It feels like Festival City around here – and we haven’t even hit summer festival season yet. Find out which ones I’ll be checking out this month (including one in an abandoned cinema and another featuring some of the world’s best bartenders) below. Plus, hotspots for a drink, the Broadsheet interviews to put on your reading list and so much more. Read on for what I’ll be doing in Sydney in September.
Whether you want to look at (or buy) some art, sip cocktails from the world’s best bartenders, see some underground theatre and comedy, or party till late in a thriving nightlife hub, Sydney has a festival this month that’ll sort you.
Sydney Contemporary – one of the country’s biggest art fairs – begins on September 8 at Carriageworks. And while you can pick up works from more than 450 artists, Sydney Contemporary is about a lot more than buying art. There are performance pieces; installations (including a giant papier-mache moon by Sulman Prize-winners Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro, and a life-sized bronze sculpture by artist-of-the-moment Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran); a Friday-night party soundtracked by Stereogamous’s Jonny Seymour; and panels on applying a First Nations lens to the built environment, the pros and cons of commissioned works, and the world of art crime. Plus, you’ll find bars from Campari, Four Pillars, Glenfiddich and more. What’s more, if you join Broadsheet’s Access program, you can sign up for an exclusive opening-night tour of the fair with an Archibald Prize finalist. sydneycontemporary.com.au
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Over in Chinatown, the long-empty Harbour City Cinema is opening to the public for the first time in 15 years for Pleasures Playhouse, a six-week arts and culture festival starting on September 22. There’s heaps happening, but I’m particularly excited for the Send Noods Cinema: every Tuesday night, the theatre will screen an arthouse film (think David Lynch’s Wild at Heart and ’90s heist film Set It Off), accompanied by noodles from Biang Biang and natural wine from P&V. Also set to be a blast? Nights curated by Heaps Gay, Donny Benet, Maurice Terzini and Nai Palm, and yum cha pop-ups. pleasuresplayhouse.com.au
Some of the world’s best bartenders will make their way to Sydney from September 9 to 18 for the World Class Cocktail Festival. While it involves a battle of who’s best behind the bar, there’s plenty to keep those in front of the bar happy, too. You’ll catch me at a taco truck and Margarita party headlined by LA chef Roy Choi in The Rocks, and sipping the wares of big-name bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan, at a supper club at Quay. And smashing Martinis by Ago Perrone – director of mixology and Martini master at the world’s number-one bar, The Connaught in London – at Bennelong also sounds like a riotous time. worldclasscocktailfestival.com
Sydney Fringe Festival continues at full steam over the next month. There are more than 500 events to wade through, so you’re likely to find something to love. The Babylon street party returns to Kensington Street in Chippendale, with 35 diners and bars involved, as well as roving entertainers, a tarot reader, woodland nymphs and more. Bernie Dieter’s Club Kabarett is also a blast, with cabaret, a “haus” band and fire breathing in the Spiegeltent at First Fleet Park in The Rocks. There’s also a comedic homage to Titanic, called Titanic: The Movie, The Play, improv comedy, drag, dance and oodles more. sydneyfringe.com
Meanwhile, a new festival called Surry Thrills, running from September 15 to 30, is a celebration of the “downtown” hub of Surry Hills, where you’ll find some of the city’s best restaurants, bars, hotels and galleries within sniffing distance of one another. The guest rooms at Hotel Harry will be transformed into private karaoke spaces; ex-Fred’s head chef Danielle Alvarez and Rosheen Kaul from Melbourne’s Etta will take over the kitchen at Alberto’s Lounge for a night each; there’ll be happy hours at Ace Hotel, DOC Pizza and Pellegrino 2000; DJs at the Hollywood Hotel; and heaps, heaps more. surrythrills.com.au
New for drinks
Natural winemaker Doom Juice opened a “cellar door” this past weekend in St Peters, pouring its core range of wines, as well as other drops from other local winemakers and brewers. As well as ace drinks, there’s a rotating line-up of chefs every Sunday – including chefs from Bastardo, the Old Fitz, Cafe Paci and more – as well as a pop-up each Friday night from Redfern’s Good Ways Deli, and DJs too. @doomjuicewine
And Bondi has finally got its first brew bar. It’s called Curly Lewis (get it?), and is making easy-drinking beers (including a number made with seawater) by the beach. The food is by Bronte Road’s Frank’s Deli – and it’s putting a spin on the burgers and fried chicken you’ll find at a lot of other Sydney breweries. Expect deep-fried quail with fries and aioli, Reuben sandwiches and burnt Basque cheesecake. curlylewis.com.au
Plus, three of the city’s most anticipated bars are slated to open this month: Gildas (the new Basque wine bar by Firedoor’s Lennox Hastie), Alice (a basement bar in The Rocks from the group behind Rockpool Bar & Grill), and Bar Louise, the new tapas venue by the Porteno and Wyno x Bodega team.
Food for good
I reckon the mantu (spiced lamb dumplings) at new Afghan diner Kabul Social are the bee’s knees. Topped with a tomato and lentil sauce, and mint yoghurt, you’ll want an entire plate to yourself. The eatery is the work of Plate It Forward, a social enterprise that helps feed those experiencing food insecurity, and trains up refugees and asylum seekers. All the employees at Kabul Social are relatively recent arrivals from Afghanistan, and for every meal bought, two more meals are donated to Afghan communities, both in Afghanistan and here in Australia. kabulsocial.com
Broadsheet has spoken to some big personalities lately. Succession’s Brian Cox told us about his favourite child, artist Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran shared his disdain for anything low-key, and Hannah Gadsby explains why her new show is like “a hug”. They’re all worth bookmarking for later.