Sydney is easily one of the greatest places in the world for good food, and even better music and art scene. But it’s been a pretty tough year for our hospitality and creative venues over the last year.
Thankfully, that’s all set to change thanks to the new Sydney Solstice festival that’s here to celebrate the best the city has to offer for two weeks over June.
Running from June 8 to 20, the local tourism campaign is based around the Winter Solstice which is known to be the shortest day and longest night of the year. But just because the days are short, it doesn’t mean winter has to be boring.
With over 200 different experiences on offer, Sydney Solstice aims to highlight the city’s best food, drink, music, arts and culture offerings around the CBD, Darling Harbour, Newtown, Oxford Street and surrounds. The festival also plans to help Sydneysiders discover new places like the CBD’s latest small-bar district, YCK Laneways, and the new South Eveleigh precinct that features Sydney’s first zero-waste bar, Re.
“The NSW government remains committed to the revitalisation of Sydney CBD and surrounds and we are thrilled at the response and interest from local Sydney businesses,” said Stuart Ayres, Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney. “We anticipate Sydney Solstice will attract many locals and visitors to Sydney.”
“This is incredibly positive for so many businesses that were affected by COVID-19 restrictions to help support their recovery, as well as the community, who are looking for new ways to rediscover the Harbour city and restore their calendar to its pre-COVID heights.”
A few of the experiences on offer include a mammoth Heaps Gay Town Hall takeover for a Queen’s Birthday long weekend banquet, aptly called ‘The Queens Feast‘. With a “twisted dark fancy” dress code and promise of a delectable four-course meal crafted by icons like dessert god Anna Polyivou and MasterChef’s Sarah Tiong, it’s set to be a cracker evening.
But if intimate eats and good wine is more your style, there’s also Aria After Dark which is an experience I was able to sample ahead of the festival. Set at Matt Moran’s harbourside restaurant, you can expect an expert selection of delicious local treats and a wine tasting that’ll leave you begging for the rest of the bottle.
Sydney Solstice isn’t all about food though. If you’re into talking over a tipple, 15 bars around York, Clarence and Kent street are also offering a bunch of cultural events to go along with their regular cocktails.
And if craft beer is more your style, there’s also Terminus Hotel’s ‘Brew, Beats and Burgers‘ long-weekend event that’s sure to tickle your fancy. But if you can’t make it over that date, Bitter Phew in Darlinghurst is also holding a two-week Phew-Ture festival to celebrate the best brews, wines, and foods Australia has to offer.
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Beyond the booze and bites to eat, there are a number of exciting cultural experiences on the Sydney Solstice line-up, too.
There’s an Aboriginal Sky Dreaming Cruise led by a First Nations astronomer for all the star-lovers, and a moonlight sea kayak tour of the Harbour for those seeking a different view of Sydney. There’ll also be a special guided trip to Me-Mel (Goat Island), which will teach guests about the significance of this island to the local Indigenous people.
But there are also epic transformations of some Sydney staples that are sure to help bring out your inner child. For example, Darling Harbour Winter Fair is set to transform Darling Harbour and Tumbalong Park into a winter wonderland with an ice-skating rink, arctic slide and German-themed chalets. Meanwhile, Sydney Aquarium is turning into an adults-only, after-dark neon wonderland filled with pop-up bars, a dancefloor, and some showstopping glowing coral, bioluminescence and sea creatures with Sea Life Glow.
Kids aren’t left out of the fun, either. Sydney Solstice has also organised a bunch of family-friendly activities that are sure to keep everyone in the house happy.
Take Badu Gili Winter Nights, for example, where the art of six female First Nations artists lights up the Opera House sails at sunset each night. Then there’s Harbour Garden, a beautiful giant inflatable installation of sea creatures at the Australian National Maritime Museum.
With so many experiences crammed into two short weeks, it’s hard to explain just how much Sydney Solstice has on offer. So you can, and should, check out the full Sydney Solstice program here to ensure your winter is full of as many exciting moments as possible.
AWOL was given a sneak peak of the festival courtesy of Sydney Solstice.
(All images: provided by Sydney Solstice)