Ahh, summer in Sydney. Flowering red and purple trees, hot sunny days that erupt in afternoon thundershowers. Wine and cheese picnic dinners in the city gardens. Days spent broiling on the coral-colored beaches, slurping icy treats, floating in the turquoise waves. Evenings at the beach pub in the sun’s afterglow, sipping cold schooners in the sticky air.
Sydney in summer is something I daydream of from about May to October. As we are about to embark on another round of summer awesomeness, what better time than now to reflect on last summer’s adventures? It was my first summer here in a new job with no weekend work, and we were determined to make good use of all the extra free time. It ended up being a summer filled with great friends, great weather, great fun and most certainly lots of beautiful music, as you will see.
One of the best events in summer is the Sydney Festival. Each January the city performance venues are booked out with all kinds of musical, dance and theatre talent for a month-long series of events. Many of these events are completely free! We checked out the opening night of the Sydney Festival, aptly named “Festival First Night” that took place amongst the city skyscrapers and in the botanical gardens. We were treated to various kinds of free musical entertainment, and a glorious sunset:
A creative highlight of the Sydney Festival was “Films Afloat”, where cult classic films were screened on a floating pontoon in Darling Harbour. We saw Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon while New York City musician Karsh Kale along with Indian electronica producers The MIDIval Pundits composed a completely new soundtrack and performed it live while the movie played! (If anyone knows where I can get my hands on the soundtrack, let me know; it was cool!)
If you ever plan to visit Sydney during the months of January to March, you should definitely experience one of the many outdoor cinemas that run during that time. One of our favourites is the St George Open Air Cinema. I doubt you could find an outdoor theatre with a better view. A variety of new-release and independent films are screened throughout summer, on a large screen actually anchored in the harbour. We enjoyed the obligatory wine and cheese picnic in the Botanical Gardens before we took our seats and then watched the sun go down behind the screen showing The Visitor.
To enjoy another free event in the festival, Jeff and I did something we are only prompted to do once in a blue moon: we got up before sunrise and made our way down to the beach at Clifton Gardens to watch the Dawn Chorus. The Sydney Philharmonia Choirs performed a selection of new and old pieces A Capella. Lucky for us, there were some thin clouds in they sky which made for a glorious red and pink sunrise:
But perhaps the best concert of all of the Sydney Festival was the performance by Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova and The Frames that we saw in the Concert Hall of the opera house. This one wasn’t free (in fact we shelled out good $$ to buy cheap-seat tickets off some dude because it sold out so fast!) but was completely worth the price. It was a bit strange listening to a band play loudly in the dark of a venue normally reserved for the symphony, but the acoustics were simply amazing. If you haven’t heard of them, they won an Oscar for the song Falling Slowly featured in the movie Once. We highly recommend checking out the movie and their albums such as The Swell Season. One of my favourite songs is The Moon from the album The Swell Season. Check out our video clip of the song.
After the Sydney festival concluded, there was still plenty of summer to be had. We watched the new film Australia (of course) in my other favourite movie venue of the great outdoors, Moonlight Cinema in Centennial Park. If you want to enjoy your picnic whilst the movie plays, this is the cinema for you!
We also rang in the new year of the Tiger at the Chinese New Year Twilight Parade. My favourite float was the Leafy sea dragon that closely followed the Chinese dragon in the lineup of Chinese zodiac characters. It looks like something out of the land of Narnia, but it’s a real Australian creature related to the seahorse.
Of course we had to make it out to Tropfest again, “The World’s Largest Short Film Festival.” An American version of the festival also runs in New York every year. If you’re interested to see the 16 finalist entries from the Aussie show, you can see them here. The festival is getting bigger and bigger every year, and it’s been Jeff’s dream to submit an entry one of these years…
Other summer sunny days saw us kayaking around the small beaches and inlets around Manly:
And feeling the beat at the Future Music Festival:
To wrap up the summer, we couldn’t miss seeing another one of our favourite bands, Coldplay, live on their Viva la Vida tour! Coldplay were amazing to see live and really got the audience going. We all sang along to the songs and danced amongst flying giant balloons and tons of confetti. Fabulous.
Click here to view the rest of the photos. Stay tuned to hear a bit more about our summer when we ventured out of the city!