Things To Do

Refresh Your Creative Soul With Sydney’s Best Art And Culture Events This Year

By Jess Willemse
31st May 2022

An artwork of Neon light in a dark room at the Sydney Biennale.

Sydney is brimming with places to get your creativity flowing. Whether you're seeking a refresh from the nine-to-five or searching for inspiration, you can bank on finding it in this enchanting, high-energy city. 

With a packed annual rotation of exhibitions, art festivals, compelling seminars, and prestigious awards, Sydney can deliver a much-needed arty hit at any time of the year. We've teamed up with Destination New South Wales to help you narrow down what's on.

Here are our top picks from Sydney's upcoming creative, cultural calendar.  

Biennale of Sydney

Saturday, March 12 – Monday, June 13

World-class contemporary art at your fingertips? It's a big yes from us. The Biennale of Sydney isn't just a highly-anticipated local event, it's considered one of the best modern art showcases in the world. As the largest annual exhibition in Australia, there's no shortage of things to tickle your brain and dazzle your senses. The 23rd Biennale, directed by José Roca, shatters our already high expectations with a considered exploration of rivers and wetlands. Creatives and their work navigate this subject along the waterways of the Gadigal, Burramatagal and Cabrogal peoples. On the agenda are guided exhibition tours, nature walks, workshops and artist talks—get clued up on the Biennale programme here. 

Mary Poppins The Musical 

Opening Night 26 May 

Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s new production of Mary Poppins is set to dazzle and delight audiences at the Sydney Lyric Theatre this May. Drenched in nostalgia and adapted from the beloved stories by PL Travers and the original film, the world’s all-time favourite nanny comes to life on stage in a spectacular and unforgettable production. Hailed as "practically perfect in every way" from around the globe, the unmissable musical has finally arrived in Sydney and is certainly worth the trip for the feel-good singalong alone. Be sure to snap your ticket up through Ticketmaster, stat. 

Moulin Rouge! The Musical!

28 May – 25 September

You know a musical is a must-see when it rakes in over 10 Tony Awards including the top gong for Best Musical—it's a no-brainer. This year, Baz Luhrmann’s revolutionary film comes to life on stage in Sydney's iconic Capitol Theatre and is not to be missed. Remixed in a new musical mash-up extravaganza featuring over 70 songs, including many of the iconic hits from the movie, as well as welcomed contemporary additions from Adele, Katy Perry, Sia, Beyonce, Rihanna and more, Moulin Rouge! The Musical! guarantees to be a raucously fun night out. Continue the roaring early 20th Century feels with post-show cocktails at somewhere like Sydney's Palmer and Co or The Baxter Inn. 

​​Vivid Sydney 

Friday, May 27 – Saturday, June 18

Frankly, Vivid needs no introduction. This immersive event full of colour, creativity and performances should hands-down top your Aussie bucket list. The 2022 festival is set to turn up the dial on all things spectacular, taking over our favourite Sydney haunts for 23 days. You'll be treated to the longest Light Walk in Vivid history, a magical collision of technicolour lighting and projections taking over Sydney Opera House through to Central Station. That's just the start of it; the events span three whimsical themes of light, music and ideas, with appearances from Troye Sivan, BLESSED and more. Prepare to stack your calendar with colour; here's everything you need to catch at Vivid Sydney this year. 

Archibald Prize Exhibition 

Saturday, May 14 – Sunday, August 28

Add the annual Archibald Prize Exhibition to your creative to-do list if you'd like to see history in the making. You may have heard the name before but let's get the details straight—the Archibald Prize is the most well-known portrait painting competition in Australia. The rules are simple; entries must be a painting of a well-known person in art, science or politics. The intention is to document some of Australia's most prominent people through the lens of local creatives. The winner and finalists are displayed at the Art Gallery of NSW from May through to August, so don't miss your chance to catch this one-of-a-kind exhibition. 

Sydney Contemporary

Thursday, September 8 – Sunday, September 11

Here for a good time, not a long time, Sydney Contemporary sure knows how to make a splash across just four days. Going down in September, there are over 80 galleries jam-packed with pieces from more than 450 contemporary artists. On the exhibition front, you'll find leading galleries displaying solo and group exhibits and collaborations between emerging venues and artists. Beyond the walls adorned with work, there are also immersive large-scale installations and informal evenings of expert banter to discover. 

For more information on how to Feel New in Sydney and New South Wales, head to visitnsw.com or sydney.com.

Editor's note: this article was produced in partnership with Destination New South Wales. Thank you for supporting the partners who make Urban List possible. To read our editorial policy, click here.

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