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Six things to do at the Opera House during Sydney Solstice

Alice Nguyen & Kaila Keen
Sydney Opera House

Snuggling up in bed this winter might sound appealing, but if you’re honest with yourself, you’re probably ready for a night out. A whole new Sydney is brimming with arts and culture and it’s waiting for you to experience it.

1. Let the (winter) rhythm get you at Badu Gili: Winter Nights

When: 8 - 20 June
How much? Free!

We hear you. After a year of being cooped up indoors, getting outside and seeing live gigs is the antidote we didn’t know we needed. Every night, Badu Gili: Winter Nights will be bringing you a free music performance at the top of the Opera House steps. What’s your flavour? R&B? Electro soul pop? Perhaps you’re keen to get a little experimental and experience poetry infused with music? Whatever your jam is, 5:30pm is when things will kick off. See the full line up of emerging artists here. Don’t forget to rug up so you can boogie in style (and warmth). 

Cool tip: Badu Gili LIVE is a free outdoor music series featuring First Nations artists taking the Opera House steps as their stage on selected dates later in June. See dates here.

Clarissa Mei performs at Badu Gili: Winter Nights. 

2. Check out the Mabu Mabu pop-up bar

When: 8 - 20 June, from 5pm
How much? Menu items range from $4 - $12. Retail products on offer from $15.

Our pop-up bar at Badu Gili: Winter Nights is putting native Australian ingredients front and centre and giving Sydney a taste of Melbourne café Mabu Mabu – meaning ‘help yourself’ in the Torres Strait – with a menu curated by chef, owner and Meriam woman Nornie Bero. On the menu, expect a charcuterie box, pumpkin and Mabu Mabu chai savoury muffins, chocolate wattleseed mini pavlovas with strawberry gum cream and hibiscus and pepper berry coulis, and a lemon myrtle cookie sandwich. To drink, there’s mulled wine infused with native Australian spices and a wattleseed hot chocolate to keep you warm under the stars. 

You can even buy some of Mabu Mabu’s small-batch spices to take home too. Go for the Cinnamon Myrtle to spice up your desserts, or to pack a punch – pepper berries are one to try on meat or roast vegetables. 

Chef Nornie Bero at Mabu Mabu

Chef Nornie Bero at Mabu Mabu

3. Watch the sails light up with First Nations stories

When: 8 - 20 June, from 5.30pm 
How much? Free

Year-round, the eastern Bennelong sails of the Opera House are illuminated with animations that bring to life First Nations stories from across the country. But as the winter sun is setting early, there's no better time to experience this free event. Named Badu Gili, which means “water light” in the language of the traditional owners of Bennelong Point, the Gadigal people, each installation is six minutes long and for Winter Nights we’ll be showing all three artworks that have transformed the sails since it launched in 2017. Prepare to be mesmerised.

Cool tip: There are four sails lighting every half an hour from sunset. While you enjoy being immersed in incredible First Nations art, there's also free music performances and a pop-up bar to keep the snack monsters at bay.

First Nations illustrated artwork projected onto the eastern Bennelong sail

Elaine Russell's artwork for Badu Gili: Wonder Women

4. See the House as you've never seen before: The House After Dark

When: Until 20 June (hurry, limited tickets!)
How much? From $55

Just as all the lights come down and performers go home, The House After Dark is your access key to experiencing the Opera House like you never have before. In this limited-edition guided experience, you’ll be one of the only people roaming through the building to venture through secret passageways and spaces that are usually off-limits. The journey starts behind a hidden door for a gin & tonic and dessert canapes to loosen up the nerves before hearing about why things sometimes go bang in the night. New dates for this sold-out tour have just been added, so it’s one worth getting out of bed for.

The House After Dark.

5. Taste the flavours of Opera Kitchen

When: 19 & 20 June, 12pm - 5pm
How much? $30 and includes four food selections;

This festival is full-on flavour and full-on views. Over two days, pop-up food stalls and roving entertainment will take over the harbourside market hall highlighting the best of Opera Kitchen’s Italian and Japanese-inspired offerings. Take your pick from bite-size katsu sandwiches, ramen and karaage chicken or tuck into a wide range of Italian specialties including cured meats, pickled veggies and delicious, delicious cheeses. And for the sweet tooths out there, get your scoop of Gelato Messina. Wash it all down with an Aperol Spritz or Asahi beer, and to top it all off, there will be DJs, face-painting for the kids and more.

Birds eye view of dishes at Opera Kitchen

Flavours of Opera Kitchen. 

6. A new way to experience Opera Bar with Total Reflection

When: 8 - 10 & 15 - 17 June 
How much? Free

Sure, you’ve done Opera Bar before. Had a cheeky mid-week bevvy after clocking off at 4:30. Taken *that* pic for your ‘gram. You know the one. But this time the team at Opera Bar are bringing you a whole new experience with Total Reflection. An audiovisual performance that’s been brought to life by a team of celebrated Australian creatives, the sprawling light installation has been designed by Sam Whiteside and Babekühl, while an original musical composition will accompany, to be performed by Jono Ma and Jonti. Now you can have that cheeky mid-week bevvy and enjoy art at the same time. Winning.

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