Culture Check: 5 unmissable Sydney events in autumn 2021

Think now that summer is over Sydney goes into hibernation? Think again. With the exception of last year, moving into autumn is often a time when the city’s dynamic cultural scene comes alive, and 2021 will be no exception, with some of the best things to do in Sydney.

Particularly after the year that was, it’s important (and importantly, COVID-safe at the moment) to get out, practice reasonable safety measures, and experience a deluge of some of the biggest events on the city’s cultural calendar as the sun ducks behind the clouds and the breezier months start to shine.

From the triumphant and so very needed return of Sydney Writers Festival, to the highly anticipated premiere of Hamilton and the first Handa Opera of 2021. Here are five things to look forward to if you want to soak up some culture in Sydney this autumn.


You’ve likely read all there is to know about this universally acclaimed production, where Lin-Manuel Miranda eschews just about every musical trope in the book and turns in one of most game-changing stage shows of all time. Hamilton has been a reference point for Broadway and West End for years now, and the gold standard hip hop musical about American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton is finally coming to Australia. Sydney gets first dibs, so grab a ticket and head along to the Lyric Theatre to watch the seminal show unfold.

Location: Sydney Lyric Theatre @ The Star, Pyrmont
Dates: 17th March – September 2021
Price: $70 – $250

Handa Opera: La Traviata

La Traviata returns as the first Handa Opera of 2021, overlooking Sydney harbour with a spectacular stage show directed by local director and writer Constantine Costi. Already coated with acclaim, La Traviata is his directorial debut, showcasing local and international singers complemented with choreography by Shannon Burns and visually defined by an extraordinary crystal chandelier by Brian Thomson. Dating back to the 1800s, the story of La Traviata is a three-act Italian libretto about love and tragedy set in Paris during the 1950s.

As with all Handa Operas, the food available at the pop-up opera house will match the performance. Of course, that means a European-inspired menu across five different restaurants and bar areas, showcasing the flavours of France and Italy.

Location: Mrs Macquaries Point, Sydney Harbour
Dates: From 26th March 2021
Price: From $99

Art Month

Life drawing, artist talks, live readings, premiering exhibitions, late-night gallery walks, art parties. You name a way to re-kindle your love for Sydney’s ever-changing art scene, and it’s all happening this month. Art Month is on right now, and it obviously follows a year of profound change for the city and the creatives which live in it. On until 28th March, the diverse program is as fierce as ever as it seeks to reignite, support, showcase, and facilitate the arts in Sydney. Highlights include live readings by the women of the Sweatshop Western Sydney Literacy Movement and a zine-making workshop, a ticketed two-day intensive workshop on the ins and outs of ceramic art, and an art walk and wine tour around Chippendale.

Location: Various
Dates: Until 28th March 2021
Price: Varies

Sydney Writers Festival

Sydney Writers Festival

After its unfortunate – and expected – cancellation last year, the Sydney Writers Festival is back with a bold, important program once again designed to provoke, inspire, and explore through waters navigated by both Australian and international writers. More than 400 Australian based speakers will be taking part across the festival’s 200+ live events (50 of which are free), alongside 15 international writers joining by video link. Miles Franklin winners Melissa Lucashenko and Tara June Winch will be opening the festival, alongside poet and editor Evelyn Araluen. The theme of this year will be “within reach” and you can view the full program at the link below.

Location: Carriageworks + more
Dates: 26th April – 2nd May
Price: Varies

Monet & Friends – Life, Light & Colour

After the rousing success that was Van Gogh Alive, Grande Experiences are bringing back yet another highly immersive, multi-layered and multisensory digital art exhibition at The Royal Hall of Industries. This time to scope is much wider than just any one artist, celebrating the epoch of impressionism in 19th century Europe, through the eyes and works of Claude Monet and the other seminal artists which made this movement a pivotal moment in the development of art. Once again multiple large displays will be used to fill this warehouse-esque space with large scale works rendered in gorgeous, sharp colours complemented by animations sounds and – if Van Gogh Alive is anything to go by – some profound quotes musing on art, life and love.

Location: Royal Hall of Industries, Moore Park
Dates: From 12th March
Price: From $35

Chris Singh

Chris Singh is an Editor-At-Large at the AU review, loves writing about travel and hospitality, and is partial to a perfectly textured octopus. You can reach him on Instagram: @chrisdsingh.