Oxford Street and its surrounds are etched into the minds of most as the home to Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. And this winter, its nightlife is revitalising as the bars fill with revellers, the music plays and dancing is back.
During the summer months, Sydney’s queer neighbourhoods are a burst of colour with endless parties and piña coladas. As we head into the winter months, Sydney Solstice will keep the area pumping with a raft of events from June 8-20 in the lead-up to the longest night, our June solstice.
In the Oxford Street and surrounds area, there are some fabulous bars which will be playing host to plenty of live music, immersive food events, all-night dance parties and art workshops.
One of the precinct’s highlight events is the Five Ways Festival, held on Saturday June 19. The street party showcases historic Paddington, a quiet pocket of the city’s east that is well known to locals but perhaps not to out-of-town-visitors.
“We are finalising our chef and music line-up this week, but we expect this to be one of the most amazing weekends of the year in Paddington (which is always amazing anyway). Paddington is one of the best communities in Sydney and we want to share what we have with our visitors,” said Five Ways Festival co-director Elizabeth Meryment.
“Expect brilliant food, great music and some incredibly unique and intriguing retailers. We’re also doing a themed installation of the whole of the Five Ways so it will look visually splendid.”
Visitors will find Paddington chefs and bartenders offering an array of international food and drinks, while local artists and creators make their wares on site and offer them for sale.
Live musicians will entertain the crowds in a curated program that will run throughout the day, leading to a DJ-led evening of vibrant beats, while local retailers will showcase the best of Paddington fashion.
There will also be an art and light activation showcase which will add an extra dimension to the event.
Local venues, including the Royal Hotel, Eat Thai, Italian pizza bar Vino e Cucina, Mr T Vietnamese restaurant, artisanal deli Omeio and Latin-American fave Tequila Mockingbird, will present street foods and a cocktail program.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the city come to life during winter and exploring the laneways to see what great events are happening. We’re really looking forward to bringing our little corner of Paddington at the Five Ways to life too and being part of the action,” said Ms Meryment.
Further down Oxford Street towards the city, Bitter Phew, one of Sydney’s premier craft beer bars, will be hosting special events with Indigenous and local ingredients paired with some of Sydney’s finest beer and wine. There will be workshops co-hosted by Gabriel Gutnik of Ziggy’s Wildfoods, as well as lunch and dinner sessions with Caitlin Koether of Wild Provisions.
At the parish hall of St Peter’s Catholic Church in Surry Hills there will be a choral performance with a moody twist on June 19. Polyphony Choir, an award-winning community group, is celebrating Sydney Solstice with a night of gothic-inspired songs from Nick Cave, The Cure, Portishead, Goldfrapp, Massive Attack and more.
Further along from Sydney’s Kings Cross red-light district is Potts Point, which hums with fine restaurants and small watering holes. At the Silly Tart Kitchen on Kellett Street, its generous grazing boards will feature local produce and, in true winter fashion, roasted chestnuts, while mulled wine will complement the spread. A fiddler and banjo player will strum up a storm as part of this special winter solstice Fiddle & Feast event on June 20.
Throughout Sydney Solstice, Hotel Harry will be a hotbed of DJs spinning tunes to the wee hours of the morning. And just around the corner, there will sunset sessions at the Golden Age Cinema and Bar where independent youth broadcaster FBi Radio will host popular DJs on June 10 and 14.
Insider tips on Paddington
“Get a reservation for Fred’s,” recommends Five Ways Festival co-director Elizabeth Meryment. “It’s a brilliant restaurant, as is Josh Niland’s Saint Peter, which is just nearby. The pubs here are fabulous. Try The Unicorn, which is owned by the team behind Newtown’s Mary’s and is a bit of an ode to the seventies. The Paddington is my other favourite pub on Oxford Street, but the Imperial and the Paddo Inn are also classics. “Or, venture down William Street to The London, or down Glenmore Road to the Village Inn, which I think is the cutest pub in Paddington.”