Sydney is a city which thrives on festivals. No matter what time of the year it is there is something going on. The city is one of the most multicultural cities in the world. People from all over the world live here and they all love to celebrate their own culture as well as that of their adopted home. The best festivals in Sydney are those that celebrate both and bring people together. Sydney’s festivals are a great place to hangout with the locals and enjoy what makes the city such a special place. So, here are the ones I highly recommend.
Aptly named to top the list of best festivals in Sydney is the Sydney Festival. Held every year in January the festival is a celebration of all things Sydney. Music, arts and performance are combined with intellectual speakers and seminars. The festival takes place throughout the month all over the city. There are so many performances every year that you’ll have a hard time picking. I’d suggest, if you’d like to see the local Sydney, getting in to watch a local performance or seeing a DJ in one of the city’s many parks. You can find more information about this years festival here.
Vivid Light Festival is one of the most amazing festivals you’ll attend anywhere in the world. But the quality of the festival is reflected in the masses of people who attend. The festival takes place in and around the CBD centred in Circular Quay. The buildings surrounding the Quay are illuminated with lights that move and display art. The experience is one of a kind with the sails of the Sydney Opera taking centre stage. Artists spend the entire year preparing to make the festival spectacular. It is held every year around May to June and is a must see in Sydney. You can find more about the festival here.
Sydney’s Mardi Gras festival is one of the largest gay and lesbian events in the world. Through February to March the city turns into a giant rainbow flag and is celebrated by almost everyone. There are a number of events throughout the festival period but everything comes to a head for the main event – a parade through the city. The parade grinds the city to a halt and you’ll see people in costume out enjoying their right to free speech. This years festival will is set to be a huge festival being the first festival after gay marriage was legalised in Australia. The action is centred around the famous Oxford Street. You can find more information on it here.
New Town Festival
New Town is one of Sydney’s trendiest neighbourhoods, sitting just outside the CBD. The area is packed with young artists and bohemians. There is a niche bar that caters to everyone’s needs, bookstores and record stores are aplenty. The New Town Festival fires up in November and is one of the best festivals in Sydney if you enjoy indie music and craft beers. The festival is a mash up of art, market stalls, food, drinks and music and draws people from all walks of life. It’s very much a family friendly festival and dog friendly too! You can find out more about the festival here.
Norton Street Festa
If you love Italian food and Italian culture you’ll love Norton Street Festa. Sydney has a huge Italian population and they are very proud of their culture and food (as they should be). Every October the Norton Street Festa fills the main street of Italian town to become one of the largest Italian festivals in the Southern Hemisphere. The streets are lined with stalls serving the best of the best of Italian cuisine and coffee. The locals show off their Italian sports cars and there are live cultural performances. It’s a fantastic festival for a date or for a family. You can find out more about the festival here. If you’re not in town at the right time you can stop by the festivals little brother – Ferragosto – which happens in August in Five Dock, the next suburb over.
No list of the best festivals in Sydney would be complete without a wine festival. Australia is world famous for producing wine and with the Hunter Valley being on the city’s backdoor it would be rude not to try a glass or three. Vinoparadiso wine festival takes place in November and brings together some of the best vineyards in the region to show off their wares. The festival happens in the historic Rocks district right next to Circular Quay. You’ll be able to sample as many local wines as you’d like and take a few home. You’ll be able to find more information about the festival here.
Manly Jazz Festival
As if the famous Manly beach isn’t beautiful enough Sydneysiders can attend a jazz festival there every September – October. The festival brings together some of the best jazz musicians in the city who take great pleasure in having a jam next to the ocean. Performances take up the streets as well as the local bars and it’s a great place to have a drink with the locals. Whether you sit and enjoy the music or stroll along the beach front you’ll hear jazz everywhere in Manly during this festival. You can find more information here.
This list of the best festivals in Sydney is by no means exhaustive. Sydney has a lot of amazing events and festivals for people of every culture and background. If you’re travelling to the beautiful seaside city get in touch with one of our guides to give you a local perspective, you can find them here.