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Sydney is stacked with entertainment options for weekend pleasures. These events in November are some of the best free choices to enjoy our city without crippling your credit card. As Christmas cheer begins and summer's warm glow brightens parks and beaches, there are choices for families, children, locals and tourists with a delightful selection of indoor and outdoor highlights, all free.
(by Sculptures by the Sea)
Until 6 November 2016 - The 20th Sculpture by the Sea, the largest exhibition of public sculptures in the world, has become one of Sydney's most popular festivals. Walk along Bondi Beach to Tamarama, pausing at over 100 mind-bending marvels of sand, wood, stone and steel, blossoming along the 2km trail.
Sunday 6 November 2016 – Sydney's friendliest ghost is celebrated with Fisher's Kids in the transformed Campbelltown Arts Centre's Sculpture Garden. Children can explore their creativity with fun art workshops.
Sunday 13 November - Live music on a warm Sydney afternoon is one of the special pleasures of our city. Enjoy the freestyling melodies at the Sydney International Women's Jazz Festival outside the Powerhouse Museum. Take the music home with a bargain record or CD from Foundry616.
Sweet Addiction is a free celebration of our craving for the versatile cocoa bean, used to create the precious substance known as chocolate, rightly at the top of the food pyramid. Within the serene backdrop of the Royal Botanical Garden, you'll discover the unique botany of chocolate, its rich history and the secrets of the chocolatier. Fans of the Mayan God of Chocolate can worship before the southern hemisphere's largest green wall, decorated with almost 20,000 plants.
Until 6 November 2016 - Vivid's kaleidoscope of light tempts us to brave winter's chill to stare at enchanting light shows broadcast over our most famous landmarks. Ross Manning has created an equally mesmerising display, Melody Lines, at Carriageworks in Eveleigh in a world premiere of kinetically-powered shapes refracting light into unrestrained expressions of emotion.
Before the selfie, photography was often used a formal recording medium. A century ago, Harold Cazneaux pioneered the use of the camera for art, inviting the viewer to become immersed in the atmosphere of Sydney Harbour. At the Australian National Maritime Museum, over 50 of his works are on display, many never before seen by the public.
Christmas in Sydney officially begins in November with the family-friendly Christmas on the Green concert in Hyde Park and tree lighting in Martin Place. Other highlights in November include Santa's visit to the QVB, Cadbury Joy deliveries, the David Jones window display, a giant Santa built in the Rocks with crates, the boulevard of light in Pitt St Mall and carollers spreading musical joy throughout the CBD.
Fridays 4pm - 10pm - Begin the weekend early at the Night Markets in Blacktown, tasting a variety of foodie treats from around the world, including dumplings, gozleme, souvlaki, burgers and ice cream while a DJ pumps up the volume in a friendly village festival.
Saturday 5, 19 November 2016 - Drive-ins have almost vanished from Australia but movies enjoyed in the outdoors on a comfy chair, blanket or soft lawn are fantastic ways to see film for free. On Saturday at 7.30pm, watch the latest releases at Strathfield Park. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 and Allegiant are playing this month.
Monday 7, Saturday 12, 26 November 2016 - Peek into our colonial history in Campbelltown's Glenalvon House in the Macarthur Region with free open days. The two-storey home's twelve rooms, including a drawing room, library and nursery, are on display with the original artefacts, tools and objects from the 19th century. Wander in the period garden and inspect the stables and sandstone coach house. Saturday 12 November - The Festival of Fisher's Ghost is Campbelltown's free annual street fair in Mawson Park with stalls, crafts, a fun run and fireworks. Named after Frederick Fisher, this ghost has reason to smile with so many free and entertaining options to enjoy.
Thursday 24 November – Begin Christmas festivities in Parramatta with the lighting of Parra's largest Christmas Tree before a spectacular fireworks display wakes Santa. Taste the Xmas treats at food stalls before learning the secrets for a delicious Christmas dinner in the guest chef's workshops as children have fun in the dedicated play areas.
Friday 25 November to Saturday 26 November 2016 – Watch 100 teams competing in the inaugural McDonalds AFL Nines Classic in Moore Park. Between matches, enjoy the fan zones, stalls and music or signup with your own team of 9 to challenge for over $50,000 in prize money.
Friday 25 November 2016 – In the heart of Rockdale, make a wish when the city's Christmas Tree is lit at 8pm by the Mayor. Children can discuss their gift preferences with Santa, try Christmas crafts and face painting or talk to the animals at the petting zoo.