Summer brings the Sydney Festival. Fill your January calendar with music, theatre, dance, visual arts, talks and more.
The Sydney Festival usually starts on the first weekend in January and finishes on the last.
The place to go to get information, relax with a drink or watch free performances is the festival village in Hyde Park North. It’s located near the Archibald fountain and you get into it via the central walkway. It’s closed on Mondays. Other than that it opens at 1630 (4.30 pm) and stays open till late. It generally offers a mix of DJs and live music.
Sydney Festival Events
Thanks to the Sydney Festival, January holidays are filled with top international and Australian artists and performers.
Whether you like classical, jazz pop or anything in between, theatre, circus, art installations, things bold or subtle, you’ll probably find something to your taste. The festival directors try to cater for a very wide audience.
There are challenging and stimulating ideas to ingest and there’s free family fun. Add lots of late night action and free music, art and theatre in parks and streets all round Sydney and you’ll get the picture.
Sydney Festival at Parramatta
Quite a few festival events are held in and around Parramatta, recognising that the demographic centre of Sydney is out west, not in the historic city centre. The Riverside Theatre, Prince Alfred Square and Parramatta Park are the main venues used there.
Don’t miss the family friendly, free concerts during the January holidays. They all start at 2000 (8pm).
Do what we all do – pack a picnic, go early. You can buy things on the spot but be warned, the queues can be horrendously long and the food’s not cheap.
There’s usually a free Symphony under the Stars each year. It may be held in the Domain or in Parramatta Park, this can vary. It has become a tradition to finish the concert with with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture complete with – you guessed it – cannon and fireworks.
January’s Sydney Festival also features Opera in the Domain. It starts at 2000 (8pm). As always, get there early for a good spot. There’s ongoing entertainment and a very friendly crowd. Take a picnic and enjoy!
Australia Day Events
One of the big days of public celebration in Sydney, the 26th is Australia Day. Or should that read Invasion Day? There’s increasing debate over the date and what it means but for now it remains a public holiday and there’s lots on.
Find out more about what it means,and what’s on, in this guide to Australia Day events.
Sydney Festival Information
The best way of checking what’s on and ticket availability is by going to the Festival website.
And don’t forget the one-day-before releases of cheap tickets for almost every show. It means a bit of queuing – worth it if it gets you in to see a fantastic show or favourite performer.
A number of Sydney restaurants put together Festival Feasts each year in conjunction with the Sydney Festival.
Check the list of participating restaurants on the website, or pick up a booklet from the Tourist Information Centre. They’re usually located near the different venues to let you start your Sydney Festival evening.
See what’s on offer at Festival Feasts. When you visit one of these restaurants during the festival just ask for their special Sydney Festival deal.
More Festivals for You
A little later on, usually in February, there’s Chinese New Year to celebrate. Keep an eye out for it, it’s great fun and always excellent food.
Another popular arts festival spans the whole of September. This is the somewhat edgier Sydney Fringe Festival – introducing the artists who may go on to star in the Sydney Festival.