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11 things to do between semesters

14 June 2018
Sydney has plenty to offer in July

Sydney in winter is a playground for students enjoying newfound freedom in the break between semesters. Adventure and respite await you after making it through exams – here are our top picks of the season.

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 (Thursday 12 to Sunday 15 July) in Circular Quay, 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 local team, the Sydney Swans. There are two home games this July for Swans fans to look forward to – on Thursday 5 July they take on Geelong Cats and on Saturday 21 July they'll play Gold Coast Suns

Meanwhile in rugby league it’s State of Origin time and the final game of the series on Wednesday 11 July is sure to get temperatures rising. The NSW Blues have already won the series, but will they be able to make it a clean sweep? Join supporters at a local pub (especially if it has a fireplace) to watch the game.

The eyes of soccer fans all around the world are on Russia as the World Cup gets more intense with every round. If flying to Russia is off the table this winter, throw a World Cup party and show your support for your favourite team. The final will be played at 1am Sydney time on Monday 16 July.

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 or watch ice hockey demonstrations at Bondi Winter Magic from Friday 29 June to Sunday 22 July, or in Hyde Park. There’s also Winterlight Parramatta from Friday 6 July to Sunday 22 July for ice-skating, vintage rides and European winter fare.

4. Go whale-watching 

It may be winter but there’s still a very good reason to go to the beach – it's whale watching season. There are plenty of places in Sydney to watch the annual migration of hundreds of majestic humpback whales, so rug up, find a good vantage point and don’t forget your camera! 

5. Get amongst the greenery

Put some colour back into your Instagram at the Royal Botanic Garden’s spectacular (and free) display Pollination at The Calyx, a kaleidoscope of colour that is 6 metres high and spans 50 metres. You can even have high tea while you’re there.

The gardens are spectacular all year round, boasting stunning views of Sydney Harbour, so why not pack a picnic rug, tea thermos and snacks and settle in for the afternoon. 

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 theatres scattered throughout the city. Check out what your local is showing.

Also check out Bondi Feast, a fringe-style winter festival from Tuesday 17 July to Saturday 28 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.

Challenge your friends to 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 talk presented by leading academics across a range of disciplines. Topics covered throughout July include dogs, Indigenous language, the Gaza conflict and cultual backlash. Check out the full list of events here.