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
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.
Having built up the biggest open mic night in Sydney, Mug and Kettle have now retitled and moved to a new home – next door to their old home – at Beats Eats Drinks (B.E.D.) on Glebe Point Road. Molotov Comedy will still be a sign-up-on-the-night affair: comedians should turn up from 6.30pm to add their name to the list, with 4 minutes guaranteed stage time and running order drawn from the hat. Your regular show runners are local comedians Paige Hally and Tom Sanderson, with the odd drop-in emcee. Mug and Kettle also run Treehouse Comedy at the Forresters, and Eveleigh Comedy at the Eveleigh Hotel. Looking for impromptu comedy? Here are some other top open mic nights in Sydney.
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.
Every weekend a squad of entrepreneurial grandmas and grandpas set up an unofficial market along the main strip of John Street. You’ll find them quietly selling homegrown veggies, herbs and little pot plants in between some heavy gossip sessions. Local police and council turn a blind eye and we’re grateful for it. Take home a tub of ready-chopped lemongrass for cheap or grab a couple of bamboo leaf packages filled with sweet or savoury sticky rice.
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.