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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 29 May, 2023
Expert travel writer: Mark Chipperfield

This annual three-week January festival is the major showpiece of Sydney’s vibrant and internationally renowned performing arts scene. It’s Australia’s premier arts and culture festival and a highlight of the city’s vibrant annual event calendar.

It attracts big-name musical, theatrical and dance acts – primarily international performers, with a smattering of local and indigenous acts – many of whom would otherwise never come to Australia.

From major spectacles to small-stage performances, the rich programme of over 100 events involving more than 1,000 artists offers something for all ages and tastes. Dip in and dip out.

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
Frequency: annually
When: First 3 weeks of Jan
Duration: 3 weeks

Getting there & doing it

Events are held in venues across the city, and the major events are ticketed. There are also a number of free events such as the Opening Night, Symphony Under the Stars and the Ferrython on Sydney Harbour, which are often the best events of all.

When to do it

The festival is held in the first three full weeks of January each year.

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Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Park Hyatt Sydney

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia[0.4 miles]

A sumptuous five-star hotel in the best location in the city – under the Bridge, opposite the Opera House, with breathtaking views of the harbour all around.

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Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia[1 miles]

Overlooking Circular Quay, the benchmark for five-star luxury in Sydney offers legendary service, sumptuous interiors and excellent food and drink.

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Shangri-La Sydney

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia[1.1 miles]

A big, luxurious five-star hotel superbly sited in Circular Quay, offering some of Sydney’s finest harbour views, excellent cuisine and outstanding service.

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Langham Sydney

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia[1.1 miles]

An exclusive, sophisticated five-star hotel hideaway in the heart of Sydney’s historic Rocks, close to the spectacular Bridge and Opera House.

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Destination guides including or relevant to this experience


New South Wales, Australia

One of the world’s most dynamic and glamorous cities, with golden beaches, world-class eating and dining and effervescent, friendly people.

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Sydney Opera House

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia[0.6 miles]

Magnetic, enchanting and still remarkably modern, this iconic Opera House is a must-see. Walk around the outside or book in for a guided tour or performance.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free

The Rocks

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia[0.6 miles]

The Rocks – the birthplace of European settlement in Australia – is atmospheric, quaint, vibrant and packed with great things to taste, see, buy and explore.

Best for ages: 8+ | Free

Climb Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia[0.6 miles]

A unique and unforgettable adventure offering breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour and fascinating historical insights; the city’s ultimate must-do. One of the world’s great bucket list experiences.

Best for ages: 8+ | £110 | 2- 3 hours

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Sydney, New South Wales, Australia[0 miles]

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Best for ages: 4+ | Free | 3 weeks

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Luna Park

Luna Park

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia[0.6 miles]

This beloved, heritage-listed amusement, famous for its iconic entrance gate, opened in 1935. Today, it’s a blend of the modern and old-fashioned, including one of the last remaining wooden wild mouse rollercoasters in the world.

Best for ages: 4+ | £25

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Four cardboard cut outs on display in the justice museum sydney

Justice and Police Museum

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia[1.1 miles]

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Best for ages: 6+ | £7

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