11 things to do between semesters

Sydney has plenty to offer in July
Winter Sydney is a playground for students to enjoy newfound freedom in the break between semesters. Adventure, warmth and respite await you after making it through exams – here are some of our top picks including in-person and virtual options.

1. Warm your belly

If you’re seeking a delicious way to warm up on a chilly night, then the Bastille Festival is a must. Running over the Bastille Day weekend (Wednesday 14 to Sunday 18 July) in Circular Quay and The Rocks, the festival offers up a huge selection of specialty foods from France and other parts of Europe.

If you’re looking for a new winter local to escape the frost, browse through this list of Sydney’s best pubs with fireplaces.

2. Catch a match of footy (of any code)

July is a great chance to catch some of the sporting fervour Australia is famous for. AFL is renowned for its stadium atmosphere so get behind our Sydney Swans. There are few home games for Swans fans to look forward to over the semester break – take your pick.

Meanwhile in rugby league it’s State of Origin time, with Game II to be played in Brisbane on Sunday 27 June. Can the Blues win the title back from the Maroons? Join supporters at a local pub (especially if it has a fireplace) to watch the game. The final round will be at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Wednesday 14 July – get your tickets.

3. Skate up a storm

Snow may be a rare sight in Sydney but that doesn’t mean you can’t go ice-skating! During winter a number of pop-up rinks appear across Sydney to help us to pretend we’re in a magical wonderland. Strap on some skates at Bondi Festival or Darling Harbour Winter Festival. There’s also Winterlight Parramatta from Friday 25 July to Sunday 18 July for ice-skating, vintage rides and European winter fare.

Performance box office desk

4. It's show time

July is filled with shows around Sydney from theatres, musicals, the stage and the plays. Get tickets to some international performances or check out some local productions and comedy nights. There's shows all around Sydney so perfect to combine with a dinner or lunch. Here are a few suggestions to kick-start your search.

5. Get amongst the greenery

Put some colour back into your Instagram at the Royal Botanic Garden’s fascinating (and free) display Plants with Bite at The Calyx, showcasing carnivorous plants that thrive in inhospitable environments by luring, trapping, killing and digesting insects.

The Winter in the Domain festival, with music, food, and entertainment, will be on from Friday 25 June to Sunday 18 July and right in the green heart of Sydney with stunning views of the harbour.

6. To market, to market

Now that your weekends aren’t filled with study, you can make the most of Sydney’s copious number of local markets. There’s one in nearly every suburb, so you’re bound to find one a stone’s throw away from your favourite brunch spot. Popular picks include Glebe, Rozelle, Bondi, Pyrmont and the Rocks. 

7.  Explore the arts scene

Sydney has a huge arts scene with galleries and displays scattered throughout the city. Check out what to see this July.

Also check out Bondi Festival, a fringe-style winter festival from Friday 25 June to Sunday 11 July. With more than 40 different shows over 10 nights, there's something for everyone.

8. Escape the city

There’s no better time to visit the Blue Mountains than in July. The cooler temperatures make bushwalking easier (with fewer bugs!) and the villages are lined with cosy little teashops and cafes with famed winter menus. It only takes about two hours to get from campus to Katoomba, either by car or train, so make a day of it.  

9. Movies, with a twist

The dinner and movie combo is time-honoured but let’s face it, it’s pretty unimaginative. Luckily Sydney is full of places taking this traditional pairing to new heights for those cold rainy winter days. Try out the Drive-Ins at Blacktown, or get super comfy at Govinda’s with their day-bed style lounges. The Golden Age Cinema is also perfect if you want to travel back in time and catch some theatre classics. 

10. Relive your youth

Why should kids have all the fun? Get airborne with some bounce-ercise at a trampoline park or use up all your gold coins playing Pac-Man and Street Fighter at one of Sydney’s arcade pubs.

If you're feeling a bit more sporty, challenge your friends to a round of mini-golf at Holey Moley or a game of ten pin bowling at The Standard Bowl. While you’re there, enjoy the in-house dumpling restaurant and live music. 

11. Feed the brain

Evoke your curiosity with a Sydney Ideas recommendation there are also options to listen to podcasts from past events. If you prefer online events from the comfort (and warmth) of your own place, you can listen check out a number of virtual talks, events and workshops running through July. 

Last updated 22 June 2021

14 June 2018

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