What’s on in December


This month’s top 15 sports and cultural events.


Moonlight Cinema

Advance screenings, new releases and cult favourites are on the bill at this outdoor cinema celebrating its 21st year. There’s the option to BYO and get settled in for a night under the stars. Splash out on Gold Grass tickets and you’ll get reserved “bean beds” and someone to order and deliver refreshments for you.

WHEN: Various dates December-April 2017
WHERE: Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth

The Nutcracker

St Petersburg Ballet Theatre returns to Australia to tell the story of young Clara and her Nutcracker prince. A cast of 60 dancers will perform the Christmas favourite to the famous Tchaikovsky score. Fans of the composer will be pleased to hear the company is also performing a full-length Swan Lake, a production that promises to be every bit as lavish.

WHEN: December 16, 17, 23, 24
WHERE: Melbourne, Sydney    

Circus 1903

From the creators of the popular magic show The Illusionists 1903, which toured Australia last summer, comes a re-creation of the circus as it was at the turn of the 20th century. French jugglers, Ukrainian acrobats and high-wire artists from Mexico will be joined by spectacular replica elephants crafted by the model-makers and puppeteers behind the stage hit War Horse

WHEN: December 1-January 12, 2017
WHERE: Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne 

Falls Festival

Headlining the Falls music and arts festival are hip-hop artist and DJ Grandmaster Flash, rapper Childish Gambino, Brit trio London Grammar and Queensland’s Violent Soho. If you missed out on tickets to the Lorne and Byron Bay events, head to Western Australia, where Falls is being held for the first time. 

WHEN: Various dates December-January 2017
WHERE: Lorne, Marion Bay, Byron Bay, Fremantle

What’s on in December 2016

Amy Schumer Live

She’s one of the world’s most popular comedians, loved for her show, Inside Amy Schumer, and her book, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo. Now she’s going back to where it all began: live stand-up. In this arena show, which is part of a world tour, Schumer delivers confronting comedy with a dash of Joan Rivers and plenty of girl power.

WHEN: December 10, 12, 14, 15
WHERE: Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney


The Hunger Games: The Exhibition

Sydney’s new convention centre will be transformed into the world of Panem this summer. The immersive exhibition uses more than 1000 props and costumes to re-create sets from the film series. Never-before-seen content and high-tech, interactive environments offer a rare look behind the scenes of the blockbuster franchise.

WHEN: December 20-February 4, 2017
WHERE: International Convention Centre Sydney, Darling Harbour

Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

It’s one of the most prestigious races in the world and there are great vantage points around Sydney to see the start. If you’re north of the Harbour Bridge, look for a spot between Clifton Gardens and Middle Head. If you’re on the south side, the best views are from Nielsen Park to Camp Cove. To watch the boats sail out to the ocean, North Head and South Head can’t be beaten.

WHEN: December 26
WHERE: Sydney

What’s on in December 2016

Primavera at 25

The annual Primavera showcases emerging Australian artists aged 35 and younger. To mark the program’s 25th year, works by esteemed alumni, including Nell, Rebecca Baumann and Ross Manning, are displayed in a collection that reflects on the nature of time, transformation and history. After its Sydney debut, the show tours nationally.

WHEN: December 19-March 19, 2017
WHERE: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney

Carols in the Domain

This outdoor Christmas concert has become a Sydney institution over the past three decades. This year’s performers include Leo Sayer, John Paul Young, Dami Im, The Wiggles and Jessica Mauboy. The event raises funds for The Salvation Army so bring a few dollars, along with a picnic rug and basket. Reserved seats can be purchased but general entry is free. 

WHEN: December 18
WHERE: The Domain, Sydney

Club Swizzle

Life is a cabaret for Brett Haylock. The man behind La Soirée turns Sydney Opera House’s Studio into a cocktail bar, complete with a band and burlesque dancers, for Club Swizzle. The Swizzle Boys mix drinks with acrobatics at this event hosted by New York comedian Murray Hill. Tuxedos and sequins are not mandatory but are encouraged.

WHEN: December 9-January 29, 2017
WHERE: Sydney Opera House

What’s on in December 2016

National Cherry Festival

Cherry-lovers will be spitting pips if they miss Young’s 67th annual National Cherry Festival. Highlights include the Cherry Festival Street Parade, the cherry-pie-eating contest, the crowning of the Cherry Queen and excursions to orchards where you can pick your own cherries.

WHEN: December 2-4
WHERE: Young

Summer Solstice Light Spectacle

In a limestone ridge located about 25 kilometres north of Rockhampton, the Capricorn Caves are a natural wonder. During the summer solstice, there’s an extra-special reason to see them: from December to early January, a beam of sunlight pierces the 14-metre vertical shaft above Belfry Cave, creating a lightshow that will leave you wide-eyed with awe.

WHERE: Capricorn Caves
WHEN: From December 1


Boxing Day Test

A staple of the national sports calendar, the Boxing Day Test draws big crowds and plenty of passion. The Aussies have won it seven times in the past decade and this year’s Test against Pakistan – the second in a three-match series – should be thrilling, as the Pakistani team is sitting close to Australia on the International Cricket Council world rankings after a good year. 

WHEN: December 26
WHERE: Melbourne Cricket Ground


Singin’ in the Rain

The 1952 film comes alive in this stage musical, which follows silent-movie star Don Lockwood as he tries to break into “talking pictures”. In Australia after a sellout season in London’s West End, the show features the title song with tap-dancing and all-important rain (each performance uses 12,000 litres of recycled water). If you’re in the front row, expect to get wet.

WHEN: December 1-23
WHERE: Festival Theatre, Adelaide

What’s on in December 2016

2016 Cod Classic

The Cod Classic started in 2000 as a Mulwala Football Netball Club fundraiser, attracting 44 competitors. This year, about 3000 fishing fanatics will vie for the longest Murray cod and golden perch (and a prize pool of more than $150,000). Entrants receive a souvenir stubby holder, which will keep their beer cold while they tell long stories about the one that got away.

WHEN: December 2-4
WHERE: Lake Mulwala


The Taste of Tasmania

Sample Tassie’s best seafood, cheese, craft beer and cool-climate wine by the Derwent River. It’s the perfect spot to watch the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race as competitors near the finish line. Entry is free but the New Year’s Eve celebration with special guest Kate Ceberano is ticketed (a portion of sales goes to the Save the Tasmanian Devil Appeal). Visit thetasteoftasmania.com.au

WHEN: December 28-January 3, 2017
WHERE: Princes Wharf No. 1, Hobart


Lighthouse to Leighton

Australia’s longest open-ocean kiteboarding race brings 135 professional and amateur competitors together. It’s a 19-kilometre dash from Phillip Point, on Rottnest Island, across the Indian Ocean to Leighton Beach in North Fremantle. Watch the action from Leighton Beach as the athletes reach speeds of up to 60 kilometres per hour to cross the finish line first.

WHEN: December 3 (weather permitting)
WHERE: Rottnest Island to Fremantle

What’s on in December 2016

Saint Barbara’s Festival

Named for the patron saint of miners, this festival in the famous Goldfields town both celebrates the mining industry and honours those who have lost their lives to it. Thousands line historic Hannan Street for the showcase event, a grand parade featuring community groups and towering mining trucks (we’re talking six metres high).

WHEN: December 1-4
WHERE: Kalgoorlie


Woodford Folk Festival

Blues, roots and folk music is just one drawcard at “Woodfordia”, where this alternative festival has become something of a pilgrimage for free spirits. The crafty can learn to create everything from hula hoops to henna tattoos. Plus, there are acoustic jam sessions, eco films, parades, yoga classes, cabaret shows, workshops and a festival for children.

WHEN: December 27-January 1, 2017
WHERE: Sunshine Coast Hinterland

What’s on in December 2016

Compiled by Emma Mulholland, Rebecca Villis and Chris Ryan.

SEE ALSO: The Hottest Restaurant Openings in December

Share this article

You Might Also Like