We may enjoy nearly 9 months of sunny summer weather every year in Sydney, but when winter does finally settle in, coastal camping trips and long beach days can feel like a distant memory. Savour the last of the beautiful autumn weather and even try to make the most of the brutal 15C winter days (ok, so we don’t have it that bad) by checking out some of these awesome seasonal events in and around Sydney, including the Biennale of Sydney, Royal Sydney Easter Show, Canberra District Wine Week, Sculpture at Scenic World, Lovedale Long Lunch, and VIVID Sydney. For art junkies, wine snobs, city lovers, and outdoor enthusiast, there’s still plenty to see and do, even if it does involve a puffer coat and scarf.
What's in this travel guide
1 | Biennale of Sydney
16 March – 11 June 2018
Running biennially (as the name would suggest) from early autumn to early winter, the Biennale of Sydney is a large art exhibition held principally at the Museum of Contemporary Art in The Rocks and across to Cockatoo Island. It is well and truly the only event that could pull me into an art museum, and I’ve returned yet again to wander through this current curation, entitled SUPERPOSITION: Equilibrium & Engagement. Representing 70 artists and 35 different countries, this year’s exhibition is no exception to the unconventional creativity of years past, continuing to challenge cultural views, comment on modern politics, and even start a conversation around the practice of creating art. I’m sure a lot of it zooms right over my head, but I always come away from at least a few pieces thinking about things differently, so check out this free exhibition on a rainy day and see what you find.
The MCA at the Rocks
Intricate beadwork covering 3 full walls
2 | Royal Sydney Easter Show
23 March – 3 April 2018
The largest incarnation of a long-standing Australian Easter tradition, the Royal Sydney Easter Show is a spectacle like nothing I’ve ever seen before. For two full weeks over the Easter period, the Sydney Showground at Sydney Olympic Park is transformed into a carnival of nausea-inducing rides, farm animals, food (mostly served deep-fried or on a stick), hundreds of market stalls, and even nightly fireworks. I could likely write an entire post just on this incredible and chaotic event, but it’s just something that you’ll need to experience yourself to truly appreciate the excitement and pageantry. Grabtickets online for around $40 and arrive early (and hungry) for a full 12 hours at the Show, making sure to give the goats a pat, eat your way into a sugar coma by noon, watch the woodchopping competition, stock up on all the best showbags, and marvel at the evening circus performances.
World’s best fairy floss
Feeding some of the little goats
Sampling and shopping til I drop
Prize winning chickens
3 | Canberra District Wine Week
5 – 15 April 2018
Prepare to be impressed by a wine region you may never have even heard of at Canberra District Wine Week, now running for a full 10 days of grape-fuelled fun. Murrumbatemen, the centre of Canberra’s wine-producing region (although it is technically just across the border into NSW), is home to 30 wineries, all within a half-hour of the nation’s capital. Visit cellar doors to taste the best cold climate wines (tastings are often free, but some wineries do charge a modest $5 fee), enjoy lunch overlooking the vines, do your part by stomping some grapes, and learn about the winemaking process on tours led by the vignerons themselves. Grab a few friends and make the drive or join a tour, either way be sure to stop in at Murrumbateman Winery for the small winery experience and at Four Winds Vineyard for excellent lunch options.
The gals at Clonakilla
4 | Sculpture at Scenic World
13 April – 13 May 2018
Every April, as autumn descends on the Blue Mountains and brings with it a new palette, several dozen artists install larger-than-life works on the forest floor of the Katoomba Valley as part of Sculpture at Scenic World. For $37, ride the world’s steepest railway down the cliffside and spend the day walking along a 2.5km wooden boardwalk, admiring enormous birds, intricate webs, and colourful flora interspersed between the ferns and towering trees. Included in your ticket, enjoy everything else Scenic World, the Blue Mountains’ main tourist attraction, has to offer, including a cableway through the trees or across the valley.
Enjoy excellent wine, tasty nibbles, beautiful scenery, and live music in Sydney’s popular Hunter Valley wine region every May during the Lovedale Long Lunch. Pack a bus full of friends and drive about an hour out of Newcastle to reach Lovedale, where you can then hop between 2-3 wineries for the afternoon, enjoying cheese platters, delicious meals, and, of course, plenty of wine at each. Tickets to the Saturday event run about $124, which includes 2 meal tokens, 1 cheese platter token, and a wine glass. At each winery, enjoy a tasting for an additional $5, buy wine by the glass, or even take away an entire bottle to sip at your table. There’s just no better combination than good wine and good friends.
The beautiful Gartelmann Estate
Lovedale Long Lunch
6 | Vivid Sydney
25 May – 16 June 2018
Inarguably the one autumn/winter event that I look forward to above all others, Vivid Sydney is an incredible light, art, and music festival that completely transforms the city from 6-11pm for several weeks of after-dark fanfare. Nearly 100 installations cover Circular Quay, Taronga Zoo, the Royal Botanic Garden, Darling Harbour, Luna Park, and beyond, making this the largest festival of its kind anywhere in the world and giving you plenty of opportunities to enjoy Vivid. Watch as the Opera House is transformed by ever-changing patterns, play with interactive art installations, pig out on appropriately wild treats, catch live music in the Opera House, marvel at the coordinated sounds and projections onto buildings, and even explore larger-than-life animal installations at the zoo. There’s no end to the visually-striking or, well, vivid displays of light and sound that make up this incredible (and free!) festival, and one visit is sure to have you back for a dozen more.