Activities & Itineraries

The Best Free And Cheap Things To Do In Sydney In February

By Hugo Mathers
5th Feb 2024

Living in Sydney/Eora is expensive; rent isn’t cheap, inflation is setting in, and the price of your morning coffees can really take the biscuit. Here at Urban List, we know there are still bargains to be found in our beautiful city so you can plan an epic date night, take visitors on an unforgettable day out, or explore a new part of town with little more than the change in your pocket.

February in Sydney is all about making the most of the final official days of summer, so there are bargain outdoor cinemas, plenty of art and culture, and Lunar New Year celebrations on the agenda.

These are the best free and cheap things to do in Sydney in February.

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Free Things To Do In Sydney This Month

Parramatta Lunar New Year

Parramatta Square and surrounds

The streets of Parramatta will be alive with art installations, live performances, cultural workshops and street food to celebrate Lunar New Year. With Parramatta Square aglow with lanterns, a giant interactive dragon installation and a roving (and dancing) dragon and lion, street food stalls will offer everything from traditional dragon beard candy and mochi donuts, to gourmet crepes and BBQ skewers.

Meanwhile, the Happy Dragon Bar will serve up drinks including the Lunar New Year-themed Dragon Sling, and you can get involved in Chinese calligraphy, flower painting, ink stamping, stamp carving and amulet card making. Check out the full list of events here.

The details

When: Saturday 10 February
Cost: Free

Altos Mexican Wave

Various locations

Altos tequila is celebrating the end of Dry January by shouting 20,000 margaritas across the city, plus bankrolling one lucky winner's trip to Mexico for their Mexican Wave. Locals like Imperial Hotel and The Roosevelt will be offering up free margaritas courtesy of Altos, and there'll be a month-long Casa de Altos takeover at Bondi’s Hotel Ravesis, with artist workshops (on Thursday 8), $15 margaritas on World Margarita Day (Thursday 22), live DJs, and tequila giveaways. Find your nearest venue, register for your free margarita, and enter for the chance to win a trip to Mexico here.

THE DETAILS

When: Until Thursday 29 February
Cost: One free margarita with registration

Dragon Boat Festival

Cockle Bay Wharf, 201 Sussex Street

dragon boat festival lunar new year darling harbour 2024
Image credit: Darling Harbour | Supplied

Darling Harbour’s bringing in the Year of the Dragon this month with a bunch of one-off events. As part of the line-up this year they’re hosting the biggest dragon boat festival in the southern hemisphere, with over 3,000 paddlers and 40 teams battling it out on Sydney harbour, together with onboard drummers to keep the heat up.

There’s even more to get stuck into while you’re watching from the sidelines, with DJ sets, roving street performances and martial arts demos rolling throughout the three action-packed days of competition.

The Details

When: Friday 16–Sunday 18 February
Cost: Free to watch

Laneway Cinema

Playfair Street, The Rocks

Free things to do in Sydney - Laneway CinemaImage credit: Laneway Cinema | Supplied 

We’ve been waiting all winter for the return of our favourite free movie theatre: The Rocks’ much-loved Laneway Cinema. Back for another summer of iconic movies, the outdoor screen will play one movie every Wednesday night until March.

This month they’re working with the theme of love for Valentine's Day, screening When Harry Met Sally, 50 First Dates, The Wedding Singer and Muriel’s Wedding, with all $2 popcorn purchases going to The Heart Foundation.

THE DETAILS

When: Until 27 March
Cost: Free, registrations recommended

Aesop Queer Library

Aesop, 3038/500 Oxford Street, Bondi Junction


Image credit: Aesop | Supplied

Aesop Queer Library returns to Sydney this month, showcasing 45 LGBTQIA+ authors at Aesop Bondi Junction. The activation champions queer storytelling’s transformative power and amplifies marginalized voices by showcasing titles that delve into perspectives of BIPOC, trans and gender-non-conforming communities.

Aesop will remove all their regular products from the store’s shelves and replace them with selected books sourced from queer, independent and local bookstore Hares & Hyenas.

The details

When: Wednesday 28 February–Sunday 3 March
Cost: Free entry and book to keep

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A Blueprint For Ruins

White Rabbit Gallery, 30 Balfour Street, Chippendale 


Image credit: White Rabbit Gallery | Instagram

Spanning four floors of the impressive White Rabbit Gallery, A Blueprint for Ruins explores a world without people, where only monuments and memories of culture and life remain, in a reflection on China's race to embrace modernity.

The works curated by David Williams (including an abandoned nightclub scene, bronze, resin and marble sculptures, paintings, prints and more) provide an immersive and thought-provoking look into the effects of urbanisation on trade, the environment, culture and humanity. A Blueprint for Ruins is open 10am–5pm, Wednesday–Sunday.

THE DETAILS

When: Until Sunday 12 May
Cost: Free

Phoenix Central Park Season XI

Phoenix Central Park, 37-49 O'Connor Street, Chippendale


Image credit: Phoenix Central Park | Instagram

Phoenix Central Park is back with its 11th season of another eclectic and awesome program of acclaimed, forward-thinking artistic performances.

With tickets available via a diplomatic ballot sustem, this year’s line-up includes punk icon Mick Harvey, electronic auteur Tim Hecker, rising rapper Mulalo, and post-internet jazz duo DOMi and JD Beck.

THE DETAILS

When: Until Thursday 18 April
Cost: Free, but must secure tickets in the ballots here

Louise Bourgeois Goes To The Movies

Art Gallery of NSW, Art Gallery Road, Sydney CBD

The Art Gallery’s free summer film series is in full swing—but you’re not too late to get involved. The gallery’s cosy basement theatre is hosting a months-long program of classic psychodramas courtesy of one of the most iconic artists of the past century, Louise Bourgeois.

Featuring stone-cold classics like The Wizard Of Oz and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, interspersed with thrillers like That Cold Day In The Park and Story Of Women, the series is full of cult hits and lesser-known gems.

THE DETAILS

When: Until Sunday 10 March
Cost: Free, bookings recommended

Cheap Things To Do In Sydney This Month

Brewdog Anti-Valentine’s Day

Brewdog, Bay 1 Locomotive Workshops, South Eveleigh

South Eveleigh’s Brewdog is celebrating all the single souls out there this Valentine’s Day with an Anti-Valentine’s Day Pity Pizza Party. For the whole week, Brewdog will be serving up 90 minutes of bottomless pizza with a schooner of their Anti-Valentine’s beer and dessert for the bargain price of $35 per person. 

When: Monday 12–Sunday 18 February 
Cost: $35pp

Homos, Or Everyone In America

New Theatre, 542 King Street, Newtown

This year’s Sydney Mardi Gras festival theme is "Our Future"—and a strong future only exists when we acknowledge the past. Homos, or Everyone in America hones in on a chapter of our recent past. 

In a supposedly progressive society, the central couple faces challenges to their ideas of sexual liberation, monogamy, and the belief that as a society we’re "doing better". Homophobia and hypocrisy are persistent. But don’t be deterred by these challenging themes—there are loads of laughs along the way, and a complex relationship to lovingly untangle. 

THE DETAILS

When: Tuesday 6 February-Saturday 9 March
Cost: $25 Thrifty Thursday or New Theatre Members

Cøsmix

Factory Theatre, 105 Victoria Road, Marrickville

Image credit: Cøsmix | Instagram

Multi-instrumental funk fiends Cøsmix are the band to see if you want to get a serious groove on. Progressive without being pretentious, their songs are unexpected, energetic, and a little bit zany. It’s like sticking Jamiroquai and The Mars Volta in a burlap sack to fight their way out and seeing who wins—and the answer is, we all win. 

Playing the Factory Theatre this February, the genre-bending trio are joined by soul/jazz singer Jade Steg, and indie pop-rockers The Causeway. Tickets for this one will lift your spirits without breaking your budget, so get in quick.

THE DETAILS

When: Saturday 17 February, 7.30pm 
Tickets: $22.85 here

Sunset Cinema North Sydney

Bondi Pavillion, Bondi

Image credit: Sunset Cinema | Instagram

This summer, North Sydney Oval is raising the curtain on one of the most exciting cinema series in the city. Sunset Cinema is an open-air movie theatre, screening fresh releases like Wonka and Anyone But You, favourites like 10 Things I Hate About You, and family-friendly picks including Wish and Trolls Band Together against a gorgeous open-air backdrop.

BYO picnics are encouraged, bean bags will be rolled out, and a bunch of hot food and drinks will be available on-site. Tickets are $25 and you can check out the movie line-up here.

THE DETAILS

When: Until Friday 8 March
Tickets: $25pp

Moonlight Cinema

The Amphitheatre, Centennial Park


Image credit: Moonlight Cinema | Supplied

Moonlight Cinema is back in town, cranking up its projectors for another season of balmy nights and movies under the stars.

From new summer releases like The Hunger Games: Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes and the brand-new rom-com Anyone But You starring Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell there's something for everyone and, as usual, you'll be able to unroll a picnic blanket and throw down a few pillows to relax on with your mates, or go VIP and opt for one of the plush bean bags. There's also onsite food trucks dishing up tasty eats and a new Aperol Spritz bar for cheeky drinks.

The details

When: Until Sunday 24 March
Cost: From $26pp

Sunset Sessions 

Biloela House, Cockatoo Island

Take a trip out to Sydney Harbour's stunning Cockatoo Island this summer for a chilled, family-friendly evening of live music with Sunset Sessions

There’s no better way to watch the sun go down than on the lawns of the heritage-listed Biloela House, pairing panoramic views of the Sydney Harbour with some laid-back vibes, and you bring snacks (just no alcohol) or add on tasty refreshments like grazing boxes courtesy of Marina Café & Bar. 

THE DETAILS

When: Saturdays until 6 April
Cost: $35pp

Mov’In Bed Beach Cinema

Harbour Park, Barangaroo


Image credit: Mov’In Bed Beach Cinema | Supplied

The home of cosy cinema is moving; Mov’In Bed Beach Cinema, which has won the hearts of many reclined Sydney cinema-goers in recent years, is shifting its furniture to the beach. The world’s biggest outdoor “bed cinema” is setting up shop on Barangaroo’s Harbour Park this summer, where 280 tonnes of white sand will be topped with a five-metre 4K screen and 150 queen-size beds, pillows and blankets.

Tuck yourself in for recent blockbusters like NapoleonKillers of the Flower Moon and Ferrari, with tickets ranging from $12 for a spot on the sand (you can BYO snacks) to shared VIP beds from $75pp. Learn more here.

When: Until Sunday 14 April
Cost: From $12pp

Ocean Photographer Of The Year

The Australian National Maritime Museum, 2 Murray Street, Sydney CBD

An image of a paper nautilus by Jialing Cai, which has one the Ocean Photographer of the Year awardImage credit: Ocean Photographer of the Year | Jialing Cai

In a world premiere event, The Australian National Maritime Museum is hosting the Ocean Photographer of the Year exhibition, shining a light on the blue planet’s mesmerising natural beauty. Showcasing the winners and finalists from Oceanographic Magazine’s global competition, you can catch the stunning work of some of the world’s best underwater photographers up close and get inspired.

THE DETAILS

When: Until Sunday 26 May
Cost: $25pp

Free And Cheap Things To Do In Sydney Year-Round

Picnic On The Harbour

 

Boat on Sydney HarbourImage credit: GoBoats | Supplied 

Don't have a boat licence? No worries—you can still take a boat out on a sunny afternoon and live the high life even when on a budget. Sydney’s GoBoat adventures are starting at D’Albora Marina, 138 Cabarita Road, Cabarita. For a one-hour cruise with a full ship, you'll be paying under $20 a person.

Prefer a workout on the water? Over in the Eastern Suburbs, you can hire watercraft from Point Piper Kayak Centre and Rose Bay Aquatic Hire, with one-hour SUP or kayak sessions costing under $25.

If you want to see what lurks beneath the surface, you can hire a "clearview" kayak from Manly Sailing for just $14 per hour. For more paddle-perfect places, check out the best kayaking spots in Sydney

Fun, Games, And Big Kid Energy 

Two people in ball pitImage credit: Hijinx Hotel | Supplied 

Hijinx Hotel is the "world's first challenge room hotel" and it's in Sydney. The concept comes by way of Funlab—AKA the team behind throwback entertainment go-tos Holey MoleyArchie Brothers Cirque ElectriqB. Lucky & Sons, and La Di Darts.

Here, it's all about the challenge (not the panic). Think escape room vibes, but less stress-inducing and more like the nostalgic games of your childhood like Floor Is Lava, Pinball, Tetris, and Twister. Yep, expect Big Kid Energy here—and it costs $25 per person (or $20 for those under 18). Book here.

Explore Sydney’s Galleries And Museums

Image credit: Art Gallery of NSW | Supplied

There’s plenty to see and do for free this month at some of Australia’s best cultural institutions. The Museum of Contemporary Art, Art Gallery Of NSW, and Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre allow you to access its permanent collections and some exhibitions for zero dollars.

Many of Sydney's top independent and small-scale galleries such as Firstdraft and White Rabbit Gallery are also free to enter. For the more science- and history-inclined, the Australian Museum, Powerhouse Museum, and the Chau Chak Wing Museum all offer free entry seven days a week. For more inspo, check out the best museums in and around Sydney over here.

Catch Up With The Crew Over A BYO Feast

hands picking up pizza at Bar ReggioImage credit: Bar Reggio | Instagram

While we’ll always leave the wine lists and the wine pairings to Sydney’s seasoned sommeliers, if you’re saving your pennies, BYO is a cheaper way to wine and dine. Plus, there’s something fun about hitting your favourite bottle-o before dinner and winding your way through decorated aisles to find the perfect convoy for your boozy feast.

You can carb load at Darlinghurst mainstay Bar Reggio, tuck into next-level Thai at uni favourite Thai Pothong, or dip into a Middle Eastern feast at late-night go-to, Fatima's. Check out the best BYO restaurants in Sydney over here.

Take A Hike

people walking over bridge at Parsley BayImage credit: Destination NSW | Supplied

Whether you’re looking for a dog-friendly foreshore walk, an inner-city stroll, Sydney’s most iconic coastal track, or an 18.5-metre high loop to get your sky-high steps in, this list of Sydney's best walks has you covered.

Those who are keen to get the blood pumping a little more than what you'd get on a neighbourhood strut, check out the most scenic hikes in Sydney and around NSW. You can challenge yourself by completing the 80km coastal track from Bondi to Manly, hike along a section of the historic Six Foot Track in the Blue Mountains, or plan a trip up the coast to explore ancient rainforests in Dorrigo National Park (but, yes, petrol will tip this one to the more expensive side).

For more things to do in Sydney, check out:

Image credit: City of Parramatta | Supplied

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