Frankly, we never tire of books and beach days, but the Sydney Festival is certainly enough to stir us from our stupor. Ever wondered what it would be like to see a huge octopus emerge from Watermans Cove? Then check out the giant floating Te Wheke-a-Muturangi sculpture, created by Māori artist Lisa Reihana and made from more than 1000 pieces. Think kids’ TV would benefit from some punk energy? See the Kate Miller-Heike-scored new musical, Bananaland, in which punk rock protest band Kitty Litter become an accidental children’s favourite. From fresh new theatre to avant-garde dance, international puppetry and Dinosaur World Live, there really is everything you could imagine (and plenty you couldn’t). Sydney Festival, January 5-28, various venues
The Australian Open proper starts on January 14, but if you fancy seeing your favourite tennis stars in a more relaxed mode, it’s worth checking out the opening week qualifiers and practice games from January 8. Charity matches with returning US star Naomi Osaka, plus a face-off between Aussie no.1 Alex De Minaur and Spanish no.1 Carlos Alcaraz, promise good-natured (and good-value) competitiveness, with ticket prices as low as $20.
As always, the AO scores well for food, too. Alongside the winning dining packages from Rockpool Bar and Grill, Daughter In Law and Fusion Feast (featuring food stations by Hareruya Pantry and Moonhouse), Bar Atrium is open all day for brunch, lunch, Aperol Spritzes and more. Meanwhile, Garden Square has all your European eating covered. Australian Open, January 14-28, Melbourne Park
Set in a traditional British pub, The Choir Of Man is the quintessential jukebox musical, with nine performers singing and dancing their way through some classic pub hits. Expect Sia, Guns & Roses, plus that classic John Farnham song, interspersed with spoken word poetry guaranteed to pull the heartstrings of even the toughest bloke. If you’re lucky enough to be seated near the front, you might score a pint from the working bar on stage. The Choir Of Man, January 4–February 11, Arts Centre Melbourne
It's one of the world’s most famous operas, with some of its most well-known arias, but Verdi’s La Traviata retains its freshness, particularly in this new production (which has been called “an absolute triumph”). The sets look Polite Society-worthy in their refined glamour; the cast is led by the prize-winning Australian/British soprano Samantha Clarke as the sparkling, yet doomed Violetta. We can’t think of a better place to see our favourite opera than the Opera House. La Traviata, January 2–March 14, Sydney Opera House
Thousands of years after they ruled Egypt, the pharaohs still fascinate – which is why we’re booking tickets for the Australia-first exhibition, Ramses & the Gold of the Pharaohs, on now at Sydney’s Australian Museum. Ramses II was one of the greatest pharaohs, ruling for 67 years and constructing such awe-inspiring monuments as the temples of Abu Simbel. This exhibition includes 182 priceless artefacts, including Ramses’ impressive royal coffin, along with all the sarcophagi, mummies, royal amulets and masks you could wish for. A VR experience in cinematic motion chairs is the icing on the cake. Ramses & the Gold of the Pharoahs, on now, the Australian Museum, Sydney
Flickerfest may have started as a small, local event at Balmain High School, but now it’s an internationally recognised short film festival, where you’re extremely likely to catch some Oscar-worthy pieces. Held at Bondi Pavilion North Courtyard outdoor cinema, each two-hour session features a block of shorts around a theme (international, Australian, comedy, to name a few), with prizes awarded on the final night. The perfect length movies for our attention-deficit minds. Flickerfest, January 19-28, Bondi