravan to pick up takeaway tubs of gelato, as well as a selection of bake-at-home sweet treats.

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  • Things to do
  • Weird & Wonderful

Keepers have just welcomed five purrfect new African lion cubs into the Taronga family. This is the first time Taronga Zoo has had lion cubs in over 18 years. While the babes are still finding their paws, the public will be able to gain live behind-the-scenes access to watch the cubs grow on what the zoo is calling ‘Cub Cam’. With a small tax-deductible donation of just $7, you can access a 24/7 live stream. There is also plenty more free livestreams and keeper talks to watch on Taronga TV.

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  • Things to do
  • Talks and discussions
  • Sydney

Whether you’re navigating the socially distanced online dating scene, or cohabitating with an intimate partner, Aunt ‘Rona has had an enormous impact on the way in which we navigate our intimate lives. If you’re feeling a little dusty, this free online festival might be just what you need to shake off the cobwebs this spring. Sextember offers fun, informative and spicy events free of charge for those seeking to explore sex, intimacy, consent and frisky new frontiers (whether partnered or solo).

  • Theatre
  • Sydney

Dreaming about the end of lockdown? Our House: Originate 2021 was dreamt up by eight emerging theatre-makers working collaboratively. Set in the near future, jubilant housemates are about to throw a massive birthday party and everyone’s invited. But will the actual guest of honour show up? Through the safety of your chosen screen, you’ll be able to wander around the house listening in to snippets of conversation, picking up on juicy tidbits of information, and even questioning the housemates while trying to figure out what’s behind the no show.

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  • Film
  • Film festivals
  • Sydney

If you’re still smarting from the news that the Sydney Film Festival has been pushed back until November, then panic not. Boredom has no hope of setting in as the brilliant team at the Queer Screen Film Festival (QSFF) is here to save the day. Streaming direct to homes across Australia from September 16-26, the LGBTIQA+ showcase of cinematic gold is and bold and beautiful as ever, even if the screens are a bit smaller than usual.

 

  • Things to do
  • Fairs and festivals
  • Sydney

You can’t keep a good smorgasbord of artistic endeavour down for long. Following the model of last year’s wildly fun Global Fringe program, The Essence of Fringe digital program kicks off from Friday September 10 to October 1 with a sparkling array of both free and ticketed events. Nine gigs that were planned to take place in this year’s IRL line-up will make the switch to digital, with local acts and international stars popping up.

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  • Film
  • Film festivals
  • Sydney

Pivoting to bring their outrageous excellence to our homes instead via the darkest corners of the internet, SUFF is back to do it all online. The 15th annual program will invade your laptops and stream insane stuff to your TV from September 9-26. Navigating all the outré places most other festivals rarely dare to tread, it’s one of the best film festivals on the Sydney calendar because it’s unafraid of pushing the envelope right over the edge of a cliff.

 

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  • Things to do
  • Sydney

The Battle of the ‘Burbs is an online trivia quiz with a twist. You’ll be teamed up with other people from your neighbourhood to fight it out for the glory of being named the ‘smartest suburb’. After going a few rounds since Sydney went back into lockdown, attracting more than 500 punters earlier this month, the next event – on Saturday, September 25 – could be the last before restrictions ease. Sign up your household to be in the running for prizes from Botany-based brewery One Drop, pimped-out burger joint Suburgia, and fitness gear from Arena Strength.

 

  • Things to do

While many restrictions remain as Sydney waits out the Delta lockdown, as of September 13, picnics are back on. Yep, up to five fully vaccinated adults can gather to enjoy a sanga in the sunshine. Check out our list of top picnic spots, and don't worry, we've done the research on if there’s parking, toilets and barbecues available.

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  • Music
  • Music festivals
  • Sydney

Australia has been going all out to stop the spread of the Delta variant, but there’s one Delta we have all the time in the world for, and that’s the inimitable Delta Goodrem. She’ll join a global sparkling line-up of stars worldwide as part of 24-hour livestream concert Global Citizen Live. She'll be in the company of Jennifer Lopez, Lizzo, Billie Eilish, ColdplayCyndi Lauper, Ed Sheeran, the Black Eyed PeasChristine and the QueensStevie Wonder, Adam LambertDemi LovatoKylie Minogue, Duran Duran and many more.

  • Shopping
  • Book stores

It's one of life's simple joys, flicking through the pages of a must-read book. But it doesn’t work so well if you’re doing the household chores. That’s when the joy of listening to an audiobook kicks in. There are millions of brilliant audiobooks on the go, and some of them are even free. Plus there’s the added bonus of hanging out aurally with famous Aussies as they read the books of also famous authors – and even sometimes their own.

 

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  • Things to do
  • Food and drink

Inner West brewery, Willie the Boatman has announced a collaboration with Texan-born, Sydney-claimed legends Jackalope Food Co to sling very fancy picnic hampers in celebration of Sydney's proposed 'Freedom Day'. The hampers are packed with beautiful cheeses, dips, cured meats, seasonal fruits and an assortment of crackers. Wash it all down with your choice of 16 of your favourite Willie the Boatman beers.

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  • Things to do
  • Talks and discussions
  • Sydney

The Australian National Maritime Museum is making sure we can find out heaps of fascinating facts we never knew about Sydney while we wait to get out and about again. On Tuesday afternoons, the new History@Home lockdown talk series pairs the museum’s expert curators with passionate guest speakers to deliver weekly insights into how life has changed in the city over the centuries.

  • Sport and fitness
  • Yoga, pilates and meditation
  • Sydney

Level up the vibes on your locked-down Friday night and pump up the beat into your downward dog with this funky livestreamed flow. As the weather warms up, this yogi/DJ duo will help you with shaking off the winter slumber with flow yoga sequences, yoga nidra meditations and breathwork, all set to a hypnotic live soundtrack.

 

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  • Restaurants
  • Portuguese

As far as we’re concerned, there's never a bad time to have a Portuguese tart. Burnished, sweet, wobbling custard resting in a nest of crisp puffed pastry layers, the “pastel de nata” as they are known in its homeland, can be tricky to get right. So, when a good one comes along, it’s cause for celebration – especially if said tart can be delivered to your door.

  • Sport and fitness

Rollerskating is certainly having a moment right now. Everyone from the kid next door to global comedy superstar (and Nailed It host) Nicole Byer strapped on some wheelie shoes and started exercising in style. Whether you want to get into roller derby, level up your TikTok game or just want to cruise your local streets and feel the wind in your hair, there's never been a better time to get into skating. 

 

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  • Shopping
  • Homewares

You might as well take the opportunity to make your space really yours. To help you figure out your budget, we've categorised the stores on our list by a metric close to the Time Out heart: booze. You've got your 'goon' budget for objects that won't break the bank, your 'beer' budget that factors in posher craft brews as well as unassuming ales, and the 'Champagne' budget for those seeking out those top-of-the-line, showily upper-market finds. 

 

  • Film
  • Film festivals
  • Sydney

You know the drill by now: this year’s Taiwan Film Festival in Australia was delayed at first, and then took the plunge with an online showcase instead. Streaming on-demand from September 16-30 and running under the theme ‘Flavours’, the program is spectacular. Rom-com lovers will get a taste of the good stuff with director Chen Yu-Hsun’s kooky movie My Missing Valentine, depicting a lovelorn postal worker who is always one step ahead of everyone.

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  • Restaurants
  • Burgers

When it comes to culinary oneupmanship, there is perhaps no medium more perfect for showboating chefs than the hamburger. Taking the simple formula of a patty in a bun to bizarre new heights, the most audacious examples are towering stacks that seem to flip the bird to gravity, moderation, and the line between the main course and dessert.

 

  • Shopping
  • Homewares

Do you suffer from the black thumb? Don't despair. Pour one out for those succulents you over-watered, and that supposedly drought-resistant bloomer that crumbled to dust on your watch. Marrickville's own foliage whisperer Felicity Keep, the owner and director of PlantGirl, is here to help. Take these tips and order up some foliage friends from the best plant shops and nurseries that deliver in Sydney to brighten up your space this spring.

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  • Shopping

“Can you grab a bottle of wine on your way?” Such a simple request, on the surface. So why does it fill many of us with dread? It’s a cliche to the point of being a punchline, but wine can be intimidating. Why are we swirling our glasses? Why is she sticking her nose into her glass like it’s an oxygen mask? Should I just order from the bottom of the list? Will they laugh at me if I just buy the cheapest?

 

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  • Shopping
  • Arts and crafts

We’ve all been staring at our walls a bit more than normal of late. Which is why it’s a great idea to brighten those large-scale canvases with, well, some actual canvases. But buying art can be an expensive endeavour. One way to brighten up your home without busting the budget is to snap up a print instead. We've rounded up a few of our favourite places to pick up prints in Sydney, all of which can be ordered online too.

 

  • Shopping
  • Cosmetics

We could all use a little tender love and care right about now, not to mention some respite from the innumerable stresses of lockdown life. Establish some time for self-pampering and support a business from Sydney or regional New South Wales while you're at it with our tried and tested product suggestions. Our list focuses on ranges that hero natural and native ingredients, and that are as gentle on the earth as they are on your body.

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  • Things to do
  • Talks and discussions
  • Sydney

We might not be able to stroll into the Museum of Sydney, Hyde Park Barracks or Vaucluse House right now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be inspired by the stories of our city, past, present and yet to be written. The curatorial team at Sydney Living Museums has created a scintillating and totally free online talk series to keep us all connected, with new chats dropping every Tuesday (with some bonus Thursday sessions too).

 

  • Restaurants

Why not take that at-home dining experience one step further with a fun and educational online cooking experience? These aren't exactly the usual google of how to cook the perfect egg or 'is it ok to eat pasta for breakfast?' Some of Sydney's best gourmands are taking to the world wide web to share their insider tips and tricks to keep us mere mortals cooking along with the best of them.

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  • Film
  • Special screenings
  • Sydney

While we are big fans of surfing television streaming offerings as it’s possible to be, every now and then you crave something a little artsier in your life. That’s why we’re psyched about Carriageworks delivering a thought-provoking new video work from award-winning Polish-Australian artist and filmmaker Kuba Dorabialski.

 

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  • Things to do
  • Talks and discussions
  • Sydney

Looking for some brain fodder to keep your mind off lockdown? The Opera House has just dropped more digital content to get the cogs turning. The cultural institution’s long-running podcast Ideas at the House gets a beautifully filmed treatment with a series of original, one-on-one interviews with some of the most inspiring women of the moment back in March as part of the All About Women Festival.

  • Restaurants

Let's face it, a lot of us are eating and drinking our feelings at the moment. That's totally fine, but as lockdown drags on, your bod might be craving sustenance of a slightly more healthy variety right about now. But what if we told you that there’s a better way to eat healthily? These top healthy dishes in Sydney prove that eating well can be just as satisfying when you know where to look. 

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  • Things to do
  • Games and hobbies

As fabulous literatti Zelda Fitzgerald once wrote in her essay Eulogy on the Flapper, “she refused to be bored chiefly because she wasn’t boring.” There are all sorts of fascinating ways to spend your days, so boredom need not be a thing. We spoke to five people about the cool and unusual hobbies that keep them eternally interested and interesting. Maybe you’ll be intrigued enough to try one out?

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  • Restaurants

Neil Perry’s new Double Bay restaurant Margaret was set to open in July of this year. Clearly, the world had other plans. In a dramatic pivot away from the fine dining and silver service that Perry is famous for, the restaurant veteran will be returning to the grill to flip burgers for hungry locals. Wednesday through Saturday from 12pm, Perry will be serving up just 200 burgers.

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  • Restaurants

Sure, you could go full Bo Burnham and lose your mind in a small room, surviving on packets of two-minute noodles and dry toast. But we reckon a better solution is to treat yourself with one of Sydney's more luxurious dining experiences, that you can now have delivered to the comfort of your own home. Order in from these seafood palaces and fine dining faves.

 

  • Things to do

In the throes of the first stay-at-home orders in 2020, we all had big ambitions of totally transforming ourselves. But if you totally forgot to keep up all your iso side hustles the second restrictions started lifting, you're certainly not alone. We’ve done some investigating into the hobbies that might actually maintain the attention of your distraction-prone brain, even after lockdown ends.

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  • Things to do

Gone are the days of booking a babysitter and heading out for dinner and a movie. But before you resign yourself to an absence of romance during lockdown, all is not lost. We’ve put together a dummies' guide to date night at home so you can bring cupid out of iso and forget about the world (screaming intensifies) for a while.

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  • Art
  • Art

The gallery has dropped not one, but two digital versions of their biggest blockbuster exhibitions for you to gorge on at home. You’ll be able to explore the winners and finalists of the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prize exhibitions in a swish 360-degree immersive self-guided tour; and swoon over the lush abstracts of Hilma af Klint: The Secret Paintings in a fun YouTube walk through.

  • Restaurants
  • Restaurants

Premium meal delivery service Providoor is expanding and now Sydneysiders have access to more top-tier restaurants than ever before. Joining the fleet of top-tier restaurants are Sydney big dogs Cirrus, Monopole, Yellow, the Apollo, Cho Cho San, Icebergs Dining Room + Bar, Golden Century, Spice Temple, Rockpool and Ciccia Bella. Meals are delivered with the idea of being finished at home by customers, integrating them into both the cooking and dining experience.

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

Pre-pandemic, if you wanted to get a little more hands-on with an investigation, you could channel your big detective energy into a good ol' fashioned murder mystery party. What a shame you can’t invite your mates over for a nail-biting night of scripted fun under current conditions, eh? Think again. You can now order a kit and host on Zoom.

 

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  • Film
  • Film

Did you have big plans to head to your local cinema soon? Don’t get too upset at the choc top block. You can still get the popcorn popping. The Randwick Ritz has been running an on-demand film service for a while now, but in light of our current lockdown sitch, they're hosting a special lockdown sale with more than 20 major movies available to stream for just $3.

 

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  • Shopping
  • Delis

Make another night at home much more camem-bear-able with a feast of fromage. Whether you’re after the most indulgent, globe-trotting cheese board you've ever seen, or you're after one of the funkiest washed rinds ever to accompany a special bottle of wine, these are the cheese focused providores that'll ensure your dairy game is strong. 

 

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  • Sport and fitness

During times of uncertainty, a reliable routine can really help. But if fitness was part of your daily ritual, you might be a little rattled by not having access to a gym right now. Or maybe you're just looking for new ways to get your body moving with that spare time you're now saving on the office commute? We’ve picked out some of our favourite online workouts by local experts.

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  • Things to do
  • Classes and workshops

It's high time to gather your tools and unleash your creative juices. However, a blank canvas sitting before you can be a bit of an overwhelming prospect. Thankfully, local ‘sip and paint’ studios are now offering at-home options so you can have an instructor on hand to guide your creative spark (it’s just up to you to keep your wine glass topped up). 

  • 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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  • Things to do
  • Classes and workshops

With many of us spending more time just pottering around the house, there’s never been a better time to try your hand at being a literal potter. Although they’ve had to close their studio doors to the public, a bunch of local ceramics studios have adapted their businesses so you can get busy moulding your own mugs, vases and assorted sculptural vessels at home.

 

  • Art
  • Digital and interactive
  • Sydney

Caldera 360º is a virtual take on the critically acclaimed arts festival and it’s arrived just in time for our current snap lockdown. The immersive platform hosts five 360º digital artworks and performances, all scattered across a surreal landscape. From the outset, it asks you, the visitor, the question, “Caldera 360º is a website… or is it a game?”

 

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

Taronga Zoo has relaunched Taronga TV, a digital platform streaming animal enclosures, behind-the-scenes 'sneak peeks’ and after-hours footage revealing what the keepers and the animals they care for getting up to when the park is closed to the public.

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