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A picture of people gathering at night beneath strung fairy lights inside Carriageworks at the Sydney Writer's Festival
Photograph: Supplied / Sydney Writer's Festival

Things to do in Sydney this week

Wondering what to do across Sydney? Our list will guide you in the right direction

Winnie Stubbs
Written by
Winnie Stubbs
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Sydney’s annual festival of words is taking over the city this week, with 223 free and ticketed events at venues across the city, including a series of free lectures popping up at Carriageworks. If visual art is more your thing, head to White Bay Power Station – one of the key locations for this year’s Biennale. If you’re looking for a way to get warm, we’d suggest heading north of the bridge to this coastal sauna, or journeying inland to one of the best hot springs in NSW if you’re up for an adventure. Plus, in case you missed it, Vivid starts on Friday – we’ve got everything you need to know about the sparkly season over here. Scroll on for our full list of everything you can get up to in Sydney this week.

Want to make the most of this week in Sydney? How about starting the day at one of our city's best outdoor swimming pools, then booking in for dinner at one of the best restaurants in Sydney right now

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The best things to do in Sydney

  • Things to do
  • Fairs and festivals
  • price 0 of 4
  • Sydney

For a few special days every year, Sydney comes alive with writers, journalists, public intellectuals and book lovers – who gather for the Emerald City’s long-standing celebration of literature, reading and ideas: the Sydney Writers' Festival. This year marks the 27th anniversary of our city’s most beloved celebration of words, and the festival’s 2024 theme is Take Me Away – a theme that reflects our universal affinity for escapism, a role that literature has always played in society. Comprising 223 free and ticketed events, this year’s program is a pretty impressive one.  The urban corner of Sydney that’s home to the spectacular space that is Carriageworks will act as the hub for this year’s festival, but events will be popping up across the city: including at Sydney Town Hall, City Recital Hall and The State Library of NSW, as well as at smaller venues across Greater Sydney and the nation through the Live & Local streaming program. Keen to get involved? Read on.For the 2024 program, almost 300 writers from all over Australia and the world will come together to share stories and interrogate ideas, all around the central theme of Take Me Away. A celebration of Australian thought-leaders, 263 of the speakers on this year’s program are Australian, with 35 international speakers joining them on stages across the city.  Highlights from this year’s program will include a live podcast recording with London-based author and podcaster Katy Hessell, a behind-the-scenes look into the m

  • Things to do
  • Sydney

If you’ve ever heard talk of secret tunnels and winding labyrinths from World War II that lie forgotten beneath Sydney city, you’re not alone. Well, it turns out, the rumours are true. And the best bit? We can see them with our own eyes – illuminated by a wild light show, laser beams and electronic music. Yes. This is real life. After a successful debut last year, ‘Dark Spectrum’ will be taking over this historical subterranean network as part of Vivid Sydney 2024. (Check out our ultimate guide to Vivid over here.) The entrance to this secret tunnel is hidden in plain sight in one of Sydney’s busiest train station thoroughfares. If you’ve ever grabbed something from the Wynyard Coles, you may not have ever paid too much attention to the emergency access door that’s situated right next to it. Unbeknownst to most of us, this nondescript door has long been the entrance to a series of secret tunnels that lie beneath Wynyard Station. For the last century, these tunnels were the abandoned relics of a city engineer’s grand plans to build a train line between Mosman and the Northern Beaches, but (as it is with many things), this plan fell to the wayside, and into decades of obscurity.  Opening on Friday, May 24, and running until June 15, this wild and immersive light show will take visitors through 1km of the tunnel system, where they will be taken through eight underground rooms that will each be decked out in a vibrant variety of lights, robots, animations and laser shows that hav

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  • Art
  • price 0 of 4
  • Sydney

Are you ready to chase artistic escapades around the city? The Biennale of Sydney is back for its 24th edition from March 9 to June 10, 2024. Whether you’re a dedicated arts fanatic or a casual culture buff, you’ll find something to inspire and provoke you along this epic art trail. The largest contemporary art event of its kind in Australia, the Biennale is taking over six different locations with awe-inspiring installations and intriguing exhibitions. Titled Ten Thousand Suns, this year the festival explores a multiplicity of global cultures, taking on a transgressive spirit as it leans into the origins of Carnivale. As always, the Biennale is free for everyone to visit for a total of 16 weeks.   Of all the locations, White Bay Power Station is absolutely the main character of the Biennale’s 50th year anniversary (and 24th iteration – it takes place every second year). This is the first time the revitalised industrial site will officially open its doors to the public in more than 100 years – and what they’ve accomplished is pretty spectacular. Years of accumulated pigeon poop has been cleared out of the enormous factory spaces, making way for art installations that tower multiple storeys high, and more works hidden in various nooks and crannies. Pop-up bars and brand new bathrooms also set the stage for a packed program of live performances and music curated by Phoenix Central Park. Think of White Bay as a replacement for the role that Cockatoo Island has played in Sydney’s

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Darling Harbour

This is it, we have found the yassification of Shakespeare. Fuelled by a playlist of certified pop hits, this jukebox romp billed as “the greatest love story ever remixed” poses a simple but provocative question: What if, instead of joining Romeo in eternal slumber, Juliet decided to live? A contagiously joyous musical spectacular, & Juliet has finally landed at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre after being met with critical acclaim on Broadway and the West End, not to mention the rapturously received Australian debut in Melbourne.  Filled with sing-a-long-able chart-topping bangers made famous by the likes of Britney Spears, The Backstreet Boys, Katy Perry and more from the songbook of Grammy-winning Swedish songwriter/producer Max Martin, the Aussie cast is overflowing with talent in this feel-good, flashy production. & Juliet is Shakespeare remixed for the girls, the gays and the theys... [but does it] really cut it as the feminist reclamation that we are promised? Will you be entertained? Absolutely. Does & Juliet set a new standard for jukebox musicals? Yes. Will you see one of the most diverse and charismatic casts of triple-threats ever assembled on an Australian stage? Heck yeah. Does the story deliver on the feminist retribution we are promised? Not quite. “What if Juliet didn’t kill herself?” Anne Hathaway (played by the enthralling Amy Lehpamer) posits to her husband, William Shakespeare (the ever-charming Rob Mills). “She’s only ever had one boyfriend, and frankly, the endi

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  • Art
  • Digital and interactive
  • Sydney

Winter in Sydney can be pretty darn sparkly, with major thanks to Vivid – the annual multidisciplinary festival that lights up the city for a few weeks every year. One particularly glittery feature of the Vivid Sydney 2024 program is Lightscape – an immersive light show that will illuminate the Royal Botanic Garden from May 24 until June 15. After making its Botanic Garden debut with a sellout 2023 season, this multi-sensory experience of light, colour and sound is back, this year with a reimagined set-up. (Lightscape is a paid-entry event, and we reckon the ticket price is well worth it, but if you're looking for free things to do at Vivid, head over here.)Originally created by a group of artists more than a decade ago, Lightscape has transformed spaces around the world into sell-out immersive experiences. And though some Sydneysiders were up in arms about having to pay to access the Botanic Garden (generally a free-to-access public space) during last year's season, once you’ve experienced Lightscape in the flesh, you’ll understand the reasoning. As the sun begins to set over Sydney Harbour, you'll wander under larger-than-life flowers, and tree canopies will come alive with light. Follow the 1.8km illuminated trail as your surroundings morph from one luminous delight into another. Food and drinks are available to purchase along the route, or you can hold out and head to one of the many excellent restaurants that Circular Quay has to offer. Tickets start at $30 for adults ($

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Darlington

Musicals are often a product of their time. So, it is somewhat expected that the show will reflect the sentiment, the tragedy, the conflict and the beliefs of that time. What is rare, however, is when a revival of a musical manages to find that stark relevance again, as if history is repeating itself. Off the back of the celebrated Broadway revival starring Ben Platt, this new staging of Parade arrives in Sydney following a sold-out Melbourne premiere in July 2023.  First staged in 1998, Parade is based on the true story of the 1913–1915 trial, imprisonment, and lynching of Leo Frank (Aaron Robuck – The Great Gatsby: An Immersive Theatrical Experience). A Jewish man from Brooklyn, Frank was a fish out of water amongst the residents of Atlanta, Georgia, where he worked as the superintendent of a pencil factory. When he was accused of the tragic assault and murder of a 13-year-old girl named Mary Phagan (Adeline Hunter – Urinetown), the townsfolk’s prejudices and the sensationalist media coverage of the trial stirred up a storm of antisemitic tension. Witness tampering and scapegoating by the local police force led to Frank being landed with a guilty verdict, a ruling which most modern researchers strongly disagree with. Most significantly, the historic trial spurred the formation of the Anti-Defamation League, whilst concurrently initiating the revival of the Klu Klux Klan. Despite some difficulties...this show succeeds in reminding the audience that prejudice, hate, and the

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  • Music
  • Sydney

Adele fans of the Harbour City, this one’s for you. It’s been a long time since Adele last performed in Australia (seven years, in fact), but a returning stage show featuring all of her greatest hits will make it feel as though no time has passed at all. Starring award-winning British singer Naomi Price, Rumour Has It is a dazzling production that explores how Adele went from a young singer in London to the highest-selling recording artist of the 21st century. Blending brash wit with heartfelt tunes, it’s set to be an unmissable evening of musical excellence. Supporting Price in this career-defining show will be vocalists Rachel Everett-Jones, Luke Kennedy and Lai Utovou, along with a 20-strong live orchestra. The set list spans her entire catalogue of legendary hits, including ‘Someone Like You’, ‘Hello’, ‘Rolling In The Deep’, ‘Rumour Has It’ and ‘Skyfall’.  “The British powerhouse is one of the best-selling artists of all time and her songs hit a high note with audiences of all ages and musical tastes,” said Price. “I’m looking forward to injecting a dose of her daring and playful personality throughout the show and delivering an unforgettable experience for audiences." Price will be touring the country, but ​​the exclusive one-off performance for Sydney fans will take place on May 24 at the State Theatre. For more information and to book tickets, head to the website.Stay in the loop: sign up for our free Time Out Sydney newsletter for more news, food & drink inspo and act

  • Things to do
  • Milsons Point

The Harbour City does a good line in immersive light experiences, and if you can’t wait until Vivid takes over the city later in May, Luna Park is here to help. The iconic attraction’s newest installation – Sonic Neon – is now open, with tickets on sale until the end of June. Housed in Crystal Palace – a building which dates all the way back to 1935 – Sonic Neon will take visitors on a journey through eight different rooms, with state-of-the-art visuals and a layered soundscape creating a transportive experience. Illuminating more than 150 metres of the historic building, the experience will feature more than 26,000 lights set to a pulsating soundtrack using state-of-the-art technology that’s never been used before in Australia. Tickets to the experience are available now, which you can purchase online or in person. Plus, save money by purchasing bundles like the Lunaverse Superpass, which includes Sonic Neon, Dream Circus and unlimited rides.  The family-friendly rave and experience will run daily from 10am. Tickets for the self-guided Sonic Neon experience (estimated to take around 30 minutes) start at $29 per person. If you’re keen to secure your tickets, you can do so over here.  Stay in the loop: sign up for our free Time Out Sydney newsletter for more things to do, travel inspo and activity ideas, straight to your inbox. RECOMMENDED: Keen for more luminous fun? This immersive experience is coming to the Blue Mountains Lightscape will be taking over the Botanical Gardens

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  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Theatre
  • Musicals
  • Haymarket

Few musical references are as iconic as those from Grease. A simple "rama lama lama" or "a wop ba-ba lu-bop a wop bam boom!" may invoke joyful nostalgia, transporting you back to the first time you witnessed John Travolta's gyrating hips or “our” Olivia Newton-John's sweet Sandy smile. For me, it takes me back to my own high school musical experience. With my Pink Lady jacket and Pink Lady sunglasses, the Grease stage is where I first forged my life-long love affair with musical theatre and the passionate community that came with it. That is what musicals are forged on: passion – and this production of Grease: the Musical at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre has an infectious amount of it. Before the 1978 film adaptation cemented Grease’s place in the global pop culture consciousness, this show set in the working-class youth subculture of 1950s Chicago was first staged in 1971. Like any rebellious teen tale, Grease tapped into the angst of young people of the time; it had a '50s style and a '70s attitude. Everyone wanted to be as cool as Kenickie (played here with delectable zeal by Keanu Gonzalez, who has also appeared in Hamilton and West Side Story), as bold as Rizzo (the eye-catching triple threat Mackenzie Dunn, as seen in Hairspray), or as sweet as the nervous Doody (Tom Davis). There were definitely elements of my high school production that built my confidence, brought me out of my shell, and changed my perspective – but the plot wasn't one of them. The musical numbers were jo

  • Things to do
  • Food and drink
  • Darling Harbour

What do you get when you combine a neon-lit bar that looks like it’s been plucked straight out of Tokyo with five Japanese master magicians? Enter Maho Magic Bar. Part show, part bar. And 100 per cent awe-inspiring. A dazzling immersive experience where you can enjoy a drink and a show (but not as you know it), Maho Magic Bar thrilled Sydneysiders when it popped up last year as a part of Sydney Festival. Now, it's returning to the Emerald City – popping up in a specially decorated neon-lit space at Pyrmont Bay Park from April 23. Created by Broad Encounters, the folks behind the award-winning immersive show A Midnight Visit, Maho Magic Bar features an impressive pop-up bar and entertainment venue, inspired by Japan’s electric nightlife scene. Bring along friends, order some drinks – a fun cocktail; sake from three different regions; whisky or shochu perhaps – and get comfortable as you sit back and watch as Maho’s sleight-of-hand superstars delight and surprise with extraordinary magic shows right in front of you, at your table. Think multi-sensory, interactive and just plain jaw-dropping. So, who will be showing you their tricks at Maho Magic Bar? Well, there’s Shirayuri, whose captivating tricks come with a storytelling twist; Kaori Kitazawa, the princess of illusion who’s carving her own space in the industry that’s traditionally ruled by men; renowned infamous daredevil, Sarito, whose repertoire includes needles and gaffer tape; the graceful hostess Spica; sleight of hand

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