Need to find things to do this October long weekend in Sydney, but unsure where to start? Look no further!
Public holidays are the best, especially in Australia when we have so much to explore and discover. But with so much to do, sometimes we forget to plan and before we know it the October long weekend will be here. If you are in that situation then don’t worry, we have collated all the things you can do on the NSW public holidays.
In this guide, you’ll find some unique things to do this October long weekend in Sydney and the surrounding areas. Expect a David Bowie festival, Leon Bridges at Sydney Opera House, dance parties and so much more in this guide so you’ll have a memorable Sydney long weekend!
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Why do we celebrate labour day?
The October long weekend is a public holiday the first Monday in October to celebrate labour day, the day an eight hour working day was introduced. Today the dream is to work for ourselves and ideally less than 8 hours a day but back in 1856, an eight hour working day was bliss.
Employees would work in tough conditions for 12 hours a day and had to march to Parliament House in Melbourne to demand safe working hours and conditions. This October long weekend we can celebrate their success and say cheers to those who gave us a better work-life balance.
30 Things to do this October long weekend in Sydney
1. Dance at a David Bowie festival in Carinda
Who doesn’t love David Bowie enough to dedicate their national holidays to him? Carinda Hotel featured in his legendary ‘Let’s Dance’ music video and has since started a 3 day Lets Dance Carinda Festival in tribute of the late-great himself.
Book a glamping tent, take part in Bowie trivia, watch a tribute band reenact the iconic music video and dance the weekend away to a full program of live music.
Be prepared though – Carinda is located out near Lightning Ridge which is a road trip in itself. Make sure you check out our Lightning Ridge Guide as well so you can make the most of your long weekend getaway.
2. Hope for a win at the NRL Grand Final, Sydney Olympic Park
Even if you’re not a huge sports fan, there is nothing like being immersed in the passion and energy of a home game. The NRL Grand Final will be a spectacular event for enthusiasts and one-timers, the teams will have trained and played for months just to make it to this one final match. What a great way to spend the national holidays, an iconic October long weekend in Sydney must do!
3. Relax on labour day with a hike
Yes, that’s right, hiking can be relaxing! You don’t have to storm it up hills and beat the personal best on Strava; you can have a leisurely hike in nature. With so many National Parks to explore in NSW alone, national public holidays seem made for ticking off these Best Hikes In Sydney.
4. Catch a Whale Watching tour in Sydney whilst it’s still the season
Whale watching in Sydney is awesome from June-November when the humpback whales migrate to warmer waters to give birth. There are eco boat tours running daily from Sydney harbour and tracking the whales along the coastline. If you are lucky to see them breech the water and flip, you will be very happy you took the time to book.
5. Check out a star festival in Coonabarabran
Starfest runs every October public holiday in Coonabarabran and it is the only day in the year that Siding Spring Observatory opens its telescope to the public. Situated on a mountain top, the observatory is Australia’s largest optical astronomy site and has presentations by internationally-acclaimed astronomers on labour day. What an out-of-this-world experience!
It’s also the perfect place to go and do the famous Warrumbungles walks which is a bucket list in Australia! The drive out here is far from Sydney, perfect for the October long weekend.
6. Party the night away at Candyland hosted by The Argyle
Candyland is a queer dance party taking over both inside and outside the Argyle this October long weekend. With DJs playing until the early hours, you can dance the night away and be your best Queer self this public holiday.
7. Continue the party on Oxford Street Gay Bars
With throwback tunes, drag Queen shows, cabaret shows and buzzing dance floors, could you think of a better way to celebrate labour day? Hit up one of our 12 Best Gay Bars in Sydney and have yourself a Queer, loving and inclusive public holiday!
8. Go For A Drive Down To Wollongong
Think it’s a small town too far out of Sydney? Think again! Our Wollongong guide covers beaches, temples, food markets, waterfalls, and wildlife parks, need I go on? With highlights to see on the drive down too, you would be happy to spend the annual public holiday in Wollongong.
9. Spend your weekend at an old-school festival in Barellan
Travel back in time at the Good Old Days Festival and relive the pioneer history of Australia. Camp under the stars, drink beer at the Furphy festival, see working draught animals, camel races and rides, get involved in cow milking or butter churning and see live music. Celebrate the labourers and Australian heritage at the same time.
10. Take an epic road trip to Broken Hill
Granted, you may need to take an extra day or two holidays for this trip but it is so worth it, check out one of our 3 routes to Broken Hill. Jam pack your weekend with stargazing tours, Mad Max museum, heritage tours and the Priscilla Palace hotel and many more awesome things to do in Broken Hill.
11. See a concert under the stars at Night at the Barracks, Manly
Night at the Barracks is a schedule of Australia’s best talent you can enjoy under the stars. The Barracks is situated at North Head Sanctuary in Manly, a stunning area to see a concert. All events will have local food and drink stalls so you can really make a night of it.
12. Have an epic movie weekend
Sydney is home to some amazing heritage and modern cinemas, each giving a unique cinematic experience. Spend your public holidays ticking off some of the best cinemas in Sydney, sounds like a perfect weekend to me.
13. Pair your movie weekend with food experiences
A weekend and public holiday is not complete without incredible food. If you are back home, a three day weekend means booking a cheap European city break only an hour plane ride away. Well luckily for us, we can sample food from Germany, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Greece and many more right here in Sydney. Why not spend your weekend ticking off some places on our best European restaurants in Sydney guide?
14. Escape the grind with a romantic getaway
If you are missing your European weekends away, you’ll be happy to know you can escape to an Italian chateau 2 hours away from Sydney, how cool is that? Our romantic getaways from Sydney guide features even more gems such as a yacht BnB, a cottage that reminds us of the cottage in The Holiday Christmas film, a ski lodge and spa getaways. You are welcome.
15. Drive up to a ‘Ute Muster’ country music fest
What exactly is a ute muster I hear you thinking. The town of Deniliquin took the title of ‘Ute capital of the world’ after creating a the Deni Ute Muster where you can bring and camp in your ute, showcase your ute, and even visit a ute museum.
Don’t worry, it’s not all about utes and you can camp without a ute. The program includes huge country music acts, bull riding, lantern making, camel riding, fairground rides, wood chopping and bogan bingo. What a g’day!
16. Head to a garden festival in Leura, Blue Mountains
For a quieter festival, head to Leura Gardens Festival in the Blue Mountains. For the long weekend, the first Monday in October, you can join group tours, listen to live choirs and jazz, admire the stunning Leura gardens and buy plants. I couldn’t think of a more peaceful and wholesome way to spend the NSW public holidays.
17. Make a weekend of it in the Blue Mountains
If you are heading to the gardens festival then why not stay the whole weekend and explore the stunning national park? With 43 amazing things to do in the Blue Mountains, you will be very happy this labour day.
18. Celebrate the whole month with wine
Orange Wine Month starts on October long weekend and lasts the whole month, why not extend your public holiday into a vacation to the NSW breathtaking natural landscapes? With a full schedule of events, there is more than just wine to explore. Think art exhibitions, cooking classes, music sessions and markets, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
19. Kayak your way through the weekend
Sydney is full of incredible places to Kayak including a tour under the Sydney harbour bridge! You could hire a kayak, and explore wildlife and private beaches with stunning views. Pack a picnic and a beer and your NSW public holidays would be hard to beat!
20. Just keep swimming
By the first Monday in October, we are over the winter chill and swimming doesn’t feel like a cold therapy challenge. Why not pack your swimmers, have a picnic and explore one of our best 19 swimming holes and waterfalls? The annual public holiday celebrates our work-life balance so what better way to celebrate this than relax in stunning swimming holes?
21. Explore Sydney at Night
The national holidays calls for a good lie-in so you can afford to get out at night and see our beautiful city lit up! With 27 things to do in Sydney at night, such as a secret pub crawl, Sydney harbour bridge climb, crime tour and a Jazz and board game bar, you will be glad you got dressed and hit up Sydney’s unique nightlife.
22. Take your chance to see Breenhold Gardens, Mount Wilson
Open for only two weeks in Spring, Breenhold Gardens in Mount Wilson is only a two hours drive from Sydney. With 45 acres of secret walled gardens, forest walking trails, wildlife and national park lookouts to explore, it really is a beautiful way to spend your public holidays.
23. Go on a popular Whale Watching boat tour in Jervis Bay
Jervis Bay is an excellent place to whale watch as the bay is protected from the choppy sea waters making the humpbacks easier to spot. Read our honest review of whale watching with Jervis Bay Wild Cruises and I’m sure you will be jumping to book your ticket for a chance to get your favourite image of the humpbacks.
24. Stay and explore Jervis Bay
Boasted as the area with the whitest sand beaches in the world, Jervis Bay is an absolute must-visit for anyone living in Sydney. With not only beaches. explore, you can pack your weekend with national park hikes, cute heritage bakeries and cinemas and secret tunnels to find.
25. See Leon Bridges at the Sydney Opera House
Everyone absolutely must see a live event at the Sydney Opera House whilst here and luckily this October labour day weekend, Leon Bridges is playing.
A chance to see a Grammy award-winning R&B artist (famous for soulful songs like River, Beyond and Coming Home) in the Sydney Opera House doesn’t come up very often. The concert hall is a majestic space designed to create a Cathedral-like ambience, simply breathtaking.
26. Get tickets to Listen Out Festival, Centennial Park
On Saturday 1st October, you can watch headliners such as Disclosure and Culture Shock at Listen Out Festival in Centennial Parklands. An over 18s-only event, the festival is awesome if you want to spend your public holiday listening to music, dancing with friends and having a drink.
27. Rock the boat on Yeah Buoy boat party, Sydney Harbour
Taking off from King Street wharf, Yeah Buoy on Saturday 1st October is the perfect way to kickstart your long weekend. Think DJ’s, fully stocked bar and a sunset over the harbour bridge, yeah buoy!
28. Fill your weekend with Japanese Culture at Paddington Town Hall
Sake Festival in Paddington Town hall is bringing together both Australian and Japanese Sake distilleries for tastings, talks by industry professionals, live sushi and sashimi making and a Japanese drum performance. Cheers to this! Afterwards, you might like to check out our favourite Pubs in Paddington that remind us of England!
29. Take the whole family to The Big Bounce, St Ives Showground
If the name hasn’t already told you everything you need to know, let me elaborate and get you excited for The Big Bounce.
You can bounce on the world’s biggest bouncy castle, race your family through the giant obstacle course, explore space-themed inflatables and play giant bounce sports.
If you haven’t immediately booked tickets already then reevaluate your decision.
Check out our Southern Highlands video for more inspiration below!
Best 30 Things To Do This October Long Weekend In Sydney
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This article is written by Amii Freeman, our resident writer at Londoner In Sydney.
Hi I’m Amii! I’m from Darlington in the North East of England. I moved from London to Sydney in 2019 for a slower pace and to be by the coast, without having to give up my love of cities. My passion is in film and TV, I screen-write and act as much as I can. In my spare time I love trying new food, exploring new places, kayaking, hiking and cycling.Follow me on Instagram @amiifreeman!