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December events in Sydney

The sun is shining and the water's fine: dive into these superb activities and events around Sydney this month

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People at festival at the Public House Petersham car park.
Photograph: Supplied/Oliver Minnett

As we race towards a whole new decade, it’s time to get on top of all the Christmas action in the city and plan for the best New Year’s Eve parties possible. Kids will be using all that sugar strength from advent calendars to gear up for the summer school holidays, but luckily there are plenty of sunny activities like outdoor movie screenings and massive open air Christmas markets that’ll keep the whole family entertained in Sydney this month. Don't miss classic festive events like Paul Kelly's reoccurring Chrissy concert and this live show dedicated to Love, Actually.

It’s also perfect weather to lounge on the sand of Sydney’s best beaches or do a few laps of our favourite ocean pools.

RECOMMENDED: Where to go fishing in Sydney.

December's best events

1
Hannah Gadsby Douglas 2019 supplied image
Photograph: Supplied
Comedy, Stand Up

Hannah Gadsby: Douglas

icon-location-pin Sydney Opera House, Sydney
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In 2017, Tasmanian-born comedian Hannah Gadsby opened Nanette, a show which she swore would be her last. Yes, it was funny, but Gadsby's main objective was to deliver a fiery and furious takedown of the heterosexual patriarchy. Now Gadsby is said to have "found her voice" and you'd best believe she'll be using it in her new live show, Douglas.

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Cornelia Parker Museum of Contemporary Art 2019
Photograph: Hugo Glendinning
Art

Cornelia Parker

icon-location-pin Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), The Rocks
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Cornelia Parker is considered one of England's biggest and most influential art stars from the last few decades and was made a member of the Order of the British Empire in 2010. At the centre of the MCA's exhibition is her breakthrough work which features a garden shed she had the British Army blow up with explosives.

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I'm With Her Darlinghurst Theatre 2019 supplied
Photograph: Supplied
Theatre

I'm With Her

icon-location-pin Eternity Playhouse, Darlinghurst
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Writer and documentary-maker Victoria Midwinter Pitt has collected stories from Australian women, including former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Labour MP Dr Anne Aly, footballer Erin Phillips and Indigenous leader Professor Marcia Langdon, about their experiences fighting the patriarchy and brought them to the stage. 

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The War on 2019 - The Chaser supplied 2019
Photograph: Supplied
Comedy

The War on 2019

icon-location-pin The Enmore Theatre, Newtown
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Look. It's been a year. From shock election results to climate catastrophe, things have been pretty terrifying. Is there anything we can do but laugh? If all you can muster is a chuckle, the Chaser is back and ready to help. This live show is a tongue-in-cheek review of the year that was. 

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People at festival at the Public House Petersham car park.
Photograph: Supplied/Oliver Minnett
Music, Music festivals

She Sessions

icon-location-pin Public House Petersham, Petersham
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PHP are getting ahead of the summer music festival game and planning a series of their famous car park parties focused on female musicians. In December, see pop groover Kira Puru blasting out crowd faves like ‘Molotov’ and ‘Fly’, plus teen indie-pop supergroup Erthlings and Sydney songbird Moody Beach.

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Christmas Actually Sydney Opera House 2019 supplied image
Photograph: Dylan Evans
Music

Christmas Actually

icon-location-pin Sydney Opera House, Sydney
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Love, Actually is about to be everywhere again. This new show is paying tribute to the film's memorable musical moments, like when the little boy played the drums for the girl he was crushing on during 'All I Want for Christmas is You', and when Keira Knightley's soggy stalker walked down a cold street while Dido belted 'Here With Me'.

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7
Cirque Stratosphere
Photograph: Supplied
Theatre, Circuses

Cirque Stratosphere

icon-location-pin Sydney Opera House, Sydney
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It’s an annual tradition that producers Tim Lawson and Simon Painter bring a Vegas-style spectacular to the Opera House each summer. Their next offering is taking one small step into the future with the spacey-themed Cirque Stratosphere. Expect acrobats flying overhead, a space-age wheel of death and rollerskating stunts.

8
Dita Von Teese in a corset.
Photograph: Supplied
Clubs, Cabaret and burlesque

Dita Von Teese: Glamonatrix

icon-location-pin State Theatre, Sydney
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Dita Von Teese is bringing her corsets and class to Sydney. Her new tour will continue the genre-dominating path of her last show with four dazzling burlesque acts incorporating a healthy level of humor and self-awareness into saucy stripteases and songs.

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9
Takashi Murakami - Japan Supernatural
Photograph: Daniel Boud
Art

Japan Supernatural

icon-location-pin Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
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For the last two years, the Art Gallery of NSW has focussed on Europe in its big summer exhibitions, but this summer is all about Japan with an epic exhibition of more than 200 artworks. It features work from the country's most influential artist, Katsushika Hokusai and contemporary star, Takashi Murakami.

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Nick Cave and Warren Ellis MSO
Photograph: Supplied
Music

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis

icon-location-pin Sydney Opera House, Sydney
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Nick Cave and Warren Ellis are teaming up once again. This time they’re swapping the Bad Seeds for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra to perform some of the pair’s film scores live at the Opera House. Together they have composed several film scores for movies like The Road, The Proposition and Hell or High Water.

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Quilty AGNSW 2019 supplied
Image courtesy the artist and Art Gallery of NSW
Art, Paintings

Quilty

icon-location-pin Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
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Ben Quilty's work is known across the country for its vivid, luscious and tormented quality, all realised in oils. This exhibition is Quilty's first major survey in more than a decade and covers 15 years of his work, ranging from his portraits through to more abstract pieces and reflections on the Australian landscape. 

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Paul Kelly Making Gravy
Photograph: Daniel Boud
Music, Pop

Paul Kelly

icon-location-pin The Domain, Sydney
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Let's push the tables back and get ready to dance at another festive Paul Kelly gig. He’s the kind of poet Australians from all walks of life can relate to, spinning yarns about family, love, tragedy and 747s, and he’ll bring all this and more to the third round of his Making Gravy concert.

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13
Time Out Bar Awards 2019
Bars

Time Out Sydney Bar Awards

icon-location-pin Powerhouse Museum, Ultimo
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Join us as we toast to the city’s best cocktail bars, new bars, wine bars, bartenders and more at the party for party-makers. You can expect an evening of delicious drinks, great food, sweet tunes and celebration, shoulder-to-shoulder with the city's best bar professionals.

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Image of Khalid smiling.
Photograph: Supplied
Music, Rap, hip hop and R&B

Khalid

icon-location-pin Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney Olympic Park
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Australia gets to experience Khalid’s musical mastery when he tours the country this month. The Sydney show will be the big finale for his Free Spirit tour, where he’ll share his new album of the same name plus his debut tunes. You’ll be hearing bass-heavy showstopers like ‘Young Dumb & Broke’, ‘Better’ and ‘Talk

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Primavera MCA 2019 supplied
Zoe M. Robertson, 'Various Protest Banners', 2018
Art, Galleries

Primavera

icon-location-pin Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), The Rocks
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Each year, the MCA invites an artist or curator to take the reins of Primavera, an exhibition for emerging artists under 35. This year, it's curated by Archibald Prize-winning painter Mitch Cairns, who has brought together seven artists who all incorporate language forms and poetic expression in their practice.

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People dancing in a nightclub with confetti falling.
Photograph: Supplied/Ultimate Power
Nightlife, Karaoke

Ultimate Power

icon-location-pin The Metro Theatre, Sydney
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Do you regularly lose your voice scream-singing along to ‘Living on a Prayer’, ‘Don't Stop Believing’ and every big winner from Whitney Houston’s epic career? Well, have we got a night out for you. Ultimate Power is a party focused solely on these singalong bangers that functions like a mad communal karaoke.

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17
A suitcase with stickers and pins on it full of cute embroidered purses.
Photograph: Supplied
Shopping, Markets

Artisans Market Glebe

icon-location-pin Dr H J Foley Rest Park, Glebe
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Artisans Market Glebe is all about handmade and local products, sold direct to you by the artist or designer who created them. The quarterly market takes place at Foley Park and there are around 60 stallholders selling jewellery, plants, furniture, fashion and toys – head here for a Christmas bounty. 

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Press shot of the Temper Trap against a blue background
Photograph: Supplied
Music, Rock and indie

The Temper Trap

icon-location-pin The Enmore Theatre, Newtown
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It’s been a decade since Australians first heard the dulcet voice of the Temper Trap’s Dougy Mandagi belt “sweeeeeet diiiiiiiiiissss-pohhhh-zishuuuunnn” over the airwaves, and to celebrate the band is going on tour. Fans will be happy to hear that they will be playing their debut album Conditions in its entirety.

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A fancy, fluffy dog sitting by the fire at the Hughenden Hotel.
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Fairs and festivals

Pound Paws Dog Day at the Hughenden Hotel

icon-location-pin Hughenden Hotel, Woollahra
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If your pupper has more Instagram followers than you do, head to this dog day at Woollarah’s Hughenden Hotel. It'll be a rather well-to-do affair, with a doggie fashion show, dog-friendly rooftop yoga, pet market stalls, live jazz music and a contingent of pups who are up for adoption (and cuddles).

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The Nutcracker on stage
Photograph: Jeff Busby
Dance, Ballet

The Nutcracker

icon-location-pin Sydney Opera House, Sydney
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The Australian Ballet is ending its 2019 season with a special Christmas treat – this beloved classic production of The Nutcracker. The company's artistic director David McAllister says he first saw Peter Wright’s production in the early 1990s, and considers it one of the best Nutcrackers he’s ever seen.

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21
Floating Sydney
Photograph: Supplied
Film, Outdoor cinema

Floating Cinema

icon-location-pin Sydney Harbour, Sydney
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We've already got movies in the park, movies by the beach, outdoor movies in bed, and movies by Sydney Harbour, but now Sydney's mania for alfresco screenings has taken that extra leap to deliver movies on a boat. This month the theme will be appropriately Christmassy, with screenings of ElfDie Hard and Home Alone.

22
Peter Bence playing the piano to an audience with
Photograph: Supplied
Music, Classical and opera

Peter Bence – The Awesome Piano Tour

icon-location-pin Sydney Opera House, Sydney
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Peter Bence is the current Guinness World Record holder for being the speediest piano player, and he’ll be showing Sydney his lightning-fast scales at the Opera House. The 27-year-old musician impresses audiences with covers of pop hits from Queen, Sia, the Beatles and more.

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23
The Beauty Queen of Leenane Sydney Theatre Company supplied 2019
Photograph: Rene Vaile
Theatre, Drama

The Beauty Queen of Leenane

icon-location-pin Roslyn Packer Theatre, Millers Point
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The Beauty Queen of Leenane is a pitch-black comedy set in the Irish village of Leenane. The play follows Maureen, a 40-year-old woman who gets her first chance at love, but whose cruel and manipulative mother sets about destroying it. 

24
DJ on stage with big crowd.
Photograph: Supplied / Maximum Joy
Nightlife

Maximum Joy

icon-location-pin The Factory Theatre, Marrickville
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Music touring and events company Picnic are known for throwing mega nightlife events and will be hosting this massive music festival at Factory Theatre. Get lit from 2.30pm, with a huge line-up of Aussie DJs and producers as well as international electronic music artists, all with big, dreamy house and techno sounds.

It's the biggest party of the year

Aerial shot of Sydney Harbour as the fireworks go off on New Year's Eve
Photograph: Destination NSW
Things to do, Fireworks

New Year's Eve in Sydney

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