5 things to keep you busy in Sydney when it's chilly

Sydney is known for its sprawling beaches and harsh sun. But what are locals to do when the cold weather sets in? Bronte Gossling dishes five of her favourite things to do.

Essays, exams, egregious woollen layers; this time of semester is hard for everyone, but especially for those who don’t have an upcoming snazzy summer European getaway to get them through the slog. Yet while some can afford to Instagram their way across the Mediterranean Sea, others have to pass the semester break in The Emerald City - but that doesn’t mean you can’t play tourist as well. Here are six student-friendly things that will make you fall in love with Australia’s should-be capital in the winter.

Pick up whatever The Grounds is putting down

A rustic-yet-modern open warehouse might have been deemed undesirable before the rise of the modern hipster, yet The Grounds of Alexandria’s 2012 revamp brought a much-needed taste of the artistic countryside to Sydney’s city outskirts. Until 16 June, visitors can not only be entertained by Fluffy the macaw, but also ride their own magic carpet through dazzling Agrabah. To celebrate the release of Disney’s live-action adaptation of its eponymous 1992 classic, The Grounds has been completely transformed into a whole new world. Enter through the intricately-etched golden arches of The Palace before exploring the riches of The Cave of Wonders. While you may not get three wishes when you rub the magical golden lamp, you can splurge on The Potting Shed’s Aladdin-themed dessert grazing board, and to be honest, that’s close enough. Finish off your visit with a magical stroll through the lush courtyard, but don’t forget to stop off at the bustling marketplace first.

For more information about events such as calligraphy and coffee-tasting classes, click here.

Rumble in the Jungle

Yesteryear’s End of Semester Party is back again, only bigger and better than before. In a team-up that rivals The Avengers, UTSoC alongside Reverb UTS, MuscUTS, and UTS Backstage are unleashing their wild sides and bringing a safari escape right to your door - à la The Underground. There’s no better way to unwind than to boogie among the swaying trees, and with exams and assessments impending, we think you deserve to roar all night long. Tickets include free drinks, fairy floss, popcorn and free entry into the after party at Side Bar - a perfect excuse to lace up your hiking boots and pull out your binoculars. Wander down to The Underground at 7:00pm on Friday 31 May - you’ve got all weekend to recover. For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

Hit the lights

Once again, Vivid Sydney has returned to light up Sydney Harbour, Chatswood, and their surrounds for 23 days of Instagram paradise - all for the budget-friendly price of $0. Starting at 6:00pm each evening and running until 15 June, not only is Sydney’s skyline a beacon of technicolour from Luna Park to Barangaroo, Taronga Zoo to The Royal Botanic Garden and beyond, but it also lowkey functions as a music festival. Featuring artists such as FKA Twigs, The Cure, RÜFÜS DU SOL, Eurovision’s Kate Miller-Heidke and more across Vivid Live, Carriageworks, Vivid Art After Hours, X|Celerate and City Recital Hall, it’s the perfect way to experience a small glimpse at what Sydney’s nightlife used to be.

While Vivid Sydney is mainly known for its spectacular light displays, curious minds should also check out Vivid Ideas, a 23-day-and night-long innovation sounding board. Featuring talks, workshops and forums across multiple topics and industries, a must-do for students is the Citizens of the World workshops, where essential skills are formed for those wanting a more information-based and engaged lifestyle.

You are a cinema

One of life’s little blessings, especially when it’s cold and raining, is being able to escape into the sanctuary of the cinema. Thankfully for students, Palace Cinemas has a Student Club, where the $13.50 annual membership price buys you a subscription to film festivals, discounted general admission tickets, a birthday gift, a complimentary “Admit One” pass for joining or renewing, discounts for special events and preview screenings, and exclusive access to previews, among other little perks.

With winter premieres such as Aladdin, Detective Pikachu, John Wick 3, Long Shot, The Hustle, and upcoming hits Rocketman and The Lion King right around the corner from Sydney’s giant middle finger (UTS Building 1), an excursion to Palace Cinemas Central is the perfect escape from the cold.

Not feeling up to buying a movie ticket? Why not stay in and snuggle up to the latest and greatest rom-coms on Netflix.

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Soak up the soft winter sun

If all else fails, there is the option to revert back to old habits - but this time, with a change of scenery. The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney is the prime candidate to spend a day outdoors and soak up the soft winter sun, especially considering that entry is free. With 30 hectares of heritage-listed Eden to explore, from The Domain to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, the possibilities are seemingly endless, but I’d recommend that you start with a picnic blanket, a good book - try Picnic At Hanging Rock (1967) for irony - some snacks, and good company.

Bronte Gossling is a fourth-year Bachelor of Communications (Journalism)/International Studies (Spain) student. Currently enjoying the tranquila lifestyle in Spain, when she’s not running late or enjoying a siesta, you’ll find her sipping sangria.