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Published February 23rd 2018
The Best Things in Life are Free
Celebrate Indian culture in Parramatta (by Parramasala Festival)
Autumn in Sydney still features enough sunshine for plenty of free outdoor fun. As the NRL kicks off and our gardens change colour, enjoy the best of Free Sydney with this list of March's free events and activities.
Colourful spices bring Parramatta to life as the celebration of Indian culture, the Parramasala Festival, fills Prince Alfred Square and Harris Park. Sip Chai Tea while watching street parades, practicing yoga, haggling at the spice market, listening to traditional music and watching Bollywood blockbusters.
Ingleburn Alive – 3 March
Along Oxford St in the heart of Ingleburn, sidle into the saddle for free camel rides as you scan the pop-up stalls with entertainment, food and a petting zoo. Stick around for the fireworks glitter over Milton Park when the sun sets. Discover the details at the Ingleburn Alive website.
Pilates - Wednesdays, 10am to 11am
Take a break from life's stresses with an hour of soothing exercise at the Reg Murphy Community Centre on 19 Greenknowe Ave, Potts Point.
During the session of pilates, you'll be guided in a series of pilates poses, improving your strength and flexibility as tension is eased from mind and body. Phone 0477 776 509 for more info.
Wearable Sculptures Exhibition - Tuesdays to Saturdays until 24 March, 11am to 4pm
For seven years, a fashion designer and contemporary jeweller have shared a passion for sci-fi, pondering the fashions of the future to create wearable sculptures in a new exhibition, Future Artefacts.
At the Australian Design Centre on 101 William St, Darlinghurst, their gowns and veils are on display in backdrop of scenes from distant times and places. Visit the Australian Design Centre website for details.
Chinese Zodiac Quest - until 4 March, 9.30am to 5.30pm
The 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac, representing human virtues, may seem abstract and distant but during the Chinese New Year in Sydney, they come alive in the city.
After dark, you can marvel at their bright colours along Circular Quay, but during the day, visit the Chinese Garden of Friendship in Darling Harbour to search for animals hidden amongst the foliage. Explore one of the largest gardens in this style outside Asia during this interactive journey. Visit the Darling Harbour website for details.
Art After Dark - Wednesdays, 10am to 9pm
On Wednesdays, the Art Gallery of NSW has drawn art lovers across the Domain for talks, music, exhibitions and food until that late hours.
The Museum of Contemporary Art offers a modern alternative in the Rocks, with talks, tours and activities to overcome the midweek muddle. The program changes weekly, and the MCA cafe is open with music, drinks and food. Visit the MCA website for details.
Meditation - Wednesdays, 7.30pm to 9pm
Meditation has become part of pop culture, as spiritual teachers, scientists and even the odd comedian describe the powerful benefits for mind and soul. Begin your journey toward inner peace during this session of guided meditation at the Paddington Public School, 399 Oxford St.
During the process, you'll apply simple techniques to remain calm in the present moment, which can be applied throughout the working week. The session is beneficial for new and experienced meditators, and the environment is comfortable, with no physical exertion required. Visit the Free Meditation website for details.
Workshops for Creative Kids - Mondays - Thursdays until 22 March, 4pm to 5pm
At the Surry Hills, Newtown, Ultimo and Glebe City of Sydney Libraries, children aged 8-12 can get hands-on to make their own toys and electronic gadgets.
During the hour-long workshops, kids will learn about the basics of science, as they make rubber-band cars, shadow puppets, musical instruments, balloon rockets and more. Visit the City of Sydney Library website to book.
Treat yourself at a free festival (by Ingleburn Alive Festival)
Music Workshop - , 10am to 11am
If you've made the leap to using a MPC (Music Production Controller), this workshop at the Redfern Community Centre, 29-53 Hugo St will help you master the dials, switches and buttons to enhance your current playlist.
Musical artists, engineers and producers can practice the skills of sampling, drumming, layering and recording effects. Visit the Redfern Community Centre website for details.
Go Gaming - Fridays, 5pm to 10pm
Go beyond chess with the ancient Chinese game of Go, played for over 2,500 years (a single match won't take this long though). While the board and rules seem simple, you'll use either black or white stones in an abstract strategy game. At 17 Brisbane St, Surry Hills, claim more territory than your opponent to win. Visit the Sydney Go Club website for details.
Choral Evening Song - Mondays and Thursdays, 5.15pm
Experience the spiritual solace of evensong in St Andrew's Cathedral as the choir of boys and men sing psalms, collects and an anthem in a traditional church service in the glorious surrounds of Australia's oldest cathedral. Visit the St Andrew's Cathedral website for details.
Fitness Sessions - daily, 6am to 10pm
Sooth the symptoms of mental illness with a goal-orientated program of exercise at three of Sydney's best fitness and aquatic centres.
If you've been diagnosed with a mental health condition, ask for a referral from your GP to begin these free workout sessions in the pool and gymnasium, guided by a qualified personal trainer.
To get started, a 60-day complimentary membership is included for access to the Cook Phillip Park Aquatic and Fitness Centre, Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre or Victoria Park Pool. Email email@example.com for details.
Tonightly with Tom Ballard - Studio Audience - 1, 5, 6 March, 6.30pm
See yourself on iview after giggling through an episode of Tonightly at the ABC Studio on 700 Harris St, Ultimo. Tackle the hot button pop culture issues during the recording with host Tom Ballard and his guests, Greta Lee-Jackson (SkitBox), Greg Larsen (Fancy Boy) and Bridie Connell (Whose Line Is It Anyway? Australia).
Tom's new year's resolution is to eat less cheese. Test his resolve by bringing a carton of Camembert. Visit the Eventbrite website to book.
Open Mic Comedy - Mondays, 8pm to 10pm
On the top floor Newtown Hotel on 174 King St, the Cactus Juice is flowing as 20 comedians compete for guffaws, performing without the safety net of pre-recorded television and movie studios or the 7-second delay of radio.
Snorting laughter is encouraged as these jokesters pour their hilarious hearts out, seeking smiles instead of sympathy.
If your own antics leave your friends in stitches, you can signup to join the posse of pranksters. Visit the Facebook page for details.
Ukulele Lessons - Tuesdays, 4pm to 5pm
The ukulele, a mini guitar, always brings smiles when the cheerful tunes are strummed by musicians in floral shirts. If your New Year's resolution is to learn to play a musical instrument, choose the easy-to-play ukulele at the Pyrmont Community Centre on the corner of John and Mount St. Musos of all skill levels are welcome at the classes in the Pyrmont Uke Club.
Sheng Zhen Gong Meditation - Fridays, 10am to 11.30am
Sheng Zhen Gong blends meditation to sooth the mind with gentle, graceful movements to relax the body.
People of all fitness and skill levels are welcome at these guided sessions at the Redfern Community Centre 29-53 Hugo St, to experience unconditional love and end a hectic week in serenity. Phone 02 9288 5713 for details.
City Farming - 1 March, 5pm to 6pm
Get your hands dirty while working in nature at our city's working farm on 52 Barwon Park Road, St Peters. During the 90-minute session, you'll tend the gardens, watering, weeding and propagating new plants, a cloning method for flowers.
Culture Under Attack - weekdays 10am to 7pm, weekends 11am to 4pm
The worst horrors of war are inflicted on people, but another target is our shared culture, as religion, art and literature are destroyed.
Recent attacks by ISIS, and the theft of artefacts during the Arab Spring in Egypt, have highlighted the risk to our shared heritage, the story of us.
At Customs House, the consequences of this loss, and the people protecting this heritage, are featured with exhibits from the conflicts in Europe during WWII, Timbuktu as the city's unique manuscripts were burned, and Palmyra, Syria, as ISIS destroyed religious monuments.
At the start of the working week, grow your start-up business with other entrepreneurs as you collaborate and network in the Juanita Nielsen Community Centre on 31 Nicholson St, Woolloomooloo.
Learn the intricacies of socially conscious business, marketing, sales, branding, SEO and web design. Visit the Juanita Nielsen Community Centre website for details.
Coffee Tasting - Saturdays, 2pm to 3pm
What makes the perfect cup of coffee? Learn the secrets from professional coffee tasters at Roastville Coffee on 157 Victoria Rd, Marrickville.
You'll enhance your appreciation with the skills to evaluate the aroma and flavours of a variety of coffees. Book your ticket at Eventbrite.
Boot Camp - Mondays, 6.30pm to 7.30pm
While Rocky downed raw eggs and ran up stairs to boost his fitness, you can achieve the same six-pack abs without the aftertaste in a boot camp in Sydney Park, on 404 Sydney Park Rd, Erskineville.
Guided by an instructor, you'll jump, crawl and break a sweat in an hour of boot camp exercise where smiles replace shouting. Visit the Run Jump Crawl website to book.
Sewing Sessions - Wednesdays, 2pm to 4pm
Stitch scarves, sweaters, socks or any other knitted item with this sewing group. Adjust your wardrobe with the onsite sewing machine, as you learn new sewing and craft skills to refashion fabrics into ab-fab outfits.
Join the sewing group at the Harry Jensen Centre, 17 Argyle Street, Millers Point. Phone 02 9244 3696 for details.
Badu Gili - Water Light - daily at sunset and 7pm
Missing the lights of Vivid? Enjoy a daily dose of art as the sun sets over the Opera House, with the story of Australia's ancient First Nations portrayed in a spectacular 7-minute light projection.
Badu Gili, meaning water light in the language of the Gadigal People, begins at sunset, best enjoyed from atop the Monumental Steps of our Sydney Opera House. Visit the Sydney Opera House website for details.
Forró - Brazilian dance class - Tuesdays, 6pm to 8.30pm
If the lively dance moves during the opening ceremony of the Brazilian Olympic Games in 2016 captivated you, lace up your dance shoes at the Redfern Community Centre, 29-53 Hugo St.
You'll glide across the floor with your favourite friend for Forró, the art of Brazilian dance for partners. The sessions are perfect for beginners, with a backdrop of energetic Brazilian beats.
You can also dance outdoors on Saturday at Victoria Park, Camperdown, from 3pm to 5pm. Visit the Sydney Forró website for details.
Mahjong - Tuesdays, 9.30am to 12.30pm
Once you've beaten Deep Blue, IBM's supercomputer, at chess, try a social game of strategy with a round of mahjong at Marrickville Library.
The ancient Chinese board game, originating in the 17th century, is the most popular game in Japan. Be sure to take a break though - extended sessions have caused epileptic seizures as the stress and excitement overwhelms the player.
Master the Western version, with joker tiles, at Marrickville, or try the Eastern version at Sydenham Library on Wednesdays at 10.30am. Visit the Marrickville Library website for details.
Rose Bay Farmers Market - Tuesdays, 8am to 2pm
Join the Slow Food Movement at Pannerong Reserve with over 25 stalls offering fresh, quality produce as you chat with the farmers bringing these healthy veg, fruit, nuts, honey and bread to the city.
Dragon Boat Racing - Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6.15pm to 8pm, Saturdays, 8.45am to 10am
Meet at the dock at 2 Bank St, Pyrmont for a paddle-powered adventure with the Sydney Tsunami Dragon Boat Club.
At these complimentary sessions, you'll learn how to power majestic boats in a sport originating over 2,000 years ago in China to encourage life-giving rain. Visit the Sydney Tsunami website for details.
Tai Chi - Tuesdays, 10am to 11.45am
Want to try a martial art without duelling with Jackie Chan? Avoid the black eyes and broken bones with Tai Chi, the gentlest form of martial arts, using flowing movements to improve balance, posture, flexibility, core stability and muscle strength.
Originating from ancient Chinese philosophy, this safe exercise encourages mindfulness as you connect with nature, promoting a healthy mind and body. Feel the serenity at the Ultimo Community Centre on 40 William Henry St. Visit the Ultimo Community Centre website for details.
Paddington Markets - Saturdays, 10am to 4pm
Open since 1973, the markets at 395 Oxford St, Paddington are packed with the fashion, accessories, soaps, candles and artwork created by local designers and craftspeople.
Many of these designer items are unique to the Paddo Markets, a community-based initiative with an international food court, fresh bread and pastries, handmade chocolate and hot coffee. Visit the Paddington Markets website for details.
Guitar Lessons - Mondays, 2pm to 3.30pm
In awe of guitarists as they play your favourite rock, country or acoustic hit songs? Learn the skills to join them, either on stage or busking on a street corner, with lessons at the Harry Jensen Centre on 17 Argyle St, Millers Point.
You'll be guided by a tutor during an informal 90-minute session with your own guitar or one of the spares at the centre. Call 02 9244 3696 for more info.
Kids Capoeira class - Wednesdays, 5.15pm to 6pm
While Dancing with the Stars appeals to the oldies, and acrobatic teens trying Parkour are nerve-racking for parents, Capoeira, the Afro-Brazilian practice with fascinating origins in the 16th century, blends dance, acrobatics and martial arts.
The guided sessions at 103 Foveaux St, Surry Hills will foster the best aspects of martial arts - confidence, focus, discipline and respect, while enjoying the playful rhythmic dance and graceful acrobatics. Visit the Capoeira Topazio website for details.
Joynton Park Market - Fridays and Saturdays, 9am to 3pm
At the dog-friendly Joynton Park on Gadigal Ave, Zetland, browse the art and craft displays for prints, homemade cards, jewellery and scented candles after you enjoy brunch, organic tea or hot coffee from the food stalls.
People with disabilities can still enjoy the benefits of exercise, either walking or running, with assistance from volunteer guides on these sessions at the steps of the Art Gallery of NSW.
After an invigorating workout, relax and chat with a tea or coffee at the café. Visit the Achilles Sydney website to book.
Green Gym - Mondays, 10am to 4.30pm
Exercise doesn't need to involve torturous treadmill and weight-lifting sessions.
Improve your fitness in one of Sydney's finest parks, Centennial Park, with a team of expert conservation volunteers as you learn the practical steps to maintain the varieties of native and exotic plants. Visit the Green Gym website for details.
Art Class - Mondays, 1.30pm to 3pm
In the Ultimo Community Centre at 40 William Henry St, discover your inner Picasso during a 90-minute session guided by a local artist.
You'll practice techniques to draw with confidence, beginning with simple lines and curves, progressing toward portraits, still-life and landscapes. Visit the Ultimo Community Centre website for details.
Chinese New Year Augmented Reality - daily until 4 March
After the Pokemon craze turned Sydney into a giant online gaming world, the augmented reality experience is now melded into the distinctive red dragon in World Square on George St.
Scan the sculpture with your smartphone to reveal clues on a treasure hunt with prizes and special offers to celebrate Chinese New Year. Visit the World Square website for details.
Looking for more free fun in Sydney? Check out part 2 here.
Have we missed your favourite free activity in March 2018? Please let us know with a comment.