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The best things to do in Sydney this August

You’ll need to stretch your social calendar to squeeze in all the intriguing talks, exciting theatre and big events happening this month

Woman doing yoga with a dog at the Sydney Dog Lovers Show.
Photograph: Supplied
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Sydney gets busy in August. We clip on our thinking caps for more than 200 events at the Sydney Science Festival and the change-making talks at Antidote, all while we’re working on our cardio for the City2Surf. Add to that a smorgasbord of food festivals and a hefty line-up of musical theatre, and you’ve got yourself a pretty packed month.

If you need a moment to gather your thoughts in between the fun, visit one of our favourite spas in Sydney or do a media detox at these yoga retreats in NSW.

RECOMMENDED: The best Indian restaurants in Harris Park and Parramatta.

The best events in August

1
People at an Antidote workshop in 2018
Photograph: Prudence Upton
Things to do, Talks and discussions

Antidote

icon-location-pin Sydney Opera House, Sydney
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Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Chris Wylie, Sonic Youth co-founder Kim Gordon, and Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson are all speaking at the next Antidote – a festival of ideas, action and change. Expect solo talks, panels and workshops that respond to our world today.

2
Chicago musical Capitol Theatre 2019 supplied
Photograph: Peter Brew-Bevan
Theatre, Musicals

Chicago

icon-location-pin Capitol Theatre, Haymarket
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Penned by musical theatre's dynamic duo John Kander and Fred Ebb, Chicago was only a minor splash when it premiered in 1975. But when it was given a stripped back and sexed up new production in 1996, it became an immediate sensation. That's the production which Sydney audiences will see.

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Fleetwood Mac crop
Photograph: Supplied
Music, Folk, country and blues

Fleetwood Mac

icon-location-pin Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney Olympic Park
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We hope you’ve still got a stash of witchy shawls in your wardrobe, because Fleetwood Mac are coming to Sydney this month. The line-up for the 2019 tour features original band members Mick Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks and John and Christine McVie, as well as new additions Mike Campbells and Neil Finn.

4
Tjungu Palyangku 2019 Artbank supplied image
Photograph: Silversalt
Art

Tjungu Palya: As We Come Together We Stand Strong For Our Story

icon-location-pin Artbank, Waterloo
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Tjungu Palya is an Aboriginal-owned and run art centre in South Australia, around 450km south-west of Alice Springs at the base of the Mann Ranges. This exhibition from the centre is two years in the making and is taking place across both Artbank in Sydney and Melbourne.

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5
Cherry blossom on trees in Auburn Botanic Garden
Photograph: Damian Shaw
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Sydney Cherry Blossom Festival

icon-location-pin Auburn Botanic Gardens, Auburn
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To celebrate cherry blossom season, the Auburn Botanic Gardens runs a ten-day festival of ticketed events including self-guided tours and mid-week themed days for kids and seniors. There are two Hanami (‘flower viewing’) weekends where visitors can wander around the blossom trees at their own pace.

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Caroline, or Change Hayes Theatre 2019 supplied
Photograph: Marnya Rothe
Theatre, Musicals

Caroline, or Change

icon-location-pin Hayes Theatre Co, Elizabeth Bay
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The musical is based in Louisiana in 1963 and concerns an eight-year-old boy and his family’s maid, a single mother of four. It raises pertinent questions about economic inequality and white privilege, all set to a score combining blues, spiritual music, soul, Motown and Jewish Klezmer.

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Luminous Australian Chamber Orchestra 2019
Photograph: Bill Henson, 'Untitled' 2000-01. Image courtesy of the artist, Roslyn Oxley9 Galleries and Tolarno Galleries
Music, Classical and opera

Luminous

icon-location-pin City Recital Hall, Sydney
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Longstanding folk-indie darling Lior is joining forces with world-famous photographer Bill Henson and the Australian Chamber Orchestra for a show that promises to be both a visual and aural feast. Luminous was first performed in 2005, with Henson's moody urban landscapes the visual focus. 

8
Woman in a red dress dancing in front of seated elderly people for Blacktown's Magnify festival.
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Fairs and festivals

Magnify

icon-location-pin Blacktown CBD, Blacktown
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Get to know the local artists of Blacktown at Magnify. The seven-week arts festival is bringing eight exciting performances and installations to the region, with alternative film screenings, live gigs, food journeys and visual artworks popping up at laneways, showgrounds, restaurants, nursing homes, libraries and arts centres around Blacktown.

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9
Avalanche: A Love Story 2019
Photograph: Supplied
Theatre, Drama

Avalanche: A Love Story

icon-location-pin Roslyn Packer Theatre, Millers Point
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This new play by Julia Leigh is a co-production with London’s Barbican Centre, giving it significant kudos. Leigh, who is known as a novelist and filmmaker, has adapted her own memoir about going through the trials of IVF at 38 with her new husband. 

10
Bring it On the Musical
Photograph: Nico Photography
Theatre, Musicals

Bring It On: The Musical

icon-location-pin State Theatre, Sydney
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It's time to stretch those spirit fingers and prepare to be aggressive... be-be aggressive. Bring It On: The Musical is returning to Sydney. The musical is inspired by the beloved 2000 cheerleading movie, but tells the story of a new group of competitive cheerleaders. 

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11
The artists from the Hilltop Hoods pose in jackets.
Photograph: Supplied
Music, Rap, hip hop and R&B

Hilltop Hoods

icon-location-pin Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney Olympic Park
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These guys have racked up more than half a million streams globally and have nine ARIA Awards on their mantlepiece. They are known to sell out arenas with their memorable performances featuring live orchestras and choirs, and now is your chance to be awestruck by the Aussie hip-hop dynamo. 

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Te Molimau Black Birds Belvoir 25a supplied 2019
Photograph: Gracie Steindl
Theatre

Te Molimau

icon-location-pin Belvoir St Theatre, Surry Hills
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Set sometime in the future on the tiny coral atoll of Tokelau – a Pacific Island territory threatened by rising sea levels – the story follows Vitolina, the last person left on Tokelau after all the other inhabitants have fled the island for resettlement in Australia. 

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City of Gold 2019 supplied image Griffin Theatre
Photograph: Brett Boardman
Theatre, Drama

City of Gold

icon-location-pin SBW Stables Theatre - Griffin Theatre Company, Darlinghurst
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Meyne Wyatt made his professional debut as an actor at Griffin Theatre in 2011’s Silent Disco. Now he’s returning with a semi-autobiographical work about an Indigenous actor from Kalgoorlie who angers his community by starring in a controversial Australia Day ad.

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Marama Dina Campbelltown Arts Centre 2019 supplied
Photograph: Sam Hartnett
Art

Marama Dina

icon-location-pin Campbelltown Arts Centre, Campbelltown
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Australian and Aotearoa New Zealand women with iTaukei (Indigenous Fijian) heritage take over Campbelltown Arts Centre to celebrate their culture as part of a new exhibition, Marama Dina. Featuring new commissions from ten female iTaukei artists, the exhibition explores what it means to be iTaukei outside of Fiji.

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15
Bar'd Work: Twelfth Night 2019
Photograph: Supplied
Theatre

Bar'd Work: Twelfth Night

icon-location-pin Multiple venues
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Given the rarified air Shakespeare occupies in our culture, it's easy to forget that his plays were the popular entertainment of his day. Seeing one of them was a rowdy affair, and the team at Bar'd Work is trying to recapture some of that spirit with their 'Shakesbeer sessions' of comedies performed around patrons at a pub.

16
People with dogs sitting at the Golden Sheaf Hotel.
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Fairs and festivals

Double Bay Dog Day

icon-location-pin The Golden Sheaf, Double Bay
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Kick back in the dog-friendly beer garden while learning about rescue dogs and important facts about puppy adoption. There will also be live entertainment, dog comps with great prizes, a pet market with everything from treat tastings to puppy crystal healing, as well as an adoption parade.

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Opera Australia - West Side Story 2019
Theatre, Musicals

West Side Story

icon-location-pin Sydney Opera House, Sydney
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It's been a big year for singing and dancing youth gangs: West Side Story was performed on the harbour with the Sydney Opera House in the background, and now you can see it inside the big white sails. This production directed by Joey McKneely is a fairly faithful take on the show, using all of Jerome Robbins' original Broadway choreography.

18
People sitting at tables at the Toxteth Hotel.
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Trivia

True Crime Trivia Night

icon-location-pin The Toxteth Hotel, Glebe
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Whether it be in audio, documentary or dramatised form, true crime is a captivating genre. So if you were hooked on Teacher’s Pet and subsequent news feature, or drawn in and then repulsed by Zac Efron’s charismatic portrayal of Ted Bundy, then this special trivia night at the Toxteth Hotel is for you.

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19
Here We Are Art Gallery of NSW supplied image 2019
Kushana Bush, 'Here we are' 2016.
Art

Here We Are

icon-location-pin Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
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The Art Gallery of NSW has collected plenty of beautiful and provocative contemporary art in recent years, and is showing some of its latest acquisitions by leading women artists in this free exhibition exploring the intricacies of human relationships. 

20
Stall holder at the Westies Markets displaying her fashion designs
Photograph: Supplied
Shopping, Markets

The Westies Markets

icon-location-pin Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School, Western Sydney
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The non-for-profit collective behind this quarterly market, the Westies, is all about showcasing the Penrith region while giving local growers and makers an accessible way to sell their products. They’re aiming to create a lazy Sunday atmosphere, where you get to know the community rather than fight over the bargain bin. 

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21
Rapper French Montana performing onstage in front of a video screen.
Photograph: Scott Dudelson
Music, Music festivals

Drip World

icon-location-pin Parramatta Park, Parramatta
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Festival season is coming in hot with hip-hop festival Drip World making its Australian debut. Sydneysiders can get lit all day and night with no clashes on the solo stage at Parramatta Park, watching headliners like French Montana, Comethazine, Rich the Kid and more.

22
People dressed in retro attire and roller skates.
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Games and hobbies

Roller Disco Brunch

icon-location-pin Cruise Bar, The Rocks
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This new party on wheels ticks off just about every Sydney-day-out ideal: harbour views, bottomless booze, a retro theme and a similarly old-school sporty activity. They’ll be pumping tracks from the ’80s – the height of the roller skating era – while you zoom around the rooftop arena.

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23
Wink Kings Cross Theatre 2019 supplied
Photograph: Robert Catto
Theatre

Wink

icon-location-pin Kings X Theatre, Potts Point
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Meet Sofie and Gregor; a couple who are drifting apart. About the only thing the couple share is their cat Wink – who has mysteriously gone missing – and their psychiatrist. Then Wink suddenly turns up on the psychiatrist’s couch and the line between civilisation and savagery starts looking even more tenuous.

24
People standing near a fun run finish line.
Photograph: Supplied
Sport and fitness, Running

Sydney Tower Stair Challenge

icon-location-pin Sydney Tower Eye, Sydney
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You might groan when the lift is out of order and you’re faced with a few flights of stairs, but when challenged with more than 1,500 stairs, Sydney steps up. The Sydney Tower Stair Challenge asks competitors to make it up every last flight of stairs inside the Sydney Tower Eye. 

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25
Lord of the Flies Sydney Theatre Company 2019
Photograph: Rene Vaile
Theatre, Drama

Lord of the Flies

icon-location-pin Roslyn Packer Theatre, Millers Point
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Sydney Theatre Company artistic director Kip Williams is giving Lord of the Flies a significant rethink. Yes, the characters will still be young boys going savage on a deserted island, but they’ll be played by performers who don’t really resemble what you’d imagine to be an 11-year-old boy. 

26
Eat Your Heart Out Liverpool
Photograph: Ben Williams
Things to do

Eat Your Heart Out Liverpool

icon-location-pin Norfolk Serviceway, Liverpool
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[Sponsored] The festival of art, music, culture and (primarily) food offers cuisines from around the world, prepared by local eateries. A few faves in the line-up include Lambda serving Greek favourites like gyros and souvlaki, Dirty Bird's Southern-style chicken wings and burgers, and El Caminito with their South American street food.

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27
People shopping at the Round She Goes Market Sydney
Shopping, Markets

Round She Goes Fashion Market

icon-location-pin Marrickville Town Hall, Marrickville
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Renounce your fast-fashion sins with fabulous finds from this haven for pre-loved fashion and other goodies. There’s a mix of vintage and modern clothing – it leans towards traditionally feminine attire – and accessories, as well as handmade jewellery and funky trinkets.

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Natalia Osipova Pure Dance 2019 Sydney Opera House
Photograph: Johan Persson
Dance, Ballet

Natalia Osipova: Pure Dance

icon-location-pin Sydney Opera House, Sydney
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Russian-born Natalia Osipova is one of the most celebrated and awarded dancers in the world right now. Pure Dance is an eclectic program of both classical and contemporary ballet, which will be performed by Osipova with a series of special guests. 

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Fresh oysters with vinaigrette and lemon on ice.
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Food and drink

The Morrison Oyster Festival

icon-location-pin The Morrison Bar & Oyster Room, The Rocks
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It's the seventh year of the Morrison Oyster Festival and Sydney still can't seem to get enough of those tasty little bivalves. Throughout August, they will boast oysters from 50 regions around Australia, a happy hour with $1.50 oysters from 6-7pm daily, and other seaworthy specials.

30
People drawing bodies at the Sundown Sketch Club.
Photograph: Daniel Boud
Things to do, Classes and workshops

Ruinart Sundown Sketch Club Deluxe

icon-location-pin Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), The Rocks
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If you’ve ever wanted to move beyond stick figures but haven’t mustered the courage to put pen to paper in a class before, now’s the time to take that artistic leap. The MCA is hosting a special series of after-dark art classes, with bubbles provided by Champagne institution, Ruinart.

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31
Life of Galileo Belvoir 2019 supplied
Photograph: Daniel Boud
Theatre, Drama

Life of Galileo

icon-location-pin Belvoir St Theatre, Surry Hills
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It can be difficult to feel optimistic about the state of the world in 2019, as the fabric of our planet continues to stretch and readjust. That's why Belvoir is bringing this play to Sydney, written by Bertolt Brecht in 1938, after he fled Nazi Germany. Colin Friels will star as the persecuted scientist speaking truth to power.

32
Kids and families dancing under fairy lights.
Photograph: Rocket K
Things to do, Markets

Market Lane Live

icon-location-pin Manly Library, Manly
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Every Thursday this August, Manly’s Market Lane will be buzzing with street performers and sizzling food stalls. This is the first time the scenic northern suburb will get to feast at this particular foodie event, but with local businesses sharing their beloved snacks and sounds, it’s sure to be a ripper.

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Chorus Old Fitz Theatre 2019 supplied
Photograph: Philip Erbacher
Theatre

Chorus

icon-location-pin Old Fitzroy Theatre, Woolloomooloo
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Aeschylus’ classic Greek tragedy Agamemnon has been transplanted to Sydney and given a distinctly Australian reworking by Ang Collins at the Old Fitz. Agamemnon is a global pop star just returned home from a nine month round-the-world concert tour to deal with some unfinished business and start her life afresh.

34
A group of people exercising in the sun.
Photograph: Supplied
Sport and fitness, Personal training

Free Active Fitness Camps

icon-location-pin Macquarie Centre, Macquarie Park
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To get out of slouch-mode and smash your fitness targets, join these professionally-run morning workouts. The 45-minute classes at Macquarie Park Elouera Reserve are totally free, and offer training in boxing and yoga Monday-Friday. 

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Shaun Gladwell Pacific Undertow MCA supplied
Shaun Gladwell, 'Pacific Undertow Sequence (Bondi)' (still), 2010
Art

Shaun Gladwell: Pacific Undertow

icon-location-pin Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), The Rocks
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Shaun Gladwell is best known for his mesmerising slow motion video works depicting him skateboarding or riding BMX bikes against classic Australian backdrops. Now the MCA is presenting the largest survey exhibition of Gladwell’s work to date, tracing his evolution from skateboarding outsider to cutting edge artist. 

There's still time to go whale watching

For when you're flying solo

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