Find the coolest events in Sydney this month, from the best ice skating in the city to major theatre, film, art exhibitions and kids' school holiday events. It tends to be pretty cold in the first month of winter, so find yourself a pub with a cosy fireplace or head along to the annual Aroma Festival for steaming hot coffee, or hide inside at the Festival of Russian Resurrection Film Fest. For fans of live music, look out for sideshows for Splendour in the Grass.
The biggest events in July
If you've seen Nicole Car sing, then you'll know she's got the vocal chops to pull of this role – but does she have the naughty streak? She'll need it to play Egyptian courtesan Thaïs, whose powers of seduction are enough to divert the evangelising monk Athanaël from virtue to vice – or at least, lust. Singing opposite her is Québecois baritone Étienne Dupuis. This will be a one-night-only staged concert – no set design or props, just a costumed cast and orchestra.
After two blistering, provocative shows in 2016 (Heavy Artillery and Vile Bodies) White Rabbit Gallery are going zen for their next show: The Dark Matters explores how contemporary Chinese artists are working with (and in some cases against) tradition. At the same time, the exhibition will embrace certain aspects of the past, including the black-and-white colour code of traditional ink paintings. The Dark Matters will present work by 34 artists, including Lin Yan, Feng Mengbo, Jiang Pengyi, Lin Tianmiao, Tang Nannan, Li Xiaofei and Yang Mushi.
The best comedy nights in July
Rock with Laughter happes on the last Thursday of each month, and features a professional emcee and headliner with a couple of sets by locals. It's free, and there's $6 Tooheys New and Hahn Super Dry, house wines and selected spirits from 5pm till midnight. Click through the Dates & Times tab for line-up info.
Sundays at Cafe Lounge are now hosted by John Conway, that national man of mystery – and Australia's answer to Fallon, if Jimmy were blonde, drunk and being attacked by bees, and if his guests were mostly made up. Join John and sidekicks Aaron Chen and Sam Campbell from 7pm (or get to the Lounge at 5pm for happy hour and some pre-show lubrication). Entry is free, donations are welcome after the show.
Comedians Jamie Kirk and Ben Kochan host this open mic room, previously called POS Comedy; but it's still a space for comics to try new material and develop their craft in an intimate room (40 max audience). Comics have up to 4 minutes per set, and can sign up on the Cactus Juice facebook page from noon on Mondays. The show starts at 8pm, and includes two feature acts and a support doing longer sets.
Markets and shopping events in July
Held on the third Sunday of the month, the new handmade and farmers’ market includes stalls from local traders who’d usually be found at events in the city, like Carriageworks Farmers Market. It’s all about giving Western Sydney produce and makers a time to shine on their home turf. Stallholders include Blue Mountains Honey, Soap Me Up, Secret Succulents, Mr Kombucha and Birdcage Boutique Designs.
Held at the Royal Randwick Racecourse every Sunday, the Fair Farmers Market will sell locally sourced and competitively priced produce from family farms. Helmed by fresh fruit and veggie company For Goodness Sake, the market will feature 50 stalls with a broad choice of sustainably sourced, ethically produced meat, seafood, eggs and dairy, including goods from Country Valley Diary, Jenny Brown’s free range eggs and Serendipity Ice Cream. Keep your eyes peeled for creations by some of Sydney’s most loved restaurants, including Joel Best of Bondi's Best who is launching his line of poke bowls in new venture Poke Bear. Chef Oliver Heath from Blue Hills Stone Barns will be creating vegetarian dishes using fresh market produce as well. While entry to the market is free, ten per cent of every purchase at the markets will be donated to Oz Harvest to feed millions of Australians living with hunger insecurity.
Pyrmont’s monthly produce markets have been operating at Pyrmont Bay Park for almost 20 years, but last year the event was given an early retirement when the lead sponsor pulled the plug. In February 2017, the markets reappeared with new organisers, new times and a few new stallholders. The markets now operate on the fourth Saturday of every month, running ever so slightly later from 7.30am to noon, which means you can squeeze in a bacon and egg roll from Sutton Forest Meats – crisp rashers and a floury bun for $6 – and there’s still room for ginger ninja biscuits from Black Star Pastry. You can shop for fruit and veg from Roots Shoots and Leaves, fresh-cut flowers grown in Goldstone or wheels of Brie from Formaggi Ocello. There’s the Australian Gourmet Coffee Company, Little Marionette and Toby’s Estate for your caffeine hit. Plus, if you’re lucky, Egyptian food truck El Qahirah will be there dishing up fragrant bowls of koshary for $12. Once you’ve stocked up on organic nitrate free bacon and handmade chocolates, take a plastic chair and order a ‘Prince Will-I-Ham’ toastie from Great Wheel of Cheese. For ten bucks you’ll get a salty sandwich of German butcher ham on Pioik sourdough and their signature cheddar.
It's cold enough for a roast!
Christmas in July makes perfect sense in Sydney, since it’s finally cold enough to enjoy having the oven on for hours, wearing ugly knitted jumpers and eating dense fruit cake served in a literal ring of brandy fire. But if you’re not quite up to hosting, gather your tribe and hit up one of these festive feasts.