How to tackle Sydney Festival’s opening week

January 3, 2019
Julia McNamara
Words
Our top tips for your first week itinerary
And we’re off! Sydney Festival launches on Wednesday 9 January, with 19 days of blockbuster international theatre and music, plus transformative, inspirational free outdoor art all over the city. Read on below for our top tips on what not miss (including some of the best freebies) during the Festival’s first week.

Wednesday 9 January

Evening


Say goodbye to the mid-week blues and hello to HOME, a house party where the whole audience is invited. Be one of the first to witness this award-winning absurdist hit from the Edinburgh International Festival, where a whole house is created onstage before your eyes. You may even get drafted up from the audience to be a part of the show.

7:30pm
$50-$95 + booking fee
Roslyn Packer Theatre

Thursday 10 January

Afternoon


On day two, experience one of the world’s most powerful and absorbing art installations. UNTIL at Carriageworks is American artist Nick Cave’s largest, most thought-provoking work yet: a wonderland of overwhelming detail, sumptuous beauty and stark imagery.

10am-6pm daily
Free
Carriageworks


Before your next show, indulge in a nearby Festival Feasts dining deal at Rubyos (pictured) or Misfits. Rubyos in Newtown serves modern Australian and international flavours and $55 gets you a seven-course tasting menu plus a glass of prosecco, while Misfits in Redfern is a hip bar with a solid craft beer selection offering a main course (pan-roasted Mahi Mahi or vegetarian option) plus a glass of wine or beer for $30.

More info on the best Festival Feasts deals here 

Evening



While you’re at Carriageworks, catch La Passion de Simone by Sydney Chamber Orchestra. This unique, modern opera, scored by acclaimed composer Kaija Saariaho, explores the life story of philosopher, political activist and mystic Simone Weil – but it’s unlike any other opera or theatre piece you’ve seen before. Read more about it here.

8pm
$46$60 + booking fee
Carriageworks

Friday 11 January

Evening



Start your weekend right at the iconic Festival Garden in Hyde Park, and take a trip to the streets of Paris with Pigalle, a joyful cabaret of burlesque, circus, music, muscles, disco and decadence. 

6pm
$70-$86 + BF
Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent


After Pigalle, stick around the Festival Garden and grab a drink from the bar or, if you're in need of a feed, take advantage of one of the Festival Feasts dining deals at nearby 360 Bar and Dining ($55 gets you Executive Chef Elton Inglis’s take on the classic Surf ’n’ Turf) or Madame Shanghai (pictured, where $55 gets six courses of Shanghai street food and a glass of wine).

More info on the best Festival Feast deals here 


Feeling in the mood to dance after Pigalle? Then stick around at the Spiegeltent after the show for free party late-night party ‘Disco in the Mirror Ball’, hosted by the Mayors of the Festival Garden, The Dollar Bin Darlings. Check out a playlist of the bargain bin disco bangers they’ll be spinning here.

Free
After the last performance in the Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent

Saturday 12 January

Morning



Head down to Paramatta’s Prince Alfred Park for a weekend full of free circus action. Start the day with Mallakhambindia, where five jaw-droppingly talented performers give new life to the ancient Indian sport of Mallakhamb, combining gymnastics, wrestling and aerial yoga. After more family-friendly things to do in Parramatta? Check out our top tips here.

11am
Free
Prince Alfred Square, Parramatta

Afternoon



After lunch, head back to Prince Alfred Square to witness the Heliosphere. 20 metres above you, a giant, glowing lunar balloon filled with helium floats and dips, suspending a talented aerialist like a marionette. This boundary-pushing reimagining of aerial trapeze was a hit at Glastonbury Festival. 

4pm
Free
Prince Alfred Square, Parramatta

Evening


Finish your day out in Parramatta by dressing up to the nines and immersing yourself in the intoxicating world of Shànghǎi MiMi at Riverside Theatres. Inspired by the nightclubs of 1930s Shanghai, enter an enchanted world of jazz musicians, dancers, acrobats, aerialists and singers from China, Cameroon, Australia and France. There are more tips on how to spend the ultimate Sydney Festival day in Parramatta (for adults) over here.

8pm
$36-$66 + BF
Riverside Theatres

Sunday 13 January

Morning


Experience weightlessness inside Earth’s gravitational pull at Moon Drops at Darling Harbour. Slip off your shoes and step onto these giant bouncy droplets for a moon-inspired mini-adventure.

Daily
Free
Darling Harbour

Keep tracing your way along the harbourside to Apollo 11 at Barangaroo. A part of Sydney Festival’s city-wide commemoration of the 1969 moon landing, see these larger than life astronaut statues and find the QR codes for fascinating info about the lives and work of 11 diverse and under-appreciated heroes of space travel.

Daily
Free
Barangaroo


Finish your morning walk by heading up to Barangaroo Reserve and see the breathtaking sculpture ALWAYS by local Bangarra artist in residence Jacob Nash, paying tribute to the fact that this land “always was and always will be”.

Daily
Free
Barangaroo

Afternoon


Adapted from the award-winning novel, A Ghost in My Suitcase at the Opera House is a breathtaking and magical adventure about family, hunting for ghosts and a secret gift, recommended for ages 8+. Read more about Chinese ghost-hunting traditions in this interview with author Gabrielle Wang.

1:30pm
$56-$71 + BF
Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House

Evening



Finish off your first week of the Festival with some provocative new contemporary dance by powerhouse company Dancenorth; read more about Dust in the event program.

5pm
$49–$59 + BF
Carriageworks

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