In the 13 winter days and nights leading up to the June solstice (the longest night), Sydney will come alive with music, food, drink and culture.

Sydney Solstice’s curated events will spread across four precincts including Newtown and its surrounding suburbs of Enmore, Erskineville, Alexandria, Chippendale, Darlington and Redfern.

The diverse bohemian suburb of Newtown is always bustling. By day, the vintage stores are packed with shoppers searching the racks while cafes burst with the chatter of coffee-devotees. By night, the neighbourhood becomes a hotbed of bars and restaurants serving fantastic multicultural cuisine from young, hip chefs.

One of the big things happening in the area during the Sydney Solstice event is the inaugural Country and Inner Western. Over the long weekend (June 12-13), some of Australia’s best artists in country, alt-country, bluegrass folk and blues will light up the entertainment precincts of Newtown, Enmore and Erskineville in a series of free and ticketed events. The line-up includes Kasey Chambers, Tex Perkins plays Johnny Cash, Wagons, All Our Exes Live in Texas and Caitlin Harnett & the Pony Boys.

The country music festival will be a fantastic arena for live music after a year of no dancing. Choose a seat in the open-air grassy surrounds of Alexandria’s Sydney Park Amphitheatre for the two-day ticketed festival or catch one of the free pop-up events on King Street. Try the Enmore Hotel or neighbourhood bar Midnight Special in Newtown.

Matt Rule of The Music & Booze Co, which is organising the festival, said: “Country music has such a broad and diverse range of music that sits under its banner and being able to bring the incredible range of artists together we’ve managed to curate for this inaugural event has been a huge honour. The location is also amazing; Sydney Park has grown into being one of the city’s best parks, perched on the edge of the vibrant Newtown precinct.”

“During Sydney Solstice, I’ll be hitting up the Queen’s Feast at the Sydney Town Hall for sure. It’s such a beautiful building and the food will be amazing, plus it’s curated by Kat Dopper and her team from Heaps Gay so you know the vibes will be through the roof.”

Caitlin Harnett & the Pony Boys

The new South Eveleigh precinct has emerged as the city’s new go-to dining venue. To celebrate the opening of this special heritage area, the South Eveleigh Solstice Festival will be held over two days (June 18-19).

The collection of old railway sheds on Locomotive Street have been lovingly restored and are home to an exciting array of new restaurants and bars.

The South Eveleigh Community Rooftop Garden is a place for education on native fauna that is integral to South Eveleigh. The garden was established by Jiwah, an Indigenous cultural and landscape design firm run by Clarence Slockee who will also run workshops throughout the South Eveleigh Solstice Festival.

Visitors will be fed and watered by some hospitality heavyweights including: Kylie Kwong’s hotly anticipated new eatery, Lucky Kwong; the world’s first permanent no-waste bar, Re by Matt Whiley; ramen bar RaRa Chan; pho favourite Eat Fuh; and Steve Costi’s Famous Fish. There will also be a medley of performances, art installations and music throughout the festival.

Cheese-maker Kristen Allan will run a hands-on class where you can take home milky, soft pillows of mozzarella and beautiful curd cheeses. Afterwards over lunch, Ms Allen will share her favourite recipes as well as some tips and tricks for making cheese at home.

Kylie Kwong’s eatery is a definite highlight

And finally, to wrap up the Sydney Solstice festivities, the three-day Third I Festival (June 18-20) will host a closing party. The cultural experiences of the local Indigenous and Inner West communities will be on display with food, beverages and artists reflecting the multicultural and diverse Enmore Road strip.

A passport will be available to purchase allowing you to travel the globe with unique food and beverage experiences across multiple restaurants and bars.

The Third I Festival will bring to the area pop-up art galleries, masterclasses from industry-leading  bartenders and chefs, as well as immersive cultural experiences. Indigenous hip-hop artists and bands will perform at the Metro Theatre on George Street in the city.

The festival is being held in partnership with PlateitForward Hospitality and all funds raised will go into employment and career pathways for Indigenous peoples and asylum seekers. 

Insider tips on Newtown

“The Newtown precinct has long been Sydney’s cultural and creative hub,” said Country and Inner Western festival organiser Matt Rule, “and there is no better place to experience this than at the iconic Enmore Theatre.

“I’ve watched some of my favourite-ever live shows here and the recent upgrades have only enhanced this Sydney gem. It’s also a bonus that one of the best craft breweries in the country, Young Henrys, is 500 metres’ walk from the theatre.

“There is no better precinct in the country that can offer the diversity of the food that is available in Newtown and Enmore. Every corner of the globe is represented.

“Add to that the array of small bars, outstanding pubs, the odd brewery and the multitude of live music venues and you can fill every night of the week.”

Take me there

Fly: From Hobart, fly to Sydney with Qantas from $102 one way. From Ballina, fly Virgin Australia from $79. From Melbourne, fly Jetstar from $30 one way. From Griffith, fly Rex from $99 one way. Sydney Domestic Airport is on the T8 trainline to the CBD, stopping at Green Square, Alexandria.

Drive: Sydney is a 90-minute drive from Wollongong; four hours from Orange; and about five hours from Dubbo.

Stay: Stay close to the action at the Urban Newtown, from $175 per night. Or try Skye Suites Green Square, from $209 per night.

Dates: Sydney Solstice events run between Tuesday, 8 June and Sunday, 20 June 2021.

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