The end of bushfire season and cooler autumn weather isn't the only thing to look forward to this March. While the days are growing shorter, the list of outstanding activities this month is growing ever longer. Party at Parramasala, dance at the Latin American Festival, and talk gender equality and diversity at All About Women.
Also, now that the bushfires are all under control, it's time to support affected communities by visiting, shopping and eating locally. This roundup of the best short getaways from Sydney should provide some inspiration for your next weekend away.
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Major events in March
With 2020 rolling in on a red hot carpet of climate catastrophe and worrisome global leadership, we can only hope that the new decade holds positive change for the world. The Sydney Opera House’s annual feminist festival, All About Women, doesn’t promise to reveal the master key to all of society’s problems, but it does present intriguing investigations into issues and ideas that affect not just women but every member of society. This year's fest will also hold its first feminist film program, featuring a screening of the classic ’80s Aussie rock musical film Starstruck followed by a Q&A with director Gillian Armstrong; and the ultimate female buddy road trip film Thelma and Louise, followed by a discussion led by comedian Judith Lucy.
The annual party by the beach starts with a dazzling parade at 11am. Keep the rhythm flowing with lessons in Latin dance throughout the day, as well as traditional performances, art exhibitions, live music with Latin flair, markets and a bounty of Latin-influenced food and drinks. You’ll find live acts in the foyer of the Pavillion, and a balcony bar overlooking the beach playing salsa tunes until the festivities wind down 8pm. This is a family-friendly festival, and kids under 12 can boogie through the doors for free.
On Sunday, March 1, the legendary bar will be celebrating a decade in the biz by throwing a rip-roaring hootenanny in classic dive-bar style. Doors open at 4pm, and early birds will be rewarded with $5 beers and wines and $10 Margaritas and Negronis until 6pm. And because it wouldn’t be a Sunday at the Saloon without live music SJR, Extension Chord and Cruisin’ Deuces will be laying down tunes all night from 5pm, as well. Pop by, pay your respects and raise your glass to another decade of excellence.
Does checking the news headlines or your social media feed send you spiralling into despair? Well here’s something to cheer you up: a massive night of comedy outside the Opera House, with all proceeds going to help bushfire-affected communities. The all-star lineup so far includes Tim Minchin, Arj Barker, This Is Spinal Tap’s Harry Shearer, Urzila Carlson, Carl Barron, Joel Creasey, Kitty Flanagan, Becky Lucas and Julia Morris. More performers will be announced as entertainers rally to raise funds for the Australian Red Cross, the NSW Rural Fire Service, Wildlife Victoria and WIRES—and provide us with some much needed comic relief/ distraction from our dark ruminations about the smoky state of the world.
The streets, laneways and parklands of Parramatta are transformed every year by a kaleidoscope of culture and colour when Parramasala brings parades, performances, markets and workshops to the area, celebrating the many cultures that make up our diverse city. For the special ten-year anniversary in 2020, you can expect more vibrant live music, incredible traditional costumes, engaging theatre, music and dance, and of course, joyful street parades and activities. This year's Parramasala live line-up includes Grammy award-winning party band Los Amigos Invisibles, Sampa the Great, Mojo Juju, Adrian Eagle, and many more.
Sir Elton John will be rounding out his massive Australian and New Zealand tour with a show in Parramatta. Elton fans will be able to hear the award-winning superstar belt out everything from ‘Tiny Dancer’ to ‘Benny and the Jets’ and a classy ‘Crocodile Rock’, as well as fresher tracks from his 13th studio album, Wonderful Crazy Night. And since the globally adored artist has announced that this will be his final tour, you’ll want to be at this last Sydney show which rounds out the whole shebang. It’s going to be a pretty huge moment, farewelling the rocket man, burning out his final fuse.
You might recognise Monica Luppi as the face of Lulu’s Hot Tamales, her Mexican-American pop-up that’s fed the masses at Inner West breweries and bars over the course of the last few years. On Monday, March 2, she’ll be going back to her Italian roots for a one-night-only pop-up at the Sausage Factory in Dulwich Hill. The $55 shared, multi-course menu will kick off with Luppi’s take on giardiniera, followed by herbed meatballs, handmade pasta burro e oro (a buttery tomato sauce from her home turf), charred sourdough and a handful of sides, before finishing up with cremine fritte – squares of sweet traditional fried pastry. A full vegan menu will also be available for those of the plant-based persuasion, with a charred broccolini and chilli pasta, as well as vegan gelato from the legends at Mapo in Newtown.
Ben Folds is one of the world’s most versatile musicians, having carved out a 20-year career spanning piano pop rock, soundtracks, experimental collaborations and contemporary orchestral compositions. In March 2020, Folds is returning to Australia to showcase the latter, teaming up with Australia’s symphony orchestras for a genre-bending tour. If you’re familiar with Folds, don’t come expecting the same honky-tonk from his album concerts. Ben Folds will be performing with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at Town Hall on March 5, 6 and 7, 2020. Tickets are on sale now.
Playwright Clare Barron’s comedy is one of the biggest hits to come out of the US in recent years, and it’s easy to understand why. It features a cast of adults of various ages playing a group of teenage girls preparing for a dance competition. The dog-eat-dog world of competitive teenage dance is exposed and becomes a metaphor for something much bigger. Imara Savage, whose brilliant production of Mr Burns was one of Belvoir’s finest moments in recent years, returns with a starry cast of performers from all stages of their careers: Mitchell Butel, Elena Carapetis, Emma Harvie, Chika Ikogwe, Yvette Lee, Rebecca Massey, Amber McMahon, Tara Morice and Tim Overton.
In 2020 the Pixies are returning to their roots with a world tour that showcases the band’s seminal releases. The Come on Pilgrim...It’s Surfer Rosa tour gives you exactly what it says on the box – that is EP Come On Pilgrim and album Surfer Rosa played in full. That means punters will be blessed with bangers like the twangy, surprisingly surfy hit ‘The Holiday Song’; the mellow pop-rock of ‘Gigantic’; and of course the spine-tinglingly good ‘Where is My Mind’. As well as playing their earliest releases in full, the Kim Deal-less Pixies (the current line-up features Black Francis, David Lovering, Joey Santiago and Paz Lenchantin) will perform old and new tracks from their 30 years in the biz.
Catch the tail end of this concert series which has been bringing a little bit of summer sunset music festival sparkle to Sydney for 25 years. On March 6, pop powerhouse Meg Mac will take the stage with her ever-growing setlist of hits like ‘Roll Up Your Sleeves’, ‘Grandma’s Hands’ and ‘Something Tells Me.’ The folks at Taronga will also be squeezing in a quick comedy show on March 7. This’ll be led by the wonderfully honest and hilariously relatable Kitty Flanagan, and also feature Tasmanina comedian Luke McGregor, Randy Feltface (who is a critically-acclaimed costumed character) and identical twin brothers Benjamin and James Stevenson who make up musical comedy group the Stevenson Experience.
In 1973, the Sydney Opera House opened and our city was making headlines around the world. But a little further south, in the Strand arcade, another cultural revolution was happening: Jenny Kee opened her Flamingo Park Frock Salon. Her creative partnership with Linda Jackson – which put Australian style and inspirations front and centre – has proven one of the most influential in design, and is being celebrated in this major survey of their work at the Powerhouse Museum. There are more than 150 garments, textiles, photos and artworks in the exhibition, which brings together pieces from the museum's collection and the designers' archives.
There aren't many plays in the world as successful as the National Theatre's epic staging of War Horse. Since Joey first cantered onto the stage of the Olivier Theatre in London in 2007 – and then galloped all the way to Broadway, the West End and a Stephen Spielberg-helmed film adaptation – it's been amassing fans and honours, including the Tony Award for best play. Now it's returning to Australia with a tour that closes in Sydney this month. Directed by British theatre dynamos Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, the play is known for its innovative staging and the ingenious use of puppetry to bring the four-legged characters to life. And although it's based on a kids' book, we'd strongly advise bringing tissues with you; it's about a boy and his horse and the sort of bravery required to save one another. We're welling up just thinking about it now.
Catch the end of the Art Gallery of NSW's summer blockbuster exhibition. Japan Supernatural features work from the country's most influential artist, Katsushika Hokusai, and new and old pieces from superstar artist Takashi Murakami, who is showcasing a supernatural installation in the gallery. If you've never heard of Murakami, here's what you need to know: he's collaborated with Louis Vuitton, designed the covers for two Kanye West albums and directed one of his music videos, and in 2008 was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people. The AGNSW exhibition is all about yōkai, the supernatural beings and spirits that are used to explain the inexplicable, so you can expect to leave feeling a little spooked.
Horror, thriller, fantasy and animation are the focus of the Fantastic Film Festival, which takes over the Randwick Ritz from February 20 to March 4. The showcase of alternative and genre cinema has been curated with an eye on the way fantastic stories reveal truths about the time in which they are made. “It’s not just mutants, monsters, and apocalyptic bloodlust,” program director Hudson Sowada says, “although of course there’s plenty of that.”
Event Junior is a dedicated space for kids under the age of eight, where they can race around slides, climbing nets and interactive digital games before, after or during the intermission of new release family movies. If there aren’t any flicks your little rugrat wants to see, you can simply book a one-hour play session at the Event Junior jungle gym for $5, with free entry for caregivers. They really get the needs of the young family here, and also offer comfy daybeds and bean bags instead of stiff straight back chairs, as well as a kid-friendly movie snack menu. And if your kidlets really dig it, you can book out the whole space for birthday parties.
Have a pint in the hills
They pack the pubs tightly inside the 2010 postcode. You've got craft beer temples with gleaming banks of taps ready to cater to even the most esoteric thirst; there are tried and tested stalwarts for a cold beer and a Swans game; or you can upgrade your dinner in high-end dining rooms.