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What is Sydney Festival 2020, and what should you see?
Hot tips for everyone in January 2020
Sydney Festival    |    2 January, 2020

Every January, Sydney Festival kicks off the new year with style, transforming the city with a bold cultural celebration based on critical ideas and cutting-edge art and performance.

Sydney Festival 2020 includes everything from huge, free art installations and brand-new exhibitions to big outdoor concerts, cutting edge theatre, dance and music performances, wild nights of cabaret in famous Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent at Hyde Park, shows for families and events that push Australia's political conversations forward.

If you're a newcomer to Sydney Festival, we've broken down some highlights below of what to see and where to go.


What to see if... you want to experience the best of Sydney outdoors in summer

Dodecalis Luminarium at Tumbalong Park

Explore an immense, radiantly lit, inflated labyrinth of winding paths and soaring domes in Darling Harbour’s Tumbalong Park. Wander through the otherworldly interior of the Dodecalis Luminarium bathed in the radiant colours of daylight shining through its translucent fabric.

Tumbalong Park at Darling Harbour
8–26 January
Free
More info


Proclamation

What does the idea of a flag mean to you? How does flying a flag make you feel connected to your homeland? And what images or icons truly signify the way you feel about your connection to Australia as land and home? Proclamation is a large-scale art installation at Barangaroo Reserve, flying 250 flags that explore Australians’ diverse ideas about land and country, belonging and possession.

Barangaroo Reserve
8–26 January
Free
More info


Ferrython

Pack a picnic and make your way to the stunning Harbour foreshore to watch this time-honoured Sydney Festival tradition, or experience 26 January on Sydney Harbour itself by purchasing tickets on one of the racing ferries.

Barangaroo Wharf
26 January
$155 + booking fee
Tickets and more


What to see if... you want to see vital new Australian theatre

Anthem

Twenty-one years ago, four playwrights and a composer came together to create Who's Afraid of the Working Class?, a powerful, critically-acclaimed portrait of Australia in the Howard era. Now, the writers have come back together for Anthem, to measure the temperature of Australia in 2020 and ask whether we truly do “sing with one voice” (the answer, resoundingly, is no – we do not).

Roslyn Packer Theatre, Walsh Bay
15–19 January
From $50 + booking fee
Tickets and more


BLACK TIES

You’re invited to the raucous, wildly fun wedding reception of Māori woman Hera and Aboriginal man Kane, two ambitious and deeply in love career-hotshots who have their perfect day flawlessly mapped out. But there’s one thing Hera and Kane can’t control…their families. An immersive theatre experience in Sydney Town Hall.

Sydney Town Hall
10–18 January
From $60 + booking fee
Tickets and more


Black Drop Effect

The new play by Yuwaalaraay woman Nardi Simpson – storyteller, performer, and songwriter with Stiff Gins – is an immersive, multi-layered experience that draws audiences into the contested space of ideas and emotions inspired by the 250 years of Australia’s colonial history.

Bankstown Arts Centre
14–18 January
$35 + booking fee
Tickets and more


Black Cockatoo

In 1868, 13 Aboriginal men from country Victoria became the first Australian cricket team to tour England. Starring Australia’s first Indigenous sporting hero Unaarrimin, AKA Johnny Mullagh, they represented a nation in waiting that wouldn’t recognise their rights – or even their humanity – for another century. Written by iconic screenwriter Geoffrey Atherden (Mother and Son, BabaKiueria) with award-winning director Wesley Enoch (Black Diggers, Sydney Festival 2014), Black Cockatoo is a story of resilience, resistance and inspiration.

Ensemble Theatre
4 January–8 February
From $74 + booking fee
Tickets and more


What to see if... you want to see critically-acclaimed international theatre

Joan Didion's The White Album

Joan Didion’s landmark work of New Journalism The White Album was “an extraordinary report on the aftermath of the 1960s in America… brilliantly interweav[ing] her own ‘bad dreams’ with those of a nation confronting the dark underside of 1960s counterculture.” Lars Jan’s new staging of the essay juxtaposes Didion’s highly theatrical text against a “play within a play”, making comparison between the ’60s social collapse described in the essay and the living nightmare of present-day injustice and violence.

Roslyn Packer Theatre, Walsh Bay
8–12 January
From $69 + booking fee
Tickets and more


What to see if... you want a wild night out

LIFE - the show

A cabaret spectacular from the seasoned professionals behind previous Sydney Festival hits LIMBO (Sydney Festival 2014 and 2015) and Cantina (Sydney Festival 2013), starring a cast of “international prodigies and deviants” in an adventure that’s “fast-paced, innovative and funny… using all the heart-stopping techniques you’ve come to expect” (Scenestr).

Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent
8–26 January
From $70 + booking fee
Tickets and more


Betty Blokk-Buster Reimagined

On 16 April 1975, a saucy hausfrau with a feather duster and a bare bottom stepped onto the stage of the Balmain Bijou and changed Australian theatre. Now, Betty Blokk-Buster has been reimagined for the 2020s, with the blessing and imprimatur of original creator and actor Reg Livermore.

Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent
7–26 January
From $70 + booking fee
Tickets and more


What to see if... you have kids to entertain

Air Play

Delightful, visually spectacular and gasp-inducing clowning and physical theatre that makes playthings of air and gravity, with giant billowing parachutes, juggled umbrellas and balloons that swallow people whole.

Roslyn Packer Theatre, Walsh Bay
21–25 January
From $40 + booking fee
Family ticket available
Tickets and more


Time Flies

Australia’s iconic youth circus celebrates 40 years with its biggest show ever, as Australia’s youngest and greatest acrobats perform inspiring aerial feats.

Seymour Centre
14 –19 January
$45 + booking fee
Family ticket available
Tickets and more


Laser Beak Man

Puppet superheroes, quirky comedy, colourful characters and high-energy live music – Dead Puppet Society’s stage adaptation of the adorable superhero Laser Beak Man is “a magical, big-hearted, deeply charming theatre experience” (The Age) that’ll entertain both kids and their guardians.

Sydney Opera House
8–12 January
From $50 + booking fee
Family ticket available
Tickets and more


What to see if... you want to see cutting-edge new music you won't find elsewhere

Jeremy Dutcher

What Zach 'Beirut' Condon did for Balkan folk, Jeremy Dutcher is doing for the traditional songs of his ancestral Canadian First Nation, reworking the music into soaring contemporary arias and pop-operatic ballads.

City Recital Hall
17 January
From $50 + booking fee
Tickets and more


SAtheCollective

Singaporean multi-arts collective SAtheCOLLECTIVE take time out from readings and rehearsals of their collaborative new play 宿 (stay) with Helpmann award winner S. Shakthidharan (Counting and Cracking, Sydney Festival 2019) to perform their new album, which bends traditional Chinese music into new, electronic and experimental forms.

Riverside Theatres
18 January
$39 + booking fee
Tickets and more


Holly Herndon

Holly Herndon’s boundary-pushing live AV show explores the literal future of music: an album composed and performed alongside an artificial intelligence program created with human vocal samples.

Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent
16 January
$39 + booking fee
Tickets and more


What to see if... you want to experience a big, free, outdoor summer performance

ENCOUNTER

Bring a picnic, a blanket and your family and friends to Parramatta Park at dusk for a free performance by young dancers and orchestral musicians from Western Sydney performing a joy-filled expression of what it means to be young and growing up in the multicultural west of Sydney.

Prince Alfred Square, Parramatta
10–12 January
Free
More info


Sydney Symphony Under the Stars

This much-loved annual event offers a free evening of iconic classical music performed by one of the world’s preeminent symphony orchestras, in the balmy Sydney summer night.

The Crescent, Parramatta Park
18 January
Free
More info


Opera in the Domain

Join the annual tradition and head to the Domain – picnic in hand, friends in tow. Australia’s brightest opera stars serenade you under the balmy summer sky, performing popular highlights with the magnificent backing of the Opera Australia Orchestra.

The Domain
18 January
Free
More info

KEEN FOR MORE? HERE ARE THE 8 MOST INSTAGRAM-WORTHY ART EXHIBITIONS AT SYDNEY FESTIVAL 2020


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