Come As You Are: the shows, games and events heating up Sydney this autumn

Come As You Are: the shows, games and events heating up Sydney this autumn

The autumn winds may be blowing through Sydney, but as the weather cools, the action heats up across the East. Lara Picone picks through the season’s hottest events, big and smalall

Hit the lights and music

Vivid Sydney once again lights up our city from May 24 until June 15. The illuminating installations will always draw crowds, but this year the music line-up threatens to steal some of the limelight. Robert Smith and his British band The Cure premiere their tour at the Opera House during the festival. Unbelievably (to many), 2019 marks 30t years since the release of The Cure’s gloomily gothic masterpiece, Disintegration. Wildly popular homegrown electronic trio Rüfüs Du Sol will also throw shade on the lights when they perform at Carriageworks during the festival.

An ode to our oceans

As the weather cools, we may be hesitant to dip a toe in the ocean but we can still celebrate the big blue at the inaugural Bondi Ocean Lover’s Festival from April 11 to 14. The festival is founded by Bondi local Anita Kolni and designed to create awareness about ocean health. Engage with films and talks, potter around the eco markets, dive into swim and surfing events, or practice your dolphin pose at sunrise beach yoga. Icebergs Pool will also be home to an immersive display by the Sydney Institute of Marine Science.

Literary leanings

With the weather dictating a return to more introverted pursuits, it’s the perfect time to delve into the written word in all its forms. Sydney Writers’ Festival, which runs from April 29 until May 5, is again being held at Carriageworks and affords avid readers, aspiring wordsmiths and culture vultures alike the chance to deeply engage in literature across more than 300 absorbing conversations, from workshops to talks and panel discussions.

Return to Nirvana 

While everything ’90s is cool again, the edgy, angsty music of Seattle grunge band Nirvana transcends any short-lived nostalgic trend. You can relive (or discover) the band’s phenomenal impact on music beyond its time at Blender, Australia’s only gallery dedicated to music photography. The 1991-era feature collection of images by Kirk Weddle is raw, playful, and twinged with tragedy in a post-Kurt Cobain world. It will plunge any ’90s kid into deep teenage reverie. Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind runs until mid-April.

Nirvana, Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind

Discover modern dance

If you’ve always been a lover of traditional ballet but haven’t yet explored the energetic flow of modern dance, resolve to address that oversight this season. An excellent place to begin is with The Australian Ballet’s presentation of Verve at the Opera House from April 5 to 25. Verve is a dynamic and moving expression of contemporary dance; a trio of diverse ballets choreographed by three Australian talents. The performance begins with Alice Topp’s acclaimed Aurum, a Japanese-inspired exploration of fragility and flaws danced across a reflective golden floor. It will be followed by Stephen Baynes’s Constant Variants, a soft, delicate piece that alludes to the beauty of Renaissance paintings. The final chapter is Tim Harbour’s pared back Filigree and Shadow, a heart-racing, fast and ferocious dance set to an electronic score. Verve will be closely followed by a new production of the classic ballet, Giselle in a Maina Gielgud production (May 1-18).

Autumn on the field 

Fasten your fascinator, it’s time for autumn racing. And autumn is all about The Championships, a $20 million race carnival held over two consecutive Saturdays — Derby Day on April 6 at Royal Randwick and the mighty Queen Elizabeth Stakes Day on April 13. You will find yourself swept up in the thrill of thoroughbred racing, aided by some liberal pours of bubbles, naturally. And that’s without even mentioning the star of this year’s carnival — the mighty mare, Winx, aiming for her 33rd win on the trot in her final appearance. In years to come, people will remember where they were the day Winx retired.

The Championships Royal Randwick

Salute our soldiers 

Rise early to pay tribute to the fallen on ANZAC Day at North Bondi RSL. The traditional April 25 dawn service begins at 6am, so set the alarm and head to the beach to give thanks to our first ANZACs and the brave servicemen and women who have followed in their footsteps. The service grows in popularity year by year as new generations discover the ultimate sacrifice paid by our servicemen and women.

A different way to reflect

If getting up at dawn is not your thing, then pay your respects instead at the football. Each year on ANZAC day, the Sydney Roosters take on St George-Illawarra in a traditional afternoon clash at the Sydney Football Stadium. This year, demolition work at Allianz means the match has moved next door to the Sydney Cricket Ground, but the April 25 ceremony will be the same — with a moving tribute to former players who also served, the playing of the Last Post and a parade. It’s stirring to sit in a packed arena as an eerie silence descends and more than 40,000 spectators pause to reflect.

Mums get green

Feel-good Bondi homewares store Jones & Co is encouraging green thumbs for Mother’s Day with a free one-hour plant workshop on the evenings of May 8 and 9. With a cocktail and snack in hand, mums — or those looking to treat their mum with a green gift on the second Sunday in May — will learn everything from loving, living with and looking after our leafy friends, plus they’ll receive a 20 per cent store discount for the night. It’s good to be green.

Mums get green Jones & Co

Swannies’ songs

The red and white army will be out in force this winter to witness the Sydney Swans in what is expected to be a big year for the team. The AFL has introduced new rules to free up the midfield, which should see Swans star Buddy Franklin on the loose to kick big hauls of goals. Expect entertainment aplenty. The Swans play Melbourne on April 11 and are back again at the Sydney Cricket Ground on April 27 for the local derby clash with the Western Sydney Giants.

Settle in for drama

If Tennessee Williams’s legendary Cat on a Hot Tin Roof isn’t enough to have you booking tickets faster than you can spell Mississippi, then Hugo Weaving is sure to get you over the line for this new Sydney Theatre Company take on a classic. The actor plays Big Daddy in the Kip Williams-directed staging of the steamy Southern drama about a Mississippi Delta family cracking beneath tragedy’s vice-like grip. Definitely worth revisiting. Running from April 29 until June 8 at Roslyn Packer Theatre. 

Find a new Creed 

If distinguishing your vetiver from your bergamot is a skill that’s missing from your life, school yourself in the art of fragrance at Double Bay’s luxurious Creed Boutique. Agence de Parfum’s expert nose Michael Marzano will prime your olfactory system with Champagne and your mind with Creed’s astonishing 260-year history before helping you navigate your way to your own signature scent. The one-hour masterclass costs $99 and is redeemable against any fragrance purchase.

Creed fragrance masterclass

A decade of TEDxSydney

If your mind is hungering for intellectual illumination, head along to the ICC on May 24 for TEDxSydney. The theme for this year’s talks is legacy, appropriate given that it’s the 10th anniversary of the event here in Sydney. Bright minds will grapple with the notion of legacy and what it means for those who inherit it and leave it behind. This year’s list of inspiring speakers includes award-winning Kurdish-Iranian writer, poet and producer Behrouz Boochani, who is currently detained on Manus Island. Be quick, the first and second release of tickets have already sold out.

Calling the bat brigade

If you’re batty for those dark-winged gliders, you need to head to Centennial Parklands on April 15 for the Big BAT Fest. Enjoy two hours of bat chat with experts, learn what it’s like to be a wildlife carer, take a spotlit prowl through the park, and watch the bat colony fly overhead. Grab your head torch and book quickly.

West Side on the water

The badlands of 1950s New York are recreated on Sydney Harbour in a night of fireworks both onstage and above this autumn. West Side Story is the first musical to be presented by Opera Australia as part of Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour. Fleet Steps at Mrs Macquaries Point plays host to this pop-up venue, complete with a concealed orchestra and state-of-the-art sound design so you don’t miss a single note of I Feel Pretty. The season runs from March 22 until April 21. Ticket sales have been breaking records so book quickly to snap up any remaining seats.

West Side Story Fleet Steps at Mrs Macquaries Point


Come to your sense at the Calyx

The Sydney Royal Botanic Garden and Local East are giving away two tickets to The Five Senses at The Calyx botanical brewing workshop on Thursday, May 30. Join Cult of Scent perfumer Jocelyn Fullerton in the stunning Calyx space in the garden to learn about your sense of smell, the creation of fragrance, and how to make your own unique 15ml eau de parfum.

Tickets are valued at $85.

This is an evening to awaken the senses. To win, simply follow @localeastmagazine on Instagram and hashtag #localeastmagazine and #centennialparklands on any instagram post. The tickets will go to the most artistic post.

Additional research: Charlie Hale

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