The Best Sensory-friendly Events in Sydney

  • All Ages

The offering of sensory-friendly events and providing access to some of Sydney's most iconic destinations to people living with both physical and hidden disabilities is fundamental to living in an inclusive society.

Some of the best cultural locations in Sydney (think: museums, galleries, and world-famous zoos!) are finally starting to provide considered and consistent access for people with special needs, hidden disabilities, and sensory difficulties. All of the events listed participate in the Hidden Sunflowers scheme, which gives greater visibility and support to people living with hidden disabilities.

Here's where to head for the best sensory-friendly events in Sydney.

The Best Sensory-friendly Events in Sydney

1. Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA)

 Best sensory friendly events in Sydney
The MCA has launched an inclusive autism-friendly program for children and their friends and families to engage them with art in a safe and supportive environment.

 

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) is chuffed to present Sunflower Sundays, a series of autism-friendly programs designed to engage and inspire kids and families. These inclusive events offer gallery openings and workshops tailored to the unique needs of children and adults on the autism spectrum. Developed in partnership with Autism Spectrum Australia and featuring sensory adjustments, trained staff, and a relaxed pace, Sunflower Sundays provide a supportive and enjoyable environment for all attendees.

What to Expect:

  • Meet MCA Artist Educators at 10.30 am/1.00 pm on Level 1
  • Enjoy a sensory-friendly gallery experience with focus artworks and optional art-making in the Creative Studios
  • Benefit from the support of staff trained in disability confidence, audio description, and Auslan
  • Utilize the provided Quiet Space and the Hidden Disability Sunflower Lanyard for additional support and understanding

Learn more about the Sunflowers in Sydney program and join in for an unforgettable experience at Sunflower Sundays at the MCA

Where:     Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, 140 George St, The Rocks
When:      Sundays throughout the year | Visit the MCA website for current dates
Cost:        Free. Booking required.

2. Australian Museum: Early Birds

Night Owls at the Australian Museum
A great pick for ages 16+, this event is a great opportunity to explore the museum, whilst enjoying sensory-friendly games, activities, and even a silent disco! 

 

Experience the Museum in a reduced sensory, relaxed, and supportive atmosphere perfect for autistic individuals and those with other access requirements. Join in with friends and families for an inclusive morning before the Museum opens to the public.

Early Birds offers a unique opportunity to explore the Museum in a comfortable environment with adjusted lighting and sound levels, creating a more accessible experience for autistic individuals and those with other access needs.

Experience a sensory-friendly morning at the Australian Museum with Early Birds, offering early access to the new Sharks exhibition, an immersive experience showcasing interactive displays, touchable specimens, and rare objects from the museum's collections.

Please note that lighting and sound levels in the exhibition will be restored to normal for general public sessions at 10 am.

Register for Early Birds and purchase tickets to the Sharks exhibition during registration, as limited capacities and timed entry apply.

Enjoy a low sensory environment with limited visitors before the Museum opens to the public, take breaks in a designated quiet area, and benefit from staff trained in autism awareness and disability support.

Grab a morning beverage or snack at the café, which will be open during Early Birds, and feel free to stay and explore the Museum for the rest of the day after 10 am.

Don't miss out on this fantastic opportunity to enjoy a sensory-friendly morning at the Museum with Early Birds!

Where:     Australian Museum, 1 William St, Darlinghurst 
When:      Saturday 4 May 2024 | 8 am - 10 am
Cost:        Free. Registration required.

3. Sensory Sundays at the Australian National Maritime Museum

Best sensory-friendly events in Sydney
Sensory Friendly Sundays offer a new way to uncover the Maritime Museum, perfect for those on the autism spectrum and with other access needs.


Looking for a sensory-friendly adventure that's perfect for the whole family? Look no further than the Australian National Maritime Museum's Sensory-Friendly Sessions. With early access to new exhibitions and activity areas from 8:30 am-10 am, as well as early access to the HMAS Onslow submarine from 9 am-10:30 am, you'll have plenty of time to explore and discover.

These sessions are specially designed to provide a comfortable environment for kids and adults with a variety of sensory differences. Sensory-Friendly Sunday offers a quieter experience, modified to suit people on the Autism spectrum and with a range of differing abilities.

The museum supports the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower and visitors are encouraged to wear their sunflower lanyard if they have one, or pick one up for free on arrival to the museum. 

Where:     Australian National Maritime Museum, 2 Murray St, Darling Harbour
When:     Sunday 25 February and Sunday 24 March 2024 | 8:30 am - 11:30 am
Cost:        $12 per ticket

4. Access at Taronga

Access at Taronga Zoo
Access Taronga days are about making the zoo accessible to everyone and providing a more peaceful environment.


Taronga Zoo offers special Access Taronga days for guests with hidden disabilities or autism, as well as their family and friends. On these select days, guests can enjoy early entry to the Sydney Zoo and experience the tranquility of the zoo before it opens to the general public. A memorable sensory-friendly event in Sydney, the zoo opens one hour early, starting at 8.30 am, providing exclusive access to a private animal show and the opportunity to be the first to explore the many exhibits.

Where:     Taronga Zoo, Bradleys Head Road, Mosman
When:      2024 Dates TBC
Cost:        FREE

5. Art Gallery of NSW

Art Gallery NSW Sensory Events
Workshops at the Art Gallery of New South Wales are designed to be accessible for children of all ages living with additional needs.


The Art Gallery of New South Wales offers fun and laid-back Access workshops that are suitable for children of all ages who have additional needs. These workshops, facilitated by Art Gallery educators, aim to provide a sensory and tactile experience through art-making and material exploration. The three workshops highlight different themes and foster creativity by encouraging participants to engage visually, make connections, and move around physically.

Where:     Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney 
When:      2024 Dates TBC
Cost:        FREE

6. Sydney Royal Easter Show

Sydney Royal Easter Show
There are plenty of considerations made to make the Sydney Royal Easter Show an accessible, sensory-friendly event.


Whilst it isn't a designated sensory-friendly event, at Sydney Royal Easter Show, there are nominated 'quieter days' and 'quieter locations'—which enable those with autism or other disabilities to better plan their trip to the show. Days outside of the Easter weekend (Good Friday to Easter Monday) are best recommended, while there are multiple quiet zones including an Arts & Crafts Pavillion and a Quiet Room at the Members Entrance gate. 

Where:     Sydney Showground
When:      22 March - 2 April 2024
Cost:        See the Sydney Royal Easter Show website for ticket information

The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower 

Sunflower Events
Hidden Disabilities Sunflower—image: MCA


The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is a simple tool for you to voluntarily share that you have a disability or condition that may not be immediately apparent – and that you may need a helping hand, understanding, or more time in shops, at work, on transport, or in public spaces. All of the events listed here participate in the Hidden Sunflowers scheme, which means visitors can collect a sunflower lanyard on arrival, or bring their own, as a signal to staff that they may need additional support. 

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