It’s fair to say that Sydney has only recently woken up to the possibilities of a 24-hour city. Given that beneath the glistening exterior this is still a working metropolis with all its attendant responsibilities, such reticence was perhaps understandable. However for travelers keen to make the most of their limited time in the city, the opportunity to explore after ‘business hours’ is most welcome. Recognising this, there has been a concerted effort by interested parties to extend trading hours and activities in the CBD. At the forefront of the push has been prominent players in the arts community who have enthusiastically embraced the ‘open all hours’ concept.
Chief among these has been the Art Gallery of NSW with their Art After Hours program on Wednesday evenings until 9pm. An oasis for city workers seeking mid-week solace amidst artistry, this is an opportunity to experience the Gallery from a different perspective altogether. Combining events, free lectures, films and tours, the evening is further enhanced by an eclectic range of live entertainment which emanates from the ArtBar. This popular restaurant also serves wine and an evening-themed menu from 5pm. A particular favourite of Art After Hours is the free movie program, which complements current major exhibitions. With the chance to see cinema classics, as well as documentaries, short films and experimental films too – an offer which visiting film buffs will find hard to resist. One of the themes for August’s screenings is Weimar to Hollywood, run in conjunction with the major art exhibition The Mad Square: Modernity in German art 1910-37. Acclaimed films showing include Pandora’s Box, The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari and Marlene Dietrich’s iconic performance in The Bue Angel. Free tickets are issued at the Domain Theatre one hour before starting time, with screenings beginning at 7.15pm.
Another opportunity to sooth artistic sensibilities can be found at the State Library of New South Wales. As well as its extensive literary collections, the Library also boasts impressive exhibition galleries on the upper floor of the Mitchell Library. During August, On Sale! Shops & Shopping provides the perfect postscript to an afternoon of retail therapy. Tracing the origins of trade from the landing of the First Fleet to the modern mall, the exhibit provides a fascinating insight into consumer culture.
Continuing the literary theme, the Surry Hills Library recently trialed the after hours concept. Such was its success was its success, the Late Night Library program will continue on Thursdays throughout August with a diverse array of events. Highlights include the Cinemania Double Feature on 11 August – cinefile Kate Jinx’s tribute to felines on film, followed by Sam Smith’s exploration of cinematic production and special effects. On 18 August, the best comedy writers from behind the scenes of Australian TV take their comedic best from page to stage for one night only as the Campfire Collective presents TestPattern Comedy. While all Late Night Library events are free, bookings are necessary.
For night-owls seeking musical accompaniment, Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music could prove the perfect partner. Housed in one of the city’s most distinctive structures, the Conservatorium is recognised for a global centre of educational excellence in music. Monday night’s Cocktail Hour Recitals at 6pm and 7.30pm provide a chance to marvel at some future musical maestros (tickets online or via the City Recital Hall). Wednesday nights offer free entertainment at the Recital Hall west with the Alumni & Student Performance Series. The first and last Fridays in the month offer outstanding classical guitarist Ricardo Gallen accompanied by local expert John Griffiths (August 5), and then the intriguingly titled Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra performing a specially commissioned piece called Walkabout (August 26). Both events are free but bookings are required.
If contemporary sounds are more to your taste, the local music scene is sure to thrill and you will find so many things to do in Sydney. Established favourites such as The Basement at Circular Quay and the Metro Theatre on George Street offer a platform for both established and emerging artists. The inner city suburb of Newtown is home to the perennially popular Enmore Theatre, which frequently hosts both local and international musicians, while the nearby Vanguard is a purpose built live music venue and restaurant that specialises in the blues, jazz and soul. Newtown is also known to have some of the coolest restaurants in Sydney.
Finally, passersby shouldn’t be alarmed by the monster sounds escaping from the Australian Museum in the CBD – the dinosaur exhibits haven’t come back to life (yet) but the Jurassic Lounge has returned. Every Tuesday night in August, the museum opens its doors for after-hour sessions featuring art, live music, drinks and new ideas. Visitors can explore the facility and enjoy some of Sydney’s most promising new artists performing before a spectacular backdrop of dinosaur skeletons, precious gemstones and Australian animals. A night at the Museum never sounded this good! Whats on in Sydney? A lot! Article credit to John Danskin.