Experience the Sydney Festival 2016

17 December 2015

Sydney Festival

Sydney Festival. Image credit: Jamie Williams


For three weeks in January the phenomenal Sydney Festival takes over streets, laneways, venues and public spaces in a celebration of arts, culture, music and drama. This is a fantastic time of year to be in town, with exciting free events, exhibitions and installations from the Sydney CBD to Parramatta as well as local and international acts taking the stage.

There are some incredible music events taking place over the course of Sydney Festival 2016. Pop-rock superstars The Flaming Lips are headlining the Summer Sounds in the Domain concert. Held on January 9, the concert is free. Symphony in the Domain, a free classical music concert takes place on January 16.

One of the musical highlights of the festival is the legendary orchestra Anima Eterna Brugge, who will perform an epic and uplifting symphonic Beethoven marathon at the Sydney Opera House. And in the city’s luxurious State Theatre and Parramatta’s iconic Riverside Theatre, you will be able to see a live screening of the eccentric film ‘Birdman’, starring Michael Keaton, with Antonio Sanchez performing his modern, improvisational jazz score live alongside it.


Sydney Festival is a haven for work that is unusual, experimental, yet still accessible, and there are some great examples in the 2016 program. Head to the Cutaway at Barangaroo Reserve to see the phenomenal Ephemeral City by Olivier Grossetête, a participatory art installation, constructing a temporary sky-high city from boxes and tape.

And don’t miss the modern musical reimagining of the incomplete play Woyzeck at Carriageworks, one of the most influential works of German theatre, with songs and lyrics by the inimitable Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan.

The home of the festival is the Sydney Festival Village in Hyde Park. It’s free to enter the village which is open Tuesday to Sunday for the duration of the festival. This is where you’ll find the famous Spiegeltent. Built in 1920, this touring bar and pavilion has visited festivals and fairgrounds across Europe, playing host to cabaret artists and musicians.

The Spiegeltent is a long-time resident of The Sydney Festival, and will feature a range of exciting performances from folk music to rock acts and circus performers. Check out The Invisible Dot Cabaret, the Tolu Circus performers and the fascinating Canadian folk act The Weather Station, amongst many others.

There’s a week-long run of family shows, and you can also grab a drink at the festival bar or a bite to eat from some of Sydney’s most well-known restaurants who have stalls at the village.

The Sydney Festival takes place from 7- 26 January. For a detailed program, check out the Sydney Festival website.