8 festivals to experience in Sydney and New South Wales

See the region in a new light through various festive events throughout the year

Carnival rides at the 2019 Sydney Royal Easter Show, Sydney Showground at Sydney Olympic Park. PHOTO: DESTINATION NSW
Carnival rides at the 2019 Sydney Royal Easter Show, Sydney Showground at Sydney Olympic Park. PHOTO: DESTINATION NSW

There’s nothing like a festival or event — or more — to let you experience the best of Aussie culture or put you in a jovial mood during your stay in Australia. Music-themed ones are popular, but there are more to discover to enjoy authentic and unique cultural experiences all in the same place.

New South Wales (NSW) is one of the best places to go for festivals, with several to consider in Sydney alone. With year-round events catering to a wide range of interests and holidaymakers from all walks of life, one can easily get in on the festive action when planning a holiday. Check out Chan Brothers Travel’s curated travel packages to find out how.

Arts and culture

Shifting Horizons by April Pine was one of the sculptures featured in Sculpture by the Sea 2018, Bondi. PHOTO: JESSICA WYLD

It’s one thing to admire sculptures in a museum, but art appreciation takes on a new level in an experiential sense when the venue offers a backdrop of roaring waves, rugged coastline and a glorious sunset. This is what you can come to expect at Sculpture by the Sea – Bondi. The spectacular coastal walk from Bondi Beach to Tamarama Beach will be transformed into a 2km-long sculpture park from Oct 24 till Nov 10. Featuring 100 sculptures from artists all over the world, this festival (which will be in its 23rd year) is one of Sydney’s key annual arts events.

The Sydney Opera House illuminated by the Austral Flora Ballet light projection during Vivid Sydney 2019. PHOTO: DESTINATION NSW

Lauded as the ‘Best Tourism Event’ and ‘Best Cultural, Arts or Music Event’ at the Australia Event Awards in September, Vivid Sydney is an award-winning annual festival of light, music and ideas that is vibrant and exciting. Expect to get inspired by the large-scale light installations and projections, cutting-edge music performances, as well as thought-provoking talks, workshops and conferences. If you can only attend one festival, this is it. Stay tuned for the announcement of 2020’s dates, which should be around late May to mid-June.

As announced earlier in 2019, Frozen the Musical will stage at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre from July next year. The musical is adapted from the Oscar-winning film of an inspiring tale of sisterhood and true love.

Nature and parks

Jacaranda trees in full bloom in Milson Park, Kirribilli. PHOTO: DESTINATION NSW

Late October to November is the time when the flowers of Jacaranda trees bloom in Sydney and its surrounds, transforming streets and parks into a lilac-hued wonderland. Capture the beauty around you without the hassle of taking your own photos when you take up My Travel Photographer Series: 5D Spring in Sydney & Port Stephens package. A professional travel photographer will be by your side taking all your best shots for you, so all you need to focus on is choosing your favourite spots and strike a pose.

Whale watching in Jervis Bay. PHOTO: JERVIS BAY WILD

A popular annual highlight at sea is the whale migration season, occurring from late May to November, where more than 30,000 whales make their way along the “Humpback Highway”. The entire coast of NSW is prime whale-watching territory, with plenty of vantage points on land to see the majestic creatures. If you visit NSW during this period, try to spot them while on a dolphin-watching cruise that is included in the 6D Sydney, Hunter Valley and Port Stephens package or the 7D Sydney, Jervis Bay, Farmstay and Blue Mountains package.

Food and wine

Wine and dine at Bistro Molines at Mount View in the Hunter Valley. PHOTO: DESTINATION NSW

Foodies will find the period from May to June a great time to be in the Hunter Valley, a two-hour drive north of Sydney. That’s when the Hunter Valley Wine and Food Festival is in full swing, so you can take in the delights of this wine-growing region that offers gourmet dinners at award-winning restaurants, vineyard tours, wine-making masterclasses, hands-on cooking sessions, live music performances, interesting food stalls and children’s activities. Being avid foodies, Singaporeans’ penchant to travel for food remains unabated – there’s no doubt this festival will appeal to most Singaporeans, young and old.

Family festivals

A scene from Cinderella at the Hunter Valley Christmas Lights Spectacular. PHOTO: HUNTER VALLEY GARDENS

If your family enjoys Christmas light-up events, expect to be dazzled by the largest lights display in the Southern Hemisphere. Happening from Nov 8, 2019 to Jan 26, 2020, the Hunter Valley Christmas Lights Spectacular gets your family quickly into the yuletide cheer and a merry good time with live entertainment, Santa’s workshop display, carnival rides and food stalls with festive treats.

A visit to the Farmyard Nursery at the 2019 Sydney Royal Easter Show, Sydney Showground at Sydney Olympic Park. PHOTO: DESTINATION NSW

Started in 1823, the Sydney Royal Easter Show is Australia’s largest annual ticketed event celebrating Australian culture that features an agricultural show, an amusement park and a fair.

The next event will be held from Apr 3 to 14 next year at Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park. Expect to view various types of competitions, from crafts and cookery, livestock and produce to Aussie traditions such as wood chopping.

Parents can check out the 7D Sydney, Blue Mountains with Royal Easter Show package to find out more about the family-friendly activities available. Don’t forget to get a showbag or two – it's a great opportunity to pick up some souvenir gifts, which may contain exclusive show-only discounts from participating exhibitors. With hundreds to choose from, the showbags are sure to be a highlight for kids.