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Is the Canberra cold already getting you down? Sydney Solstice promises to heat up your winter with a 12-day celebration highlighting the city’s outstanding music, food, drink, arts and culture offerings.
The longest night of the year is—depending on how you look at it—either a depressing reminder that we’re deep into winter or a spark of hope that the days will only get longer from here on in. Well, Sydney Solstice is redefining the longest night of the year, with a 12-day celebration highlighting the city’s outstanding music, food, drink, arts and culture offerings.
From Tuesday 8 to Sunday 20 June, four local precincts surrounding the CBD, Darling Harbour, Oxford Street and Newtown will feature more than 80 attractions for every age and appetite—from frosty fantasylands to one-of-a-kind feasts and Chinatown choreography to sounds that span the far-ranging stars.
We’ve picked out some of our faves. Road trip, anyone?
Food and drink experiences to savour
Aria After Dark will take place at Matt Moran’s harbourside restaurant, with each dinner featuring a star NSW winemaker and a sampling of their drinks, brilliantly paired with hyper-local snacks by Aria’s executive chef Joel Bickford.
Combining music, art and mealtimes, Heaps Gay takes over Sydney Town Hall with a ‘Queens Feast’ of Sydney hospitality (Bloodwood’s Claire Van Vuuren, Bart Jr’s Georgia Woodyard and MasterChef stars Sarah Tiong and Anna Polyviou) ruling the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in an immersive dining, art and music experience.
New small bar precincts and laneways to discover
There’s more to Sydney’s CBD than post-work drinks and lunch meetings, with the CBD’s buzzy new small bar precinct, known as YCK Laneways. Across Sydney Solstice, these 15 bars around York, Clarence and Kent streets (such as Sammy Junior, Since I Left You, Prince of York) will be serving Night Over Light with their cocktails: expect an eclectic program of cultural events (dance, theatre, music, art and more), plus there’ll be gigs at a pop-up outdoor stage and a big closing party to cap off the fun.
All the beer to drink
As two-time winner of Australia’s best beer venue (as awarded by Beer & Brewer), Bitter Phew in Darlinghurst is already a drawcard for drinkers. But its two-week Phew-Ture festival celebrates other kinds of well-fermented wonders, too, with meet-the-maker sessions and food samplings by cheesemakers, bakers and winemakers.
For ‘Brew, Beats and Burgers’, head to Pyrmont’s Terminus Hotel. At this craft beer festival, you can meet boundary-pushing brewers from around the state, who are doing inventive and surprising things with ales, lagers and stouts.
A new food destination to taste
Sydney’s hottest new food precinct at South Eveleigh also has plenty of appeal. It’s home to Re, which aims to be Sydney’s first zero-waste bar, and features furniture made from 82,000 recycled milk bottles.
It’s also the site of Kylie Kwong’s brand-new restaurant Lucky Kwong, and current eateries such as RaRa Chan, Steve Costi’s Famous Fish, Yoho Loco and Eat Fuh.
Get to know this dining district better, as South Eveleigh properly showcases itself for the first time ever: what was once the historic location of the Eveleigh Railway Workshops will be highlighting its impressive makeover with a two-day South Eveleigh Solstice Festival. Expect art installations, free performances, live music and good food.
Music and dance to get down to
Looking for fresh tunes? Head to Songwriters @ The Rocks, a free series of gigs that will culminate in a momentous finale on the last day of Sydney Solstice in the historic Rocks region.
After something more upbeat? DJs at Tank nightclub in the CBD will be dropping after-hour beats until 3 am for Midnight Feast and you can fuel your dance moves with a dim-sum menu from Dan Hong’s award-winning Mr Wong restaurant.
Nearby, Merivale keeps the party going at its other venues, with Poof Doof FT Sneaky Sound System and more hitting the Ivy.
Over at the Museum of Contemporary Art, club pioneers Ministry of Sound will be highlighting the history of Australian dance music across three evenings at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Foundation Hall. Each night will be a sonic trip down memory lane, with a specific era represented and recaptured for an intimate audience.
Experience something truly unique
Sydney Solstice also soundtracks the city in inspired and imaginative ways, with award-winning composer and didgeridoo player William Barton premiering a new work—Songlines of Our Universe—on the Sydney Observatory grounds in Millers Point, with astronomers sharing the star-gazing perspectives that inspired the very notes that guests will be hearing.
Discover the unseen side of Sydney at Matt Pearson Gallery—his work is a visually spectacular journey through the beautiful city of Sydney in an exhibition showcasing a thoughtfully curated collection of extraordinary photographs.
For another unique experience of the city, there’s the Sydney Solstice Moonlight Sea Kayaking Experience. This is no ordinary lap around the harbour: this is the first time that the public has been allowed to kayak through this memorable and beautifully illuminated stretch of the city.
Make it a family affair (for free)
From the Sydney Opera House and beyond, there are family-friendly event that don’t cost a cent. Every sunset, the work of six female First Nations artists (including Sally M Nangala Mulda, Marlene Rubuntja and Judith Inkamala) lights up the Opera House sails as part of Badu Gili: Winter Nights. Inspired by this project, a 12-night festival will take place on the iconic landmark’s forecourt, and will include live dance performances.
Also worth seeing: A Harbour Garden, a phenomenal display of inflatable sea creatures at the Australian National Maritime Museum.
Just dance: cutting a rug in Chinatown
During Sydney Solstice, Chinatown will become an interactive art gallery and a wide-ranging, genre-spanning dancefloor, too, thanks to Wanna Dance. There’ll be daytime ballroom lessons, and DJ-led sessions of night-time grooves, new dance stars busting their impressive moves in demonstrations and performances, as well as a dance ‘stage’ by a Haymarket heritage building that’s open to everyone.
Walk (or skate) in a winter wonderland
For some snow-dazed magic, head to Darling Harbour and Tumbalong Park for the two-week Darling Harbour Winter Fair. Cut a figure eight on the ice-skating rink and take an invigorating dip down the arctic ice slide, take in a live performance or be charmed by the German-themed chalets and wintry decorations.
Also at Darling Harbour is Lumino—a celebration of fire and light, life and energy. Two shows, presented by Foti Fireworks and Darling Harbour, will take place at 7.30 pm and 9 pm, Thursday 10 to Saturday 13 June, and Thursday 17 to Saturday 19 June.
Still want more?
There are so many events to explore! Check them all out at sydneysolstice.com.
HerCanberra attended a sneak peek of Sydney Solstice courtesy of Destination NSW.