What's On

  • Written by Jessica Parry

To celebrate the Sydney Festival's 40th anniversary program Destination NSW, the NSW Government's tourism and major events agency, has prepared a list of 40 unmissable experiences to be had in Sydney this Summer.

NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events, Stuart Ayres said: “Sydney Festival turns 40 this year and it's as bold as ever. It's a highlight on our events calendar and celebrates cutting edge performances, art and music.

“Sydney Festival is synonymous with a Sydney Summer and we are looking forward to celebrating the 40th anniversary of this iconic event. Destination NSW is aligned with eight Sydney Festival events and we know these incredible must see performances will attract more visitors to our harbour city and delight festival goers.”

For visitors in Sydney for Sydney Festival, Destination NSW has put together a list of other experiences to help visitors fill their itinerary.

Here are Destination NSW's tips on 40 things to do in Sydney this Summer:

Take in Sydney Festival

  1. Visit Carriageworks Bay 17 from January 7 to catch the Australian exclusive of Woyzeck a highlight on the Sydney Festival line up.The epic German love story lies somewhere between a fever dream and social drama and features the music of American musician Tom Waits
  2. Be whisked away for an evening of Opera with a spine-chilling performance of Australian exclusive Winterreise at City Recital Hall on January 7 and 8 as part of Sydney Festival
  3. Treat your ears to one of Beethoven's monumental symphonies with the Sydney Festival's exclusive performance of Anima Eterna Brugge Beethoven's Symphonies at the City Recital Hall on January 25
  4. Learn why critics the world over have praised Geoff Sobelle's The Object Lesson an installation that captures the glorious mess of life at Sydney Town Hall from January 7 as part of Sydney Festival
  5. Experience music that tests your mind and body with the Sydney Festival and Sydney Chamber Orchestra's presentation of Passion at the City Recital Hall on January 14 and 15
  6. Visit Sydney's new creative playground, the Cutaway at Barangaroo Reserve and get involved in Sydney Festival's community event  The Ephemeral City, with visitors invited to construct  a temporary city using cardboard boxes
  7. On January 17 catch a special one off concert presented by The Embassy Kingdom of the Netherlands and Sydney Festival and experience the cosmopolitan glory days of Baroque night at City Recital Hall with the performance of Bach and his Dutch Contemporaries
  8. Get involved in a day of construction at Darling Harbour on January 7 with Olivier Grossetête's The People's Tower. All are invited to help build two gigantic cardboard buildings by the water.

Taste Sydney's finest foodie treats

9. Try the Strawberry Watermelon cake that has foodies in an Instagram frenzy at Black Star Pastry. Up your Instagram game and capture the wonder and be sure to tag #ilovesydney

10. Visit one of the city's newest rooftop bars, the Henry Deane cocktail bar, at the newly refurbished Hotel Palisade in Millers Point and take in the extraordinary views of the Harbour and Barangaroo

11.heck out glamorous garden-dining at Woollahra favourite Chiswick, part of celebrity Chef Matt Moran's portfolio. Try the signature slow-roast Moran Family lamb and Grapefruit spritzer made with grapefruits grown in the kitchen garden

12. Taste the world's best gelato at Enmore's Cow and the Moon. Their mandorla affogato saw them take out first place at the world gelato championships in Italy last year

13. Visit J&M whiskey bar on level 2 of the historic Angel Hotel. This 60's and 70's themed bar offers an extensive menu of whiskies and specially crafted cocktails

14.Escape the heat at retro style restaurant Nel, a basement hideaway in Wentworth Avenue where chef Nelly Robinson cuts loose with unlikely combinations such as tuna paired with treacle

15. Familiarise yourself with the lobster roll craze and treat your taste buds at Waterman's Lobster Co in Potts Point. Pure deliciousness!

16. Experience one of Sydney's best waterfront lunches at Pyrmont's Flying Fish Restaurant & Bar. Located at Jones Bay Wharf with views of the sparkling summer harbour Peter Kuruvita's fresh seasonal menu is a must

17. Dine outdoors at Sydney's first outdoor Singaporean style hawker centre Spice Alley on Kensington street and try some delicious Asian street food run by veterans of some of Sydney's most-popular South-East Asian restaurants

18. With spectacular ocean views spend an afternoon in the sun at one of Sydney's best rooftop bars, The Coogee Pavilion. Try the daily sashimi platter and Pavilion Piña Colada

Feel inspired by the city's vibrant arts and culture scene

19. Visit the MCA to explore Grayson Perry: My Pretty Little Art Career as part of the Sydney International Art Seriesand see for yourself his critically acclaimed ceramics, sculptures, drawings, prints and tapestries from December 10

20. Be a super hero for a day and visit The Powerhouse Museum to explore the world exclusive The Art of the Brick exhibition that uses thousands of LEGO bricks to create large scale sculptures of super heroes and villains including Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and the The Joker

21. Be captivated by the multi-award winning unforgettable production of Matilda The Musical at Sydney's Lyric Theatre

22. Discover the stories of ordinary people who became extraordinary explorers at the exclusive to Sydney exhibition Trailblazers: Australia's 50 greatest explorers.at the Australian Museum

23. Don't miss Collette Dinnnigan: Unlaced an exclusive exhibition of the work of the internationally acclaimed Australian designer's label over the last 25 years. Visit the Powerhouse museum and take a walk down The Goods Line afterwards

24. Experience an extraordinary presented showcase of some of the worlds most revered Old Master paintings and drawings by the greatest names in European art including Botticelli, Da Vinci and Monet at The Greats: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland at The Art Gallery of NSW as part of the Sydney International Art Series

25. Be one of the first in the world to welcome in 2016 at Sydney New Year's Eve on December 31. This extravaganza is Sydney's time to shine with a spectacular fireworks display over Sydney Harbour. Discover your best vantage point here

26. Celebrate Australia Day at Yabun Australia's largest indigenous festival in Victoria Park, Glebe

27. Take a Gallery Walking Tour of Chippendale and discover the area's edgy art scene. Gallery tours take place on the first Saturday of every month.

Soak up the sunshine at one of Sydney's many great outdoor activities

28. Pack your swimmers and seek out a secluded patch of sand at Milk Beach one of Sydney's secret harbour beaches in Vaucluse

29. No sporting spectacle says 'Sydney in Summer' like the iconic blue water classic the Rolex Sydney Harbour Yacht Race on December 26. Head to Horby Lighthouse on South Head and watch a mix of maxi yachts and weekend racers set sail through the heads on their way down the coast to Hobart

30. Catch a ferry to Manly and take on the waves with a surfing lesson at Manly Surf School

31. Soak in postcard views while getting fit swimming laps at North Sydney Olympic Pool with the flexed bicep of the Harbour Bridge overhead, and Sydney Opera House across the water

32. Discover Sydney's up-and-coming designers at Bondi Markets for an eclectic mix of original design, limited-edition handmade clothing and accessories, every Saturday and Sunday

33. Meet the superstars of the animal kingdom including lions, komodo dragons, seals and of course Australia's native birds and wildlife at Taronga Zoo. Catch the ferry for a truly iconic summer experience

34. Pack a picnic and visit Barangaroo Reserve, Sydney's newest Harbour foreshore park with idyllic coves and exquisite views of Sydney Harbour.

35. Spend the afternoon at Sydney institution Wylie's Baths, a historic sea pool at the southern end of Coogee Beach

36. Take an exhilarating rafting trip with an expert river guide at Penrith Whitewater Stadium

37. Visit Sydney's own little Vietnam – Cabramatta with all the flavour and bustles of a southeast Asian street market and make your own summer rolls at Phu Quoc

38. See Australia's best marine life without getting wet at Sydney Aquarium and meet its two amazing resident dugongs - Pig and Wuru

39. Get your serve of world tennis with the stars of the game in town from January 10 at the APIA International

40. Soak up the summer sun at the Sydney Cricket Ground for the CommBank Pink Test when Australia take on the West Indies from January 3

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