Worldwide icon-chevron-right South Pacific icon-chevron-right Australia icon-chevron-right Sydney icon-chevron-right The best events in May

The best events in May

There's a glowing line-up of festivals and events to explore this month

People walking in a market at Finders Keepers.
Photograph: Supplied
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Put on your thinking caps and practice your belly laughs for this huge month of intrigue and chilly adventures. While April saw the opening nights of the Sydney Writers’ Festival and Sydney Comedy Festival, there’s more on the way in May, plus the glittering beginning of Vivid Sydney.

When you’re not all cosy inside well-heated theatres, hit the unpaved roads on some of the best walks in Sydney. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars, as it’s also the start of whale-watching season. And double don't forget it's Mother's Day this month, too.

RECOMMENDED: Food and drink festivals in Sydney.

The best things to do in May

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Art, Galleries

The Archibald Prize

icon-location-pin Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
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The Archibald Prize is the exhibition that stops a nation – well, a city anyway. Everyone has an opinion about who and what is most deserving of the $100,000 top gong – and the annual exhibition of finalists offers plenty to argue over, featuring faces familiar and not, by big name, mid-career and emerging painters. 

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In-Formalism Casula powerhouse 2019
Art

IN-Formalism

icon-location-pin Casula Powerhouse, Casula
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Bringing together works by abstract and conceptual artists Wendy Paramor, Ian Burn, Richard Dunn and Virginia Coventry among others, CPAC’s latest exhibition traces the evolution of Australian abstract non-objective art from 1968 onwards, alongside a range of design, textiles, advertising, architecture, urban design and film works.

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The National
Art, Galleries

The National Biennial of New Australian Art

icon-location-pin Multiple venues
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The National happens in the off-years of the Biennale of Sydney, filling that biennale-shaped hole in your heart. Its second iteration features 65 artists drawn from all across the country and all stages of their careers. See these works at the MCA, Art Gallery of NSW and Carriageworks.

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Stall holder at the Westies Markets displaying her fashion designs
Photograph: Supplied
Shopping, Markets

The Westies Markets

icon-location-pin Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School, Western Sydney
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The non-for-profit collective behind this quarterly market, the Westies, is all about showcasing the Penrith region while giving local growers and makers the opportunity to sell their products. They want to create a lazy Sunday atmosphere, where you get to know the community rather than fight over the bargain bin.

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MCA Artbar 2015 Vivid Sydney edition curated by Rebecca Baumann image feat artwork by Rosie Deacon (c) Museum of Contemporary Art Australia photographer credit Jacquie Manning
Art, Digital and interactive

MCA Artbar

icon-location-pin Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), The Rocks
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The MCA's party series used to be held once a month, but as of 2019 is only taking place four times a year. It's the same basic idea: a night curated by a different artist or collective each edition, featuring art, performance and design – with killer views, party tunes and hands-on activities with artists.

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Prima Facie
Photograph: Supplied
Theatre, Drama

Prima Facie

icon-location-pin Multiple venues
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Suzie Miller is an award-winning playwright, but she’s also a lawyer and in this play argues that our legal system is falling well short and needs a major rejig. Sheridan Harbridge stars in this one-woman show as a win-at-all-costs lawyer who finds herself questioning all she believes in when she ends up on the other side of the equation.

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Boxes of iced doughnuts.
Photograph: Gallant Lee
Things to do, Classes and workshops

Donut Masterclass with Shortstop

icon-location-pin Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo
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If you’re a diehard doughnut fan and you’ve got Shortstop on your list of top dough joints, then it feels essential that you join their talented doughnut makers in this masterclass. Over two and a half hours, you’ll be rolling, proofing, frying and glazing your own batches of doughnuts, before you scoff them straight out of the fryer. 

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OK Democracy, We Need to Talk
Photograph: Abdullah MI Syed. Courtesy the artist.
Art

OK Democracy, We Need to Talk

icon-location-pin Campbelltown Arts Centre, Campbelltown
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With the federal election happening this month, Campbelltown Arts Centre is taking a stand, with a new exhibition encouraging open discussion about democracy and its future. Drawing inspiration from the idea of free media as a pillar of democracy, 11 artists explore themes surrounding identity politics, environmental issues, political structures, economies of labour, currency and nationalism.

The 50 best bars in Sydney right now

'Tis the season to carb load

Spaghetti prawns at Fratelli Paradiso
Photograph: Anna Kucera
Restaurants, Italian

The best Italian restaurants in Sydney

While good pizzerias and dirt-cheap red sauces places are harder to find than the poshest stuff, there are still spades of options to choose from. We've picked our favourites from every style.

More to explore

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