With 150 events across 3 weeks, the Sydney Festival has the city buzzing every January. This city celebration shines a light on one of the world's oldest cultures.
By Katrina Lobley
In January each year Sydney lights up with the Sydney Festival: three weeks of art, music, theatre, dance, circus, talks, workshops and other events. It has been running since 1977, with the general aim of celebrating everything that Sydney has to offer. Each year the festival has a theme but the programming schedule is always diverse, and may include anything from Russian ballet and circus performances to Detroit rap. The best news of all? Almost half of the calendar's 150 events will cost you nothing.
- Where: Sydney
- When: every January
- Price: $$ (free and ticketed events)
Sydney Festival highlights
Things to do
Experience Sydney's cultural events
As part of its program each year, the Sydney Festival stages many free and ticketed events. There's something for everyone young and old, with a selection of the events being family-friendly. If you'd like to hear works from Mozart, Adams and Elgar, for free, put Symphony Under the Stars on your to-do list. This much-loved annual concert usually takes place at The Domain (next to the city centre) in mid-January. Alternatively, attend Opera in The Domain for an evening of opera under the night sky. Arrive early with a picnic to make a night of it.
Head to party central
Hyde Park, a beautiful expanse of green in Sydney's city centre, is transformed into a collection of temporary venues during the three weeks of the Sydney Festival. The Festival Village in Hyde Park has previously been the location of attractions such as Spiegeltent, which features music, comedy, and cabaret shows, and a Roller Jam, where rollerskaters can glide around a skate circle within the park to the beats of live DJs.
Learn about Australia's indigenous cultures
There has been a strong emphasis on celebrating Australia's indigenous cultures at previous Sydney Festival events, with opportunities to learn the basics of local Aboriginal languages and sing traditional Aboriginal songs.
Head to the Tix For Next To Nix booth at the box office in Hyde Park to see what bargain tickets are available for shows the next day. The discounted tickets are limited and available to those who queue first when the booth opens at 5.30pm.
How to get there
All venues in the city centre and suburban areas are accessible by bus and train. See our information on getting around Sydney for details on using the public transport system to move around the city.