Out & about Sydney: May 2021

Hamilton Sydney
A scene from "Hamilton The Musical", which plays the Sydney Lyric Theatre throughout May. Photo: supplied.


It’s the last month of spectacular autumn weather before winter begins in Sydney. But if you think that signals a cooling down of exciting things to do in this city, think again! Sydney is still the place to be right now – as so many venues are able to operate at 100 per cent capacity. If you enjoy a bevy, then you’ll be thrilled to know May is Australian Cocktail Month – yum! There’s still time to have your mind blown by the Sydney Writers’ Festival or to have yourself a good old chuckle at the Sydney Comedy Festival, which both have their last days as May begins. Then it’s Mother’s Day on Sunday, 9 May. There’s a fantastic array of theatre, arts and film to enjoy. If you’re feeling political, get involved with a range of May Day political action happening in the city, such as the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHO) on Monday, 17 May. And if you’re looking for inspiration to spruce up your abode or help with that long overdue DIY project, head over to the Sydney Home Show. And all you showy rev-heads can live out your motor-fuelled, testosterone-driven dreams at the Hot Rod Show at month’s end. So much to do! We’ve put together our monthly hit list of must-do events fto help you along. So this May, go out, get stuck in and enjoy!

Happy May, Sydney!

Amazing art

Thursday, 1 April to Sunday, 2 May, 2021
Scenic World, Violet Street & Cliff Drive, Katoomba

Set amidst towering rainforest in the heart of the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains, Sculpture at Scenic World will capture the imagination of young and old with dozens of thought-provoking artworks from emerging and established artists. Featuring an expertly curated array of bold installations and subtle sculptures that blend in with the environment, Sculpture at Scenic World 2021 will be one to remember.

More info & bookings:

Until Sunday, 9 May, 2021
47 George St, The Rocks

Selfie and instagram addicts, prepare for your accounts to blow up with likes and followers after visiting this unique exhibition. Step through the doors of this historic Sydney warehouse and explore three levels of immersive art installations, photo-worthy backdrops and fun experiences that celebrate love and friendship. Shower in confetti, grab a hug in the Teddy Bear Tunnel of Love, jump out of a life size wedding cake, dance at a glam disco, spin the Wheel of Love and so much more.

More info & bookings:

6pm to 8pm Friday, 14 May to Sunday, 16 May, 2021
Randwick Environmental Park, 27 Munda Street (off Hendy Avenue and Bundock Street), Randwick

NOX – Latin for night – is also a night sculpture walk around the Randwick Environment Park. For three nights only, experience the natural environment like never before as students from UNSW Art and Design transform the park and wetland into an illuminated outdoor art gallery, installed around the park to form a leisurely 1.5km loop walk, starting and ending at the Randwick Community Centre. All artworks on the journey will be powered and lit by renewable energy sources. The after-dark art continues with NOX Night Cinema. Students from UNSW School of Arts and Media will be screening short films and animations which will be on rotation in the auditorium. Food trucks and the bar will be trading until 9pm, featuring a diverse selection of mouth watering food trucks including Barbicrew (Brazilian BBQ), Wholly Schnitt and Algae Fine Food (organic vegan).

More info:

Until Sunday, 11 July, 2021
Sydney Tower Eye, Level 5, Westfield Sydney, 108 Market St, Sydney

Prepare to be wowed! To kick off the iconic landmark’s 40th anniversary celebrations, the Sydney Tower Eye will host the exhibition created by LEGO Masters judge Ryan ‘The Brickman’ McNaught. Visitors can check out over 20 models created from over 600,000 LEGO bricks. The experience explores the life and architecture of five of the world’s greatest cities: Dubai, London, New York, Tokyo and, of course, Sydney. The focal point is a replica of the Sydney Tower made from over 30,000 LEGO pieces. Sydney Tower Eye’s exhibition features eight massive never-before-seen-in-Sydney LEGO brick skyscrapers including Sydney’s Deutsche Bank and Capita Centre as well as London’s 30 St Mary Axe, also known as the Gherkin. Visitors can trace each city’s evolution all the way from the year 1000 AD to today in a fun and educational way.

More info & bookings:

Captivating classes, talks & workshops

7pm to 9pm daily
118 Elizabeth Street, Sydney

Every city has a dark past. Join local expert guides as they lead you through the gruesome elements of Sydney’s history, from mass baby murderers in the 1890s to criminals who used the cover of night to kill. Intended for mature audiences.

More info & bookings:

6.15 to 7.15pm Wednesday 5 May, 2021
Randwick Sustainability Classroom – 27 Munda St, Randwick

Presented on the first Wednesday of every month, collaboratively directed and supported by TED, this community engagement focuses on increasing awareness about Climate Change issues, aiming to open up discussions about what we can do in our local community to support the work towards achieving 2030 global warming targets.

More info: https://whatson.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/events/tedcircles
Bookings: https://events.humanitix.com/ted-circles-randwick

Various dates until Friday, 31 December, 2021
Katoomba (address given upon booking)

Learn how to make vegetarian and vegan dumplings (named momos in Tibet) at this fun cooking class! Suitable for beginners, this class will guide you step-by-step in how to make matcha vegan dumplings, which are both healthy and delicious. You will learn the various wrapping techniques to wow your family, loved ones and friends. All the handmade vegan dumplings will be served with tomato chutney. Best of all, at the end of this fun and hands-on class, you can feast on your delicious vegan dumplings! Bookings are $70-$85, and payment in instalments is available through AfterPay.

More info & bookings:

Dance parties, socials & celebrations

Sunday, 1 May to Monday, 31 May, 2021
Various locations across Sydney

Did you know May is Australian Cocktail Month? Well, you do now! This May, Australian Cocktail Month brings you a celebration of libation and celebratory discounts on delicious cocktails at 72 great bars across four cities including 18 bars right here in Sydney. It’s a refreshing initiative supporting bars, bartenders and spirit makers along the way. Drink cocktails, support our bars. Cheers!

More info & tickets:

May is Australian Cocktail Month, a celebration of libation. Photo: Australian Cocktail Month.

Fridays (except public holidays) from 12pm to 2pm
NSW Parliament House, 6 Macquarie Street, Sydney

Each Friday, High Tea at Parliament House’s Strangers’ Restaurant provides a rare opportunity to experience a traditional high tea served on the parliamentary-crested Wedgwood plates. Their chefs have designed an amazing selection of sweet and savoury delights that showcase the wonderful flavours of local produce from across the state. Enjoy a delicious handmade and freshly baked high tea overlooking the beautiful Domain. The menu rotates throughout the year to accommodate the seasonal change of local produce. Strangers’ Restaurant proudly supports local farmers who practice ethical and sustainable farming methods. Traditional high tea is $55.00 per person, with the sparkling rosé high tea at $65.00.

More info & bookings:

6 to 9pm Monday, 17 May & Tuesday, 18 May, 2021
Spice Alley, 18-20 Kensington Street, Chippendale

Experience Spice Alley like never before. To celebrate their fifth birthday, they are inviting you to take an adventure through Asia. Your taste buds will embark on a culinary journey, from Japan to China, all the way through to Indonesia and Thailand with a six-course degustation. To celebrate the best of Asia, each of their hawkers will be creating a specially elevated and unique dish for two nights only. There will be fire breathers and geisha dancers all under an array of red sparkling lanterns. And best of all it’s BYO! So grab your esky and besties and celebrate with us at Spice Alley!

More info & tickets:

Spice Alley celebrates its fifth anniversary with a weekend of entertainment and culinary delights. Video: Kensington St/YouTube.

Exciting exhibitions & shows

10am to 5pm daily until Sunday, 30 May, 2021
State Library of NSW, 1 Shakespeare Place, Sydney

Gay and lesbian life went public in the ’70s. Speaking up and standing out, gay men and women took to the streets proudly demanding to be seen, heard and accepted. This free exhibition tells their story. Drawing from the State Library’s little-known collections of gay and lesbian posters, photographs, personal papers, oral history and ephemera, it pays tribute to the people and events that drove this profound social change, offering a rich and compelling context for continuing debates and issues around LGBTQI+ life today.

More info:

Badges from the ‘Coming out in the 70’s’ exhibition. Photo: City of Sydney Council.

Friday, 21 May to Sunday, 23 May, 2021
International Convention Centre Sydney, Darling Harbour

Home is where the heart is and the Sydney Home Show is returning in 2021 brimming with exciting innovations, solutions and inspirations that will help make your house a home. Featuring literally hundreds of innovative home products, exclusive show specials, free seminars, expert advice and some of the best homegrown Aussie renovation businesses, the Home Show is the place to start when considering a home improvement project.

More info & bookings:

The HIA Autumn Home Show is a highlight of May. Video: Sydney Home Show/YouTube.

Saturday, 29 May to Sunday, 30 May, 2021
Rosehill Gardens Racecourse, James Ruse Drive, Rosehill

It is the premier event in NSW for elite motoring enthusiasts, clubs and communities. From nostalgia to the latest tech fit outs, the elite cars, bikes, hot rods and muscle cars on display at the Hot Rod Show represent thousands of hours (and dollars) spent by dedicated car enthusiasts all competing for state title trophies which are awarded to the winners of various classes.

More info & bookings:

Fantastic festivals

Until Sunday, 2 May, 2021
Various venues across Sydney

Each year, the Sydney Writers’ Festival features hundreds of writers taking part in hundreds of conversations, debates, performances and panel discussions with audiences of more than 80,000. One-third of their events are free, and their Live & Local streaming program brings the festival to regional libraries and community centres across the country. The festival plays a vital role in Australia’s literary landscape bringing together thousands of diverse writers, thinkers, novelists, poets, journalists, public intellectuals, economists, politicians, podcasters and scientists from Australia and around the globe to discuss some of the most pressing issues of our times. The 2021 artistic director, Michael Williams, has curated a particularly relevant, engaging, accessible and unashamedly political program of events destined to challenge and question.

More info, full program & bookings:

Until Sunday, 16 May, 2021
Various venues across Sydney

The Sydney Comedy Festival is Sydney’s biggest annual comedy event. Every April and May, over 150 of the best comedians from Australia and beyond take to stages across the city for a massive month of comedy, followed by a national showcase tour from May to December. The festival kicks off in grand style with lavish gala events at the State Theatre, Enmore Theatre, The Concourse at Chatswood and Riverside Theatres in Parramatta. The program offers up everything from stand-up to sketch, satire, impro, musical, absurdist, theatre, magic and kids’ comedy.

More info, full program & bookings:

Monday, 31 May to Friday, 4 June
Carriageworks, 245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh

Experience fashion week like an insider at Australian Fashion Week at Carriageworks in Sydney, featuring runway shows, talks, workshops, exhibitions and the cream of Australia’s fashion industry leaders in a blockbuster showcase of designer runway shows and talks.

For more info, full program & bookings:

Australian Fashion Week stars Romance Was Born are amongst the headlining runways shows at the 2021 festival. Photo: supplied.

Politics & action

Saturday, 1 May to Monday, 31 May, 2021

No Meat May is for those brave planet lovers keen to reduce the serious impact of the world’s meat consumption, and gain insights into their eating habits and the current culture of over consumption. It’s a call to action for conscious meat eaters, or bold beginners to step on up their positive impact in the world, become less of a ‘meat head’, and eat no meat during the month of May.

More info:

Monday, 17 May, 2021

Make a powerful stand against discrimination, sexism, homophobia and transphobia simply by painting your nails. Share your efforts using the #NAILit4IDAHO hashtag on social media and show your support and solidarity to those who can’t and shouldn’t have to hide. #NAILit4IDAHO is an annual event founded in 2012 by Travis de Jonk to mark 17 May – the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Since 2012, he has worn nail polish every day as his stand against discrimination, as a statement of freedom of expression and solidarity – and for just one day, he is asking you to join him! Regardless of who or where you are, what your race, gender or sexuality is, paint your nails for just one day. Get your class, office, sports team, family or mates together to do it with you. It costs absolutely nothing to participate. It’s not about making or raising money, it’s about raising something far more important – awareness, understanding and acceptance.

More info:

Paint your nails and change the world; NAILit4IDAHO on 17 May.

Terrific theatre & performance

Until Sunday, 23 May, 2021
Capitol Theatre, 13 Campbell Street, Haymarket

It’s without doubt that Disney animation Frozen is an international phenomenon loved by children and adults alike. This film has been beautifully translated to the stage in a huge production, packed full of the Broadway hits and visuals, sure to captivate and entertain. If you’re a fan of the film, then you’re going to love this show!

More info & bookings:

8pm Saturdays, 13 March to 19 June, 2021
Club York, 95-99 York Street, Sydney

The Birdcage has now made Club York its home. This vintage burlesque inspired dinner and show features a dazzling array of burlesque and cabaret artists, flouncing feathers, fan dancers, glittering diamonds and camp sensibility all wrapped up in beautifully orchestrated production routines. Enjoy a three-course dinner and glass of bubbles on arrival for just $80 as you are guided by the MC into a magical world of highly acclaimed international burlesque artists intertwined with the thrill of circus artistry.

More info & bookings:

Thursday, 8 April to Wednesday, 30 June, 2021
Bay 43, Circular Quay, Sydney

SÉANCE, presented by Realscape Productions in association with DARKFIELD, invites Sydneysiders to be engulfed in complete darkness and have their grasp on reality challenged using binaural sound. The experience explores the psychology of a group of people bombarded with suggestible material. It asks the audience to believe, not only in what seems to be happening in the room, but also in what might be conjured up.

More info & bokings:

Until Sunday, 1 August, 2021
Sydney Lyric Theatre, 55 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont

The only place in the world you can see this Tony, Grammy, Olivier and Pulitzer Prize winning musical is right here in Sydney. Hamilton has taken the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton and created a revolutionary moment in theatre – a musical featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, R&B and Broadway – that transforms theatre and the way we think about history.

More info & bookings:

8.45pm Saturday, 8 May, 2021 & 4:15pm Sunday, 9 May, 2021
The Factory Theatre, 105 Victoria Road, Marrickville

Right now, we need a good laugh more than anything. The extraordinaryly talented Mary Coustas brings the iconic, adored character Effie – the original ‘wog chick’ that made her a star – out of lockdown and into a funny storyline where she’s emerging from 2020’s Covid madness, when the sh*t hit the fan and there was no toilet paper to clean it up. Effie has gotten married to her hot husband Shane Bradley Cooper and has used her lockdown time to clock up her ‘Rooting Frequent Flyer’ points. Now she’s out and wants to tell everyone about it.

More info & bookings:

Mary Coustas
The one and only Effie is set to make Sydney laugh, with shows in Marrickville and Chatswood. Photo: Effie Stephanides/Facebook.

Saturday, 1 May to Sunday, 16 May, 2021
Manning Bar, Manning House, Manning Rd, Camperdown

Sydney Comedy Festival presents Schapelle, Schapelle! – The Musical. This fast pace musical comedy is a satirical exploration of Australia’s weakness for media sensationalism, as told through the life of Schapelle Corby upon her arrest for drug smuggling in Bali in 2005. Fictionalised, but featuring pivotal actual events and verbatim elements, Schapelle, Schapelle! captures a story of absurdity, opportunism, loneliness and redemption – all spun together with a rollicking down-to-earth musical score.

More info & tickets:

Schapelle Schapelle! is a musical comedy about sensationalism – told through the life of Schapelle Corby, played by Kelsi Boyden (pictured). Photo: supplied.

Tuesday, 20 April – Saturday, 22 May, 2021
The New Theatre, 542 King Street, Newtown

The New Theatre presents two thought provoking and topical theatre works in April and May: in Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet, lies, greed and corruption is business as usual in the cut-throat world of real estate sales, where ruthless agents do anything to make a buck. Then, playing from 20 April is The Removalists by David Williamson, set in a crime-ridden inner suburb of Melbourne, where a seasoned police sergeant and a new recruit are drawn into the lives of two women dealing with domestic violence and abuse.

Read the Sentinel‘s review of The Removalists:
More info & bookings:

Wednesday, 19 May to Saturday, 22 May, 2021
Darlinghurst Theatre Company, 39 Burton Street, Darlinghurst

I Want To Know What Love Is throws a spotlight on long-buried memories, bedroom fantasies, crushes and conquests. Acclaimed Queensland performance collective The Good Room asked members of the public to anonymously submit their stories of love – fragments and memories, confessions and admissions – and they’ve transformed those secret submissions into magnificent declarations on stage. Following a sold-out premiere season at the 2014 Brisbane Festival with Queensland Theatre, the work had a subsequent sold-out return at the Brisbane Powerhouse’s Wonderland Festival in 2015, a Melbourne season at Provocare Festival in 2017 and a national tour in 2018. Now, this thrilling production comes to Darllinghurst Theatre.

More info & bookings:

I Want To Know What Love Is 2019 trailer. Video: Critical Stages Touring/Vimeo.

7pm & 9pm Friday, 21 May & Saturday, 22 May, 2021
Brand X, 34-40 Burton St, Darlinghurst

This adaptation of But I’m A Cheerleader is a work in development that re-examines the camp queer film about sexual identity. The AstroTurf is rolled out. Megan is clutching at her suitcase. She is greeted by a group dressed in Adam and Eve-inspired bodysuits. An inadvertent horny gay hotbed is revealed. She takes her first step towards intervention. Directed and adapted by Tait de Lorenzo, produced and dramaturg by Lizzie Cater, set and costume design by Camille Ostrowsky, devised with the company. Content warning: coarse language, bright lights, loud sounds and adult themes.

More info & bookings:

Wednesdays to Saturdays 7.30pm; Sundays 6.30pm; Wednesday, 26 May to Sunday, 27 June, 2021
Woodburn Creatives , 1 Woodburn Street, Redfern

Both evocative and compelling, Intact is a tangibly intense performance of few words, driven by themes of inward exploration and re-invention. A powerful dream-like and surreal performance piece, Intact follows a soldier who upon his return from war is unable to relate to who he once was, and finding himself without direction or purpose. Both the protagonist and the audience are encouraged to sit in on what it feels like to be ‘stuck’ and confront the transformation of this revealing experience on identity.

More info & bookings:

Intact trailer. Video: fuser production/YouTube.

Unique cinema & film

Friday, 16 April to Saturday, 1 May, 2021
Ritz Cinemas, 45 St Paul’s Street, Randwick

The Fantastic Film Festival returns to the Ritz Cinemas with a remarkable program of mind-breakers, trendsetters, razor walkers, loose wires, truth talkers, trailblazers and envelope pushers, showcasing the world’s most daring works from filmmakers with innovative and unique perspectives. These films look both inwards and outwards to present vivid visions of our reality, challenge cinematic convention and offer a critical lens through which to view our past, present and future. It really is fantastic!

More info & bookings:

7pm Fridays until Friday, 4 June, 2021
Ritz Cinemas, 45 St Paul’s Street, Randwick

The Ritz Cinemas are celebrating the extraordinary, multi academy award winning Coen Brothers with a bonanza retrospective of their films, including their biggest hits Fargo and No Country for Old Men. Screenings are on Friday nights with a massive season from 5 February all the way through to 4 June.

More info & bookings:

Wednesday,12 May to Monday, 24 May, 2021
Various locations across Sydney

You will be entertained, touched and informed. The South African Film Festival (SAFF) presents an engaging program of nine documentaries, five features and two short films that reflect South Africa’s diverse population, rich tradition of struggle for democracy and equality, and complex political and economic reality. The festival will screen online to audiences across Australia and New Zealand with special closing night in-cinema screenings in Sydney and Melbourne. All ticket proceeds go to supporting Education Without Borders programs that assist young South Africans in some of the country’s most disadvantaged communities. The funds generated by this year’s festival will support vulnerable groups in South Africa; of particular importance this year given the impact of Covid-19. Tickets are $8.00 for a single screening, $60.00 to watch the full program for a single person or a bargain of $80 per couple to watch the full program.

More info, full program & bookings:

Be entertained, touched and informed at the South African Film Festival this May. Photos: supplied.

Please note: all details believed correct at time of publication. It is recommended that you check details online before attending events. The Sentinel assumes no responsibility for errors, event cancellations, time and/or date amendments, or any other changes or inaccuracies.

Travis de Jonk is the features editor of the Sydney Sentinel.