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As Sydney's events calendar bursts with activity, festivals have become a great way to binge on the best of a theme – cinema, literature, music, art, dance, food, history and culture. Throughout 2018, festivals offer enough WeekendNote-worthy adventures for the young or old thrill-seeker. Don't miss out on the fun - add these festivals, listed in chronological order, to your diary.
Sydney Festival - Saturday 06 January to Sunday 28 January 2018 – Free and Ticketed Events
To celebrate the exciting start to another year, the Sydney Festival presents visual and performing arts at our favourite spaces in Sydney City and Parramatta. Highlights include the Symphony Under the Stars at the Domain, Flying Trapeze workshops and Alice in Wonderland, an Australian retelling of the fantastical adventure, and for the first time, an Indigenous woman will play the lead role of Alice.
Flickerfest - Friday 12 January to Sunday 21 January 2018 – Ticketed Events
For 2 decades, Flickerfest at Bondi Beach has been one of our biggest short-film festivals, hosting the best shorts from local and international moviemakers. In 2018, themed nights will focus on local, international, comedy, environmental and documentary films will be broadcast, including world premieres and Oscar winners.
Tennis Festival - Monday 22 January to Sunday 28 January 2018 – Free Entry
Mingle on the forecourt of Customs House in Circular Quay while watching the tennis action at the Australian Open, broadcast live on the big screen. Battle for bragging rights with table tennis challenges, scoring prizes and swag from giveaways. Refuel with snacks and drinks from the Quay Bar. Read more at the Tennis Festival Facebook page.
Yabun Festival - Thursday 25 January to Sunday 27 January 2018 – Free Entry
The cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are showcased at Yabun in Broadway, Glebe with music and dance. Talent from previous festivals includes Jessica Mauboy and Archie Roach. Enter the Speakout Tent for compelling discussions with Aboriginal themes.
Serbian Festival - Saturday 10 February to Sunday 11 February 2018 – Free Entry
At Darling Harbour, the largest Serbian Festival in the Southern Hemisphere features cuisine, including pljeskavica (a ground beef/pork patty) Krofne, doughnuts filled with custard, chocolate, cream or jelly, and Rakija, a strong fruit brandy, music and dance, exhibits and activities.
Tropfest - Tuesday 13 February to Sunday 17 February 2018 – Free Entry
The world-famous short-film festival returns with a series of free screenings, talks and awards events in Parramatta Park. Watch the creations from our next generation of local filmmakers with the Trop Jr category, leading to the main event - the premiere of the 16 finalists.
Chinese New Year Festival - Friday 16 February to Sunday 4 March 2018 – Free Entry
The biggest event in the Chinese calendar fills the streets of Chinatown and Haymarket with over 80 free events and activities, including Dragon Boat races, markets, tours and exhibitions.
An Aussie Alice in Wonderland (by Sydney Fringe Festival)
Colourful spices bring Parramatta to life as Indian culture fills Prince Alfred Square and Harris Park. Sip Chai Tea while watching street parades, practising yoga, haggling at the spice market, listening to traditional music and watching Bollywood blockbusters.
Taste of Sydney – March 2018 – Free Entry
In Moore Park, bring your appetite to sample over 60 tasting dishes from 15 of Sydney's top chefs. Grab produce, sauces and treats from dozens of local artisans then master your kitchen with cooking workshops.
Sydney Royal Easter Show – Friday 23 March to Tuesday 03 April 2018 – Ticketed Event
Every Sydneysider should experience the Sydney Royal Easter Show at least once, especially during their childhood. In Sydney Olympic Park, the farm comes to the 'big smoke', with animals, agricultural competitions, award-winning produce, preserves, pies and pastries. Grab a swag of showbags, with options for kids of all ages and every interest, from fashion and sport, to comic book characters and confectionery. Discover the details at the Sydney Royal Easter Show website.
International Festival of Speed – March 2018 – Ticketed Event
In NSW's largest motorcycle road racing event, 8 of Australia's best Moto GP riders will duel at Eastern Creek on their original race-winning motorbikes. As the scream of speedsters surrounds you during 54 events, browse the show and shine displays and trade stands, chatting with experts and racing royalty. Read more at the International Festival of Speed website.
CANCELLED - Holi Mahotsav Festival of Friendship and Harmony – March 2018 – Free Entry - CANCELLED (Unfortunately, the organiser is in a rehabilitation centre until mid-April due to a car accident in February 2018, forcing the cancellation of this festival)
Make a fresh start in 2018 at Darling Harbour. In this ceremony, old animosities are left behind, regrets are forgotten and new hope, joy and friendship is encouraged. Indian artists will perform throughout the festival as vegetarian dishes are served from pop-up stalls.
Ingleburn Alive – March 2018 – Free Entry
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.
Once you've recovered from the Royal Easter Show, get another dose of family festival fun at the Sydney Family Show in Moore Park. Catch the Looney Tunes Show for antics with Bugs Bunny, meet the stars of the animated Cars films in the Disney Zone and try the sweet and savoury treats before leaving with an armful of showbags. Discover the details at the Sydney Family Show website.
Sydney Comedy Festival - Monday 24 April to Sunday 21 May 2018 – Ticketed Events
Sydney Writers' Festival - Monday 30 April to Sunday 06 May 2018 – Free and Ticketed Events
Catering for every genre, including romantic fiction, sci-fi, children's fantasy tales and political commentary. The SWF is a booklover's favourite time of the year. Over 400 writers will discuss the themes, characters, plot twists and ideas in 2018's latest book releases. Catering for every genre, previous guests included Hannah Kent, Liane Moriarty, Richard Flanagan and Kate McClymont.
Medieval Fayre - May 2018 – Free Entry
Return to the fair age of Knights, Lords and Ladies as the pageantry and tradition of Britain's chivalrous history comes to life in Blacktown. Discover the painstaking arts of jousting, jewellery making and horsecraft, dressed in your regal costume (or full suit of armour).
Vivid Sydney - Friday 25 May to Saturday 16 June 2018 – Free Entry
Blending our landmark tourist sites with dynamic illumination and music, Vivid converts Sydney's cityscape into an artwork, warming us during chilly winter evenings.
Sydney Film Festival - June 2018 – Ticketed Events
Sydney's biggest silver screen event premieres new features, documentaries, animation and short films from Australian and international artists, exploring every genre. Check the program to choose from over 250 screenings.
Bankstown Bites - July 2018 – Free Entry
Join over 10,000 people enjoying the tasty treats served from pop-up stalls. The range of international flavours includes lamb shish with spiced eggplant and yoghurt, beer-battered fish and chips, chicken dim sum, spinach and feta gozleme and Lebanese sweets.
The Rangerer at Bondi Beach (by Sculpture by the Sea)
Sydney Jewish Writers' Festival - August 2018 – Free and Ticketed Events
Jewish culture, heritage and contemporary issues, including refugees, peace, extremism, Europe and the Middle East, are explored with award-winning journalists and writers discussing their latest novels, essays and non-fiction works. Previous guests have included David Gonski, Mark Tedeschi, Dov Lipman and Matti Friedman.
Festival of the Winds – September 2018 – Free Entry
Strolling along the boardwalk at Bondi Beach is delightful at any time, but during spring, the sky above Australia's most famous beach is alive with a dreamscape of kites. Rivalling the creativity along the sands at Sculpture by the Sea, the Festival of the Winds allows artistic expression to sail above the city. Discover the details at the Festival of the Winds website.
Sydney Fringe Festival - September 2018 – Free and Ticketed Events
Push your boundaries in NSW's largest independent arts festival. Over 300 events feature debut and controversial artists. Highlights from 2017 included Jon Bennett with comedic storytelling, the Whitlams' Tim Freedman with songs about Sydney's inner west, and Alfie's Kitchen with a plant-based five course feast.
Good Food Month – October 2018 – Free and Ticketed Events
At Australia's largest food festival, you'll be overwhelmed with choice for lunch and dinner options in events in Sydney and regional NSW. Choose from 'good pub grub', sip the ultimate high tea, prep your own culinary masterpieces in workshops and sample the savoury selection during the Night Noodle Markets. Discover the details at the Good Food Month website.
Sculpture by the Sea – October 2018 – Free Entry
The delightful coastal walk through Bondi Beach to Tamarama is transformed into a magical outdoor gallery of art. The largest free-entry outdoor sculpture exhibition in the world presents over 100 works from local and international artists using metal, wood, plastic, glass and sand, putting my childhood sand castles to shame.
Norton Street Italian Festa – Sunday 28 October 2018 – Free and Ticketed Events
Bravo Italiano! Over 100,000 people will descend on Little Italy in Leichhardt to enjoy pizza, pasta, tirumisu, gelato, wine as Italian Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Alfa Romeos roar with delight at the attention.
Newtown Festival – November 2018 – Free Entry
Celebrate the dynamic culture of Newtown in Camperdown Memorial Rest Park for the annual local festival, raising funds for the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre. Enjoy live music, art and food, browse market stalls for handmade clothing, jewellery and artwork and bring your dog to the pet-friendly park. Entry is free but a gold coin donation is appreciated. Read more at the Newtown Festival website.
Which Sydney festival are you most looking forward to in 2018? Please let us know with a comment.