- Sydney Festival, 7-26 January: Celebrating its 40th anniversary, Sydney Festival is a bold cultural celebration based on high quality art and big ideas. Sydney Festival's program includes 157 events, 89 of which are free. Highlights include epic German love story, Woyzeck, opera performanceWinterreise, and Beethoven's monumental symphonies' exclusive performance of Anima Eterna Brugge Beethoven's Symphonies.
- Liverpool FC Legends vs Australian Legends, 7 January: Football fanatics can still get tickets to the exclusive Liverpool FC match against Aussie football legends at ANZ Stadium in Sydney this Summer. Led by current LA Galaxy player, Steven Gerrard, the UK team will come together for one special game against some of Australia's greatest footballers including Mark Bosnich, Brett Emerton and Steve Corica.
- Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth, 15 – 24 January: One of the world's top 10 music festivals, the annual Toyota Country Music Festival Tamworth celebrates everything country music, attracting about 50,000 fans each day. In 2016, Shannon Noll, The McClymonts and Troy Cassar-Daley are among the 700 performers who will take to the stage during the 10 day event. A must for anyone who loves country crooners.
- HSBC Sydney Sevens, 6-7 February: The inaugural Sydney event will be part of the HSBC Seven's World Series, where the greatest Sevens players from 16 countries will play 42 matches over two adrenaline-filled days. Held at Allianz Stadium, the HSBC Sydney Sevens will entertain visitors with remarkable feats of athleticism, explosive plays and non-stop, try-scoring action.
- Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade, 5 March: The Mardi Gras Parade in Sydney is an event all visitors should see. With 10,000 people marching through the heart of Sydney's gay and lesbian district, united in pride and dazzling in glitter, Mardi Gras is a celebration of diversity and a fantastic party.
- Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, 24 March – 24 April: Whether an opera afficionado or someone who has never seen one before, Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour is a unique event and worth a visit to Sydney. The 2016 season will present Puccini's epic fantasy, Turandot, outdoors with the striking backdrop of Sydney's most famous icons, the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, and simplified Chinese subtitles.
- Orange Challenge, 20 March: A new cycling event in NSW's Central West region, the Orange Challenge is a great event for cyclists who enjoy active getaways. A one-day 170km ride through the popular region, the Orange Challenge will let active visitors work on their fitness whilst taking in the picturesque surrounds of Orange, about 260km west of Sydney.
- Wings Over Illawarra, 30 April – 1 May: Major annual air show, Wings Over Illawarra, will be held over two days in 2016. Giving aviation enthusiasts a great reason to book a short break on NSW's South Coast, Wings Over Illawarra 2016 will be its biggest year yet featuring impressive historic military and aerobatic aircraft, as well as on-ground flight simulators.
- Vivid Sydney, 27 May – 13 June: The bright lights get that brighter and more magical during Vivid Sydney – the world's largest festival of Light, Music and Ideas. With colourful nighttime projections transforming iconic buildings, world-class music gigs, seminars, talks and workshops, Vivid Sydney is a highlight event for visitors of all ages. It attracted 1.7 million visitors in 2015, and will impress again during Winter 2016.
- UnWINEd, Riverina, 11 June – 13 June: Take a break and enjoy the June long weekend in NSW's largest wine producing region, the Riverina, atUnWINEd. Taste wines from local family wineries, be inspired by cooking demonstrations led by celebrity chefs and enjoy live music in the country NSW.
- College Football Sydney Cup, 27 August: Sports fans will get the rare chance to attend an American College NFL game when the Sydney College Cup is played at ANZ Stadium. Exclusive to Sydney, the game will see the University of California Golden Bears play the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors and the teams will be joined by their cheerleaders, mascots and marching bands.
- My Fair Lady, from 30 August: Shown at the Sydney Opera House, My Fair Lady will be directed by Dame Julie Andrews. This new production recreates the original 1956 Broadway classic and tells the Pygmalion story of Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle's transformation into an English lady. Exclusive to Sydney, My Fair Lady sees Ms Andrews return to the production that made her a star. This classic story told in an iconic venue and directed by a stage and screen legend, makes My Fair Lady a perfect reason for any musical lover to visit Sydney.
- Tulip Time, 13 September – 25 September: Nature lovers should plan a visit around Tulip Time, a floral festival that has been delighting visitors for 55 years. Held in Bowral, just 90 minutes south of Sydney, Tulip Time has more than just flowers, with market stalls, music, live entertainment and a street parade.
- Deni Ute Muster, 30 September – 1 October: Spend a long weekend in Regional NSW on the flattest, natural, open plains on earth in Deniliquin, and join in the celebration of the unique way of life full of utes, rock music, blue singlets and rodeo.
- The Graduate, from 2 December: Actress Jerry Hall will perform her final season in the iconic role of Mrs Robinson when The Graduate hits the stage in Sydney for its farewell season. With some of the most memorable songs from the sixties including Wouldn't It Be Nice and Mrs Robinson, The Graduate is a coming of age story that remains as relevant and evocative today as the day it was written 40 years ago.
- VANFEST, December 2016: A popular regional NSW musicevent, VANFESTis a two-day festival that attracts a fantastic line-up of local and international music artists. Whilst the 2016 program is yet to be announced, festival-goers should still start planning their VANFEST adventure – in 2015 Rudimental, Peking Duk, John Butler Trio, Birds of Tokyo and Sheppard rocked the festival grounds in Forbes, NSW.
New South Wales' 2016 calendar of events is absolutely bursting with some of the biggest and best events in the country and around the world. It's a great time to start planning 2016 getaways, long weekends and day trips with that special event in mind.
NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events, Stuart Ayres said: “We have a huge year ahead in NSW and this jam-packed calendar of fantastic events will have something for everyone. The NSW Government encourages visitors to plan a trip to our great state in 2016.”
Destination NSW CEO, Sandra Chipchase, said: “NSW is Australia's home of major events, so stop dreaming and start planning a visit around these must see events in Sydney and NSW this year. Whether sport, festivals, opera, art or musicals that take your fancy, there's sure to be a time and an event on our calendar that will become a 2016 highlight for you.”
Just 16 of Destination NSW's must see events in 2016 are: