If we’re looking for signs of nightlife and a return to normality in Sydney, then the brand new Sydney Solstice festival is a shiny bright star on the horizon.
Dreamt up by the NSW Government and Destination NSW in a continued effort to revive local tourism after the hardships of 2020, the festival was announced back in March. Today the full program of events and happenings has dropped, and well, let's just say it's big and it's pretty damn exciting.
Kicking off on Tuesday 8 June, the 13-day winter festival wraps up just before the actual winter solstice on Monday 21 June—hence the name. Designed to sing, dance, and shout about Sydney's awesome food, music, art, and nightlife culture, the festival will pop up across the city in four key precincts, including the CBD, Darling Harbour, Oxford Street, and Newtown and the Inner West.
Big-time highlights on the bill include a debaucherous immersive feast at Town Hall, created by the party crew at Heaps Gay. Called "The Queens Feast" it'll be a last supper type affair held on the Queens Birthday long weekend. Led by chefs and food legends Anna Polyivou, Sarah Tiong, Claire Van Vuuren (Bloodwood), and George Woodyard (Bart Jnr), the dress code is reds, blacks, leathers, lace, and it'll be accompanied by an all-out art and music experience.
Meanwhile, Mr. Wong will be hosting a one-off midnight feast; the house music heroes at Ministry of Sound will pop up at the Museum of Contemporary Art for a warehouse party; and Sydney's first-ever country and western festival will be taking over various parts of the inner west, including sunny Sydney Park. The Metro Theatre, one of Sydney's most beloved music venues will reopen its doors (at last) with "7 Day Weekend"—seven consecutive nights of epic live gigs.
If you love stargazing (who doesn't), winter is the best time to do it, and you'll want to check out this Aboriginal Sky Dreaming cruise, led by a First Nations astronomer. During the tour, you'll learn about Gugurmin or "the emu in the sky", which is one of Australia’s most famous dark constellations and holds special meaning for our First Nations people.
Also on the water is this super special moonlight kayaking tour of Sydney Harbour—a spectacular op to see the city twinkle and sparkle from the sea.
Finally, if you haven't had the chance to suss out Sydney's newest foodie precinct, South Eveleigh, make sure you hit up the South Eveleigh Solstice Festival, a two-day street festival showcasing the new spot's best eats alongside performance, art installations, music, and more.
Winter solstice marks the onset of winter with the shortest day on the calendar. So fittingly, this new festival is here to remind us that while our summer months are blessed with gorgeous weather, magnificent beaches, and long days in beer gardens, Sydney is still vibrant and full of excitement in the winter months.
Suss out the full program for Sydney Solstice right here.
What: Sydney Solstice
When: Tuesday 8 June – Sunday 20 June
Where: Various locations throughout Sydney
Visiting Sydney or keen to make a night of it? Book a stay at one of Sydney's best hotels.
Image credit: Paul Carmona