The best things to do Sydney this July

Whales begin their migration, Darling Harbour gets a magical winter makeover, and an ice-rink pops up at Bondi Beach. These are the best things to do in Sydney this July.

NAIDOC Week

Isaac Compton NAIDOC week Sydney
Isaac Compton

A week is hardly long enough to celebrate the culture, achievements and history of Australia’s First Nations people – but it’s a start. NAIDOC Week’s (7-14 July) theme this year is Keep the Fire Burning! Blak, Loud and Proud and informs celebrations of the richness and resilience of First Nations culture and community occurring around the country. In Sydney, events all over the city explore the world’s oldest living culture, such as Burramatta NAIDOC on Saturday July 13 in Paramatta Park, part of Parramatta’s annual First Nations festival, Warami. Expect kids’ activities, workshops, stalls, performances, bush-food workshops and live music including hip-hop artist JK-47. On Wednesday 10 July, Sydney’s Town Hall becomes a festival hub for NAIDOC in the City, an all-day event featuring a smoking ceremony, markets and dance performances during the day and a free ticketed evening concert at Centennial Hall featuring comedian Isaac Compton, hip hop star BARKAA and singer Riah.

When: 7-14 July, 2024
Where: Various locations around Sydney
Find more information here

Bondi Festival

In Pour Taste at the Bondi Festival performance best things to do in sydney
In Pour Taste, a comedy wine-tasting experience, is part of this year’s Bondi Festival

The world’s most iconic beach comes alive in the depths of winter. The annual Bondi Festival is a beachside bash that defies the season, with hot arts performances and acts from Australia and abroad, games and rides, food and drink pop-ups, and a huge ice-skating rink. Held over several venues across Bondi Beach and North Bondi, this is a tantalising opportunity to unlock the gems hidden within this globally renowned precinct.

Where: Various locations in Bondi

When: July 5-21, 2024

Read more: The Landsdowne is giving away 10,000 free piña coladas

Darling Harbour Winterfest

Darling Harbour winterfest Sydney july
Winterfest at Darling Harbour

Another cosy winter festival with different water views, Darling Harbour’s Winterfest combines dazzling light-shows, warming food and drink, large-scale entertainment and winter activities for all ages – including an ice-skating rink set up beneath the city skyline.

When: July 6-21, 2024
Where: Darling Harbour

Whale-watching season

Although whale-watching season in Sydney runs all the way from May through November, the best time to witness the Sydney leg of the northern migration from Antarctica to Queensland is late June to early July. Coincidentally, some of the city’s prime whale-watching vantage points, such as Watsons Bay and Barrenjoey Head, double as some of the city’s most picturesque coastal vistas. And of course, there are plenty of whale-watching boat tours that take place throughout the season, such as those offered by Captain Cook Cruises.

Where: Various locations
When: Until November

Counting and Cracking

Counting and Cracking performance Sydney July carriageworks
Counting and Cracking

A collaboration between Western Sydney-based playwright S. Shakthidharan and Belvoir Street Theatre’s artistic director Eamon Flack, Counting and Cracking follows a Sri Lankan-Australian family over a 50-year period exploring love, political strife, identity and exile. It premiered at the Sydney Festival in 2019, going on to win 14 awards and acclaim everywhere from the Edinburgh Festival to the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. Now the show graces us again before it heads to New York for its US debut.

Where: Carriageworks,
When: Until 21 July, 2024
Book here

Disney on Ice

Join Mickey Mouse on an epic journey with a diverse crew of beloved Disney characters at Disney on Ice’s Road Trip Adventures. Little ones will be thrilled to prowl  the Pride Lands with Simba, consider the coconuts with Moana on Motunui and let it all go with Anna and Elsa.

Where: Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney Olympic Park
When: 17-21 July, 2024
Book here

Great Opera Hits

Great Opera Hits singing man Sydney
Great Opera Hits

Opera has a reputation for being a buttoned-up affair but, over the winter season, Sydney Opera House is offering visitors a more relaxed opera experience with Great Opera Hits. Listen to the arias of history’s most famous composers including, performed by Opera Australia’s finest singers, against the backdrop of the sunset over Sydney Harbour.

When: Until October 21, 2024
Where: Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, Sydney

Chicago

Even if you’ve never seen Chicago, you probably know who Roxy Hart is, and can sing along to All That Jazz. The musical entered the cultural consciousness sometime after its premiere in 1975 and has rarely been out of production since. This production stars Lucy Maunder as Roxie Hart and Zoë Ventoura as Velma Kelly with Anthony Warlow as Billy Flynn. It comes just six years after the previous production starring Natalie Bassingthwaighte and Casey Donovan – but you can never have too much razzle dazzle.

When: Until 28 July, 2024
Where: The Capitol Theatre, 13 Campbell Street, Haymarket
Book here

Bastille Festival

Over four full days (and late nights), the annual Bastille Festival in The Rocks is a harbourside celebration of fine French food, great French wine, and high-energy entertainment. The Chef Village in First Fleet Park serves as the main entertainment stage, with a curated selection of restaurants tasked with delivering their specialty dishes with a French twist. If you feel like travelling the country on foot, glass of wine in hand, you can opt for a Wine Passport, which allows you to accumulate stamps as you taste your way from Bordeaux to Burgundy; or if horizontal is your preferred orientation, you can always pull up a deck chair at Le Mulled Wine Cinema, which will be showing French films throughout the festival.

When: 11-14 July, 2024
Where: The Rocks and surrounds

Once Upon a Time Chapter 5 Degustation

Nel Disney Once Upon a Time Chapter 5 best things to do in Sydney in July
A dessert inspired by Peter Pan at Nel

Sydney restaurant Nel, helmed by chef Nelly Robinson, is staging the fifth iteration of its whimsical Disney-themed degustation. Sounds cutesy, but the food is no joke. Inspired by Robinson’s favourite Disney films, the menu features truly magical-looking dishes such as black-and-white ricotta gnocchi in velouté (inspired by arch-villain Cruella De Vil), a beautiful Frozen-themed dish of cured ocean trout with cream cheese now and a pickled onion snowflake, and a dish named Lucky Cricket (Mulan is the muse here). A dessert inspired by Peter Pan is sprinkled with edible golden dust. The 11-course menu costs $185 per head, with optional matched wines for an additional $165.

Where: 75 Wentworth Avenue, Sydney
When: Until August 10
Book here

Mould: A Cheese Festival

Australia’s largest cheese festival returns to Carriageworks for 2024, bringing with it the opportunity to sample more than 100 varieties of local artisan cheese from around the country. There is no event like it when it comes to showcasing the quality and diversity of Australia’s cheesemaking and dairy industries – and with many of the makers in attendance, there’s a high chance you’ll be in for a learning experience, too.

When: 26-28 July, 2024
Where: Carriageworks, Redfern
Tickets here

Dracula

Two of Sydney Theatre Company’s most revered productions from recent years had something in common: The Picture of Dorian Gray and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde were both part of artistic director Kip Williams’ visionary re-imagining of Gothic masterpieces. And this season brings the premiere of the final, most ambitious part of the trilogy. For his production of Dracula, Williams has enlisted the fresh-faced talent of Zahra Newman, who tackles every single role as part of a breathtaking production that combines live video, pre-recorded film and superhuman live performance. This is a truly world-class example of how Sydney is pioneering the new age of theatre.

When: 2 July – 4 August
Where: Roslyn Packer Theatre, 22 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay
Book here

Alphonse Mucha: Spirit of Art Nouveau

Alphonse Mucha Art Gallery of New South Wales
Alphonse Mucha’s work

Alphonse Mucha was once hailed as ‘the greatest decorative artist in the world’, and one of his enduring legacies is as a pioneer of the style that has come to define late 19th-century Paris: art nouveau. Realised in close cooperation with the Mucha Foundation in Prague, this landmark show at the Art Gallery of NSW is the most comprehensive exhibition ever seen in Australia of Mucha’s work, bringing together many of his best-loved artworks, illustrations, jewellery, interior decoration and photographs.

When: Until September 22
Where: Art Gallery of NSW, Art Gallery Rd, Sydney
Book here

Primavera 2024: Young Australian Artists

This annual exhibition at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art is where new Australian talent is nurtured and discovered. Strictly showcasing the work of Australian artists aged 35 and under, the exhibition gives early-career artists a significant platform within one of the country’s most well-known galleries – and gives visitors an opportunity to know them before they break through.

Where: MCA, 140 George St, The Rocks
When: Until September 1

Book here

Nuworlds

4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art is known as a leading celebrant of cutting-edge art practice in the region, and a lynchpin of the cultural dialogue between Australia and Asia. Their winter exhibition Nuworlds is a prime example of how the gallery embraces new technologies. Taking place in 4A’s new metaverse platform 4A+, the hybrid group exhibition dissolves physical boundaries and flows between the bricks-and-mortar gallery and the digital exhibition space.

When: Until August 4
Where: 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, 181-187 Hay St, Haymarket
Book here

Ali Wong

After a wildly successful comedy career and several successful films and television series – most recently the Netflix series Beef, which earned eight Emmy Awards and 13 nominations – Ali Wong has earned her status as a household name. Now, she’s bringing her live show to Sydney. The show began its world tour in 2023 and extended to 10 additional cities through 2024, which is a sure sign it’s not to be missed.

When: July 18-20, 2024
Where: ICC Sydney Theatre, 14 Darling Dr, Sydney
Book here

Read more: This is your last chance to see Hamilton in Sydney
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