Insider’s guide: 10 places to enjoy live music FREE in The Rocks
Want to know a secret? You don’t have to pay to see live music in The Rocks! In fact, if you’re looking for something to do in Sydney, a visit to these 10 venues promises FREE live music and good times - every time.
Back in the 70s, The Rocks’ Push was the most iconic and influential jazz club in Sydney. Sadly, it was demolished in the 80s but today its spirit lives on thanks to The Push, a cocktail and live piano bar on George Street in The Rocks. Come for the delicious craft beers and gorgeous heritage surrounds - stay for the live piano on Fridays and Saturdays from 7.30pm.
Fortune of War
This iconic Sydney pub is so named because, during the Second World War, it was a popular last stop for sailors and soldiers heading off to experience the ‘fortunes of war’. Almost two centuries after it opened, the place still has that same old school hospitality. Cold pints, wine, cocktails and free shows by local musicians in the Fortune of War's beer garden don’t hurt either! Check their calendar and pick a gig or drop in anytime from 5pm - there’s live music on almost every day during summer.
The Orient & Mrs Jones
Right in the heart of The Rocks, The Orient Hotel and Mrs Jones Bar form one of Sydney’s biggest and best old school watering holes. They’ve both got an excellent local wine list and a cocktail menu featuring the ultimate summer beverage - Pimms jugs. Keep an eye out on the Mrs Jones website for free dinner gigs hosted on the outdoor terrace at Mrs Jones.
A visit to The Argyle promises one of Sydney’s biggest nights in one of the city’s oldest buildings. Built in 1820, this massive heritage, sandstone venue features six bars, two levels and an expansive outdoor courtyard. To catch a free live gig at the Argyle check their ‘what’s on’ page and reserve your table early (especially on Friday and Saturday nights).
In the heart of The Rocks below the Harbour Bridge, you’ll find The Mercantile Hotel - the longest running Irish pub in Australia. Expect hearty Irish fare (try the beef and Guinness Shamrock Pie), foaming pints of Guinness and free live music almost every night of the week.
It’s a known fact that the best views of Sydney’s harbour and the Opera House are from The Glenmore’s rooftop - preferably with an ice cold Aperol Spritz in hand. Add DJs on Fridays from 7pm and live acoustic music every Sunday from 3 to 6pm and you’ve got a recipe for an incredible summer evening in Sydney.
The Doss House
The Doss House is a subterranean bar hiding underneath George Street on The Rocks. Over a century ago its golden sandstone walls were home to an illegal gambling hall, doctor’s surgery and an opium den. Today, this charming heritage space retains its old world character and boasts one of the most extensive whiskey selections in the city. Pop by on Sundays and you might catch a band playing traditional Irish music live.
The Australian Heritage Hotel
If you love Australian craft beer and old school pub vibes, you have to visit The Australian Heritage Hotel. It’s one of the oldest hotels in the country, boasts a selection of over 130 locally brewed beers and is famous for it’s delicious Aussie inspired pizzas (we’re talking crocodile and kangaroo). Check their live music calendar on their website and book a table to catch a band for free.
If you want to catch Sydney’s real grass roots musicians before they hit the bar and stadium circuit, just take a stroll around The Rocks in the evening. The Rocks is home to one of Australia’s busiest busking scenes and there are countless fledgling musicians to be discovered on the streets here.
Popular spots for buskers include Hickson Road Reserve underneath the Harbour Bridge, the cobbled curb outside 6-8 Atherden Street and 140 George Street outside the MCA.
The Rocks Markets
Down cobblestone laneways amongst centuries-old buildings, The Rocks Markets are hosting dozens of musicians every Saturday and Sunday. We’ve curated a range of promising newbies, and well-known artists, who’ll tell tall tales, perform original songs and sing classic covers.
From mellow acoustic tunes, to lively DJs sets and peppy folk tunes, dozens of different musical styles will turn up the atmosphere at Sydney’s favourite markets. The handpicked selection of performers are chosen to be musically and culturally diverse, to help amplify all Australian voices.