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October events in Sydney

The second month of spring is packed with outdoor festivals, live music, cinematic events and sun-soaked adventures

Sculpture by the Sea 2018
Photograph: Daniel Boud Mu Boyan 'Bank'
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Party season is well and truly on the way when October rolls around. There’s plenty to keep you entertained on weekends and after hours since the sun is starting to shine with more enthusiasm.

This month’s coolest events include coastal art exhibitions like Sculpture by the Sea, Asian hawker markets in the park at the Night Noodle Markets, the experimental performing arts festival Liveworks, as well as all the incredible new theatre productions that are busting out each week. And as a bonus, the second month in spring has all the spooky events for Halloween.

RECOMMENDED: Musical theatre in Sydney.

October's biggest events

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Natives Go Wild Sydney Opera House 2019
Photograph: Daniel Boud
Theatre, Circuses

Natives Go Wild

icon-location-pin Sydney Opera House, Sydney
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A group of First Nations artists are telling the real story of PT Barnum's circuses and freak shows as part of a new cabaret. Created by the Opera House's head of First Nations programming Rhoda Roberts, the show follows several performers who ended up in Barnum's circuses and shows like them.

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A small child holds a sing reading 'This is Aleppo - What's Justice' while standing in a crumbling building.
Photograph: Waad Al-Kateab
Film, Film festivals

Antenna Documentary Film Festival

icon-location-pin Around Sydney, Sydney
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The annual Antenna Documentary Film Festival highlights the most creative, insightful documentaries that have been produced in the last year. For its 9th year, Sydneysiders can get stuck into the festival’s largest ever program, with 80 films screening over 11 days of investigative cinema.

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Billy Elliot the Musical 2019 supplied image Sydney Lyric
Photograph: Alastair Muir
Theatre, Musicals

Billy Elliot the Musical

icon-location-pin Sydney Lyric, Darling Harbour
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It's time to don your ballet shoes and practice your plié – Billy Elliot the Musical is on its way back to Australian shores for a tenth anniversary tour. The British blockbuster is opening at the Sydney Lyric, with four freakishly talented youngsters sharing the title role.

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Sculpture by the Sea 2018
Photograph: Daniel Boud
Art, Galleries

Sculpture by the Sea

icon-location-pin Around Bondi, Bondi
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Now in its 23rd year, Sculpture by the Sea is one of Sydney's key annual arts events, drawing more than 500,000 to the 2km coastal walk from Bondi to Tamarama to enjoy site-specific sculptures by top artists and emerging talents from Australia and abroad.

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5
John Waters: Make Trouble 2019
Photograph: Supplied
Comedy

John Waters: Make Trouble

icon-location-pin Sydney Opera House, Sydney
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There are few filmmakers who have had the sort of impact you can attribute to John Waters. While he's not revealing too much about this new show, the promoters are promising the sorts of showbiz tales you want, with stories about Waters' fabulous stars.

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Theatre

Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities

icon-location-pin The Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park
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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.

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7
The 2011 Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Photograph: Sally Stimson
Things to do

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

icon-location-pin ANZ Stadium, Sydney Olympic Park
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Sound the bagpipes and beat the drums: the world's favourite military showcase-meets-theatrical extravaganza is coming to Sydney. The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo will bring together 1,200 performers (and hundreds of kilometres of tartan, we suspect) from around the world to play in Sydney Olympic Park.

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Things to do, Fairs and festivals

Sydney Craft Week

icon-location-pin Around Sydney, Sydney
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Textile artist, ceramicists, metalsmiths, jewellery makers, woodworkers, leather crafters, furniture makers, Indigenous artists and designers: they’re all coming together for the ten-day Craft Week. Expect numerous markets and unusual art and craft workshops popping up around Sydney.

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9
Hair 2019 Sydney Opera House David M Hawkins
Image: Supplied
Theatre, Musicals

Hair

icon-location-pin Sydney Opera House, Sydney
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Hair is one of the musicals that forever changed the face of musical theatre. When it premiered in 1967 with its authentically rocking score, anti-war message and famously controversial nude scene, it became an immediate sensation. Fifty years later, it's returning to Australia with a new production.

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Kamasi Washington press shot holding saxophone
Photograph: Supplied
Music, Jazz

Kamasi Washington

icon-location-pin Sydney Opera House, Sydney
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Los Angeles’ tenor saxophonist Kamasi Washington is returning to Sydney Opera House to perform his second album Heaven and Earth for the first time in Australia. Hear Washington explore current global politics with his funk and gospel choir-soundtracked hope for the future.

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11
Linda Jackson and Jenny Kee
Photograph: Hugh Stewart
Museums

Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson: Step Into Paradise

icon-location-pin Powerhouse Museum, Ultimo
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In 1973, the Sydney Opera House opened and our city was making headlines around the world. But in the Strand arcade, another cultural revolution was happening: Jenny Kee opened her Flamingo Park Frock Salon. Her creative partnership with Linda Jackson is being celebrated in this major survey.

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Jimmy Barnes looking angry in a sassy black outfit.
Photograph: Gary Herry
Music, Rock and indie

Jimmy Barnes

icon-location-pin Hordern Pavilion, Moore Park
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Ol’ Barnsey has become a bit of an institution in our nation’s classic rock history. We wouldn’t expect Jimmy Barnes to give into retirement at an early age, and the 63 year old has kept up with expectations, ready to tour his new album around the country this spring.

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13
Thre girls behind a wine stall
Photograph: supplied
Things to do, Fairs and festivals

Pinot Palooza

icon-location-pin Carriageworks, Eveleigh
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Pinot Palooza is marking its eighth year as Australia’s largest annual pinot noir festival, and while that may sound crazy specific, it goes hard every year because people love pinot, especially 100 pinots in one place that are open and ready for tasting. 

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White Pearl Sydney Theatre Company 2019
Photograph: Rene Vaile
Theatre, Drama

White Pearl

icon-location-pin Riverside Theatres, Parramatta
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Anchuli Felicia King is an emerging playwright with a huge year ahead: she's got a play in Melbourne Theatre Company’s mainstage season, as well as one at STC. White Pearl is set in the offices of Clearday cosmetics, a Singapore company that’s come under fire for a racist ad.

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15
at Night Noodle Markets 2015
Things to do, Markets

Night Noodle Markets

icon-location-pin Hyde Park, Sydney
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While these popular food markets aren’t exclusively dedicated to chewy, stringy, soft and chared varieties of noodles, they are devoted to serving excellent local dishes. The Night Noodle Markets will once again be serving Asian dishes from across the spicy spectrum in a hawker-style market during Good Food Month.

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Sampa the Great with gold sparkly lipstick
Photograph: Supplied
Music, Rap, hip hop and R&B

Sampa the Great

icon-location-pin The Factory Theatre, Marrickville
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Sampa Tempo, who goes by the stage name Sampa the Great, has taken the world stage by storm. The Australian music scene has fallen in love with not only her passionate songs but also her empowering messages. Hear it all at the Factory Theatre this month.

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17
The Ghost of Yotsuya JIFF
Photograph: Supplied
Film, Horror

Grief and Vengeance: Otherworldly Tales

icon-location-pin Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
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Does the eerie stillness of kabuki theatre give you the willies? Then we have a free film series that's bound to be your cup of green tea. Japanese Film Festival is joining forces with the Art Gallery of NSW to present a free season of classic Japanese horror movies.

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People dressed in colourful exercise costumes in a bar.
Photograph: Supplied
Sport and fitness, Running

The Oktoberfest Beer Run

icon-location-pin Around Marrickville, Marrickville
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If running isn't your favourite activity, you could trick yourself into having a good time with this five kilometre beer run. Competitors will stop in at five different brew houses for an infusion of liquid courage after every kilometre.

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Hans Zimmer Live 2019 supplied photo
Photograph: Supplied
Music

Hans Zimmer Live

icon-location-pin Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney Olympic Park
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Whether or not you know Hans Zimmer's name, you can almost certainly hum more than one of his tunes. The film composer has more than 150 films to his name including The Lion KingGladiator, Dunkirk, Inception and Interstellar, and he'll be performing alongside a full orchestra and band on his new Australian tour. 

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William Street Festival Paddington overview
Things to do, Fairs and festivals

William Street Festival

icon-location-pin William Street, Paddington
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Boutique shopping lane William Street hosts a festival each year, blocking off traffic and filling up the lane with fashion markets, food stalls and music from just before lunch and into the evening. You can expect it to go heavy on the hyper local angle.

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Unbearable Darkness by Choy Ka Fai Liveworks 2019 supplied
Photograph: Katja Illner
Art, Sculpture and installations

Liveworks

icon-location-pin Carriageworks, Eveleigh
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Liveworks festival showcases local and international artists pushing the frontiers of art and performance. There are two major themes this time around: 'feminist sound', all about women and non-binary artists smashing artistic boundaries, and 'culture disruptors', who are challenging the foundation of our cultural identities. 

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Chelsea Handler supplied 2019
Photograph: Supplied
Comedy, Stand Up

Chelsea Handler: Life Will Be the Death of Me

icon-location-pin State Theatre, Sydney
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Now that Chelsea Handler has wrapped up her Netflix talk show, the vodka-loving comedian is heading back on the road with a new stand-up set. It shares the same name as her recent best-selling book, which covers a year of self-discovery in her life.

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23
From the left: Sally Seltmann, Sarah Blasko and Holly Throsby in black jackets facing shoulder first towards the camera
Photograph: Supplied
Music, Rock and indie

Seeker Lover Keeper

icon-location-pin The Factory Theatre, Marrickville
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This trio is the brainchild of three of Sydney’s most prominent singer-songwriters: Sarah Blasko, Holly Throsby and Sally Seltmann. After years of solo tours, they're back with their new album Wild Seeds, which they co-wrote and stripped back vocally to make room for bigger lyrics and harmonious melody.

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Poet and writer Melanie Mununggurr-Williams speaks into a microphone.
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Literary events

Story-Fest

icon-location-pin Around The Rocks, The Rocks
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This writers’ festival offers more than words on a page, with novelists, poets and literary masters performing their stories live on stage. The five-day event hosts poetry slams, discussions, panel talks and workshops led by wordsmiths from across Australia as well as international creatives.

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Crowd looks up at the screen.
Photograph: James Kenny
Things to do, Fairs and festivals

Chippo Film Festival

icon-location-pin University of Sydney, Camperdown
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The University of Sydney is rolling out the red carpet for the eighth edition of the Chippo Film Festival. This grassroots movie movement gives local videographers the chance to get their short films played on the big screen, and gives audiences a free first look at indie motion pictures. 

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Melbourne artist Angie McMahon sitting outside a fruit shop in a striped t-shirt.
Photograph: Supplied
Music, Rock and indie

Angie McMahon

icon-location-pin City Recital Hall, Sydney
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With her signature simple strings and an intimate stage presence, Angie McMahon burst onto the East-Coast scene in 2017 with ‘Slow Mover’, which has recently gone gold. Catch McMahon in Sydney on her aptly named I Made an Album debut solo tour.

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27
Then White Rabbit 2019 supplied image
Photograph: Supplied
Art

Then

icon-location-pin White Rabbit, Chippendale
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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.

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Anne Edmonds photo for What's Wrong With You
Photograph: Supplied
Comedy, Stand Up

Anne Edmonds: What's Wrong With You?

icon-location-pin Sydney Opera House, Sydney
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You might know Anne Edmonds from her regular appearances on Have You Been Paying Attention? or as the hysterical Helen Bidou on ABC's Get Krackin. But since 2010, she's been a stalwart of the Australian stand-up scene, and it's on stage that you can really appreciate just how good she is.

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People shopping at the Round She Goes Market Sydney
Shopping, Markets

Round She Goes Fashion Market

icon-location-pin Marrickville Town Hall, Marrickville
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Renounce your fast-fashion sins and stay retro with some fabulous finds from this haven for pre-loved fashion and other eclectic goodies. There’s a mix of vintage and modern clothing – it leans towards traditionally feminine attire – and accessories, as well as handmade jewellery and funky trinkets. 

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The Postmodern Jukebox crew sitting on stairs with instruments.
Photograph: Dana Pleasant
Music, Jazz

Postmodern Jukebox

icon-location-pin Sydney Opera House, Sydney
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Even if you’ve never heard of Postmodern Jukebox, you’re sure to have a delightful time at their theatrical live show. The American group is made up of a rotating cast of singers and big band musicians who cover an enormous playlist of pop hits from the likes of Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Gotye.

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A grey building built into the side of a grassy hill.
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Talks and discussions

SCCI Architecture Hub

icon-location-pin Around Sydney, Sydney
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More than 50 renowned local and international architects and professionals from other intersecting industries will come together for the second iteration of this architecture festival. The ten-day program will explore contemporary issues and initiatives surrounding architecture and its interplay with social, cultural and technological development. 

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The singer Hatchie in a great jacket with embroidery.
Photograph: Supplied
Music, Pop

Hatchie

icon-location-pin Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst
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Indie-pop princess Hatchie has recently released her debut album Keepsake following a swoon of an EP 'Sugar & Spice'. Now the Brisbanite is heading home to make us all melty once again with an intimate show at Oxford Art Factory. 

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33
People pouring vinegar into a jar of veggies to make pickles.
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Classes and workshops

Cornersmith Waste Hacks

icon-location-pin Cornersmith Cooking School, Marrickville
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The pickling and fermenting food waste warriors at Cornersmith are running a class that’s dedicated to making the most of your expired pantry and fridge items. Their Waste Hacks class is a mixture of demonstrations and hands-on activities that’ll teach you how to reduce wastage in the kitchen. 

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People sit on the grass watching the sunset over water.
Photograph: Diana Shypula
Things to do, Pop-up locations

Spring Sounds on the Platform

icon-location-pin The Coal Loader, Waverton
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With stunning waterfront views, Waverton’s Coal Loader is a superb spot for a relaxed, sun soaked afternoon of entertainment. On October 12, the venue’s green rooftop space will again host Spring Sounds on the Platform: a free, family-friendly music and picnic sesh.

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Listen Out
Photograph: Anna Warr
Music, Music festivals

Listen Out

icon-location-pin Centennial Parklands, Centennial Park
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If you like to bust a move on the thumping, neon dancefloor but could would like to emerge, like a butterfly, from the sweaty underground den of nightclubs, Listen Out is for you. It’s a music festival with massive dance, R’n’B and hip-hop acts that’s happening in the fresh air of Centennial Parklands.

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Oktoberfest in the Garden
Photograph: Matt Teague
Things to do, Fairs and festivals

Oktoberfest in the Gardens

icon-location-pin The Domain, Sydney
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So, you’ve ordered your elaborate lederhosen or dirndl online, but you can’t decide where to show off your Bavarian threads this year? Consider Oktoberfest in the Gardens. The huge beer-fuelled party will once again transform the Domain into a giant beer garden inspired by Germany's own Oktoberfest.

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37
Megan Washington pictured in a black shirt.
Photograph: Supplied
Music, Pop

We Are Twenty

icon-location-pin City Recital Hall, Sydney
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The City Recital Hall is turning 20, and to celebrate they’re inviting Aussie music makers to get the party started. The concert is being curated by Aria Award-winning singer Megan Washington, who has has invited amazing artists like Indigenous-led electro-soul duo Electric Fields to collaborate at the concert.

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Band members stare into the distance.
Photograph: Supplied
Music, Pop

The Jungle Giants

icon-location-pin The Big Top, Milsons Point
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Ever since ‘Mr Polite’ was released in 2011, the Jungle Giants have had us hooked. Now that their third album Quiet Ferocity has earned a place in Australian hearts and airwaves, they’re becoming increasingly well known for their danceable tracks. They’ll be getting audiences moving at Luna Park’s Big Top.

Bring fresh blooms home

Person picking flowers at Grandiflora Florists
Photograph: Anna Kucera
Shopping, Florists

The best boutique florists in Sydney

We’ve picked out our favourite florists, who put together bunches of bloomin’ marvellous buds, from dramatic and sculptural arrangements to subtle and natural bouquets.

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