The best things to do in Sydney for November 2018

As we steamroll towards summer, and Sydney’s temperature really ramps up, some of the city’s most festive annual – and inaugural – events are being readied for crowds of locals and visitors to get across. Whether it’s watching a provocative Japanese film in the air-conditioned comfort of Event Cinemas, indulging in exclusive dishes by renowned international and local chefs at Barangaroo, celebrating the eclectic beauty of Newtown, or sparking debate on Cockatoo Island, these eight events will make sure you have a November to remember.

Taste of Sydney Collective

Ever wonder what happened to Taste of Sydney? Nothing really, it’s just evolved into a brand new concept and moved from Centennial Park to breezy harbourside space The Cutaway at Barangaroo. The Taste of Sydney Collective will feature a full chef line-up curated by Mark Best, rounding up top local and international culinary talent to create exclusive dishes in a festive environment of live music, a marketplace, and cooking demos. Two special “Collective Kitchens” will be set up to host a roster of eight chefs each, serving collaborative, specially made dishes totalling 64 exclusives for guests to try. Chefs include Sky Gyngell from London’s acclaimed Spring, and Louis Tikaram from L.A hotspot E.P & L.P, playing amongst star locals like Mitch Orr (who will be doing up a Wagyu Tartare “Halal Snack Pack”), Ben Greeno (who is putting forth an Octopus Waffle), Joel Bickford (and his Peking Duck Consommé), Duncan Welgemoed (Smoked Pork Sausage Sizzle with Boom Chakalakka), Claire Van Vuuren (Black Fried Chicken with Pepper Berry), and more.

When: 8th to 11th November
Where: 1 Merriman St, Barangaroo NSW 2000

Newtown Festival

The historic Newtown Festival is always one of the must-attend local celebrations of the year. In 2018, the event enters its fourth decade so you better believe organisers will be going all out to make it the best yet. You know the deal: live music, numerous bars, stalls from locals, day parties, and food and drink curated by Newtown Locals like Mary’s, Bloodwood, Continental Deli, and Young Henrys. Make sure you’re heading along to the karaoke and disco party in the Love Den curated by Heaps Gay. The whole thing will help raise funds for the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre so just know that your $5 entry is going to a very good cause when you head along to Camperdown Memorial Rest Park on November 11th

When: 11th November
Where: Camperdown Memorial Rest Park

The Blend – Ms G’s, Ho Lee Fook, E.P & L.P

Presented by Chivas Regal, beloved Potts Point restaurant Ms G’s are in the midst of a guest chef series which in November will see Executive Chef Dan Hong joined by Jowett Yu of Hong Kong dining icon Ho Lee Fook and Louis Tikram of Los Angeles hotspot L.P & E.P to cook up a special menu offered over two days. Taking place on Monday 12th and Tuesday 13th November, and priced at $89.95pp, “The Blend” will serve guests the one-off collaborative menu alongside bespoke whisky cocktails, music, and a special whisky blending station that will host a masterclass and let you blend (and take) your own whisky.

When: 12th and 13th November
Where: 155 Victoria St, Potts Point NSW 2011

Festival of Dangerous Ideas

The lauded Festival of Dangerous Ideas is upping the ante for their 9th anniversary. Not only are they moving the venue from Sydney Opera House to iconic landmark, Cockatoo Island, they are also bringing a lineup of speakers who are ready to “challenge the status quo, push the boundaries of conventional thought and speak to dark and dangerous ideas of truth and trust – from sex robots to tying yourself up in lies and rope.”

English Comedian, writer, activist and “that guy who’s always on TV” Stephen Fry is leading the program, albeit off-island at Sydney Town Hall, making sure we all remember it is OK to disagree. Go see historian Niall Ferguson take on Age of Anger author Pankag Mishra as they battle to decide the origins of extremism, or alternatively learn something you didn’t need to know as Toby Walsh talks killer robots. On top of a huge lineup ready to make you question everything you never thought to question, there’ll be experimental art performances ranging from shibari rope bondage to Betty Grumble’s “Sex Clown Saves the World”.

When: 3rd and 4th November
Where: Cockatoo Island

The Rolling Stones’ Exhibitionism

From 17th November, the next few months at the International Convention Centre will be taken by a massive Australia-first exhibition from none other than iconic band The Rolling Stones. The immersive, multi-room exhibition will be an engaging and immense collection of over 500 Stones items, donated by the band and curated into spaces like a vintage guitar gallery, and an interactive sound mixing and recording studio. Expect everything from Stones’ fashion to lyric books, diary entries, album art and photographer, with a vast collection spanning the 60’s to now. Make sure you check out the screening cinema narrated by Martin Scorsese and the numerous video experiences all leading up to an immersive backstage recreation and 3D concert finale.

When: From 17th November
Where: International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour

Wine Island

The stunning Clark Island in the middle of Sydney Harbour is about to be turned in to Australia’s most tropical and unique wine festival and the picturesque city will be the backdrop for all your evening adventures. You won’t start drinking and immediately crave those late night Kebabs on Wine Island when you have juicy burgers, loaded fries, Mediterranean pitas, fluffy boa buns by Chur Burger along with cheese platters and oysters galore. They’ll even be a beer garden curated by Gage Road, so even if you’re not a huge wine drinkers you can get in on the action.

The weather is telling us it’s the start of Summer. You won’t even have to get time off work and pay a gazillion dollars for your tropical island holiday this year, because Wine Island has come to you.

When: 2nd to 4th November
Where: Clark Island, Sydney Harbour

Japanese Film Festival

Japanese Foundation is once again bringing 30 feature films and a documentary to Sydney for the annual Japanese Film Festival. This year the films range from the newest releases to all time classics, featuring Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura, a highly regarded romantic detective mystery. If romance isn’t your thing One Cut of The Dead has been weirdly but enticingly described as “a cleverly disguised low-budget but high-concept take on the zombie comedy genre.”

On top of all this the festival has whipped up a free classic film program at the Art Gallery of New South Whales (Oct 3-31) which focuses on the cinematic masters of the Japanese Golden age all the way through to New Wave cinema.

When: 15-25 November
Where: Event Cinemas, George Street

Food & Wine by the River

The Orange region are graciously bringing their finest cool-climate wines (which includes plenty of new releases) to Tambourine Bay Reserve from 11am to 5pm on Sunday 4 November. Part of Lane Cove Council’s annual Festival by the River, the relaxed showcase event gives you the best possible taste of city-country living, backed by an afternoon of music and games. There will be face painting and an animal farm display for the kids and plenty of room for dogs as long as they are on a leash – The only thing to leave at home is your car, so you can get a real taste of Orange’s famous wines and then a free shuttle bus back to the Lane Cove library.

When: 4th November
Where: Tambourine Bay Reserve, Riverview

Right Here, Right Now – Blacktown Festival

Western Sydney’s wonderfully diverse suburb of Blacktown has a heap of stuff to offer, and now finally gets the festival to showcase it. Over three weeks Blacktown’s main street will be bustling with festival feature performances, installations, music, film and food inspired by the local landscape. Each aspect of the festival will highlight the personal stories of people from Western Sydney and the uniqueness of this underrepresented area of Sydney.

There is just about everything on offer at this festival with must sees including Team Trampoline, featuring work by textiles artists Meg Wilson and Nicole Barakat and a short film shot onsite at the Blacktown Native Institution Site.

When: 1st to 17th November
Where: Blacktown CBD

Mamma Mia Pop-Up

Head along to Waterloo from 8th to 10th November and you’ll find Sydney’s latest pop-up, inspired by none other than Mamma Mia. Designed to celebrate the home release of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, the temporary space will be themed towards the movie and host Retrosweat and Cork & Chroma classes (soundtracked by ABBA of course), as well as Mamma Mia trivia and a festive Greek feast. The three-day pop up translates the movie for its many fans, shaped after the magical Greek island of Kalokairi, spreading activities across all days starting with the aforementioned Retrosweat class, hosted by dancing queen Shannon Dooley on the 8th, to Cork & Chroma wine-and-paint events on Saturday 10th. Just don’t forget to head along Friday, and bring your appetite. Former My Kitchen Rules contestant Helna Moursellas will be leading the kitchen with a huge Greek feast including delicious baked feta saganaki, slow-cooked lamb shoulder and more. All events will be free of charge with a first in best dressed policy. There will be limited tickets available to each session.

When: 8th to 10th November
Where: The Freedom Hub, 283 Young St Waterloo
Greek Feast + Trivia:
Cork & Chroma:

Feature image: Wine Island.

Additional copy by Genevieve Morris.

Chris Singh

Chris Singh is the Deputy Editor of the AU review and a freelance travel writer. You can reach him on Instagram by following @chrisdsingh.