Photo: Jess Husband

Posted by & filed under Arts & Entertainment, Events, Featured Arts & Entertainment, Festivals.

By Rita Bratovich.

Sydney-siders love to be outdoors, even in winter. The proliferation of night markets, and the crazy crowds at Vivid prove the public is hungry for evening activity. Well, now there’s another event on the calendar to feed their restless souls. Pyrmont Ultimo Chamber of Commerce will be hosting the Winter Solstice Pop Up Events in Union Square for three consecutive Friday nights this winter. It’s part of the chambers’ Shop Local initiative to boost the night time economy in and around the Pyrmont village district.

Union Square is one of Pyrmont’s favourite landmarks, surrounded by beautifully preserved historical buildings representing a timeline that dates back to the mid-1800s. The location only became a square in 1998 when Pyrmont Bridge was closed to traffic to create a pedestrian walkway between the City and the western side of Darling Harbour. From then on the entire peninsula flourished.

Pedestrians from Pyrmont Bridge and commuters from buses, ferries and the Light Rail converge at Union Square making it a very busy thoroughfare during peak periods. It was this observation that inspired the concept of a Pop Up event at the site. 

Over the course of three winter Fridays, from midday until early evening, the square will be transformed into a lively, welcoming, village-style festival. Fairy lights, themed decorations and live music will create a storybook ambience. Local cafes and restaurants will offer special in-house and take-away deals, which can be enjoyed under a heat lamp at one of the outdoor seating areas being set up for the event. Retail outlets will also take part, with some hosting market stalls, while others will provide vouchers, display their wares on outside trellis tables or offer their services in whichever way they can. Some of those offerings include: free bike tune-up by Sydney Electric Bikes; wine tastings at Porter’s Liquor; a family activities corner run by SDN Children’s Services, and an information display by TAFE NSW.

Wok Station Thai Restaurant provided catering for the event launch and information night. New owner, Joy, has already been pro-active in engaging with the community and customising her menu, and she’s keen to do her bit for the Pop Up. 

“I like the environment around Pyrmont. People are so friendly, and the restaurant is right in a good spot,” she says. “There’s lots of human traffic around here.”

Good spot indeed – they have an enviable position on the corner opposite Union Square. On the opposite corner is Banquerie, a favourite French patisserie and cafe among locals and visitors, and, along with Wok Station, an example of the cosmopolitan cuisine available in the precinct.

Newly refurbished yet distinctly vintage Terminus Hotel will help early evening Popper Uppers loosen up with Happy Hour $12 martinis from 3-5pm. 

One of the most animated participants will be Movement Republic, a Pyrmont based fitness organisation. They’ll be performing demonstrations in the space from 12:30−1:30pm and 5:30−6pm on each of the Fridays, giving the public a sample of their unique exercise style. Ann Charleston, owner of the business is excited about the Pop Up events.

“I’m hoping that this Pop Up will have a bit more coverage and exposure than other things that have been done. And the great thing about this one is that other businesses outside food and wine get included,” she says, referring to the many outdoor and evening events that are exclusively focused on food and beverages. 

“Any kind of exposure like this is vital, but is also an opportunity to educate the market,” she explains. Among the business owners she has spoken to there is a mutual sense of optimism about the Pop Up event. Many of the non-food/beverage retailers share her delight at finally being included, and they’re enthusiastic about what they’ll bring to it.

“Whether it is businesses actually participating in the Pop Up or offering their skills to help promote the Pop Up, it just brings the community together, and any opportunity to bring the community together elevates everyone,” says Charleston. 

Matt Penfold and Genevieve Rechner own 121 Creative and Kwik Kopy in Pyrmont, which are event partners in the Pop Ups. They are producing the artwork and marketing materials for the event, including posters, flyers, vouchers, and street decals along the most popular routes to and from Union Square. Preston and Rechner live and work in Glebe and are very excited about the Pop Up initiative.

“We’re always looking for opportunities to do something for the community and for other businesses. Something like this – it’s a good way for different businesses to contribute their skills and share ideas,” says Preston. 

They feel there are a lot of positive elements that bode well for the success of this event: the unique location, the high foot traffic, the number of small businesses within the vicinity, the appetite for this form of entertainment. 

With over 30 local businesses already committed and more waiting to sign on, there’s a strong scent of anticipation in the air for the inaugural Winter Solstice Pop Up event in Pyrmont. Rechner sees it as a good omen: 

“This is a great start. Hopefully it can become a regular event and we can keep building the brand and getting more people involved.” 

Jun 22, June 29 & Jul 6. 12−7pm. 

Union Square, Pyrmont.