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A Christmassy character and a merry-go-round
Photograph: Supplied/Sydney Christmas Fair

December events in Sydney

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

By Maxim Boon

As we race towards the end of the infamous year that was 2020, it’s time to put all the challenges of the past 12 months behind us and start getting excited about all the Christmas action in the city. We've picked a selection of the best events taking place across the city in December, including a fair few yuletide-themed happenings, so you can fill your diary with fun times galore. And since it's also the official start of Aussie summer, it’s the perfect time to lounge on the sand at one of Sydney’s best beaches or do a few laps of our favourite ocean pools.

December's best events

A couple embraces in a giant heart made from twinkling lights.
Photograph: Supplied

1. Christmas Lights Spectacular

Attractions Parks and gardens

When it comes to over-the-top displays of Chrissy lights, the Hunter Valley Gardens really takes the pudding. Every year, the well-manicured greenery of these parklands is bejewelled with some three million glittering lights. This year is no exception – the trials and tribulations of 2020 could not stop this spectacular from twinkling to life.

You’d have to be a real grinch not to be charmed by the Southern Hemisphere's largest light show. So gather up the family, the friends or someone special and set off on the two-hour-ish drive into wine country.

Wander through more than 20 interactive displays and tunnels of light over 14 hectares. Dream no longer of a white Christmas, with a snowy display filled with arctic animals and frost-capped trees, have a cheeky kiss under the mistletoe at the romantic Lovers' Corner, and talk everyone’s ears off about your gap year in Europe (or the places you dream of ticking off your bucket list) at the Around the World display.

While they're certainly the main event, there’s more than just lights on offer. There are also rides for the little ones, including the Ferris wheel, teacups and Venetian carousel; live entertainers; and food and drink stalls to round out your outing. Start a new tradition with hot chocolate and churros, or feast on loaded fries, dumplings, spuds, pizza, burritos, burgers, hotdogs, crepes, pancakes, doughnuts, gelato and more.

The Christmas Lights Spectacular is open every evening from 6.30–10.30pm (excluding Christmas Day). The festive magic continues into the new year, with the displays open to the public until January 26. 

This year all visitors must pre-purchase tickets and stick to allocated times and dates, so no deciding to bring along an extra person on the day. Tickets are $30 for adults and $25 for children, with special prices for families. Book in here.

Frozen Capitol Theatre Disney Sydney 2019
Photograph: Deen van Meer

2. Frozen

Theatre Musicals Capitol Theatre, Haymarket

While December in Sydney is a good deal toastier than in Arendelle, it’s pretty cool news indeed that Elsa and Anna will bring the magic of Frozen to the city. The smash hit Disney animated movie was transformed into an equally in-demand Broadway musical, which now winds its way down to Australia just in time for Christmas. We will be the first audiences to get a peak outside of New York.

Lighting up the Capitol Theatre with whizz bang tricks and puppets in the mix, it features all the beloved songs ready for excited sing-alongs. plus a few new tunes from original songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.

The magnificent Jemma Rix, who was so spectacular as Elphaba in Wicked, takes on another enchanted role as the magically cursed Elsa, doomed to go it alone in her icy palace, whistling down the wind while belting out irrepressible earworm  ‘Let it Go’. SIX the Musical star Courtney Monsma plays her estranged sister Anna, with Jersey Boys lead Thomas McGuane as Prince Hans, and Jonathan MacMillan and Lachlan McIntyre sharing the role of reindeer herder Sven. Matt Lee (Mary Poppins) get the best gig in show as adorably goofy snowman Olaf.

Tickets are on sale now, with the show opening on December 1. Let it snow!

Want more Disney magic? Drive-in movies are coming to Parramatta this summer.

Boat lined up in the harbour for floating cinema
Photograph: Supplied/Mov'in Boat

3. Mov'in Boat Floating Cinema

Things to do Cockle Bay Wharf, Darling Harbour

So we've had movies in the park, movies by the beach, outdoor movies in bed, and movies set in front of the glorious Sydney Harbour – you'd almost believe that this city had exhausted all the possible ways of having an al fresco cinematic experience. Until now, that is.

Mov'in Bed is upping the ante on summer movie-going this year and transforming into Mov'in Boat, by bringing a fun (and socially distanced) floating cinema to the harbour. Kicking off on December 3, the water-bound season will run until March 21, 2021. But how will you choose to watch? 

Head out onto the lapping harbour waters via rowboat ($119.90 for up to four people – or just you and your date), lie back in a plush day bed on a floating pontoon ($99.90 for two people and $109.90 for three), or go full luxury with the VIP option. It's $149.90 for two people and $169.90 for three people, and you'll get umbrellas, popcorn and access to an exclusive bar, as well as the option to order a sumptuous fine dining spread from Star restaurants like Sokyo (your go-to for melt-in-your-mouth sushi), Black Bar and Grill (juicy steaks aplenty) or Flying Fish (for a real waterfront extravaganza). 

Unless, of course, you've got your own little water vessel, be that a little dinghy or a luxury yacht. Feel free to pull up by the mega high-definition 4K 15-metre screen and tune in to the film, for just $50 per boat (and feel free also to call us when it's a sunny day and you're thinking of taking that baby out for a sail). Should you feel some mid-movie cravings set in, order fresh fish from the nearby markets, pizzas, cocktails and fairy floss waffles and have them delivered over to your boat or pontoon via jet ski. Now, that's service. 

As for what you'll be treated to on screen? It all kicks off on December 3 with romantic classic Dirty Dancing. Over the season, movie-
goers will have the chance to bask in the glory of contemporary favourites like heart-wrencher Lion, Christopher Nolan newbie Tenet, romantic swoon-fest Casablanca and quirky rom-com The Broken Hearts Gallery, as well as a whole lot more. Check here for the full season. 

Book your tickets online now. 

A red-haired Nikki Shiels looking over her shoulder, close-up, as Sybylla in Belvoir’s My Brilliant Career
Photograph: Supplied/Belvoir/Brett Boardman

4. My Brilliant Career

Theatre Drama Belvoir St Theatre, Surry Hills

Esteemed author Miles Franklin gave her name to Australia’s most prestigious book prize. Her treasured novel My Brilliant Career was written when she was only 20 years old. Depicting the life and times of headstrong Sybylla Melvyn and her determination to go her own way in the 1890s, the story was memorably brought to the big screen by, yes, brilliant director Gillian Armstrong, casting Judy Davis as Sybylla and Sam Neil as her would-be suitor Harry.

Now you can see it come alive all over again on stage at Belvoir St Theatre thanks to a brand-new adaptation by Australian playwright Kendall Feaver (The Almighty Sometimes) and directed by Kate Champion (Every Brilliant Thing). Running from December 5-January 31, the magnificent Nikki Shiels (The Sugar House, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) steps into Sybylla’s shoes, with Guy Simon as Harry alongside a stellar cast worthy of Miles' fine words in Blazey Best (Medea), Jason Chong (Chimerica), Tom Conroy (Jasper Jones), Emma Harvie (The Harp in the South) and Tracey Mann (Top End Wedding).

Belvoir’s artistic director Eamon Flack says: “Nikki has a great old-fashioned star quality mixed with a great contemporary boldness that is one of the gifts of contemporary feminism. It’s a boldness she shares with Kendall… We went to great lengths to save this show from being lost to [lockdown], but we made it a priority because of these artists, and because Australian writers and Australian writing matter more than ever.”

It’s a fascinating look at the turn of last century and the expectations and suppressions placed on women. Like Miles herself, Sybylla is determined to be a writer, but distractions along the way include young love, collapsing family fortunes and a society not quite ready for brilliant women to shine. We may be facing some of the same problems now, depressingly, but you can bet this production will positively glow.

Love Belvoir? Here's what's coming up in 2021, and it's a doozy.  

Chicken wing box with chillis nearby
Photograph: Supplied/Winghaus

5. WingFest

Restaurants Winghaus by Bavarian, Circular Quay

Dial up the heat on what's set to be an already toasty summer with Winghaus by Bavarian's new three-month-long celebration of the mighty chicken wing.

Kicking off on December 1 and wrapping up at the end of February, you've got plenty of time to go back again and again to get your hands on hot wings, beers and cocktails all summer long.

Classic, boneless and vegetarian-friendly cauliflower wings come in 10 piece ($12), 20 piece ($22), 50 piece ($49) and 100 piece ($94) serves. You've got 13 new flavours of wings to try: they range from the universally appealing, to the "turbo-charged". Taste-test the nacho cheese or garlic parmesan wings to start with, and then slowly ease yourself into the higher spice tiers. The mango habenero and Thai chilli have a little kick of spice, but you can amp it up further with the Carribean jerk, which also has a dash of dark rum for a complex flavour.

If you think you can handle it, approach the last two with caution: there's the Nashville, with a potent blend of chipotle, paprika and brown sugar, or the Indian-inspired Vindaloo rub with seven spices, a hint of acidity and a Scoville rating higher than the Harbour Bridge.  

Book online here

Want more? Here are the best things to do in Sydney this week

A green hued circus tent cast photo from the Us tour of Pippin
Photograph: Terry Shapiro

6. Pippin

Theatre Musicals Sydney Lyric Theatre, Darling Harbour

There’s a major theatrical extravaganza heading our way before Hamilton hysteria takes hold of Sydney. Tony Award-winning musical-meets-magic-meets-circus show Pippin will move into the Lyric Theatre first, reopening the grand Pyrmont venue on November 24 after months of mothballs.

Pippin is the story of a young man who has to make a big call about what to do with his life. Follow in his hot shot dad’s footsteps, or choose his own adventure? A play-within-a-play, the exciting vaudeville-style show is narrated by a troupe of acrobatic players and features cracking rabble-rousing songs like ‘Corner of the Sky’, ‘Magic To Do’ and ‘No Time at All.’

“We’re thrilled to invite audiences back to the theatre to experience this magical show,” Australian producers John Frost and Suzanne Jones say. “We saw this astonishing new production in New York, where it was the most-nominated Broadway show of the year, and it has gone on to thrill audiences across the globe. Now it’s Australia’s turn with this exclusive Sydney season.”

The Broadway sensation originally debuted in 1972, with music and lyrics by Oscar and Grammy-winner Stephen Schwartz, who went on pen Wicked, and Motown Records backing. Roger O Hirson wrote the book, and original director Bob Fosse contributed to the libretto. This take is helmed by Tony-bestowed Diane Paulus (Hair), with hot-to-trot choreography by Chet Walker channelling Fosse. Gypsy Snider of the Montreal-based circus company 7 Fingers corrals the acrobatics. So we’re talking serious creative royalty here.

Time Out New York reviewer Adam Feldman says the show is “musical-theatre showmanship at its best, a thrilling evening of art and craftiness… for all its scepticism about entertainment, Pippin offers it par excellence”.

Tickets are on sale now, starting from $69.90, with the run stretching to the end of January 2021. Auditions are about to begin, so keep your eyes peeled for cast announcements soon.

From one end of the theatre scale to the other: Check out The Pond in Marrickville.

Time Out Love Local campaign logo

Time Out’s Love Local campaign is supporting local food, drink and culture businesses in Sydney. Find out how you can help save the places that make our city great.

Champainting at Wild Life Sydney Zoo
Photograph: Supplied/Cork and Canvas

7. Champainting with Koalas

Things to do Wild Life Sydney Zoo, Darling Harbour

Are you ready to spend some koala-ty time with a paint brush in one hand and a glass of wine in the other? Following the ridiculously popular launch of bottomless sip and paint sessions at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, a new artistic animal encounter is popping up next door at Wild Life Sydney Zoo, and it involves some of its cuddliest native residents. 

You can head to the scaled-down Darling Harbour zoo for a sip and paint session unlike any you’ll find in a regular studio. Grab a date (or a mate) for this after-hours experience, where real koalas will be your models for a couples painting session as you are guided through the creation of a marsupial masterpiece as the sun sets over the Koala Rooftop. But before that, you’ll be able to wander off on a self-guided tour of the zoo, where experienced keepers will be on hand to introduce you to some of Australia’s most famous animals. 

Tickets for this three-hour experience go for $145, which includes a free-flowing drinks package and a tapas plate (vegetarian and vegan options are available) as well as all your art supplies. There’s also plenty of opportunities for koala selfies. Dates are being added sporadically for this creative creature encounter, with the next sessions coming up on November 16 and 24, and December 1, with some special Valentine's week events in February. Check out dates and book in here

If you’d prefer more privacy on your after-hours zoo visit, you can book out the entire zoo for you and nine mates.

Westpac Openair Cinema
Photograph: Fiora Sacco

8. Westpac OpenAir

Film Outdoor cinema Mrs Macquaries Point, Sydney

AACTA Award winner Eric Bana will walk the red carpet on December 15 when Westpac OpenAir returns to Mrs Macquaries Point with the Opera House and Bridge as the staggering backdrop. 

The full program will drop on November 30, but for now consider us super-excited to finally get our eyes on opening night movie The Dry. Adapted from the mega best-selling crime thriller novel by Jane harper, the film stars Bana as financial investigator Aaron Falk, who gets embroiled a shocking murder when he returns to his rural hometown.  

Directed by Robert Connolly (Balibo, Paper Planes), it's one of the most-anticipated Australian movies in many a year and also stars Genevieve O’Reilly, Miranda Tapsell, Keir O’Donnell and Matt Nable. The perfect kick-off to a summer season of popcron-ready films by the water. Sta tuned for more major annoucements soon. You can sign up for their newsletter here.

The first round of tickets goes on sale 9am, Thursday December 10, and it's always a big selling drawcard, so don't dilly-dally.

Love seeing movies outdoors? Check out our round-up of choctop hotspots here

Lindy Lee's bronze, liquid-like globule sculpture 'Unnameable’
Photograph: Anna Kucera

9. Lindy Lee: Moon in a Dew Drop

Art Galleries Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), The Rocks

There’s a silver lining even in the poop storm of the last few months. While in some respects the world at large feels further away than ever, that allows for a little bit of love spent right here and now. After months of lying dusty, the MCA is back in a big way, and it's fully embracing the new normal, throwing focus on Australian artists. It’s in this spirit that we get absolutely spoiled with a cracking retrospective of Lindy Lee’s exhilarating career.

Lindy Lee: Moon in a Dew Drop celebrates the Australian-Chinese artist’s genius, nimbly dancing through four decades of jaw-dropping creativity crossing mediums and cultures. Curated by the MCA’s director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor, the show pulls together 70 of Brisbane-born, Sydney-based Lee’s works sourced from public and private collections, including rarities from her personal records. It’s the most comprehensive overview of Lee’s artistic contribution that’s ever been assembled.

For Lee, embracing the heritage passed to her by her Chinese immigrant parents has always been central to her work, engaging with Taoism and Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism, philosophies that see humanity and nature as inextricably linked, and pushing back against whitewashing of history, including art.

You can a lot of these influence sin her incredible work, often grappling with the idea of eternity as being the here and precisely now. A useful Buddhist outlook to apply to 2020. You can also get a squiz at her some of her earliest experimentations, playing around with photocopiers and with wax paintings. You’ll also be able to see immersive installations like ‘No Up, No Down, I Am the Ten Thousand Things’, and beautiful sculptural works like the sizeable shimmering bronze, liquid-like ‘Unnameable’. A new piece of public art created by Lee, the mesmerising ‘Secret World of a Starlight Ember, now adorns the Circular Quay forecourt.

MCA director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor was very keen on a ‘Love Local’ perspective. “We seized the opportunity to celebrate the work of Australian artists. I’m delighted that the first exhibition the MCA has been able to generate since the lockdown is of the extraordinary Lindy Lee. One of Australia’s foremost contemporary artists, Lee’s work addresses important and timely issues regarding identity, cultural authenticity, as well as history and spirituality.”

You can tune into a ticketed livestream of Lee in conversation with Macgregor at the MCA on October 7 at 6pm. The exhibition runs through to February 28, 2021, and what better way to celebrate Sydney’s vibrant art scene reignited?

Want to see Lee's new sculpture? Check out Sydney's awesome public art.

A wide shot of the crowd sitting down in front of the large scre
Photograph: Moonlight Cinema

10. Moonlight Cinema

Film Outdoor cinema Centennial Parklands, Centennial Park

Pack your picnic baskets, because Sydney’s favourite outdoor cinema experience is returning to Centennial Park. After months of being cooped up inside, we’re super-pumped for the return of movies outdoors, as steamy hot summer nights set into the city’s sun-baked streets. Moonlight Cinema is back, baby – and you can enjoy it from the end of November right through to April of next year. 

Moonlight’s rolling expanse of green grass and pop-up screen is the perfect setting for unfurling a picnic blanket and keeping the family entertained, spending time with mates or having a date where you have more room to chat (and canoodle) than a traditional cinema.

As for what's on show? The program kicks off with Pulp Fiction on November 26, while Tenet, starring Robert Pattinson, John David Washington, and Elizabeth Debicki will entrap you in a mind-bending tale of espionage on December 2. Sundays are for superheroes with the best action films of the last 10 years screening every week, including the ground-breaking and Oscar-winning Black PantherThor: Ragnarok; and Marvel’s favourite intergalactic tale, Guardians of the Galaxy. Homegrown hero Hugh Jackman will also strap on his tippity tappity shoes for a rousing rendition of The Greatest Showman (Dec 8) and, of course, with Christmas rapidly approaching, the love/hate opinion columns will be unleashed once more when the other beloved Hugh, Mr Grant, shows up in Love, Actually (Dec 16 and 18).

Actually, the whole week leading up to the holidays will see an array of Christmas flicks get the spotlight. Catch old-school Zooey Deschanel in Elf (Dec 19) or lean into the nostalgia of Home Alone (Dec 20). 

It’s been a remarkable 25 years since the Australia’s biggest, most-beloved outdoor cinema sensation brought the movie magic to the lush surrounds of our gorgeous park after dark. There will be an increased focus on social distancing this year, and, as ever, Moonlight Cinema is a BYO event, so pack a picnic and some bubbles on ice. If you’re famously unprepared, have no fear, there will be a phalanx of food trucks on offer and a licensed bar for libations too. 

And if you’re the extra AF-type, you can bling it up with Moonlight’s Gold Grass option, offering the best views plus waiter service direct to your plush bean bag pew. Espresso Martinis and ice cream will, of course, be on hand to cool your jets.

Person fills plate with sausages from industrial grill with rows of sausages.
Photograph: Supplied/The Sausage Factory

11. Sausage Making Class

Things to do Classes and workshops The Sausage Factory, Dulwich Hill

If you’ve ever pondered that eternal question, 'how is the sausage made?', or even if you’re just a fan of a good banger and a beer to wash it down – this one is for you. On the first Saturday of every month, the Sausage Factory in Dulwich Hill hosts sausage classes where you can get hands-on with mincing and making artisan snags with a tinnie in hand.

Sydney’s Sausage Queen, Chrissy Flanagan, leads you through a three-hour journey from pork shoulder to pork link, discussing the theory of what goes into a good sausage, and rounding out the afternoon with a big lunch. The Sausage Factory is an Inner West snaggery, small brewery and restaurant, so you know the meal and the bevvies will be as carefully constructed as the batch of bangers you’ll take home to impress your loved ones. The space is adorned with kitschy woollen sausages knitted by the queen herself, and she’ll tell you that there’s a harmonious overlap between the skills of knitting and sausagery.

“They're both really tactile, you’re making something, there’s twisting, and there’s a long thread-y, cord-y thing. At the end you can eat it or you can hold it, it’s all good news,” says Chrissy.

It goes without saying that this class won’t particularly appeal to people who don’t eat meat, but Chrissy says even seasoned carnivores might get a surprise: “Sausage making turns out to be incredibly confronting for people. I think it's one thing to think about how a sausage might be made, and quite a bit more to actually get your hands in there. Probably the number one surprise is how messy it truly is.”

Sausage classes run from 11am to 2pm and are $139 per person, including lunch and bottomless beers. Private bookings are also available if you’re looking to have a private sausage party, a bangin’ work event, or can’t make it in on the first Saturday of the month. If you’d like to dine on the Sausage Queen’s latest batches without putting in the labor, you can book in for dinner at the Sausage Factory on Friday and Saturday evenings. Make a booking here.

Model poses on white table, wears black latex apron and gloves, nothing else.
Photograph: Supplied/Queer Sydney | Schisandra

12. Queer Lyfe Drawing

Art Ching-a-lings, Darlinghurst

As the resurgence of life drawing events with live nude models continues to grow in popularity, a small group of Sydney’s queer performers decided it was high time to start up their own progressive spin on the tradtional art class.

Queer Lyfe is an inclusive event with a more casual “drink, draw and discuss” vibe, open to people of all skill levels and identities. The monthly themed mid-week event at Ching-a-Lings bar on Oxford Street features models from across the LGBTQI+ spectrum, and from a range of body types and body differences. Many of the models are drag and burlesque performers who’ve had less work available to them under lockdown and then post-lockdown restrictions – and they do more than pose, incorporating performances and discussions throughout the evening. 

“I wanted to create a safe space for the queer community to come together and have a bit of fun whilst supporting artists who generally rely on nightclub gigs. My dream is to break down internal barriers and segregation in the community too,” host Zachary Gallagher – aka Schisandra when in drag – explains. 

The next event on Wednesday, November 25, sees drag queen Peach Fuzz (a regular on the Imperial Hotel stage) stripping back with a Nude on Nude theme. Book your ticket for $20 here. Then on December 16, jingle your bells with a XXX-mas themed session. Follow Queer Sydney on Instagram (@queer_sydney) to keep across their upcoming events. 

People painting on canvas and drinking wine.
Photograph: Supplied

13. Cork and Canvas

Things to do Classes and workshops Cork and Canvas Crows Nest, Crows Nest

The fine artists from Cork and Canvas have been spreading colour all over Sydney with their wine and painting classes. Even while we were all stuck at home, they kept us occupied with creativity kits and on-demand virtual classes – and now as the city opens back up, they’re inviting us back into the studio again.

That’s right, you can dip your brush and wet your whistle in public once more at their Crows Nest and Darlinghurst sip and paint studios, with classes having started up again in early June. While the doors have been closed, the team have been busy coming up with new paintings for budding artists to interpret, including a ‘Stargazing’ design on a brand new round canvas. 

The studios are amping up hygiene and safety practices, including spacing out guests in accordance with 1.5 metre physical distancing rules (allowing for couples and small groups to sit together), offering hand sanitizer at the door and sanitizing all equipment and wine glasses. 

Check out the website for session times for both the Crows Nest and Darlinghurst studios and to make your booking. Most classes run from Wednesday through Saturday nights, with afternoon sessions on Sundays and some Saturdays, starting at $55 including materials (just BYO wine and snacks). 

For anyone who is out of town or who’d rather stay home, Cork and Canvas is continuing to offer virtual alternatives, providing step-by-step video classes and mailing out creativity kits nationally, from $80. 

It isn’t too late to pick up an iso-hobby and have the picture evidence to prove it. And if you’re nervous about picking up a brush, just grab a bottle of vino for inspiration and let these guys help to lead your brush strokes. 

Looking for art classes you can take from the comfort of home? Check out the sip and paint classes that saw us through lockdown.

Channing Tatum with buff male dancers on stage announcing Magic Mike Live
Photograph: Supplied

14. Magic Mike Live

Theatre Musicals The Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park

Poor Melburnians. They’ve been through so much in lockdown, and once again they have to contend with Sydney snagging their best stuff. First, we came for Van Gogh Alive, and now we’ve nabbed Magic Mike Live.

The show is the brainchild of dancer-turned-movie star Channing Tatum – who fronted up, stripped down, and sweated through both big screen outings – who had been set to bring the buff boy acrobatic spectacular strip show to the Victorian capital. But Melbourne's loss is our major gain.

Set in the stunning, burlesque circus-like surrounds of the Arcadia, a  purpose-built upsized Spiegeltent, erected in the Entertainment Quarter, this dance extravaganza comes complete with a bar that doubles as a climbing frame for lithe bodies and podiums in amongst the audience. It will premiere at Moore Park on December 17, after runs in Las Vegas, London and Berlin. Thrusting you right into the heat of the moment, the all-singing, all-dancing, all-hip-thrusting gyration of this 360-degree immersive hullabaloo is EXACTLY what we need at the tail end of the year that was.

Though Tatum has hung up his dancing pants for now and will not appear up close and personal in the stage show, he's overjoyed he finally gets to unveil a feisty phalanx of beautiful bodiess, co-directed by choreographer Alison Faulk. And hoooo boy, you do not wanna miss these boys (and a handful of fiercely awesome women, too). Their smooth, gravity-defying moves make it a must-see this Christmas.

“The morning after we opened our first production in Vegas four years ago, we all talked about the crazy idea of someday putting Magic Mike Live in a tent and travelling around Australia,” Tatum says. “The fact that it’s actually happening now is mind-blowing to me. The tent and this new version of the show is more than I ever imagined it could be, and I can’t wait for our fans in Australia to see what we’ve created especially for them.”

We're ready to get sweaty just watching them sweat. But it’s not just about the titillation. As Time Out London’s reviewer put it, “Rather than provide pure raunch, a thread runs throughout the night about how, as women, we deserve to feel empowered and appreciated. ‘You are enough, just as you are,’ declares our host just before the boys hump the floor to Ginuwine’s ‘Pony’.” Zoiks.

And as for our Melbourne mates? Never fear, the boys are heading your way middle of next year. Sharing’s caring.

Two women at the Blak Markets at Barangaroo Reserve
Photograph: James Horan

15. Blak Markets

Things to do Markets Bare Island, La Perouse

Sydney’s Blak Markets creates a space to browse stalls spruiking a range of locally made arts, crafts and food from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stallholders – from native plants to award-winning jewellery, silk scarves, and ethically sourced bush foods, there’s an eclectic mix to peruse.

"The Blak Markets are a great chance to buy authentic gifts knowing that 100 per cent of the profits go back into Aboriginal communities," market manager Ash Little said in a press release.

The Markets usually take place bi-monthly on the first Sunday of the month at Bare Island, set on the picturesque point of La Perouse within the Kamay-Botany Bay National Park, an area which is usually only open for tours. It's a great place to teach the kids about Indigenous culture, with a smoking ceremony in the morning as well as weaving and art workshops, and musical performances.

You can also find the Markets on the lawn of the MCA in Circular Quay during NAIDOC Week, with a special edition (Blak Markets in the Rocks) on the weekend of November 14 and 15, between 10am and 5pm. 

Stay tuned for more information on upcoming markets at and the Facebook page. You can also check out and buy from many of the stallholders on the online marketplace on the website, which sprung up during lockdown.

Want more? Check out the best markets in Sydney.

Callum Francis and Seann Miley Moore in costume for Rent, including angel wings, on the steps of the Opera House
Photograph: Supplied/Daniel Boud

16. Rent

Theatre Musicals Sydney Opera House, Sydney

“How we gonna pay last year’s rent?” might be a bit on the nose after the year that was, but the famous lyric from the title song of Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning smash hit Rent has us super-excited, nonetheless. Jonathan Larson’s beloved Broadway rock musical will be the first major show to relight the Sydney Opera House after months of pivoting to digital.

The show follows a gang of glorious misfits trying to make a quick buck in New York’s East Village in 1991. The march of gentrification is pushing artists out of their spiritual home, and the HIV/AIDS crisis is tightening its grip on the area's queer community. Mark, Roger, Angel and the gang band together to celebrate the triumph of love and art over adversity, in a loose re-imagining of Puccini's grand opera La Bohème.

This brand new Australian production will star Kinky Boots alumnus Callum Francis and also local lad Seann Miley Moore, who popped up on the UK edition of The X-Factor. Shaun Rennie directs, with Andrew Worboys on musical direction and Luca Dinardo choreographing.

“In these dangerous times where the world is ripping apart at the seams, we can learn from those who stare death in the face every day, by reaching out to each other and bonding as a community,” Larson said in 1996, though tragically he died suddenly just before the show opened. But his words are as true today as we emerge into the new normal. Tickets to Drama Theatre will be limited to 50 per cent capacity. The team at the Opera House hopes this rabble-rousing classic ­– which runs from December 27, 2020, to January 31 – will help the city regroup after a year of social, physical and emotional turmoil.

Fresh produce at Carriageworks Farmers Markets
Photograph: Daniel Boud

17. Carriageworks Farmers Market

Shopping Markets Carriageworks, Eveleigh

It’s imperative that you do not eat before you visit the Carriageworks Farmers Markets. You’ll want to save maximum belly space for your personal version of The Bachelorette where you decide who gets your dollars and what delicious produce gets to come home with you. Maybe you like something soupy and savoury first thing? In that case go for the pho stand for a traditional Vietnamese start to the day. There’s a bibimbap stall that will even replace the rice with shredded cauliflower if you don’t believe in cheat days, and a classic bacon and egg roll for creatures of habit, from Farmer Rod’s Free Range stall. 

Once the hounds of your hunger have been quieted it’s time to prepare for your next meal, or seven. Maybe you need the sweet bite of Pickle Hill’s Worcester sauce for the pantry? Or some fresh goat’s curd from Willowbrae? While you’re there you may as well get some smoked salmon, fresh ravioli from Pasta Emilia, free range eggs, a load of beer and barley bread form the Bread and Butter Project, and some jersey milk butter to go on it.

Chef Josh Niland of Fish Butchery and Saint Peter in Paddington now has a permanent stall selling inventive seafood using lesser known varieties and flavours. His prawn toast is a certified hangover buster, and the few cooked items sold change with the tide. There are usually take-home packs of fish sausages and Ballina prawns as big as your hand.

You can spend a whole lot of money if you want to here, but equally you could just grab a kombucha on tap and find a chair for some of the best dog-watching in the city.

Find more of the best markets in Sydney.

A pale blue and orange 3D printing of a human heart
Photograph: Supplied

18. Design for Life

Art Design Powerhouse Museum, Ultimo

We’ve all got one eye on our health at the moment, though it’s very rare that we think of the science behind life-saving equipment and the beauty of art going hand-in-hand. Reality is, creativity hums in every machine we make.

That’s the thinking behind new Powerhouse exhibition Design for Life. Exploring the central role of design in the health and medical sector, it’s all about celebrating the oft-overlooked intersection between innovation and art. Showcasing some 200+ objects from the museum’s collection, it will trace the evolution of the medical equipment that has been saving human lives from the late 1800s right up until today.

You can take a closer look at how things like life-saving respiratory devices work, how surgical masks have changed over the centuries, huge leaps in progress on medicine, how we monitor our hearts and brains, and the incredible possibilities opened up by 3D bioprinting. It also demonstrates the hugely collaborative approach at play, in Australia and between nations.

An exciting look at the great minds behind these inventions, Powerhouse Museum chief executive Lisa Havilah says they’re thrilled to support the latest in science and design innovation with Design for Life. “As science and technology accelerate, the body’s capacities, perception, longevity and durability are being pushed to new limits. Recent partnerships between the medical sciences and design industry have pioneered medical equipment to help this and improve the quality of human life.”

Running from September 26, 2020, to January 31, 2021, entry is free, but booking is essential. For more information, click here

Want more art that explores how we live our lives? Check out Hybrid

Fresh pastry and breads at Orange Grove Markets
Photograph: Gilbert Walden

19. Orange Grove Organic Food Markets

Shopping Markets Orange Grove Public School , Lilyfield

Using the expanses of Orange Grove primary school, these markets fill the playground with covetable goods on a weekly basis. Farm fresh fruit and veg is everywhere here and you’re spoilt for choice for truss tomatoes, plump berries, technicolour capsicums and leafy greens. There’s also a glut of small producers for all your smallgood and fancy condiment needs; grab a fragrant saucisson (an air-dried pork sausage); or rummage through bright yellow, ice-filled eskies for some juicy free-range steaks and nab a carton of free-range eggs.

The popularity of the bacon and egg rolls from Bowen’s has reached celebrity status, with queues long enough to make you think Bieber is signing autographs at the end of the line. They’re undeniably delicious. But our breakfast of choice is a steaming carton of Eat Fuh pho, purveyors of one of the most fragrant broths in Sydney. Try their vegan option, too; the broth has a rich mushroom aroma that almost overshadows the meat version. And, if the crisp crunch of an organically grown carrot isn’t your thing on a Saturday morning, the market also has tables laden with top notch baked goods. Grab a slab of Flour and Stone’s popular lemon cake or a goat cheese and zucchini savoury tart from Croquembouche patisserie, or collect flavoured seed varieties at Brooklyn Boy Bagels.

Food isn’t the only thing on the menu – there’s also a range of handmade and environmentally conscious clothing, second-hand records and jewellery.

Find the best markets in Sydney.

Royal Heart Revue
Photograph: Tom Wilkinson

20. The Royal Heart Revue

Theatre Performance art

Curated and hosted by Sydney's queen of burlesque herself, Porcelain Alice, this vintage-style variety show takes over Newtown’s stalwart vaudevillian-vibed live venue, the Vanguard, with a gang of gorgeous showgirls and unruly circus folk.

The monthly show made a heart-stopping return after the city went dormant due to the big party pooper of 2020, and there's three more dates bringing the love this year. 

With burlesque front and centre, you can also expect to see circus, aerial acts and troupes sporting heart motifs. Like all great post-lockdown comebacks, this is a ‘dinner and a show’ event, with a two-course meal included in your ticket ($101.90).

The next shows are coming up on Thursday evenings in the last month of the year, on December 3, 10 and 17. Mosey on down from 6pm and be tempted by the cocktail selections from the Vanguard bar. Ruffle those feathers! 

If you like your burlesque served saucier, check out La Femme.


21. Happy Endings Comedy Club

Comedy El Rocco Room, Potts Point

Sydney's comedians are pretty fond of this cosy comedy club. With an intimate vibe and weekly shows featuring at least two names you know and guests you may not, Happy Endings also has the benefit of being beneath cosy jazz bar the El Rocco Room, for pre-show wines and post-show beers. There's limited capacity, so you best book ahead for Friday nights (8.30pm) or for the early and late sessions on Saturdays (6.30pm or 8.30pm). 

If you're looking for more places to laugh, the Happy Endings teams has also expanded operations and embarked upstairs with more weekend shows around the corner with the Kings Cross Comedy Club

Hands reaching for plates on a table
Photograph: SuppliedChin Chin

22. Archie Rose x Chin Chin Yum Cha

Restaurants Chin Chin, Surry Hills

When you wake up on a Saturday morning with only the faint memory of having consumed one too many Negronis last night, there's one thing to get your weekend back on track: yum cha.

Sydney's spoilt for choice when it comes to spots to indulge in hearty, comforting Chinese-style dishes on a weekend, and your decision just got even more difficult. Hospo heavyweights Archie Rose and Chin Chin have just partnered up for a 'gin-spired' version of the tradition – if ever there was any doubt that a little hair of the dog was the only way to properly recover. The master distillers at Archie Rose have crafted cocktails especially for the occasion, like Archie's Spritz with passionfruit and apricot, the Violet Crown with elderflower and orange, and a Strawberry Colada with pineapple and coconut. A range of new dishes will also be gracing your brunch table, including crumbed prawn steamed buns, fried chicken wings, BBQ pork buns and more ($55 per person). 

Head over for gin-fuelled yum cha sessions on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at Chin Chin Sydney

Want more? Here are the best places for a bottomless brunch in Sydney.

Two women laugh as they sculpt clay with wine and cheese on the table
Photograph: Supplied/Clay Sydney

23. Wine and Cheese Ceramic Workshop

Things to do Classes and workshops Clay Sydney - Marrickville Studio, Marrickville

Wine time and snacking are tried and tested ways to blow off steam, and a lot can be said for a little art therapy. Throw in the gentle sense of accomplishment of making a beautiful object with a practical use? Muy bueno!

Clay Sydney has opened the doors back up and is welcoming in visitors once again for it’s ever popular Wine, Cheese and Clay Nights. Grab a bottle of your favourite plonk and snacks and head down to the new Enmore studio on Wednesdays, or the Marrickville studio on a Friday or Saturday night to get your hands dirty at one of their chilled out, boozed up workshops. They’ll provide all the tools, raw materials and guidance required to create your own smashing ceramic mug or vase. You’ll be guided through hand-building your vessel with speckled white clay and decorating it with vibrant glazes. 

Keeping the atmosphere intimate – and keeping physical distancing observed – class sizes for these workshops are limited and they do book out, so check ahead and book online. The workshop will set you back $80 including your precious item to take pride of place on the mantelpiece of your ‘good room’.

There’s more going on down at the studio. You can book in for a Planter Party or Mugs and Mimosas workshop on alternate Saturday day-times, recreate the famous scene from Ghost with beginner Wheel Classes on Saturdays and selected weeknights, plus special Date Night wheel throwing taster classes on Sundays to share with some special. If you're a bit of a pro mud slinger, there's also more advanced in-studio classes. Check out all the classes and make a booking here

If you’re out of town or you’d rather get your hands dirty at home, Clay Sydney is still slinging Clay at Home kits nationally so you can get amongst it from your kitchen table with a live virtual class – you can even get some mates around and Zoom in together. Choose between serving platters and teapots, kids classes and special ladies night sessions where you can make your own ‘boobie vessel’.

Looking for more options to get your hands dirty at home? Check out all these pottery classes and kits you can get stuck into at home.

Did you know? Boozy painting classes are back on in the studio as well.

Explore more of the city this summer

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