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Top Free Things to do in June 2012

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by Linda Moon (subscribe)
... a dreamer, freelance writer, massage therapist, naturopath, mother & drop-out social work student living, working and writing in the Blue Mountains. When not occupied with the real world, she writes fantasy.
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Think there's nothing much to do but hibernate and eat chocolate now that winter's coming on? Think again. Far from hibernation, Sydney still has plenty of things to do.

Check out these five free fun events from the beach to the hills, covering the gamut of food and wine, music, art and pagan festivity. For the outdoor activities listed here, dress warmly and wear appropriate footwear in order to get the best out of the occasions.

1) Darling Harbour Jazz and Blues Festival, Darling Harbour
When: Sat 9 Jun - Mon 11 Jun, 11am - 7pm
Gramophone Man
Watch out for safari suited Gramophone Man and his music cart, daily from 1-4pm

This free event over the Queens Birthday long weekend, features over 40 acts across three stages. Performers will include Trevor Watts, James Morrison, Dr Lonnie Smith, Kira Puru, Joshua Kyle and Alice Terry in a range of styles from jazz to blues, roots, funk and soul. For more info check out the Darling Harbour Website.

2) Winter Magic Festival
Saturday 23rd June 2012, Katoomba Street, Katoomba
Winter Magic Festival parade
The Winter Magic Festival parade - don't forget your winter woolies.

This annual community festival in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains is held in the main street of Katoomba (conveniently called Katoomba street). The festival is timed to coincide closely with Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and the beginning of shortening nights and lengthening days. Winter Solstice, with its symbolism of re-birth, was celebrated by most ancient cultures which is why some Christians hate this festival.

Stalls, artists, musicians, dancers, drummers, and the colourful local community take over Katoomba street on the day.

This is a very family friendly activity. While it might be further from home than the other community festivals listed here, it stands out in the sense that it is a costume dress-up event with a street parade consisting of drummers, dancers and people in costume. Many people come just to see and photograph others in costumes ranging from witches to trees.

Make sure you wear alpine weather gear (gloves, hat, thermals, coat). In my experience, this is generally a very cold day. If you are planning to stay in the Mountains overnight, book well in advance. Many of the accommodation places are booked out on this day. Also be aware of traffic jams on the way out of the Mountains and time your return trip to avoid or alternatively, be prepared to wait it out. For more info see the official Winter Magic Festival website.

3) Manly Food, Wine and Sustainability Festival, Manly Ocean Beachfront, Manly
When: Saturday and Sunday 2nd-3rd June 2012.

This annual event combines food, wine and the beach and you can't get a much better combo than that. Food and wine stalls will be lined along the Corso and the Manly beachfront areas. There will also be live music, cooking demonstrations and a sustainability fair promoting sustainable living practices.

The festival attracts about 30,000 people a year, a fact to bear in mind if you hate crowds.

4) Australian Symbolism in the Art of Dreams, Art Gallery of NSW
When: 11 May 29 Jul 2012

This free exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW, features the works of Symbolist artists Charles Conder, Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts, Rupert Bunny, Bertram Mackennal and George Lambert. It includes 70 paintings, sculptures, photographs and decorative arts objects created by Australian symbolists working in Europe and Australia. Symbolism, a late nineteenth century art movement, favoured imagination, dreams and fantasy over realism and naturalism. The exhibition can be found in the upper level of the Art Gallery.

5) Vivid Sydney Light Show
When: 25th May - 11th June, 6pm until midnight.

The Vivid Light show which started in May (and is presently in its fourth year) continues to light up the first eleven nights of June, so if you haven't seen it already, there's still opportunity. Or go a second time and enjoy it again.

This dazzling free spectacle combining light art, music and creativity, will illuminate skyscrapers and other projections around Circular Quay, the Rocks, Sydney Opera House and Walsh Bay. It features over 50 interactive light art sculptures created by imaginative artists from all over the world.

Last year, Vivid was attended by over 400,000 people. Ranked one of the world's top ten ideas festivals by the UK's Guardian newspaper, this is a quality free event.

For people who don't know Sydney well, parking is impossible in this area. To save yourself headaches on the night, park elsewhere and catch a train to Circular Quay.

For more information go to the Vivid website. A basic, yet useful downloadable map is available on the website, to help you plan your walking path on the night.
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Why? There's no need to hibernate in winter
When: June 2012
Where: From the hills to the sea
Cost: Free
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