Sydney Solstice Festival 2021: 10 unmissable things to do
Make room Vivid Sydney, there's a new winter festival in town.
Just because Vivid has been postponed doesn't mean you have to wait months until a winter festival hits our shores. Sydney Solstice Festival 2021 is officially here and is running between 8 and 20 June 2021.
The line-up of events is pretty incredible, ranging from art installations to midnight culinary experiences. With so many things to do, we've compiled a list of the things you simply won't want to miss.
1. Best for a cultural experience: Aboriginal Sky Dreaming Cruise
Set your sights for the stars this June with Fantasea and Tribal Warrior. Sit back and relax as an Aboriginal astronomer takes you through narratives of the land, sea and sky. This one-hour cruise offers passengers a chance to spot Garwarrgay – otherwise known as the emu in the sky as well as a look into the galaxies.
Where: Darling Harbour or Circular Quay
Cost: $30 - $40 for adults, $20 for children, $75 for families (2 adults, 2 kids) and infants are free
2. Best for early birds: Aboriginal Whale Watching Experience
What's a Sydney Harbour experience without a spot of whale watching? Alongside the Aboriginal Sky Dreaming cruise, Tribal Warrior is also bringing us a sailing for the creatures of the sea. This three-hour cruise explores the importance of Aboriginal communities to our sea life, stories of the past and Guriwil the whale. Sailings depart at 8:30am and return at 12:45pm.
Where: Darling Harbour
Cost: $89 for adults, $59 for children, $79 for concessions and $239 for family passes (2 adults, 2 children)
3. Best for a unique event: "Moonlight" Sea Kayaking Experience
Why walk about Darling Harbour during Sydney Solstice Festival 2021 when you can kayak? Climb aboard your craft for a two-hour tour of the harbour. Expect views of naval warships, the Sydney Maritime Museum, James Craig the Tall Ship and Glebe Island Bridge. Tours run from 5pm onwards.
Where: Pier 26, Darling Harbour
Cost: $155 per person
4. Best for a winter wonderland: Ice Skating Rink
It really wouldn't be a winter festival without the installation of an ice rink. We may not get that glorious winter snow but that doesn't mean we can't pretend we do. Situated in the heart of Darling Harbour, the whole family can get in on the icy action. Beginners or advanced, everyone needs to check this out.
Where: Darling Harbour
Cost: $18 to hire skates
5. Best for Australia's art scene: Badu Gili
Vivid Sydney may not be returning until August, but Sydney Solstice 2021 is making sure there's a light display or two in June. For 13 nights, Australians (and Kiwis) from far and wide can find the Opera House illuminated with the six-minute Badu Gili projection of traditional Indigenous art. Badu Gili translates into water light in the Gadigal language and offers a rich history of Australia's First Nations.
It doesn't stop there though, find live music, talks and poetry readings being hosted within the Bennelong sails.
Where: Sydney Opera House
6. Best for nightlife: Sea Life Glow
Sea Life Aquarium wins the award for a re-imagined experience, transforming its creature cove into a glow in the dark playground for those of you over 18. Among the glow sticks, party-goers can expect bioluminescent coral and sea life.
Enjoy a drink upon arrival, a gourmet BBQ station, pop-up bars and endless photo opportunities.
Where: Sea Life Aquarium
Cost: $55 per person
7. Best for the whole family: Lumino Sydney
Courtesy of Foti Fireworks and Darling Harbour, we don't need to wait until New Year's to see the Sydney skies lit up like sparklers. This year sees two shows: one at 7:30pm and the other at 9pm hosted every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Both are very family-friendly.
If you prefer dinner and a show, consider booking a waterfront restaurant that allows for uninterrupted views of the harbour.
Where: Darling Harbour
8. Best for delicious eats: Midnight Feast at Mr. Wong
We couldn't curate a list of unmissable Sydney Solstice experiences without mention of Mr. Wong's midnight feast. Featuring your favourite menu dishes (think dim sum dining), live DJs and plenty of entertainment, dinner (or technically breakfast) can't be anywhere else. Running from 12pm to 3am, this event is a MUST for those of you on the foodie scene.
Where: 3 Bridge Lane, Sydney
Cost: $120 - $160 per person
9. Best for learning something new: Cheese Making Class with Kristen Allan
It's not a typical winter festival experience and that's exactly why we love it. Calling all cheese lovers, join Kristen Allan as you learn the art of crafting mozzarella, burrata and stracciatella. Our mouths are watering already. Indulge in cheese stretching, storytelling and morning tea.
Oh, and the best part? Take home the recipes for an infinite supply of cheese.
Where: 225 Wilson Street, Eveleigh
Cost: $220 per person
10. Best for a night out: Ministry of Sound Testament Warehouse Experience
Last, but certainly not least, is Ministry of Sound's warehouse event. Dance the whole night away to your choice of the 90s, noughties and the now. With three nights to choose from, how does one pick? The line-up includes house, garage, electro, contemporary arts, techno and big room.
Where: 7 Hickson Road, Dawes Point
Cost: $75 - $110 per person
After a magical night out on the town, bring the celebration to a close at one of the many IHG Sydney Hotels. As a loyal member of the chain, enjoy 35% off InterContinental Sydney, Crowne Plaza Sydney Darling Harbour, Holiday Inn Darling Harbour and more.