Fun family events for all ages

Whether you’re looking to please a little one or a discerning teen, these handpicked events will fit the bill.

21 Dec, 2023    Sydney Festival

Event collection

While there’s plenty on offer for the adults-only crowd at Sydney Festival, the program also boasts a feast of options for family fun. As school holidays kick into high gear, you’ll find all sorts of extracurricular entertainment around town, from giant art installations to all-inclusive theatre shows. 

As well as ticketed shows, there’s a host of free events out and about that the whole family can get behind. So whether you’re looking to please a little one or a discerning teen, these handpicked events will fit the bill.  

Physical comedy and circus antics

For breathless excitement and some belly laughs, look no further than the ‘let’s get physical’ portion of the Festival line-up. 

Throughout January at the Seymour Centre, Cambodian troupe Phare Circus bring you White Gold, an all-out acrobatic marvel celebrating healing, joy and life-giving rice (aka, white gold). The show draws on circus arts – think juggling, tumbling and teeterboard – dating back 1,2000 years. 

For a dose of royally funny physical theatre, check out Thom Monckton’s inventive one-man show, The King of Taking, about a childish and petulant king who can only tread upon red carpet and only move to the sound of fanfare. Naturally, hijinks ensue. 

Camp Culture is a join-in-the-fun circus show full of games and activities for any age, led by ‘Faboriginal’ circus performer Dale Woodbridge-Brown (aka, the Kamilaroi Cowboy).  

World-travelling puppetry

Two shows stand out for young connoisseurs of world-class puppetry and storytelling. 

Devised and performed by Indonesia’s renowned Papermoon Puppet Theatre, A Bucket of Beetles is a work grounded in Indonesia’s centuries-old traditions of puppetry. Making its Australian debut at the Festival, the show is based on a story told by a four-year-old boy (whose drawings also informed the animal puppet designs), so kids will find plenty to get lost in.

Meanwhile, Sugung-ga: The Other Side of the World is a charming turtle and hare fable from South Korea that’s perfect for the over-fives in your family. Combining Czech puppetry, traditional Korean pansori storytelling, live cello music and a wicked sense of humour, it’s a heady brew unlike anything else in the line-up.

Free fun (and deep feelings) in the open air

This summer the Festival will once again celebrate Sydney’s natural beauty with a selection of outdoor happenings that won’t cost you a cent. 

At various locations around town, Arc Circus Co. will present Living Sculptures: How the Birds got their Colours, a visually dazzling piece of site-specific acrobatics and physical theatre that’s inspired by a Dreamtime story. And keep a watchful eye out for the giant handmade puppet spectacles known as Seagulls – created by the anarchic Snuff Puppets. (No hot chip is safe.) 

The budding Zoolanders in your family will want to make a beeline for the House of Fast Fashun at Tumbalong Park, a workshop-performance hybrid in which you’re invited to create the unique fashion statement of your dreams from old clothes and textile waste.  

For a night out that hits with young and old alike, pack a picnic and head to Pictures in the Sky at Parramatta Park, which features the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in collaboration with the likes of didgeridoo maestro William Barton. Plus, fireworks! Meanwhile, on January 25, Stargazer Lawn at Barangaroo belongs to Vigil: The Future, with a choir of First Nations young people exploring their ideal future. 

Finally, for the aquatically-inclined, there’s the majestic floating sculpture Te Wheke-a-Muturangi by acclaimed Māori artist Lisa Reihana, which is spreading its arms across Watermans Cove all Festival long.   

Mini-festivals for all ages

This summer’s program boasts a couple of exciting mini-festivals under the Sydney Festival umbrella: Hive Festival at the Art Gallery of NSW and The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre, and New Beginnings Festival at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Pyrmont.  

Hive Festival promises two action-packed days (January 13 and 14) of art making, music, performance and play for kiddos and families. You can make your way to the Arts Centre in Blacktown by train accompanied by a kids-led audio adventure, where you’ll be treated to inspiring art and musical adventures. Or head to AGNSW to collaborate on a huge cardboard sculpture and get creative in hands-on workshops. 

New Beginnings Festival is returning for its eighth year, showcasing music and arty expression from a diversity of artists, performers and craftspeople, all set against the backdrop of the Maritime Museum.  

So whatever your age or inclination, there’s something to lift your spirits this Sydney Festival.  




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