12 Best Performing Arts Venues in Sydney, New South Wales

Bangarra Dance Theatre

Walsh Bay Fodor's choice

An acclaimed Aboriginal modern dance company, Bangarra Dance Theatre celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2020. The company stages dramatic productions based on contemporary Aboriginal social themes. The performances are described as a fusion of contemporary dance and storytelling; some will have you transfixed by the sheer energy, lighting, and special effects.

Sculpture by the Sea

Bondi Beach Fodor's choice

A steel whale's tail sticking out of the ocean and retro kettles cunningly disguised as penguins strapped to a huge rock being lashed by waves are some of the imaginative artworks that have wowed visitors to the annual show called Sculpture by the Sea. Since 1996, artists have positioned more than 100 sculptures on and under rocky outcrops and on hilltops along the much-trodden Bondi-to-Bronte Coastal Walk. This free exhibition runs for two weeks beginning in late October.

State Theatre

City Center Fodor's choice

State Theatre is the grande dame of Sydney theaters. It operates as a cinema in June each year, when it hosts the two-week-long Sydney Film Festival; at other times this beautiful space hosts local and international performers. Built in 1929 and restored to its full-blown opulence, the theater has a vaulted ceiling, mosaic floors, marble columns and statues, and brass and bronze doors. A highlight of the magnificent theater is the 20,000-piece chandelier that is supposedly the world's second largest, which Robin Williams once likened to "one of Imelda Marcos's earrings." Even if you don't see a show here, it's worth popping into the lobby for a look around, or join a guided tour to get a good look at the theater's many treasures (A$25).

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Sydney Opera House

Sydney Harbour Fodor's choice

This venue showcases all the performing arts in its five theaters, one of which is devoted to opera. The Australian Ballet, the Sydney Dance Company, and the Australian Opera Company also call the Opera House home. The complex includes two stages for theater and the 2,700-seat Concert Hall, where the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the Australian Chamber Orchestra perform. The box office is open Monday to Saturday 9–8:30 and until 5 on Sunday.

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Wharf Theatre

Walsh Bay Fodor's choice

Wharf Theatre, on a redeveloped wharf in the shadow of Harbour Bridge, is the headquarters of the Sydney Theatre Company (STC), one of Australia's most original and highly regarded performance groups. Contemporary British and American plays and the latest shows from leading Australian playwrights such as David Williamson and Nick Enright are the main attractions. The company also performs at the Sydney Opera House and at the new Sydney Theatre just a few doors away, located opposite Pier 6/7 at No. 22 Hickson Road.

Belvoir Street Theatre

Surry Hills

Belvoir Street Theatre has two stages that host innovative and challenging political and social drama. The smaller downstairs space showcases a lineup of brave new Australian drama. The theater is a 10-minute walk from Central Station.

Capitol Theatre


This century-old city landmark was refurbished with such modern refinements as fiber-optic ceiling lights that twinkle in time to the music. The 2,000-seat theater specializes in Broadway blockbusters, such as The Lion King and Mary Poppins, and also hosts pop and rock concerts. Guided behind-the-scenes tours are available (A$38.50); bookings are essential.

SBW Stables Theatre

Kings Cross

This small 120-seat venue is home of the Griffin Theatre Company, which specializes in new Australian writing.

Sydney Dance Company

Walsh Bay

Sydney Dance Company is an innovative contemporary dance troupe with an international reputation. Spanish choreographer Rafael Bonachela is the artistic director. The company performs in Sydney at the Wharf Theatre, the Sydney Opera House, and the new Sydney Theatre, and also runs casual drop-in dance classes for A$22: see the website for class schedules.

Sydney Lyric

Darling Harbour

At The Star casino and entertainment complex, Sydney Lyric is one of the city's most spectacular performing-arts venues. Despite its size, there's no better place to watch big-budget musicals. Every seat in the lavishly spacious, 2,000-seat theater is a good one.

Theatre Royal

City Center

After being closed for over two decades, the Theatre Royal reopened in late 2021 after a multimillion-dollar face-lift. First opened in 1976, it's now the home to some of the biggest Broadway shows to come out of the United States, including the award-winning Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette.