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Published November 26th 2017
The Best Things in Life are Free
See Santa in Sydney (by Carols in the Domain)
Before you're caught in the chaos of Christmas shopping, enjoy the mild sunshine of the last month of spring with Sydney's free events, activities, music, workshops and fun. Revel in the best of Free Sydney with this list of December's free events and activities.
This free concert has been a Christmas tradition in Sydney for 35 years, and the fun for kids of all ages continues with our favourite Australian stars, including Dami Im, Justice Crew, Samantha Jade, AJ Harvey, Rebecca Cole, Todd McKenney, and the Wiggles. Arrive early to grab your spot on the grass, in an event which must be on every child's bucket list, especially for the surprise visit from Santa. Visit the Carols in the Domain website for details.
The Ashes - throughout December, 9am to 5pm
Watch all the action of the Ashes, cricket's oldest contest, at the Fortune of War in the Rocks, one of Sydney's oldest pubs. For every session, the pub will be packed with Aussie and English fans, cheering, chanting and cursing. Drown your sorrows or celebrate a century with the live music from 5pm. Visit the Fortune of War website for details.
Culture Under Attack - throughout December, 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. Visit the Customs House website for details.
Christmas at Myer - until Boxing Day
Relax in the Christmas wonderland amid the chaos of last-minute shoppers on level 6 of Myer's George St store. Step aboard the Santa Land Express, a train riding virtual rails to Santa Land, pick up personalised Tim Tams at the Giftorium or experiment in the play stations in Santa's workshop. Once you've tried the Christmas-themed treats, return to reality on the rocket ship elevator. Visit the Myer website for details.
Colour Fields - until December, 11am to 4pm
Sydney's Vivid festival brightens cool winters with artistic projections but the pop-up bar in the Museum of Contemporary Art at Circular Quay celebrates summer with a curtain of light. Bathe in a kaleidoscope as you sip cool drinks, watching the harbour glow with the setting sun. Visit the MCA website for details.
Social Dancing - until 17 December, 10am to 1pm
Celebrate the 25th anniversary of Strictly Ballroom's premiere with ballroom and line dancing classes in the Ultimo Community Centre
on 40 William Henry St. Led by the Seniors Chinese Group, everyone is welcome this 3-hour social session. Visit the Ultimo Community Centre website for details.
Co-working Workshops - Mondays, 9am to 5pm
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.
The Doormen of New York City - until 16 December, 6pm to 8pm
The phrase 'behind closed doors' evokes images of exclusive luxury, high-powered negotiations and political machinations. In this world premiere art exhibition in the Wentworth Galleries on Martin Place, the portraits of 100 of New York's doormen are displayed. Revealing the stories of these immigrants from Eastern Europe, the selection focuses on their stoic gaze as the protect a world of privilege, a century after the Russian Revolution. Visit the Doormen of New York City website for details.
Coffee Tasting - Thursdays until 14 December, 2pm to 3pm
What makes the perfect cup of coffee? Learn the secrets from professional coffee tasters at the Tramsheds Harold Park on 1 Dalgal Way, Forest Lodge. You'll enhance your appreciation with the skills to evaluate the aroma and flavours of a variety of coffees. Visit the Garçon website for details.
Boot Camp - until 20 December, Mondays and Wednesdays, 6.30pm to 7.30pm
While Rocky downed raw eggs and ran upstairs 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.
Grab the mic in the warehouse at 36 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe to hone your vocal skills or relax with an audience of musos to enjoy the show. Celebrity judges and reality-show drama are replaced with supportive musicians and teachers networking to find their finest voices. Visit the Big Foozle website for details.
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.
Heartfulness Relaxation And Meditation - Wednesdays, 12.30pm to 1.30pm
Sharpen your focus on the inner serenity in these meditation sessions, cultivating new courage amid life's challenges. Find peace in the hectic activity of everyday life at the Rex Centre on 58A Macleay Street, Kings Cross. Visit the Heartfulness website for details.
*Sports Hub - Wednesdays, 3pm to 5.30pm
Children between 7 to 18 are welcome at the Mary O'Brien Reserve on Joynton Ave, Zetland, to use the sporting facilities to score tries, kick goals and slam dunks. After the winning touchdown, share a snack at the barbecue. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book.
Midweek Music - Wednesdays, 4pm till late
Begin the race to the weekend early with the house band at Fonzarelli's on 67 Foveaux St, Surry Hills. As the 50s and 60s rock and roll and Motown hits create a Happy Days vibe, grab a burger and beer of the week for $14. Visit the Fonzarelli's website for details.
Badu Gili - Water Light - daily, sunset, 9pm
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.
Diefall - Tuesdays, 7.30pm
Roll the dice without the losing your shirt in a high stakes casino - choose a friendly boardgame in the Pendle Inn Hotel on 223 Wentworth Ave, Pendle Hill, enjoying a pub dinner and a few drinks as you rack up wins at Monopoly, Snakes and Ladders or Dungeons and Dragons. Visit the Diefall 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. Visit the Rose Bay Farmers Market website for details.
Dragon Boat Racing - Tuesdays, 6.15pm to 8pm, Saturdays, 8.45am to 10am, Sundays, 8.45pm 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 - Wednesdays, 10.30am to 11.30am
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 Uniting Harris Community Centre, 97 Quarry St, Ultimo. Visit the Fusion Culture Group 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, 3pm to 4.30pm
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. Visit the Joynton Park Market website for details.
Morning Running Group - Sundays, 8am to 10am
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.
Spanish Press Club - Saturday 14, 28 October, 12.45pm to 1.30pm
Tired of the same old news? Get a Spanish spin on the day's events with a session discussing the news and current affairs about Spain and in Spanish. Hosted at the Instituto Cervantes on Sussex Street, Sydney, you'll gain an insight into Spanish culture while learning a new language. Visit the Instituto Cervantes Sydney website for details.
Line Dancing - Mondays, 2.45pm to 4pm
Learn the basic steps of line dancing, boot scooting and bopping to Achy Breaky Heart and other 'classic' country songs at the Pyrmont Community Centre on the crn John and Mount Sts. Visit the Pyrmont Community Centre website for details.
Green Gym - Mondays and Fridays, 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.
Sustainable Farmers Market - Saturdays, 8am to 1pm
Savor a weekend alfresco breakfast with fresh coffee while grabbing your groceries, including organic vegetables, fruit, grass-fed beef, fresh flowers, sourdough bread and sweet pastries, olive oil, honey, preserves and fermented foods. Support local farmers and sustainable practices while treating yourself to healthy produce. Visit the Sydney Sustainable Markets website for details.
Capoeira Class - Thursdays, 6pm to 7.30pm
While mixed martial artists batter each other in 8-sided cages, try a gentler Brazilian technique where rhythm beats rip-and-tear boxing, jujitsu and wrestling. Capoeira, the Afro-Brazilian martial art, is being practised at 103 Foveaux St, Surry Hills, with a free class for newcomers to experience the joyous energy of acrobatic dance. Visit the Capoeira Topazio website for details.
Intermediate Guitar Lessons - Thursdays, 6pm to 8pm
At the Redfern Community Centre on 29-53 Hugo St, practise your guitar / mandolin / bass / ukulele / banjo technique in an intermediate to advanced class with a TAFE-certified musician. You'll learn songs during a 10-week term, leading to a live performance for proud friends and family. Visit the Redfern Community Centre website for details.
Singing Classes - Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 4pm to 5pm
Whether you're on a journey to pop stardom or want to sing your favourite song, the after-school classes at Redfern Community Centre, 29-53 Hugo St are ideal for school students to find their voices as they are guided by an instructor. Phone 0405 027 165 for details.
Looking for more free fun in Sydney? Check out part 2 here.
Have we missed your favourite free activity in December 2017? Please let us know with a comment.