Sydney has its buzz back – what’s new and what’s coming

Sydney is undoubtedly one of the world’s great cities and has so much going for it. This glamour puss sits on the shores of Sydney Harbour, and is awash with harbourside walks, incredible shopping, delectable dining options, spectacular beaches and a whole lot more.

There is even more reason to enjoy a Sydney staycation or to fly into the Emerald City for a short break or longer escape. Sydney now has a brand new event that will turn heads, sees the return of another favourite and the Sydney Film Festival is back. As to where to stay, we can help with that, with some suggestions of new hotels that have opened or are opening soon.

And it is show time, with Sydneysiders and visitors turning out in numbers to see some of the world’s best musicals. Plus, an old favourite is making its return.

Read on to find out more.

Sydney Solstice

Sydney Solstice, Destination NSW, Love NSW, Sydney Opera House

Badu Gili hub. Image by Destination NSW

Sydney has a brand new winter event! Say hello to Sydney Solstice, which will run from 8-20 June. There will be four hubs: Circular Quay, The Rocks, Botanic Gardens, Chinatown, and Chippendale; Darling Harbour, Barangaroo and Pyrmont; Paddington, Darlinghurst, Surry Hills and the EQ at Moore Park and Newtown, Enmore, Marrickville, Erskineville and Rosebery.

The eclectic line-up spans two weeks and more than 200 different experiences at popular Sydney restaurants, pubs, precincts, art galleries, museums, and live music venues. Some of the highlights include:

Badu Gili nights – Over the 13 nights of Sydney Solstice, the Opera House’s steps will be transformed with live music, talks and poetry readings. Every night at sunset, you can also see this year’s Badu Gili – a six-minute projection on the Opera House’s eastern Bennelong sails.

South Eveleigh Solstice Festival – for two days during Solstice, this incredible and renovated site will come alive with performance, art installations, music, food and beverage for everyone to enjoy. Expect to be nourished by some amazing hospitality heavyweights including the new hotly anticipated Kylie Kwong Eatery, the world’s first permanent no-waste bar Re by Matt Whiley, RaRa Chan, Eat Fuh, Whitton, Steve Costi’s Famous Fish, Fishbowl, Bekya, Pepper Seed Thai, Sushi Hon, North Sandwiches and Yoho Loco.

The Queen’s Feast at Sydney Town Hall – This will be a long table feast like no other. Indulge in delicious food from renowned Australian chefs including Anna Polyivou (Dessert Queen) Claire Van Vuuren (Bloodwood), George Woodyard (Bart Jnr) and Sarah Tiong (MasterChef 2017/ 2020), while enjoying booze from the legendary winemaker Lisa McGuigan.

Night Over Light – celebrates the return of Sydney’s vibrant nightlife. Held in the city’s newest small bar precinct, YCK Laneways, it offers a diverse program of ticketed music, dance, theatre and art events.

The Gentleman Magician’s Magical Soirée – an evening of storytelling magic for adults at Sir Stamford at Circular Quay.

Sydney’s Sea Life Aquarium  – will be reimagined as an evening playground for adults, with pop-up bars, food stations, entertainment, and an underwater world of glowing coral, bioluminescence and sea creatures.

Other great things to do include ice skating at the Darling Harbour Winter Fair and you can do a kayak tour on Sydney Harbour under the moonlight.

Sydney Film Festival

Sydney Film Festival

From Wednesday 18 August to Sunday 29 August 2021, Sydney Film Festival will become one of the first major festivals in the world to return to cinemas when it premieres its much anticipated 68th Edition.

The 2021 program will take over cinemas across Sydney. Festival audiences will be able to travel through the eyes of the world’s most exciting filmmaking talent, exploring this year’s most poignant issues, subjects, people, and places, at a historic moment in time.

Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley says, “The 68th Edition will capture the flux, and intersecting currents, of the moment. It feels historic to be able to present the remarkable haul of work that has emerged around the world during COVID-19.”

Films from the four corners of the globe will screen in conjunction with a public program of talks, parties and guests, enriching the festival experience.  The Festival takes places across Greater Sydney, with venues to be announced in June.

From Wednesday 18 August to Sunday 29 August 2021, the 68th Sydney Film Festival offers Sydneysiders another exciting season of cinema amidst a whirlwind of premieres, red-carpet openings, in-depth discussions, film guests and more.

Vivid Sydney returns

Views of Harbour Lights installations on marine vessels moving across Sydney Harbour during Vivid Sydney 2019. Destination NSW.

Vivid is back! Albeit a little later in the year than usual. Vivid Sydney will light up the city from 6-28 August 2021, with an outdoor gallery of contemporary light installations and 3D art. A cutting-edge line-up of live music acts and deep-dive discussions with renowned thought leaders. The full program will be released soon – check here to find out all the information you need.



Hamilton Sydney

Hamilton Sydney is showing at The Lyric Theatre. Image by Daniel Boud

Hamilton is a phenomenon that has confounded pundits as to how it has been so popular, with so many age groups. The love-child of Lin-Manuel Miranda and based on the book about Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, Hamilton tells his story. Hamilton went from a penniless, illegitimate boy on the hurricane-hit island of Nevis, to a founding father of America. You would have seen his face on the US$10 bill.

We here at The Finer Things in Travel have seen it (review is coming soon) and suffice to say it totally lives up to all the hype. If you were hesitating because you don’t like rap music, don’t. The music is absolutely incredible with a blend of hip-hop, jazz, R&B and Broadway. The soaring harmonies and lyrics will become locked in your brain.

There is a very good reason that it was won three Tony Awards, three Grammys, an Emmy, two Laurence Olivier Awards and a Pulitzer Prize.  It is simply brilliant.

Hamilton is on at the Lyric Theatre at The Star – go see it!

Come From Away

This award-winning musical lands at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney on June 3. It tells the story of what happened when planeloads of people from all over the world had to land at Gander Airport in Newfoundland, Canada, after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York forced US airspace to close. Pilots were forced to divert to the nearest airport, and for many, that was Gander. A total of 38 planes carrying   6,579 passengers and crew landed there, and the 10,000 people of this town forged into action to host them.

Come From Away is the story of how so many beautiful friendships were formed in this time, between different cultures. It will warm your heart and give you hope. The Courier Mail said it best: “Even if you’re a curmudgeon or chronically grumpy when you see Come From Away you will laugh, cry and tap your toes incessantly.”

The Finer Things is seeing the show soon – review will follow!

Phantom of the Opera – book now for later!

Phantom is one of the most successful musicals of all time. Fans will be thrilled to know that Cameron Mackintosh’s new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s legendary show is coming back to Sydney!

To make it even better, the show will be on at the Sydney Opera House for the very first time. Hit after hit punctuates the thrilling score, from Music of the Night, Think of Me, All I Ask of You, Masquerade and of course the title song thrilling audiences all over again.

This spectacular new production features brand new scenic design by Paul Brown, lighting design by Tony Award®-winner Paule Constable, sound design by Mick Potter, new choreography by Scott Ambler and the original, Tony Award-winning costume design by Maria Björnson.

Overseen by Cameron Mackintosh and Matthew Bourne, the “simply epic” new staging includes many special effects, from the famous chandelier to the underground lake, and a large cast and orchestra. It’s “bigger and better than ever before” (Yorkshire Post), “stunning, intense and spectacular” (Sunday Express).

The Phantom of the Opera is produced by Opera Australia and The Really Useful Group in association with Cameron Mackintosh. Michael Cassel is Executive Producer for Cameron Mackintosh Limited and The Really Useful Group. The season will run from Thursday 2 September 2021 to Friday 29 October 2021. Get tickets HERE.

New and new-ish hotels

Aiden Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour will have a new hotel when Aiden Darling Harbour makes its debut in July/August. Sydney’s newest boutique hotel is in a beautifully remodelled 1930s Art Deco building across from the Sydney Maritime Museum. The Aiden will have 88 luxe and compact accommodation rooms, one-of-a-kind hand-painted murals and a combined lobby, café and bar. The hotel is focused on embracing and celebrating the local area, working with local businesses to deliver guests an enriching Pyrmont/Darling Harbour and Sydney experience.

The Aiden is a neat little package of the must-haves for an easy, luxurious yet affordable stay tucked into one of Sydney’s most interesting areas, by the harbour and on the fringe of the CBD.

A by Adina

Australia’s newest premium apartment hotel brand, A by Adina is now making its presence felt in Sydney after opening in April, 2021. It is the flagship property of an elevated new ‘premium’ suite of Apartment Hotels, where VIP guest experience soars to extraordinary heights. The A by Adina brand is 100 per cent Australian made and is 26-storeys of high-tech comfort. The property marries Sydney’s past, present and future, with 194 apartments consisting of 82 studio, 104 one-bedroom and eight two-bedroom apartments. All with magnificent city views through floor-to-ceiling windows. A highlight of the building is the cutting edge sky lobby, crowned by A by Adina Sydney’s cutting-edge sky lobby. Located on the 21st floor, guests love the check-in experience in this four-storey, glass area that is an Australian first. Check-in, have a drink at the bar, look over the pool deck and then maybe think about going to your room! A by Adina has also opened its sophisticated new cocktail and restaurant experience, Dean & Nancy on 22.

Little National Hotel

Sydney’s Little National Hotel opened in November 2020, the sibling of the Little National in Canberra. The property sits above Wynyard Station and offers 230 rooms, a gym, sprawling library and an exclusive and spacious rooftop lounge and bar. Guest rooms are compact yet use efficient spatial planning and generously proportioned sleeping spaces ensure each guest is wrapped in comfort. Little National Hotel suits business, conference and leisure guests who demand smart luxury and high amenity in a super-prime location but at a reasonable rate. The swish rooftop has an outdoor lounge and winter garden, with a large open fireplace and your cocktail of choice awaits at the Terrace Bar.

Crown Sydney

This stunner provided a real boost to Sydney when it opened in February 2021. Crown is the first six-star hotel in Sydney, and the building lifts Barangaroo and the eastern side of the city to new heights – literally. The curving beauty that is Crown’s exterior sits 275 metres above Barangaroo, with 349 rooms within its sleek frame. The dining scene at Crown is next level, with an amazing selection of eateries and bars. Woodcut, Epicurean, a’Mare, Nobu, Yoshii’s Omakase, Silks, 88 Noodles, TWR and The Teahouse are all well worth experiencing and the newest addition, Oncore, by Clare Smyth, will open in July and is sure to garner a huge following immediately. Clare’s UK restaurant, Core, saw Clare become the first and only woman to run a three-Michelin starred restaurant. Cirq Rooftop Bar & Lounge, on level 26, opened in March and its birds-eye view over the city have seen it become the go-to for the A-list crowd.

Kimpton Sydney is coming

This beauty is not opening its door until October. It will be the first Kimpton Hotel in Australia and has a good story to tell. Formerly Primus Hotel, this gorgeous Art-Deco style property had historic bones. It was the former headquarters for the Sydney Water Board and dates back to the 1930s. The Kimpton Sydney will have 172 unique design-led rooms and suites, a rooftop swimming pool, conference and event spaces as well as a range of innovative culinary experiences including a lobby bar, rooftop restaurant and a café.

Watch this space for more information as the hotel nears its opening date.