The Australian summer brings the Sydney Festival. Fill your January calendar with music, theatre, dance and street fun.
Sydney in summer. Hot days, balmy nights and lots going on.
The Sydney Festival starts with a bang on Festival First Night. Usually the first weekend in January.
It’s all free on that day. From the children’s shows in the afternoon to the blockbuster concert in the Domain and the fireworks at the end. Join thousands of happy souls in the streets and parks, singing, watching, laughing and dancing the night away all around the city.
Martin Place features anything from dance to retro and the Art Gallery stays open with music, film and performances as well.
Sydney Festival First Night is always busy, the streets are always crowded, but it’s always fun. If you’re in Sydney, don’t miss it. Do your wandering around early, choose your favourite spot and then stay put. By mid-evening it gets too hard to move around much – you’ll end up missing everything.
Fun Free Things To Do in the West
One week after the Festival First Night in the city there’s the Parra Opening Party – a mega day of entertainment in Parramatta, Sydney’s second city. From 1600 – 2300 (4pm – 11pm). Visit the Idolize Spiegeltent, dance to the big bands, sing along with the soulful singers or gasp at the street theatre spectaculars.
There’s a full program of Sydney Festival events in Parramatta for the next 10 days.
Sydney Festival Events
For the rest of the month, January holidays are filled with top international and Australian artists and performers showing their best work.
There are challenging and stimulating ideas to ingest and there’s free family fun. And there’s lots of late night action and free music, art and theatre in parks and streets all round Sydney.
Don’t miss the family friendly, free concerts in the Domain. 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 are horrendously long and the food’s not cheap.
The free concerts: there’s Opening Night of course. Then, there’s a free concert in the Domain every following Saturday until the month ends.
There’s always one ‘easy listening’ – it might be country, jazz, whatever, interpreted to appeal to a broad audience. One of the Saturdays always sees the ever-popular Symphony in the Domain.It has become a tradition to finish the concert with with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture complete with – you guessed it – cannon and fireworks.
It’s not in the official Sydney Festival program, but the last event IS always 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 biggest days of public celebration in Sydney, the 26th is Australia Day. Or should that read Invasion Day?
Find out what’s on and what it all means in this guide to Australia Day events.
Finding Out Whats On In Sydney
The best way of checking what’s on and ticket availability is by going to the Festival website. You can download the iPhone or Android app there too.
And don’t forget the on-the-day releases of really cheap concert tickets for 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 Fast 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.
Then visit any Fast Festival Feasts restaurant between 1200-1300 or 1800-1900 (12-1pm or 6-7pm) during the festival for their special Sydney Festival deal.
A number of bars and cocktail bars offer a complimentary cocktail on presentation of your SydneyFestival ticket (limit of one per person). Now there’s a bargain!
More Festivals for You
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.