Did you know that Australia has more festivals per capita than anywhere else in the world? That’s a flashy stat to own. And Sydney hosts a rather impressive number of them. With the city’s calendar brimming with cinema, music, art, dance, history and cultural themed events (to name a few) you’ll never be stuck for something to do.

Whether you’re a local, passing through or on your city break, here’s our recommended list of festivals in Sydney we think you should visit:  

Vivid Sydney

Held annually, Vivid Sydney brings together light artists, music creators and brilliant minds for a festival that celebrates creativity. Running for more than 3 weeks over May and June, the city becomes a canvas for light installations and projections, music performances by local and international talent, and a platform for thought provoking talks and debates. Previous years have seen light walks stretching from The Rocks to the Royal Botanic Gardens, gigs by The Cure and talks about modern love in the digital age by podcast creator Esther Perel. Vivid Sydney attracts millions of visitors each year and transforms the entire city into a magical work of art.

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Oktoberfest Sydney

If good beer and authentic German food sounds like your kind of festival, be sure to time your visit to the city with this lively event. At Oktoberfest Sydney, the traditional Bavarian beer halls are just part of the experience. Of course there’s plenty of imported German beer, cider and wine to try with traditional fare to soak it up with. That’s a given at Oktoberfest Sydney. Then there’s the roving performers, silent disco and entertainment. Just like in Europe, there’s a 20 piece brass band, yodellers and accordion players roaming around. Join the 500 people silently dancing to their choice of over 30 DJ sets. Witness the bratwurst eating competition and join in with traditional games throughout the day. Musicians, magicians and circus performers…do you really need more convincing to buy your tickets to Okterberfest Sydney right now?!

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City Route, Stop: Hyde Park

Sydney Mardi Gras

Sydney Mardi Gras is proudly one of the oldest LGBTQI organisations in Australia, with a vision to be a global leader in the promotion of diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice through culture, creativity and partnerships. And what started as a post-parade party back in 1980, is now a world-famous celebration of this vision. Today, festival-goers fly in from all over the planet for the parade which promises a colourful and dazzling night of pride and self-expression. Every year, the theme of Sydney Mardi Gras changes to reflect the current day issues. Running for a couple weeks over February and March, you can expect parties, performances and drag nights like no other.

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So there you have our top three recommended festivals in Sydney. A city with a packed events calendar all year round, there really is no bad time to visit. And when you’ve had a thought provoking debate, drunk the best German beer and removed all the glitter from your face, you can sit back and relax on a Big Bus tour for a day or two of sightseeing. For more ideas on how to fill the rest of your time in this diverse city, check out our 3 Days in Sydney itinerary.