Indian Link’s Sydney Festival Guide


In spite of the recent tragic events in the heart of the city, Sydneysiders will continue to celebrate their way of life this summer

Not long after the siege in a café at Martin Place ended in the early hours of the morning on 16 December, something special started to happen.

Sydneysiders, united in grief, came together to express their humanity. Whether through floral tributes, messages in condolence books or through the expression of solidarity with Australian Muslims through the hashtag #illridewithyou, the people of Sydney showed we will overcome this tragedy and celebrate our way of life.

As Premier of NSW Mike Baird said, “The values we held dear yesterday, we hold dear today. They are the values f freedom, democracy and harmony.”

One such expression of cultural freedom, societal cohesion and multicultural harmony, is the annual Sydney Festival; it puts our city on display, defining our personality.

Every January, the Sydney Festival enlivens and transforms Sydney with a bold cultural celebration highlighting quality art and big ideas. The style and energy of the festival reflects the diversity, conviction and character of each one of us.

This year’s program is no different. Featuring a kaleidoscope of events from international and local artists, including a Canadian lumberjack circus performers and contemporary Indian theatre artistes, as well as amateur actors from a suburban street in Bankstown, there is quite literally something for everyone to enjoy.

In his third year as Festival Director, Lieven Bertels has put together a program comprising around 370 performances, with more than 100 events performed by over 700 artists in more than 30 venues.

With such an exhaustive suite of events, how will you pack them all into your calendar? Well, here’s our top five picks from across this year’s program.

Top 5 FREE events

Parramatta Opening Party

9 Jan, Centenary Square, Parramatta

This free family party is back. Don’t miss the soulful tunes of Australian music legend Paul Kelly, grab a bite to eat in Civic Place and encounter the world of artist Mike Roberts’ Fire Garden installation.


Higher Ground by Maser

8-25 Jan, Festival Village, Hyde Park
Part installation, part photo playground, this is a dream come true anyone who wishes they could step inside a painting. A vibrant interactive piece of geometric art, don’t miss this.

Hotbed Designs

20-25 Jan, Festival Village, Hyde Park
After exploring Maser’s installation, why not design your very own Sydney Festival carry bag with bold colours and geometric patterns at this printmaking workshop.


Waterfall Swing

8-24 Jan, Cockle Bay, Darling Harbour

Sydney usually sweats through summer, so beat the heat with this perfect playset! The giant intelligent swing creates a curtain of water that miraculously opens just in time to allow the rider to pass through.


Dear Hope Street

20–25 January, Festival Village, Hyde Park

This very special live art project is fun for kids and adults alike. Use Google Street to look up a Hope Street somewhere in the world and write a postcard to the residents. Fingers crossed you get a reply!

Top 5 THEATRE/DANCE events

The Kitchen

22 – 25 Jan, Seymour Centre

A multi-sensory overload, watch as a couple prepares payasam for the audience while drummers beat away at their mizhavu drums. The show explores cooking as a metaphor for life itself. Must-see.



07-25 Jan, The Aurora, Hyde Park

Wild, wicked and out of this world, this is definitely an adults-only circus cabaret. After a sellout season last year, the thrilling performers are back to bring you to the edge of your seat.

Credit: Tony Virgo


Simple Space

13-25 Jan, The Aurora, Hyde Park

Feel completely physically inferior as seven intrepid acrobats laugh at the rules of gravity. This highly-skilled ensemble takes on daring acrobatic moves accompanied by a live musician.

Credit: Chris Herzfeld


Kiss and Cry

22-25 Jan, Carriageworks

A moving love story, this is a romance with a twist: its stars are a duo of dexterous, dancing hands, moving with grace and precision onscreen through a series of miniature landscapes.

Credit: Maarten Vanden Abeele



22-25 Jan, Riverside Theatre, Parramatta

Watch as 12 young dancers take to the floor, moving through the history of dance, exploring human connections. Sway and move as the performers move in rhythm. A must for dance lovers.


Top 5 FAMILY events


9-18 Jan, Riverside Theatres, Parramatta

When performers range in age from four to 68, this is definitely one the whole family can enjoy. Quebec’s Cirque Alfonse brings the joy of circus together with traditional music, folklore and the tools of the lumberjack trade. Not to be missed.

Credit: Jane Hobson


The Hungry Caterpillar

8-18 Jan, Riverside Theatres, Parramatta

For 45 years, Eric Carle’s tale has delighted young readers. Now the caterpillar makes its way off the page and onto the stage, brought to life with a marvellous menagerie of 75 lovable puppets!


The Luck Child

21-25 Jan, The Famous Spiegeltent, Hyde Park

Follow the story of the luckiest boy in the world. Perfect for a school holiday trip to the city, the show features delightful characters and is a wonderful adventure into theatre for kids.



7-17 Jan, Sydney Opera House

Bumbling Jack Hare is on a race against time to deliver a message of love from the Moon to the Sun. The much-loved children’s book by Kit Williams is reimagined for stage by Kate Mulvany.


Family Week

20-25 Jan, Festival Village, Hyde Park
Sydney Festival has the last week of the school holidays covered. Everything held outdoors is completely free and kids can take part in fun activities with the Australian Museum or the City of Sydney’s Lawn Library.

Photo: Prudence Upton


Top 5 MUSIC events

Far From Folsom

16-18 Jan, Parramatta Gaol

Spend the night in the recently decommissioned 19th century gaol as Tex Perkins heads behind bars to embody the spirit of Johnny Cash in a recreation of the legendary American’s 1968 Folsom Prison concerts.


Photo: Kunal Sarkar

Debashish Bhattacharya

15 Jan, City Recital Hall, Angel Place

An Indian favourite, and considered by many to be the world’s greatest slide guitar player, listen to raga blended global sounds on his revolutionary versions of the guitar. A Sydney Festival first.


Fez Hamadcha

8 Jan, Grand Lodge, Sydney Masonic Centre

To be held in one of Sydney’s more mysterious venues, be entranced by the mystical Sufi music of Morocco. The group of six musicians are part of the 17th-century Hamdouchia Sufi Brotherhood, keeping their heritage alive.

Photo: Suzanna Clarke


Omar Souleyman

16 Jan, The Aurora, Hyde Park

One for the modern music lovers. This is Middle Eastern dance music guaranteed to make you move with its fusion of Dabke folk sounds, Arabic pop melodies and searing synths. Syrian street party comes to Sydney!


The Sound of Burning Water

17-18 Jan, Seymour Centre

On the cutting edge of percussive performance, discover why rhythm is the life force of music. A solo artists playing an array of impressive instruments, one for those who march to the beat of their own drum.