Come November, we’re on the verge of abandoning our jackets and jumping headfirst into Sydney’s blistering days and balmy nights. But we’re not quite there yet. While we’re keen for an occasional splash at Sydney’s best beaches, we’re also partial to a hideout in the city’s cool underground bars or a sunny afternoon ignored at these top notch breweries. Plus, this month is packed with huge annual events like the Newtown Festival, major art exhibitions, and a huge line-up of live music.
RECOMMENDED: The best gelato and ice cream in Sydney.
November's biggest events
For the last two years, the Art Gallery of NSW has focussed on Europe in its big summer exhibitions, but this summer is all about Japan with an epic exhibition of more than 200 artworks from artists past and present. It features work from the country's most influential artist, Katsushika Hokusai.
What's that sound? It's thousands of Carly Rae Jepsen fans letting out a collective squeal that their queen is finally coming to Sydney, after more than a decade of unparalleled pop. The show is part of Jepsen's Dedicated Tour, named after her most recent album.
When Lee Hall wrote Billy Elliot, the surprise hit film about a young boy in a Northern UK mining village dreaming of a career as a dancer, he was largely writing his own story. Tension between a young person’s creative spirit and their community’s social situation is at the heart of the film, and it is just as central to the deeply moving 2005 musical version.
Sydney Opera House's forecourt will come alive as Dance Rites, the House’s annual Indigenous dance competition, returns for a fifth year. This year marks the UN International Year of Indigenous Languages and the competition will see more than 300 performers from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities travelling to Sydney to participate.
Sydneysiders who are crazy for Keanu can now immerse themselves in an epic celebration of this modern-day matinee idol courtesy of the Ritz Cinema in Randwick. Every Friday from November 1, Reeves’ most beloved blockbusters will be airing, from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure to John Wick.
Alt-pop fantasy queen Montaigne packs her shows with immense feeling and a level of theatrical wonder you don’t see very often, all while rocking the most spectacular sequined jumpsuits and sparkling capes. Sydney fans can hear her long-awaited second album Complex live at the Metro.
Get this year’s festivities going early by shopping for Xmas gifts on the sand. The Best Gift Market is bringing a host of sustainable and ethical prizes to Coogee Beach with everything from fashion and homewares to textiles, kids gifts and even Christmas trees.
The 2003 film School of Rock does seem now like a fairly obvious vehicle for a fully realised musical, but that’s hindsight talking. And while that kid-friendly plot might be thin, thankfully it’s still pretty good.
U2 is bringing their Joshua Tree tour to Australia. The Irish stars have built a four-decade career off the back of powerful rock anthems and heartstring-tugging ballads. Bono, his signature tinted sunnies and the rest of the band will be headed to Sydney this month.
Irish comedian Dylan Moran might be best known for his appearances on screen in Black Books, Shaun of the Dead and but he got his start in stand-up comedy and keeps up regular appearances at international comedy festivals. He's returning to Sydney with a new show.
This revamped mainstay on Stanmore Road has a long history of bringing good vibes to the neighbourhood. Now, Public House Petersham is planning a series of their famous car park parties focused on female musicians. Starting this month, see Alice Ivy, Gauci, Kira Puru, Erthlings and Moody Beach.
The Beauty Queen of Leenane is a pitch-black comedy set in the Irish village of Leenane. The play follows Maureen, a 40-year-old woman who gets her first chance at love, but whose cruel and manipulative mother sets about destroying it.
As one of the ultimate icebreakers – we’ve all said hi to our fave doggo in the park – it stands to reason that the addition of the few four-legged friends could radically improve an awkward blind date. This is the rationale behind the Golden Sheaf’s fun and furry take on the classic singles night.
Fifty years ago, John Kaldor changed Australian art history when he invited international artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude to wrap two and a half kilometres of coastline with vast swathes of white fabric. To mark this anniversary, he's inviting British artist Michael Landy to create a retrospective exhibition to bring his major projects back to life.
If you’re partial to an evening of smooth jazz or wild scat cat abandon, then this huge jazz festival will be right up your alley. It exclusively stars jazz musicians who identify as female and will be taking place in bars and clubs across Sydney for its ninth year this month.
The ballet Sylvia falls very firmly into the 'neglected classic' category, and has been rarely performed since it premiered more than 150 years ago. It draws its narrative from Greek mythology, following Sylvia, a chaste, ferocious huntress who swears off love but eventually falls for a human man.
In its second iteration, Gin Palooza will be showcasing more than 200 gins by 39 craft gin distillers, sourced from across Australia and New Zealand. Boutique outfits and major brands will rub shoulders, including proud gin houses such as Never Never, Ambleside, Archie Rose, Four Pillars, and Manly Spirits.
Get spooked at an outdoor sleepover at a horrifically haunted harbour island this month. Before you hunker down for a moonlit slumber, you’ll wander through the eerie convict workshops and gaol on a terrifying two-hour ghost tour, and get goosebumps watching horror movie screenings in the campground cinema.
Trevor Ashley is back with another Christmas panto spoofing just about every movie set in or on an island. Gaye Wray is an actress trying to leave her soap opera roots. But when she returns home from Los Angeles to star in the commercial for a new island theme park, she finds herself in serious trouble.
The jazzy Paramount Recreation Club is hosting a second round of sunny tiered feasts that boost social engagement for health and longevity. You can partake in healthy a ten-course snack party, with all the high tea mini meals being totally gluten-free, vegan and containing no refined sugar.
There aren't many bands that are known by their makeup alone, but KISS are among the most recognisable performers on Earth. They wanna rock and roll all night and party every day – but only for a little while longer. They've announced that this tour will be the band's last.
Etsy Made Local markets give young businesses the chance to sell their wares at a big event – and give you the opportunity to buy direct from the local makers who are the stars of Etsy’s online marketplace. This year’s event is once again popping up in prime stocking filler time.
This event is one of the largest, oldest and most respected Russian film festivals outside of Russia. For its 16th anniversary, the Sydney season of its national tour will screen new releases and favourites from both stalwarts of Russian cinema and rising stars.
For the third year running, this crafty festival will return to the Inner West's calendar of hop-driven spring events. The grounds of the Royal Hotel Leichhardt will transform into an amber playground for beer enthusiasts, hosting ten breweries including local favourites Willie the Boatman, Young Henrys and Batch Brewing Co.
This show falls somewhere between pub gig, cabaret, choral performance and scrappy musical, and is an ode to pub culture. There’s not much going on in terms of narrative, but there are nine men from England and Ireland onstage leading the audience through a night at their local, except that it'll be at the Opera House.
This new production of one of Australia’s most popular plays (that has somehow never had a mainstage production here) is directed by Sarah Goodes. Penned by Louis Nowra, it’s about a young director who stages an opera inside a mental health facility in the 1970s, using the patients as his cast.
Mojo Ruiz de Luzuriaga – better known as Mojo Juju – made waves in 2018 with her brutally honest album Native Tongue and the tour that supported it. The performance garnered rave reviews from audiences and critics, and she is now bringing the show back to City Recital Hall.
This is the Hayes Theatre’s first foray into Gilbert and Sullivan, but given the cast attached and director, you shouldn’t expect this to be a stuffy Victorian operetta. They’re promising a gender-bending, hyper-theatrical version that will speak to the satire of Victorian society in this seafaring tale.
A lost archive of photos from the Sydney Morning Herald showed up in a bank vault in the US. Covering the 1950s through to the '80s, the photos reveal a vibrant city constantly evolving. That's why the Northern Beaches Council purchased 3,500 from the archive and have picked 80 images to exhibit.
There’s a new TEDx in town. The soon-to-open Commune in Newtown is going to host the first ever TEDxNewtown at the former Gould’s Book Arcade site. Commune’s founder Samir Ali is the co-founder of TEDxNewtown, which will cover local topics.
[Sponsored] For 2019, the Japanese Film Festival offers an exciting line-up of 29 feature films and one documentary, all curated by the Japan Foundation, Sydney. There's anime, teenage romance, urban alientation, ghosts, samurai, yakuza, kitsch and comedy with a bizarre edge.
For ten years now, Judith Neilson's four-storey temple of contemporary Chinese art has showcased an enviable collection of bold, playful and provocative work. The gallery will celebrate some of its finest moments at the end of its first decade in retrospective exhibition, Then.
Indie superstars Two Door Cinema Club have been providing us with alt-rock bops for over ten years now, and they’re responsible in part for the mighty and much welcomed return of synth pop. The Irish trio’s fourth studio album False Alarm is bringing them back down under.
Each year, the MCA invites an artist or curator to take the reins of Primavera, an exhibition for emerging artists under 35. This year, it's curated by Archibald Prize-winning painter Mitch Cairns, who has brought together seven artists who all incorporate language forms and poetic expression in their practice.
The Australian Ballet is ending its 2019 season with a special Christmas treat – this beloved classic production of The Nutcracker. The company's artistic director, David McAllister says he first saw Peter Wright’s production in the early 1990s, and considers it one of the best Nutcrackers he’s ever seen.
You can expect a very wholesome and relaxed day out at this cute community fair in Rose Bay along Plumber Road. There will be lots of delicious food options, local produce, interesting retail stalls, fun activities for the kids and adults as well as live music.
Griffin Theatre Company's final play for the year is a strange Romeo and Juliet-esque love story between a 14-year-old boy and a fox, and is described by Griffin as: “Fantastic Mr Fox if Margaret Atwood wrote the Netflix adaptation”.
Blak Box is a pavilion for art and sound telling the stories of the Indigenous people who've lived in the area for tens of thousands of years. Audiences can step inside and listen to an audio track featuring spoken word, natural sounds and music, played in state-of-the-art surround sound.
MCA's party series used to be held once a month, but now is only taking place quarterly. But it's still 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.
Every couple of years, globe-trotting circus company Cirque du Soleil pops up its Grand Chapiteau in Sydney for a season of good, old-fashioned spectacle and entertainment. Its next show to come to town has got a decidedly retro vibe and has been widely praised as the company's best in years.
Yep, they're doing the Adele one. The British diva's soul-stirring, theme tune is probably the first thing you remember about Skyfall, and while Adele won't be joining the Sydney Symphony Orchestra for this in-concert screening of the film, the orchestra will perform the number live to her recorded vocals.
Sydney will welcome back its second iteration of BeerFest, this time for two big days of froth-fuelled fun at Centennial Parklands. The brewery celebrating shindig will welcome musicians, comedians, chefs and of course brewers to the Parklands for a sunshine filled weekend.
In case you missed reading it at school, Much Ado is pretty much the original romantic comedy, and features one of Shakespeare’s most-loved couples, Beatrice and Benedick, who banter and swap barbs until their friends decide to bring them together.
You’ve probably heard of a square meal but now you can enjoy a round one, courtesy of Ferris Wheel Dining at Sydney's historic funfair, Luna Park. Now entering its seventh year, this quirky spin on the fine dining experience offers a three-course meal overlooking the park and harbour.
“The Packer dynasty has been at the centre of Sydney life and, in many ways, Australian life for a century,” Belvoir Theatre's artistic director Eamon Flack says. This new play by Tommy Murphy will trace the Packer family’s evolution, focusing on the moments when power has transitioned between different generations of the Packer family.
This immersive theatre experience will give you goosebumps as you join the story and discover the truth about crimes that have haunted Sydney for decades. Set underneath St James Church in the historical crypt, everything becomes more chilling as you walk through the long tunnel and explore the dark caverns within.
Sydney Santa Spectacular is moving to Penrith in the lead up to Christmas, carting along festive rides and activities, including a double decker carousel, toboggan slide and ice skating. Families can get involved in craft workshops and meet magical costumed characters like Frozen’s Elsa, the whole Clause family and all their helpers.
Sounds on the Terrace offers that cool Sydney sundown experience without the big spend, serving up a sparkling roster of local tunes on the rooftop of the MCA for free. In November, it’s all about the indie-soul of Oly Sherman and disco meets ’90s pop by Megan and the Vegans.
Martin Scorsese’s 2010 psychological thriller Shutter Island has nightmare-inducing qualities that will make it an adaptable theme for this immersive cinema experience. Beyond Cinema will take this unsettling story to Sydney’s Q Station, hosting a kind of haunted house experience before a screening of the film.
Float away this month
This love affair with the crushed sapphire liquid expanse of the Harbour dates back many, many thousands of years to when the Gadigal people of central Sydney paddled their canoes around the bays. Today, those journeys of discovery are provided by Sydney Ferries when you clamber aboard one of the picture-postcard green-and-yellow ferries that still scoot across the harbour as they have for the past century-and-a-half.