Beyond all its beauty lies a host of eclectic pleasures
With a city that enjoys an even climate throughout the year and mild winters, Sydney is a magnet for international visitors during all seasons. From winter temperature around 15c, New South Wales (NSW) has the unique advantage of hosting multiple, ongoing indoor and outdoor attractions for tourists and business visitors alike. Yes, it does get rainy during the winter but as the air is not cold (and it’s been scientifically proven that humans are waterproof ) what better ways to splash in a puddle or enjoy sweater weather than in this thriving city, come the southern hemisphere’s winter time.
Hosting so many attractions and eyepopping events, we’ve featured the crème de la crème of crowd pullers so you can plan to cross “Sydney” off your bucket wish list of travels this year. Thousands of annual festivals take place in this city and it’s been a struggle to narrow down the most popular ones. But we wanted to appeal to all types, whether you’re an artist in the making, or need more musical stimulation, a fitness fanatic or foodie—we have you covered. Maybe you’re traveling for the first time to NSW or returning for a repeat performance to check out events that you missed last time. Possibly you’re in the city on business, looking for ways to entertain clients, or dragging the whole family along for that once in a lifetime vacation. Then there’s all the flashpackers on a backpacking budget excursion around the south of the planet and are already knee-deep in cost control planning. Or finally, you’re one of the great solo travelers who will just sway with the wind and let your feet do the walking.
What’s the Deal with Sydney?
Here’s a summary about Sydney before we give you the lowdown on where to go and what to do when you plan your trip. As the state capital of NSW, the metropolis encapsulates the globe’s largest, natural harbor right up to the Blue Mountains. The locals are called ‘Sydneysiders’ and the city’s been inhabited for at least 30 thousand years. European convicts were deported to Sydney but this ceased in the mid 19th century and was replaced by an incredible surge of urban immigrants. With nearly five million residents, one third transplanted from overseas, the multicultural diversity of Sydney could be compared to New York. It’s also one of the world’s most expensive cities, attracting multinational corporations as the center for the Asia Pacific business & finance arena. As one of the world’s top fifteen most visited cities, beloved fixtures are the drawing attraction including: the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Taronga Zoo and the stunning downtown skyline…alongside a few koalas and kangaroos.
The residents are eclectic, from creating world renowned cuisine to pride on promoting native Aboriginal history, drawing in crowds to the Australian Museum and enjoying Christmas day lunches on the beach, just before a spot of surfing. And if you’re a rugby fanatic, you’re in excellent company as the city boasts being home and glory to nine of the sixteen teams in the NRL (National Rugby League).
You don’t just drive around Sydney; you walk, bike, take advantage of the city’s incredible public transportation systems and don’t be surprised to see locals getting to and from work or out & about by ferry across the Harbour. Imagine a commute of experiencing an attraction of the downtown skyline on the way to your event or festival!
Now let’s talk about the big events coming up over the next few months. They’re coming in thick and fast, so it’d be advised that you check mark the ones you really want to see and then book your flight and hotel around these dates. It’s more logical versus locking down flights and accommodation…and then realizing you’ll be returning home the day of a massive event.
Tie Up Those Running Shoe Laces
On May 21, the Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon takes place. With over AUD150,000 already raised in charitable funds by runners, you can enter the 21.5km race or if you’re slightly new to the scene and want to build up momentum, take advantage of the 7km race or 14km relay. Millions of cash is raised for charity by the Half Marathon and obviously you’ll also gain the heart healthy benefits of getting into shape, even if it’s just a few weeks of pre-training. With kick off at 6:45am on the day, runners are on their marks, get set and go on College Street (by St Mary’s Cathedral), with the end point at Hyde Park North. If you’re not running by 7:40am, you’ll not be allowed to enter and you’ll miss out on this historic, scenic viewing day of sprinting. There are a multitude of drink and bathroom station facilities along the way but pace yourself on the liquids to avoid cramping. It’s advised you join a team in training in advance of the big event so you’re properly guided on pacing the run. Alternatively, if you’re a beginner, the option of a slow jog along the full route is feasible and you’ll be encouraged by millions of bystanders who are cheering you on. The Half Marathon website is pretty information-condensed, including the full run route, signing up and fund raising, to team packages for personal or corporate runners. For the latter, this is an apt opportunity to bond with fellow colleagues or clients if you’re in town on a business trip and want to make the most of a productive, charitable day
Zen Your Vacation with an OMMMM
From May 25-28, the ICC Sydney at Darling Harbour will be hosting the fantastic Mind Body Spirit Festival. Running from 10am-7pm daily (6pm Sunday), it is the perfect time to check out this biannual event. With the focus on spirituality, wellness, de-stress and being in the now, you can enjoy wandering around the exhibitions (over 200), be part of free inspirational seminars, treat yourself to a massage or body pampering, sit back and enjoy live performances, find your inner white light with meditation sessions, chomp away on healthy foods and maybe book yourself into a psychic reading. Yes, it’s a hefty list of light hearted enjoyment for these four days and ideal for anyone who really needs to press that reset button. If you’re a culinary fan, make a note to attend the Soul Kitchen cooking stage, featuring plant based foods, super foods, gluten & dairy free and accommodating all quirky taste buds. Just in case you don’t have time to absorb the full event, the organizers will be back again October 26- 29 at the Sydney Olympic Park. Maybe a return trip is in order?
Drawing You into Lights, Music & Ideas
One of Australia’s most famous attractions is the VIVID Sydney festival, running for a staggering duration from May 26 through to June 17. As it’s fully loaded with exhibitions, installations and multiple displays scattered strategically around the full city, we’ve picked out a few gem events we hope you’ll add to your calendar. Have you ever seen images of the Opera House lit up in fantastic, dazzling colors? Or the Harbour Bridge blazoned in rainbow lasers? If so, you can thank VIVID Sydney. Correct, this is the time of the year when the city is transformed into a magical wonderland and the public events are free! It’s known as the globe’s largest outdoor art gallery and it won’t disappoint. Multiple local and international artists create stunning interpretations using the city’s urban spaces to portray their visions. VIVID Music focuses on world renowned and local artists performing at the Opera House, small bars and large venues. VIVID Ideas objective is directed at innovation and imagination— whether it’s a design installation or movie, marketing or animation, start up culture or pure visual arts. And VIVID Light encompasses the full spectrum of sensational ‘light art’ installations, sculptures and serious grand scale visual projections. From using the talents by phenomenally talented designers and artists, they’ll literally change the way you view the city’s landmarks. Usually, VIVID hosts a theme but this year, there is no such umbrella agenda so expect to be wowed at every corner you turn. It’s going be diverse, eclectic and iPhone camera snapping worthy. Check their website for the prices of individual events. It’s Sydney’s glorified, visual gift to you and it is just awe inspiring.
Say Cheese to a Festival
Something to put a smile on your face in June is the Cheese Lovers Festival on the 17th and 18th. Located in Pokolbin, the Hunter Valley region in NSW, if dairy is your food vice, you’re in for a massive treat. A brilliant event for the whole family, you can bond with Sydney-siders and tourists alike while you eat your way through the next 48 hours. The website is packed with nonstop tastings so while you eat, you can be walking from one attraction to the next and making sure that weight stays off. Beginning with a three-hour dinner on the first night, hosted by Nick Haddow, celebrity chef and cheese maker, it’s a perfect introduction to enjoy this stunning three course dinner with cheese in each dish, naturally. On the Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 5pm, the Kurrajong Kitchen sponsors the masterful cheeses that will have you nibbling straight through the morning to late afternoon. It starts with a classic cheese lunch on the Saturday with accompanying cheese workshops. With a limited number of available attendee tickets for a ‘4 Animals, 8 Cheeses’ workshop on the Sunday, you’ll be educated on cheeses from buffalo to goat, cows and sheep. True, buffalo do make great cheeses! Amongst a flurry of additional tasting events including wine pairing, there’s the Fancy Cheesecake Competition where you can enter to win cash prizes. For events that include a fee, we suggest you buy tickets in advance. Prices are reflected on the website, per event versus the whole weekend so you can pick and choose which to indulge in. To get to the festival, you can either drive or take a bus from multiple locations in Sydney but also account, there’s a dedicated coach service available. Check the website for more details.
Where to Rest Your Weary Head
Downtown Sydney is usually the first point of searching for accommodation but we’re encouraging you to venture off the beaten path. There are a couple of stunning hotels located in the city and, like a Sydney-sider, you can ferry ride to landmark attractions within 15 minutes. For the budget conscious, these two affordable establishments will be well received by your credit card statement come payment time versus the overinflated chain hotels:
One of Sydney’s oldest hotels, Cremorne Point Manor is located in the affluent Cremorne Point district. Not only is it situated near the famous Taronga Zoo (you may hear the lions roar at night), it also offers one of the most glorious, visual Harbour skyline spots… from your hotel room balcony. So much so that the hotel is packed during New Year’s Eve as it boasts the best firework views in the city. This four-star AAA rated, 29-bedroom boutique hotel’s rates start from AUD125. Maybe consider treating yourself to the 5 start Penthouse suite—with panoramic views of the city and taking up the whole top floor of the hotel. And if you’re traveling with a group, Cremorne Point Manor is featuring their winter offer deals.
If you’re more into the buzz of hipster lifestyles, then Glenferrie Lodge in nearby Kirribilli is going to be more up your accommodation alley. This three-star boutique hotel is in a thriving bar and restaurant district, on the same street as the Prime Minister’s residence, by the sensational Admiralty House and close to Luna Park. Most rooms have shared bathrooms, hence the more affordable rates starting at AUD79. A bonus: The Lodge has a gorgeous, guest only garden to chill out in and a perfect setting to trade travel tips with other visitors. Both hotels have received consecutive Certificate of Excellence Awards by Tripadvisor, voted by the public. Glenferrie Lodge also has group winter rates available.