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Published December 30th 2017
The Best Things in Life are Free
Fireworks in Sydney Harbour (by Australia Day)
The New Year in Sydney is a triple treat of free fun, with the school holidays, the Sydney Festival and Australia Day. Enjoy Sydney's summer season of free events, activities, music, workshops and fun. Revel in the best of Free Sydney with this list of January's free events and activities.
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. Visit the Pyrmont Community Centre website for details.
Australia Day Concert - 26 January, 7.30pm to 9.30pm
In the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House, celebrate Australia Day with a free openair concert featuring Anthony Callea, Marcia Hines and Christine Anu. It's also the perfect vantage point to watch the fireworks display at 9pm. Visit the Australia Day website to book.
Philatelic Club - Tuesdays and Saturdays, 9am to 3.45pm
Everyone loves receiving mail and the postage stamp is part of the experience. Jumpstart your stamp collecting hobby after browsing the exhibits in the philatelic library at 17 Brisbane St, Surry Hills. At the centre, numerous stamp collecting clubs meet to share their latest finds, from exotic foreign to historic Aussie stamps. Visit the Philatelic Association of NSW website for details.
Goal Setting Session - Wednesday 3 January 2018 from 5.30am to 6.15am
Seize the new day, month and year, picturing your perfect 2018 at the Pavilion Beachfront on Fitzgerald Ave & Marine Pde, Maroubra. During the sunrise session, you'll reflect on the successes and challenges from 2017, then set your intention for January, listing the next actions to realise your grandest dreams. Book your place at the Oodles of Freedom website.
Kids in the Kitchen - 3 January, 9.30am to 12pm, 8 January, 10am to 12pm
It's a special moment for children when they learn to grow fruit and vegetables, then harvest their backyard crops to prepare home-cooked treats in the kitchen. Introduce your kids to the joys of cooking with these easy workshops at the Tramsheds Harold Park on 1 Dalgal Way, Forest Lodge. The littlies will make pasta and ice cream as they learn to read recipes and handle kitchen utensils. Visit the Tramsheds website to book.
Sydney Festival - Meriton Festival Village - 5 - 28 January, except Mondays, 4.30pm to 11pm
Sydney kicks off 2018 with a festival and the Spiegeltent in Hyde Park North on Elizabeth St is at the heart of the excitement. Pull back the tent flap to join the show, with acts including Irish cabaret music, folk songs, Argentinian tunes, after-dark comedy and mimes. Beside the tent, Hyde Park becomes a fun park, with virtual reality rides, karaoke, pool parties and 10-minute dance-offs. Visit the Sydney Festival website for details.
Jurassic Plastic - 6 - 28 January, Tuesdays to Sundays, 9am to 9pm
Jump off the toy-buying cycle with an artistic use for your old plastic toys at this exhibition in Sydney Town Hall. Japanese artist Hiroshi Fuji has grabbed discarded toys and plastic bags, shaping them into lifelike landscapes dotted with giant plastic dinosaurs. See the Toysaurus before joining the workshops for children aged 6 - 12 or adult sessions in the evening to make your own recycled artwork. Visit the Jurassic Plastic website for details.
Analogue Body in a Digital World - 1 January, 12pm
Sheng Zhen Gong Meditation - Fridays, 10am to 11.30am
Sheng Zhen Gong blends meditation to soothe 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.
Tall Ships Race - 26 January, 1pm
Change tack from the futuristic yachts battling for line honours in the Sydney to Hobart, stepping back through the centuries to watch a fleet of Tall Ships ride the waves in Sydney Harbour. Perch on the water's edge beside the Overseas Passenger Terminal, Opera House or Hickson Road Reserve to see the modern-day mariners working the rigging on this majestic, historic vessels. Visit the Australia Day website for details.
City Farming - 24 January, 10am to 11.30am
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. Visit the Sydney City Farm website to book.
The Ashes - 4 - 8 January, 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.
Thong racing (by Australia Day)
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. Visit the Customs House website for details.
Colour Fields - Wednesdays to Sundays, 4pm to 9pm
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.
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.
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 (except New Years Day), 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.
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.
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 email@example.com to book.
Badu Gili - Water Light - daily, sunset, 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. Visit the Rose Bay Farmers Market website for details.
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.
Freeze and release fishing (by Sydney Festival)
Tai Chi - Tuesdays, 10.30am to 11.30am ($2 donation to the Community Centre appreciated)
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 (except New Years Day), 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. 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
Savour a weekend alfresco breakfast with fresh coffee while grabbing your groceries, including organic vegetables, fruit, grass-fed beef, fresh flowers, sourdough breads 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 Facebook page 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.
Looking for more free fun in Sydney? Check out part 2 here.
Have we missed your favourite free activity in January 2018? Please let us know with a comment.