The Ashes, New Year's Eve, seasonal celebrations and festivals galore – there's plenty to keep you busy this December.
9 December | Melbourne Recital Centre
It’s a Christmas concert with all the trimmings. Kick off the festive season with carols and other standards performed by the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and the Brandenburg Choir.
15 December-15 April | NGV International, Melbourne
This celebration of the world’s best contemporary art and design brings together works from 32 countries, among them Iraq, Russia and South Korea. Artists include Australian sculptor Ron Mueck, Yayoi Kusama from Japan and Chinese fashion designer Guo Pei.
Human Nature at A Day on the Green
16 December | Rochford Wines, Yarra Valley
The Las Vegas-based Australian crooners are coming home for a one-off show supported by Kate Ceberano.
Carols by Candlelight
24 December | Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne
Our most-loved entertainers spread the Christmas cheer, singing carols and fundraising for Vision Australia.
The Ashes Fourth Test
26-30 December | Melbourne Cricket Ground
Don’t miss this post-Christmas fixture between old rivals Australia and England. Current demand for tickets is on track to set an MCG crowd record.
Next month: Australian Open
15-28 January | Melbourne Park
The year’s first Grand Slam tournament sees the biggest names in tennis slog it out over two weeks of fierce competition. Advantage Melbourne.
NEW SOUTH WALES
Monteverdi’s Coronation of Poppea
Until 6 December | City Recital Hall, Sydney
Marking 450 years since the birth of Italian composer Monteverdi, Pinchgut Opera presents his famous opera about the rise of Nero’s lover from mistress to empress. Australian mezzo-soprano Helen Sherman leads the cast.
11-12 December | Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney Olympic Park
Sir Paul returns to Australia for the first time in 24 years. His One on One tour includes old favourites from The Quarrymen, The Beatles and Wings, plus his solo songs.
New Year’s Eve at the Sydney Opera House
31 December | Sydney Opera House
For an unforgettable New Year’s Eve, spend the night under Sydney’s famous sails, enjoying Opera Australia’s The Merry Widow or the Opera Gala concert of arias by Verdi, Puccini and Rossini. You’ll also get to see the fireworks – both the 9pm and midnight shows – from the best vantage point in the city.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
5-22 December | Capitol Theatre, Sydney
Join Alice, the Red Queen and a tap-dancing Mad Hatter when The Australian Ballet brings Lewis Carroll’s classic story to life with extravagant costumes, lavish sets and puppetry.
La La Land in Concert
7-9 December | Sydney Opera House
The musical rom-com starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling is projected onto the big screen while the Sydney Symphony Orchestra plays music from the film’s Oscar-winning score.
Next month: Sydney Festival
6-28 January | Various venues
Golden Globe winner Maura Tierney treads the boards as Germaine Greer in The Town Hall Affair, one of more than 130 events on the festival’s program.
Tjungunutja: From Having Come Together
Until 18 February | Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
Featuring the world’s largest collection of early Papunya paintings, this exhibition explores the beginnings of the contemporary Aboriginal art movement.
DSO at the Movies
9 December | Darwin Convention Centre
The Darwin Symphony Orchestra performs music from popular films, including pieces by 23-time Grammy Award winner John Williams, who composed scores for E. T. the Extra-Terrestrial and the Harry Potter and Star Wars films.
Polo in the City
15 December | Victoria Park, Adelaide
Get ready to stomp the divots when Australia’s best players compete in the world’s largest polo series.
14-16 December | Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide
An Adelaide Christmas tradition, this concert combines popular songs with traditional carols in a beautiful century-old venue.
Next month: Green Day’s American Idiot
19-28 January | Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide
Grinspoon’s Phil Jamieson leads the cast in this punk-rock musical featuring Green Day’s best songs.
John Farnham at A Day on the Green
17 December | Kings Park and Botanic Garden, Perth
See The Voice perform all his hits, with special guests Mondo Rock and The Badloves.
30 December-6 January | Perth Arena
Tennis icon Roger Federer returns to Perth to represent team Switzerland, while Daria Gavrilova and Thanasi Kokkinakis fly the Australian flag.
Next month: The Gruffalo
3-13 January | State Theatre Centre of WA, Perth
This new musical based on the bestselling children’s book comes to Perth following a successful season in London’s West End.
AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY
The Commons Street Feast
Until 10 December | Commonwealth Park, Canberra
This year, Filipino diner Hoy Pinoy and Sydney burger institution Down N’ Out join festival favourites Mary’s and Gelato Messina, plus a host of other vendors.
Arthur Streeton: The Art of War
15 December-29 April | National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Key works by the official World War I artist have been gathered from Australia and overseas for this significant exhibition.
Mao’s Last Dancer The Exhibition: A Portrait of Li Cunxin
1 December-29 April | Museum of Brisbane
Go beyond the autobiography at this exhibition dedicated to the former dancer and current artistic director of Queensland Ballet.
26 December-4 February | Lyric Theatre, Brisbane
Brisbane gets its turn to thank ABBA for the music on the stage show’s national tour.
9-10 December | Brisbane Entertainment Centre
Marking the 50th anniversary of his debut album, Matthew & Son, the British singer-songwriter performs hits including Peace Train.
Next month: Woodford Folk Festival
27 December-1 January | Woodfordia, Woodford
At the festival this year musicians John Butler, Montaigne and Kate Miller-Heidke will be joined by a line-up of speakers, including Karl Kruszelnicki, who’ll talk about the Great Barrier Reef.
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race
26 December-1 January | Sydney Harbour to Derwent River, Hobart
The 73rd Sydney-to-Hobart offshore yacht race sees an international fleet take on treacherous Bass Strait in a sprint to Hobart’s Constitution Dock.
The Taste of Tasmania
28 December-3 January | Princes Wharf No. 1 Shed, Hobart
Taking over Hobart’s waterfront, this hugely popular annual food festival is packed with about 70 stalls selling fresh local seafood, cheeses, cool-climate wines and boutique beers and ciders.
29-31 December | Marion Bay
Angus & Julia Stone, Flume and former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher join thousands of eager campers when they descend on the tiny coastal town for three days. In addition to the stellar music program, there are comedy shows, activities for kids, markets, yoga and the chance to take a dip in gorgeous Marion Bay.
Next month: Mofo
12-22 January | Various venues, Launceston and Berriedale
In 2019, the Mofo festival will move to Launceston so organisers are giving Lonnie a taste of what’s to come with events in the city from 12 to 14 January. Highlights include a free block party and Canadian experimental-music collective Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The party then heads south to Mona.
SEE ALSO: MONA