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May events in Sydney

There are heaps of events to look forward to this month

Photograph: Sydney Writers Festival

Winter is on the way but that's no reason to stay indoors. Sydneysiders make the most of ‘thinking season’ with talks and ideas festivals like Sydney Writers’ Festival, Vivid Ideas and Semi-Permanent. It’s also whale-watching season and Mother's Day. If you just want to get out and explore, see our guide to Sydney's harbour islands, the best picnic spots and the best bush walks

The biggest events in May


Biennale of Sydney

For its 21st edition, the Biennale of Sydney will be curated by Mami Kataoka, chief curator at the Mori Art Museum (MAM) in Tokyo. Kataoka was one of 13 curatorial advisers to Stephanie Rosenthal for the 2016 Biennale of Sydney, and she's pulled together 69 artists for her own program, showing work at seven venues: Art Gallery of NSW, Artspace, Carriageworks, Cockatoo Island, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney Opera House and, for the first time, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. 

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Around Sydney , Sydney Until Monday June 11 2018

Semi Permanent

Carriageworks will host the sixteenth installment of Semi Permanent this May for three days of creative discussions, workshops and networking. This year’s installment comes courtesy of the Vivid Ideas program at Vivid Sydney. It features a line-up of the leading figures in design and visual innovation and will be hosted by local graphic designer and letterist Gemma O’Brien. Scott Dadich and Patrick Godfrey, co-CEOs of Godfrey Dadich Partners, will take the stage to join in a conversation with some of their most notable collaborators, who will be named closer to the festival. 

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Carriageworks , Eveleigh Thursday May 24 2018 - Saturday May 26 2018

Priscilla Queen of the Desert – The Musical

This musical adaptation of Stephan Elliot's 1994 camp classic premiered in Sydney in 2006. Since then it has travelled the world, picking up a Tony and an Olivier award, plus a swag of other accolades, along the way. Finally, Priscilla will return to her homeland 10 years after the musical closed in Australia back in 2008, with the show's original director (and doyen of Australian theatre) Simon Phillips at the helm (who most recently directed the MTC's Macbeth).

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Capitol Theatre , Haymarket Tuesday May 15 2018 - Sunday July 15 2018

Barry Humphries: The Man Behind the Mask

Barry Humphries bid his farewell to Australian stages in 2013, with his Eat, Pray, Laugh! tour. Now the legendary comedian is doing a full John Farnham and returning for another tour. Unlike his previous shows, Humphries won't be performing this time as Dame Edna, Sir Les Patterson or Sandy Stone, but rather telling the story of his career in what he promises will be a revealing performance. 

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International Convention Centre , Darling Harbour Thursday May 17 2018 - Friday May 18 2018

Belle & Sebastian

Belle & Sebastian are performing another show at the Opera House’s Concert Hall. The band has recently announced the release of their EP trilogy How to Solve our Human Problems and will be churning out the series of albums over the next three months. This means that this time around there’ll be brand new melodies in the set next to cherished classics like ‘The Boy with the Arab Strap’ and ‘Dogs on a Wheel’.

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Sydney Opera House , Sydney Saturday May 5 2018

No Such Thing as a Fish

Presented by the researchers from the BBC comedy panel quiz show QI, No Such Thing As A Fish is a weekly podcast that’s reached the lofty heights of 1.5 million downloads every week. Hosts and researchers Dan Schreiber, James Harkin, Anna Ptaszynski and Andrew Hunter Murray share the most bizarre findings from the last seven days – from the origin of pencils to the longest carrot ever.

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Sydney Opera House , Sydney Tuesday May 15 2018

The Lady and the Unicorn

Exquisite in beauty and craftsmanship, mysterious in origin, and inspirational to writers, poets and musicians over the ages, the six 15th-century tapestries in the ‘Lady and the Unicorn’ series have been called the “Mona Lisa of the Middle Ages”. They are usually found at the Musée de Cluny – Musée national du Moyen Âge (the National Museum of the Middle Ages) in Paris, where they are a huge drawcard for visitors (and underwent extensive restoration in 2013). 

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Art Gallery of NSW , Sydney Until Sunday June 24 2018