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Igloo on harbour
Photograph: Supplied/Pier One

July events in Sydney

Frolic through midwinter with the best events in Sydney this month

By Time Out editors

Many misinformed winter-haters might lament the lack of activities during Sydney’s chilly season, but we’re here to set them on the path to cold-weather adventures. And with newly relaxed social restrictions, it's a great time to rediscover the city. Here are the best events taking place across Sydney throughout July.

July's best events

Happy Place Live Nation 2020 supplied
Photograph: Live Nation/supplied

1. Happy Place

Things to do Pop-up locations Broadway Shopping Centre, Glebe

If there's something we Sydneysiders could do with a decent dose of right now, it'd be pure, unadulterated joy. The Happy Place, a pop-up exhibit of boldly colourful, immersive environments had its Australian premiere on the rooftop of Broadway Sydney in March. Unfortunately, lockdown restrictions closed down the exhibit on March 17 – but fear not, because it's back from Friday, July 3. Taking place over 20,000 square feet, you can step inside the world's largest confetti dome, leap from a rainbow into a "pot of happiness" (aka a ball pit), take a dip into the bright yellow rubber ducky bathtub, hang around in an upside down room, and unlock your inner chocolate chip in the "cookie room", which smells just like a batch of freshly-baked cookies. What are the people behind Happy Place wanting to achieve? Well, they want you to be happy. And they want you to know it. So clap your god damn hands. Happy Place is the work of American entertainment manager Jared Paul, who produces tours for Dancing with the Stars and Glee. The installations have toured America and picked up a bunch of celebrity fans along the way, including Adele, Khloe Kardashian, JoJo Siwa, Kerry Washington and Hillary Duff. The pop-up exhibit is at Broadway until August 16, with sessions on most days. Physical distancing measures will be in place and staff will be dotted around the premises to guide you, while wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). Enhanced cleaning measures will also be imposed, as well a

Photograph: Supplied/ANMM

2. Under Southern Skies and From Kupe to Cook

Things to do Australian National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour

The Australian National Maritime Museum reopened to the public on Monday, June 22 with two stellar new exhibitions to see. Under Southern Skies and From Kupe to Cook explore not just the traditional, colonial perspectives of James Cook's navigation (and 'discovery') of Australia and the Pacific, but also the perspectives of First Nations people involved in those encounters. Under Southern Skies is an installation which includes new collections from Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and tells the story of Indigenous Pacific navigation around Oceania. Historically, little credit has been given to First Peoples in regards to their knowledge and scientific methods of celestial navigation. The exhibition also includes new pieces associated with James Cook and other European navigators, including artefacts on Dutch, Portuguese, French, Spanish and British cultures. From Kupe to Cook focuses on art from leading Aotearoa/New Zealand, Pacifica and Australian First Nations artists. These artists delve into the history of sailing and voyaging around the Pacific – from the legendary Polynesian Kupe over 1,000 years ago to the arrival of Cook. The exhibition is intended to dismantle misconceptions about  European 'discovery' and reflect on the ancient knowledge sources that predate colonial navigational history.  While you're there, why not check out the host of other exhibitions on display? Visitors can also take a look around the Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Igloo on harbour
Photograph: Supplied/Pier One

3. Igloos on the Pier

Things to do Pop-up locations Pier One Sydney Harbour, Dawes Point

While we probably won’t see snow in Sydney this winter, you can play pretend at an Antarctic season inside these cosy, extremely fancy igloos. They’re not the icy kind, but rather see-through bubbles furnished with Scandinavian simplicity, draped in furs and filled with hearty winter feasts for you and your crew of winter city explorers. The pop-up experience has been run by hotel Pier One in winters past, and they will again set up multiple structures on their wharf that cater for up to 10 people. Take your pick of the igloos: you can sleep under the stars in the ‘Dream Igloo Suite’, or hire out the 'Proposal Suite Igloo' (just make sure the name doesn't give you away before the question is popped). But the real jewel is above the pier. The ‘Hot Tub Igloo' sits on a balcony with sweeping harbour views, where you'll get your own private bathroom and two-and-a-half-hours to soak up the scenery. If sitting in a bubbling soup of spilled drinks and other people's bodily fluids seems questionable in this climate, well, 2020 marks the Hot Tub Igloo's third chilly season – so you can rest assured that others have survived before you. You can book each igloo for a hire fee of $200, with an additional minimum spend on food and drinks of $400 per booking of up to 10 guests. Thanks to the selection of cured meats, oysters, seafood platters, cocktails and desserts on offer, we have a feeling you won't struggle too much to get there.  Your options include a sunny booking for noon, watchi

David Hockney 'A closer winter tunnel'  Art Gallery of New South Wales
Photograph: Richard Schmidt

4. Some Mysterious Process

Art Galleries Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney

Exhilarating in its modernity, this exciting Art Gallery NSW exhibition brings together  acquisitions from the previous 50 years only and captures a real snapshot of where we’re at now and where we’ve come from. Part of the Sydney Modern Project, expanding the footprint of the gallery, the show includes the radiant colours of David Hockney’s ‘A Closer Winter Tunnel’, which makes winter look exactly like we need it to be right now., the title is drawn from the words of American artist Philip Guston musing art-making: “There’s some mysterious process at work here which I don’t even want to understand.’ You can also see his work ‘East tenth 1977’. Weaving together multiple threads of history, it to tells the story of how the international contemporary collection has come together through the alchemy of planning, serendipity, curation and philanthropy, as well as tracing the evolution of societal expectations. The exhibition runs until September 15.

A person in cosplay costume wears a bright blue spiked wig.
Photograph: Supplied/The Japan Foundation

5. Issho Editions

Things to do

Calling all Japanophiles – and anyone looking to explore a new hobby after baking and crafting their way through iso. The Japan Foundation, Sydney, is launching a brand new online program which enourages people to learn and understand the significance of Japanese cultural practices including pop culture, craft, music and dance. Pick and choose your own journey from a collection of educational, practical and inspiring pre-recorded videos and livestreamed sessions.  You can learn the ropes of cosplay – the art of creating and wearing costumes to represent a specific character from a movie, book or series – with Pop Japan! Australian Experts on Cosplay, a three-part series from three Australian cosplay experts. They’ll take you through practical costume and makeup tutorials and explore the history and current culture of cosplay here and overseas.  Learn how to create cute, easy-to-make crafts from origami to handmade stamps and notebooks with Make Like Japan: Inspired Crafts at Home, a series for the whole family to get crafting with. You can also learn to move to the beat of traditional Japanese instruments such as taiko drums, shamisen and tonkori with Living Room Tunes: Tradition and Rhythm in Japanese Music. Or get an introduction to the movement art of Butoh (Japanese dance theatre) and contemporary dance forms derived from Nihon Buyo with Fluid Forms: Blending Traditional and Contemporary Japanese Dance. Issho Editions runs from June 30 to August 1, you can check out the w

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

6. Wine and Cheese Ceramic Workshop

Things to do Classes and workshops Multiple venues

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 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 classe

A raccoon peeks out from a hole in the windscreen of an abandoned car.
Photograph: Jason Bantle

7. Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Art Galleries Australian National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour

PLEASE NOTE: As of Monday, March 16, the Australian National Maritime Museum will remain open however in response to COVID-19, some parts of the Museum that pose risk to public health will be closed.  Sydney is taking temporary custody of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition (WPY). On loan from London’s Natural History Museum, this world-class collection of 100 mesmerising images will be housed at the Australian National Maritime Museum from March through to October.  This collection showcases not only the best of the natural world, but the patience, ingenuity and talent of the photographers who spend their time embedded within wildlife so that they can get that one incredible shot. Judged by a panel of industry-recognised professionals, this year's pictures were taken by some of the world’s best nature photographers and selected for their creativity, artistry and technical complexity.  Put on your best Sir David Attenborough impression as you browse this spectacular collection or intimate animal portraits and astonishing landscapes, showcasing the beauty and diversity of nature and reflecting the environmental challenges the planet is experiencing. This year’s winning photograph, ‘The Moment’ by Chinese photographer Yongqing Bao, lets us into a tense, life-or-death moment between a Himalayan marmot and a Tibetan fox.  Australian photographers were also highly commended in this year’s competition. Western Australian photographer Wayne Jones’ ‘Night Rider’ is an un

Angela Goh and Su Yu Hsin, Paeonia Drive
Photograph: Yuro Huang


Art Digital and interactive Your place, Sydney

We’ve become used to receiving our heart-lifting arts packages on the interwebs of late, but one festival was way ahead of the couch-bound curve. Digital smorgasbord Biennial Live Event in the Everyday Digital – aka BLEED– is co-hosted by the Campbelltown Arts Centre (CAC) and Melbourne’s Arts House. It's a ten-week long festival presenting fascinating digital works via artistic collabs. As well as living online, these works also question what effect our increasingly digital focus means for all of us. Conceived before performance spaces were closed, BLEED is the perfect solution while we wait for the majority of venues nationwide to join the likes of Darlinghurst Theatre Company in re-opening. The line-up kicks off Monday, June 22 with a two-week run for visual artist Hannah Brontë’s mi$$-Eupnea, a series of live DJ sets set to video art encouraging mighty fine chill outs, with deep breathing and reflective listening. Brontë is the creative force behind femme blak hip hop art parties Fempre$$. Week three-to-four sees curator Alex Kelly and award-winning artist, writer and filmmaker David Pledger team-up on part-performance piece, part-interview series Assembly for the Future. It's a series of participatory digital gatherings in which the public create new visions for futures that may be realistic, idealistic or utterly fanciful.  Vietnamese-Australians James Nguyen, an artist and filmmaker, and composer and archaeologist Victoria Pham’s Re:Sounding embraces Vietnamese culture

Two drag queens in pink and green feathered costumes
Photograph: Supplied/Imperial Hotel

9. The Priscilla’s Experience

Things to do The Imperial Hotel, Erskineville

Hold on to your boa babe! The queens at the Imperial Hotel are putting on a flashy new dinner and show experience packed with enough campness, nostalgia and colourful feathers to help us forget about the perils of 2020. Pop on something that makes you feel fabulous and shake your tail feather down to the Priscilla’s Experience: one and a half hours of glamour and glitz served alongside a three-course menu from the Impy’s in-house restaurant. “We’ve taken everything people love about the Imperial and made it even better,” show producer Oliver-Malouf (also known as drag performer extraordinaire Etcetera Etcetera) says. The team has spent two months choreographing, costuming and assembling this evening of entertainment as a farewell to iso-life. “We tried to squeeze the history and magic of Australian drag into one show – and we're so excited to share that with audiences. Six drag queens on one stage? How good is that!” The Imperial re-opened its doors loudly and proudly on June 5 after the government imposed shutdowns. The queens are excited to start their engines and kick the regular drag ‘n’ dine offering up a gear with this special production, which pays homage to the venue’s history – you must have been living under a rock (in a frock) if you didn’t already know the Impy appeared in the opening scene of smash-hit 1994 classic The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert. They already won our hearts with last year’s x-rated drag ‘n’ dine production, Rood Food, so we ca

People painting on canvas and drinking wine.
Photograph: Supplied

10. 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

The Credeaux Canvas at the El Rocco room
Photograph: Supplied

11. The Credeaux Canvas

Theatre Drama El Rocco Room, Potts Point

A play about sex, lies, masking tape and a dodgy art rip-off is one of the first theatrical performances to welcome an actual audience into an honest-to-goodness theatre in Sydney since the Beforetime. We’ve become accustomed to seeing new theatre online and re-embracing cabaret with dinner and a show, but now up to 24 Sydneysiders can sit down (appropriately distanced, of course) to take in a full-length play. Set in the early noughties, long before Zoom was a thing, The Credeaux Canvas depicts the three twenty-somethings desperate for a lucky break who resort to fooling a wealthy art connoisseur with a forgery. It's presented by Lambert House Enterprises, the first company to bring the hit play to Sydney’s Stables Theatre in 2002, after its off-Broadway debut the year before. Produced and directed by Les Solomon from a stageplay by Keith Bunin, it’s billed as a window into the disillusionment of entitled generation Ys and is laced with humour, sexual tension and a very unusual nude scene. Starring Samson Alston, Jasper Bruce, Rachel Marley, Tom Kelly and Beth Daly, it will be staged at El Rocco Café and Theatre in Kings Cross from Thursday, July 23. Audience members will be seated towards the rear of the venue, away from the actors, and they are encouraged to wear masks. “I’m confident this brilliant cast of actors will deliver a highly intimate, bold and totally absorbing version of this great play,” Solomon says of the set-up. “[Audience members] will feel they are almost

Liverpool Sculpture Walk 2019 supplied
Photograph: Charlotte Curd

12. Liverpool Sculpture Walk

Art Sculpture and installations Casula Parklands Playground, Casula

For two weeks every spring, hordes of Sydneysiders head to the beach for the annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibition, which covers two kilometres of the city's most exquisite coastline, from Bondi to Tamarama. But the crowds can be pretty intense, and even if you're willing to brave them, most Sydneysiders are pretty busy – two weeks isn't really long enough for us to catch anything. For almost nine months, Casula Parklands is playing host to a new sculpture walk, featuring eight works from Sculpture by the Sea. Visitors will be able to follow the sculptures along the banks of the Georges River, starting at Casula Powerhouse. One of the key works you'll encounter on the walk is Southern Highlands sculptor David Ball's 'Celest', which stood proud on Tamarama Beach at this year's Sculpture by the Sea. The imposing corten steel sculpture will be installed in Casula for the duration of the sculpture walk.

Three drag queens pose on stage in brightly coloured dresses
Photograph: Supplied/Universal/Bruno Lozich

13. Premiere: an Immersive Dining Experience

Things to do Universal, Darlinghurst

It’s a little bit fancy, a little bit saucy, and a whole lot of fabulousness. There’s a brand-new dinner and show in town, and it's a Premiere, darling.  Oxford Street stalwart Universal is back in business, with a luxe new offering that brings the best of Sydney's most colourful street to the plate. However, you won’t find the usual club nights and sweaty dancefloors upstairs. Premiere is an immersive dining experience featuring performances from some of the city’s most seasoned drag queens served up with a gourmet three-course dinner and bottomless bevvies. Time Out went to see how all that jazz plays out.  Firstly, let’s talk about the show. Starring Charisma Belle, Carmen Geddit and Hannah Conda, the evening features numbers inspired by cult classics and Hollywood hits. Premiere feels like a mixed bag of performances that every drag queen worth her salt dreams of. From Gypsy (the Bette Midler one from 1993) to The Wizard of Oz to The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  The club space adapts surprisingly well to create a restaurant setting that encompasses the perfect sense of glamour and sex. Party lights pierce through the darkness to bounce off reflective decorations and illuminate well-dressed tables topped with arrangements of glitter-encrusted twigs (I’m told the branches were picked from trees outside, and under the brooding slivers of spotlight it looks far less arts and crafts than it sounds).  The service is downright excellent; our wine glasses and water glasses are alw

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