This winter, in the lead up to the longest night of the year, Sydneysiders will be treated to a new event celebrating the city’s world-class food and beverage offering, as well as its vibrant cultural, entertainment and dining precincts.
Here’s what you need to know.
What is Sydney Solstice?
The festival, Sydney Solstice, was created by the NSW Government to give a much-needed boost to hospitality businesses, cultural institutions and entertainment venues. The two week event will showcase what makes Sydney unique. Locals and visitors are invited to indulge in a different side fo the Harbour City, whilst reinvigorating local businesses hit hard by the past year.
What is there to do and will there be food and drink?
Over 12 days, there will be headline events including live music and performances, culinary experiences, local art, comedy, and immersive workshops. Explore urban laneways to city landmarks, Dive into hidden bars or indulge in glittering harbourside locations. The festival is sure to help you rediscover Sydney, in a new light.
What events will take place during Sydney Solstice?
Food and Drink
Aria After Dark will take place at Matt Moran’s harbourside restaurant, with each dinner featuring a star NSW winemaker and a sampling of their drinks, brilliantly paired with hyper-local snacks by Aria’s executive chef Joel Bickford.
Combining music, art and mealtimes, Heaps Gay takes over Sydney Town Hall with a ‘Queens Feast’ of Sydney hospitality (Bloodwood’s Claire Van Vuuren, Bart Jr’s Georgia Woodyard and MasterChef stars Sarah Tiong and Anna Polyviou) ruling the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in immersive dining, art and music experience.
Across Sydney Solstice, 15 bars around York, Clarence and Kent streets (such as Sammy Junior, Since I Left You, Prince of York) will be serving Night Over Light with their cocktails. Expect an eclectic program of cultural events (dance, theatre, music, art and more), plus there’ll be gigs at a pop-up outdoor stage and a big closing party to cap off the fun.
As two-time winner of Australia’s best beer venue (as awarded by Beer & Brewer), Bitter Phew in Darlinghurst is already a drawcard for drinkers. But its two-week Phew-Ture festival celebrates other kinds of well-fermented wonders, too, with meet-the-maker sessions and food samplings by cheesemakers, bakers and winemakers. For ‘Brew, Beats and Burgers’, head to Pyrmont’s Terminus Hotel. At this craft beer festival, you can meet boundary-pushing brewers from around the state, who are doing inventive and surprising things with ales, lagers and stouts.
At South Eveleigh, expect art installations, free performances, live music and good food over a two-day South Eveleigh Solstice Festival.
Inner West Festivals
Nearby, inner-west venues of all kinds (including some unconventional music spaces) will host sets of bluegrass, folk, Americana and other sadness-evoking strums at Sydney’s first-ever Country and Inner Western festival. Looking for the next big act? Head to Songwriters @ The Rocks, a free series of gigs that will culminate in a momentous finale on the last day of Sydney Solstice in the historic Rocks region.
After something more upbeat? DJs at Tank nightclub in the CBD will be dropping after-hour beats until 3am for Midnight Feast and you can fuel your dance moves with a dim-sum menu from Dan Hong’s award-winning Mr Wong restaurant. Nearby, Merivale keeps the party going at its other venues, with Poof Doof FT Sneaky Sound System and more hitting the Ivy. Over at the Museum of Contemporary Art, club pioneers Ministry of Sound will be highlighting the history of Australian dance music across three evenings at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Foundation Hall. Each night will be a sonic trip down memory lane, with a specific era represented and recaptured for an intimate audience.
One of a kind Sydney Experiences
Sydney Solstice also soundtracks the city in inspired and imaginative ways, with award-winning composer and didgeridoo player William Barton premiering a new work – Songlines of Our Universe – on the Sydney Observatory grounds in Millers Point, with astronomers sharing the star-gazing perspectives that inspired the very notes that guests will be hearing. For another unique experience of the city, there’s the Sydney Solstice Moonlight Sea Kayaking Experience. This is no ordinary lap around the harbour: this is the first time that the public has been allowed to kayak through this memorable and beautifully illuminated stretch of the city.
Don’t forget to book in for the Tone Deaf Live Series at The Star in Pyrmont and make sure you catch FBi Radio’s Sunset stars (Deepa, Simon Caldwell, Ben Fester, Kato & Friends) spinning their picks at the Golden Age Cinema & Bar in Surry Hills. Don’t overlook the return of The Metro Theatre – the beloved CBD venue will celebrate its relaunch with 7-Day Weekend, a week full of unforgettable headliners, including a Mardi Gras at the Metro program of scene-stealing drag, music, arts and talks by Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
Free and Family Friendly
From the Sydney Opera House and beyond, there are family-friendly that don’t cost a cent. Every sunset, the work of six female First Nations artists (including Sally M Nangala Mulda, Marlene Rubuntja and Judith Inkamala) lights up the Opera House sails as part of Badu Gili: Winter Nights. Inspired by this project, a 12-night festival will take place on the iconic landmark’s forecourt, and will include live dance performances.
Also worth seeing: A Harbour Garden, a phenomenal display of inflatable sea creatures at the Australian National Maritime Museum. This colourful, pattern-rich collaboration is a project with Goldberg Aberline Studio (which is known for creating monumental public art wonders that are scale-defying and joyous) and Studio A (a social enterprise that works closely and creatively with artists that have intellectual disabilities).
Dancing in Chinatown
During Sydney Solstice, Chinatown will become an interactive art gallery and a wide-ranging, genre-spanning dancefloor, too, thanks to Wanna Dance. There’ll be daytime ballroom lessons, and DJ-led sessions of night-time grooves, new dance stars busting their impressive moves in demonstrations and performances, as well as a dance ‘stage’ by a Haymarket heritage building that’s open to everyone.
Sydney’s Winter Wonderland
For some snow-dazed magic, head to Darling Harbour and Tumbalong Park for the two-week Darling Harbour Winter Fair. Cut a figure eight on the ice-skating rink and take an invigorating dip down the arctic ice slide, take in a live performance or be charmed by the German-themed chalets and wintry decorations.
Across history, Solstice has been a festive occasion for thousands of years. With this new Sydney incarnation, the city offers plenty to celebrate on every corner, from frosty fantasylands to one-of-a-kind feasts and Chinatown choreography to sounds that span the far-ranging stars.
When does Sydney Solstice take place?
The festival takes place from Tuesday, 8 June to Sunday, 20 June. Click here to find out more.
Where is the festival happening?
Sydney Solstice will be held across four key precincts including the CBD, Darling Harbour (surrounds), Oxford Street (surrounds), and Newtown (surrounds).
There’s plenty to celebrate this year, from new menus to restaurants throwing parties, bottomless brunches, and more.
Here, we have the latest on Sydney’s food news, from chefs taking over restaurants to limited-edition menus and feasts for all your friends to enjoy.
To celebrate World Gin Day, and for one week only, gin and food lovers can try nagashi-sōmen—translating to ‘flowing noodles’— which sees noodles sent down a bamboo chute for diners to collect with chopsticks. The one-off experience will be hosted at Kid Kyoto, where guests can enjoy their flowing noodles alongside a menu paired with delicious KI NO BI Gin cocktails. Purchase tickets here.
Tuck into a Fireball Burger
Feeling the cold? Fireball Whisky and Bar Luca have teamed up for the ultimate firey menu. Offered for a limited time only, head down to Bar Luca for $6 Fireball shots all day, a Fireball shot and cocktail on arrival, and an all-you-can-eat bites of the full “Blame Fireball” menu on Saturday, July 1. Book a spot here.
For two nights only, on Tuesday the 20th and Tuesday 27th of June, Graeme Hunt, Head Chef of Sydney’s trending late-night bar and dining venue at Zaffi, will be stepping up to the kitchen at award-winning bar PS40. Pop-up guests can expect a mosaic of colourful Lebanese-inspired bar snacks paired with exclusive midweek sips made by the mastermind behind the experimental bar, Michael Chiem.
Fan of Cinderella? The Great Hall is transforming into The Royal Palace for an enchanting high tea from July 1-2. There will be dancing and fun, and then Cinderella will run out of the venue leaving behind her glass slipper—the search for the missing beauty will begin. Tickets for the Cinderella High Tea costs $80-85 and you can purchase them here.
Grill’d has dropped two new burgers, and they’re beyond anything we could have imagined. Taking inspiration from Mexico, Grilld’s two new burgers are a Zesty Mexi and Luxe Nacho Burger. The Zesty Mexi features a black bean pattie with corn chips, tasty cheese, slaw, jalapenos, and chipotle mayo mixed with green tomatillo lime salsa. For meat lovers, the Luxe Nacho Burger is the same as the Zesty Mexi, but with a premium Wagyu pattie.