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Ten Blockbuster Gigs and Festivals In and Around Sydney You Should Head Along to This Winter

Beat the winter chill by having a boogie.
By Ben Hansen
June 07, 2021
By Ben Hansen
June 07, 2021


Beat the winter chill by having a boogie.

On a cold winter's night, if there's a better way to warm up than heading to a bustling Sydney bar or an expansive concert venue — we've yet to find it. With singing and dancing back on the cards and so many artists rearing to hit the stage again after a year of canceled and disrupted tours, there's an overwhelming amount of gigs to catch this season.

In order to help you narrow down where all the best dance floors and sing-a-longs will be, we've picked out a few choice highlights from Sydney and regional NSW's live music calendar. Snatch up tickets before they inevitably sell out.

  • 10

    Country music is cool again. With cowboy hats and boots back in style, and a swath of young exciting country musicians emerging from Sydney and afar, Sydney’s inner west is hosting a music festival celebrating our best and brightest country talents. The Country and Inner Western will take over the lively inner city area this June long weekend. Free and ticketed sets will pop up around Newtown, Enmore and Erskineville at venues like Waywards and Kelly’s on King, but for the full Country and Inner Western experience, you can head to the Sydney Park Amphitheatre in Alexandria to catch the who’s-who of Australian country music. On the lineup: Kasey Chambers, Tex Perkins performing Johnny Cash, All Our Exes Live In Texas, Andy Golledge, Caitlin Harnett & The Pony Boys and many more.

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  • 9

    This year’s Strawberry Fields sold out in minutes, but if you missed out on tickets, the team behind the beloved regional festival is returning to its home on the border of NSW and Victoria for another dose of live music this July. Good Times Festival will pop up in the inland town of Tocumwal by the Murray River later this year, and is set to feature a soulful and folk-heavy lineup of Australian musicians — plus live art, workshops and a pop-up bar.

    To kick off the festival on the Friday, Good Times will also be taking over the Terminus Hotel with artists Izy, Anna Scionti and Southbank Snake Charmers. While over at the town’s Memorial Hall, you can catch the likes of Emma Donovan and The Putbacks, Benny Walker, Cash Savage and The Last Drinks, and Surprise Chef. Lana Scoville, a sustainability-focused artist who has worked with Strawberry Fields and Rainbow Serpent in the past, will also be facilitating a series of workshops with local school students that will culminate in the Riverina Lantern Parade through the main street of Tocumwal and down to the riverbank.

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  • 8
    24 Hour Party

    If dance floors around Sydney weren’t already in full swing, they’re about to be, thanks to a free dance party that’ll run for a full 24 hours across 12 Sydney venues. The aptly named 24 Hour Party will feature more than 80 artists across 20 stages, kicking off at 8am on Saturday, July 3 and continuing until the same time on Sunday, July 4.

    Each venue will have a unique lineup of performers and DJs curated by the likes of Heaps Gay, FBi Radio, Motorik, Picnic and Fruit Bowl. As entry is free at each venue, you’ll have the option to park yourself in front of one stage or head out on a bar crawl to catch the action at multiple venues. Heading up the lineup: former The Jezebels lead singer Hayley Mary, as well as The Aston Shuffle, Banoffee, Stevan and Betty Grumble. Some big names will also be taking to the DJ decks across the 24-hour period including northern beaches favourites Lime Cordiale, plus Jennifer Loveless, Toni Yotzi, The Buoys and Ben Fester.

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  • 7

    Supper Club is the new series of one-off dining experiences popping up over the June long weekend. Sydneysiders will be treated to dinner and a show featuring the likes of Archie Roach, Mark Olive and the former team behind Goodgod Small Club’s The Dip. For those looking for a more sultry night of crooned ballads and hearty pasta dishes, head to Mary’s Underground on Saturday, June 12. ‘Dinner at Nonna’s’ will transform the Circular Quay bar with the help of eccentric singer-songwriter Donny Benet. Benet will bring his nostalgic 80s-style pop in collaboration with Toby Stansfield, Head Chef of Fabbrica Pasta Shop, who will be in charge of the night’s carb-heavy menu. Guest can expect to be serenaded by Benet while tucking into homemade pasta and sauces with Italian wines.

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  • 6

    Following the tumultuous, yet successful run of Summer in the Domain this March, the Royal Botanical Gardens and The Domain are collaborating for another run of performances set among the CBD skyline. As part of the three-week run of gigs Winter in the Domain, Sydney’s beloved LGBTQIA+ party collective Heaps Gay is celebrating its eighth birthday with a blockbuster night of performances.

    Heading up the lineup for the Heaps Gay party are performances from dance-pop group Haiku Hands, pop sensation Banoffee, Western Sydney R’n’B hitmaker A.Girl and Touch Sensitive collaborators The Goods. Across the rest of the 30+ strong lineup are performances from the likes of Millie Sykes, Felicia Foxx, Madam3Empress, Lauren and Heaps Gay’s own DJs. Manning the hosting duties for the night will be RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under’s Karen from Finance as well as Sharon Manhattan, while Nana Miss Koori will perform a Welcome to Country to begin the event.

    Alongside the music and performances, a wondrous Winterpark will be set up in The Domain. The park will include an ice skating rink alongside family-friendly carnival rides, food and drink stalls and heated outdoor spots. The music will run from 5–10pm, with the drinks and rides continuing until 11pm.

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  • 5
    Last Light

    Taking place over seven venues in Wollongong, Last Light is a new citywide festival taking place across Sydney’s south coast neighbour. Wollongong locals and big-city visitors alike can enjoy a jam-packed night of live music with 30 acts set to pop-up at venues including Black Cockatoo, Five Barrel Brewing, Howling Wolf and the flavoured vodka-obsessed Red Square. Running from 4pm until midnight, the multi-venue festival will offer partygoers sets ranging from soft melancholic folk to dance floor-filling house.

    Last Light was created in the wake of harsh restrictions around large scale music festivals, with the hope of offering a festival-sized lineup to the public while bypassing the restrictions around mass gatherings. On the lineup, you’ll find the likes of Cool Sounds, Flowertruck, Lex Deluxe, Debbie, Baby Beef, Ruben Neeson and Pyjama Sundayz. And best of all, entry is free. All you have to do is head to Oztix and RSVP.

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  • 4
    Oxford Art Factory's 14th Birthday — CANCELLED

    Over the past 14 years, the Oxford Art Factory has stuck strong through lockout laws and a global pandemic as one of Sydney’s most beloved and popular live music venues. Featuring a moderately sized main stage, a small gallery bar and an exhibition space between the two, the OAF has hosted the likes of the Lady Gaga, Dave Grohl, Billie Eilish, Ball Park Music and even Brian McFadden over the years.

    To celebrate the venue’s birthday, the Oxford Art Factory crew is throwing a free party as part of Vivid 2021. While Gaga won’t be on hand, a jam-packed lineup of local talent has been assembled, lead by Adelaide alt-rock group Bad//Dreams. Joining them in the 10-hour live music extravaganza: Bananagun, Nice Biscuit, Poolroom, Kimono Drag Queens, Caitlin Harnett & The Pony Boys and Baby Beef just to name a few.

    DJs will also be on hand to provide the party atmosphere, with music running from 6pm until 4am. Registration is required and capacity is limited, so head to Moshtix to RSVP and get down early to ensure you get a spot.

    Image: Destination NSW

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  • 3

    The inaugural Sydney Solstice is going out with a bang — a bang that’s not only delicious, but that’s helping raise money for those in need, too. Third I Fest will see some of the inner west’s best restaurants and bars open their doors, so you can go on a globe-hopping culinary adventure — without the plane ticket. You’ll be able to buy a ‘passport’ that’ll let you eat at restaurants, such as Colombo Social, with all money raised going to employment and career opportunities for asylum seekers and Indigenous Australians doing it tough. The three-day event will also feature pop-up art galleries, food and cocktail masterclasses, and an all-day music festival showcasing international, Indigenous and inner west artists (representing the event’s three ‘i’s) on its final day.

    The music festival will take over the CBD’s Metro Theatre with performances from boundary-pushing hip-hop artists Ziggy Ramo and L Fresh the Lion, alongside Kobie Dee, Thandi Phoenix and Becca Hatch. The festival will also give you the chance to catch exciting new East Arnhem Land band King Stingray in one of their first Sydney shows. The surf-rock band has released two critically acclaimed singles and are related to members of the legendary First Nation’s group Yothu Yindi.

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  • 2
    Tim Minchin: Back

    With his flowing strawberry blonde hair and perfectly applied eyeliner, Tim Minchin has made a name for himself as Australia’s most ridiculously talented comedian and musician. The Tony Award-winning musician will be bringing his eclectic catalogue of comedic tunes to Sydney’s first ‘special entertainment precinct‘, the Enmore Theatre for a six-night run of shows as part of his latest national tour, Back. Audiences can catch Minchin debut new songs and dip into his well-worn crowd favourites like ‘White Wine in the Sun’ while enjoying the heritage architecture of the newly renovated inner west venue. Minchin’s last tour sold out all dates and picked up a Helpmann Award for Best Australian Contemporary Concert, so be sure to snag yourself a spot quick. Prices range from $81–$234 depending where you’re looking to sit.

    Top Imaage: Amy Whelan, Flickr

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  • 1
    Sampa the Great: An Afro Future — CANCELLED

    Vivid is back and as part of this year’s August edition, Sampa the Great will take to the Joan Sutherland Theatre at the Sydney Opera House for two shows on Sunday, August 8, premiering her new live show, An Afro Future. Sampa was set to premiere the show as part of Live at the Bowl in Melbourne, Summer in the Domain in Sydney and Womadelaide, however was forced to cancel due to border restrictions.

    Attendees can expect songs from the Zambian-born musician’s critically-acclaimed debut album The Return. Released in 2019, the album received universal praise on release, winning Best Hip Hop Release and Best Independent Release at the 2020 ARIA Awards, and being named the eighth best Australian debut album of all time by Double J.

    Joining Sampa the Great as part of the show is Melbourne-based neo-soul singer Mwanjé and fellow Zambian-born artist KYE.

    Top image: Lucian Coman

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