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Sydney Festival 2018

Home > Sydney > Art | Circus | Festivals | Music | Performing Arts
by Irenke Forsyth (subscribe)
A writer sharing travels, experiences, a love of festivals & events. Life is a journey and I hope to inspire others. Visit my blog at
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The weird and the wonderful
Sydney Festival is back for three weeks of theatre, music, dance, circus and art in a variety of locations from the Meriton Festival Village in Hyde Park North to Prince Alfred Square in Parramatta. Many unexpected joys await with something for all tastes this January season.

Here's some of the best of what's on:-

Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent

This is the epicentre of the Meriton Festival Village and here you'll find both ticketed shows and free performances, as well as DJ's every night. There's everything from the smash hit Irish cabaret Riot with its disorderly cocktail of partying and politics (from $63) to Lords of Strut comedy (from $26) and the boys of Briefs (from $63) with their extravaganza of feather dancing, juggling, hoop twirling, aerial acrobatics and bird-cage contortions.

The Village is also the place to feast on a variety of food and enjoy a drink from the licensed bar.

The Village Sideshow

Also in Hyde Park, a number of interesting things to see and do can be found in the Village Sideshow, as follows

Lucas Abela and the Temple of Din

An arcade of pinball machines that have been turned into musical instruments makes up the Temple of Din where artist Lucas Abela has created a mixture of sounds that are triggered by firing the balls with the flippers. Playing sounds is the main objective here rather than scoring points.

Step into the temple to play machines, such as the Pinball Pianola (a piano string/pinball hybrid) and the Balls for Cthulhu (a pentagram-shaped machine built from guitar fretboards).

This pop-up arcade also serves to bring together pinball artworks from gallery collections around the world in addition to some new creations by Abela.

The machines are free to play and peruse.

Karaoke Carousel

Here you can jump on board a unicorn and sing your heart out to favourite tunes on this merry-go-round with themed sessions that include Flashback Fridays, Pub Classics, Disney for kids, Country Night and Duets Night.

Let loose on the microphone and let your inner diva out or sing along to the chorus on this carousel that's wired for sound.

Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the venue.

Ghost Train

It's a virtual reality, high-tech makeover of the rickety ghost train of childhoods past with a multi-sensory journey through your own mind. Climb on board if you dare and, with your headset, experience ethereal images, haunting music and a narrated adventure that forces you to choose your own fate and destiny.

Tickets to this very different ride are $10, at the venue.

Ten Minute Dance Parties

Don't have much time to spare but love to dance then head to a 10minute dance party in a converted shipping container.

There will be dance move competitions, world record attempts, song dedications, strobe lighting and haze bringing people together in hilarious situations.

Tickets $5 at the venue.

Village Pools

Also in converted shipping containers, you'll find a place to cool down in the city with a swim. Yes, bring your swimmers, catch some rays on the sun lounges and take a dip in one these pop-up pools in between Spiegeltent performances and art experiences.

They're free to use. BYO towel.

Jurassic Plastic

Spread your wings and head over to Town Hall for a very unique exhibition of dinosaur sculptures and landscapes made from recycled toys. Japanese artist Hiroshi Fuji has 'reborn' discarded toys in his playful and nostalgic take on consumerism.

Workshops for both kids and grown-ups are available that will unleash your creative side through the transformation of a host of unwanted toys into your own something special.

Entry to this exhibition and statement on trash is free.

Four Thousand Fish

Over at Barangaroo Reserve is a different story about the fiercely independent Cammeraygal woman, after whom the spot is named. Learn about her and the history of the area whilst taking part in an interactive installation to symbolically return 4,000 fish hauled in to Sydney Harbour by British colonists in 1790. Their haul upset the delicate ecosystem and undermined the Aboriginal fisherwomen as the main food providers for the family and community.

On 10 days across the festival, you can create your own frozen fish at Nawi Cove using a mould and seawater. Each weekend at sunset you can then help return the ice sculptures in a modern interpretation of a nawi (bark canoe). With a fire lit inside, the heat and setting sun will slowly melt and return the frozen fish to the harbour.

Access to the artwork is via a floating pontoon. At low tide, the gangway access to the pontoon is at its steepest. For those with mobility issues, it is best to view the installation earlier in the evening.

This event and the making of the fish are free.


A concert like never before, Aquasonic is underwater with Between Music performing and playing custom-made instruments. These five musicians sing too whilst submerged in aquariums at the Carriageworks site at Eveleigh.

The group spent years researching the possibility of performing underwater, conducting experiments with scientists and deep sea divers, as well as time with craftspeople developing entirely new instruments playable under water. The result is a haunting 'out of this world' experience.

This is a ticketed event with tickets from $53.

Circus City

Out in Sydney's west at Parramatta, Circus Oz returns with workshops, performances and entertainment to rival that of the city, as follows

Model Citizens

Delivering biting satire and awe-inspiring physical feats under the big top in Prince Alfred Square, the impressive cast of Circus Oz consists of daredevil acrobats, mesmerising aerialists, cigar box jugglers and hula hoopers exploring what it means to be a model citizen in today's world.

The setting is a model kit world complete with gigantic scissors and cotton reels, peg springboards and hammock-sized undies on a line. Performers swing from knife-dodging to acrobat-tossing and tumbling off a house of giant credit cards to contorting through huge steaming irons.

The duration of the show is 2hrs 20mins with interval. Tickets start at $35.

Highly Sprung

Trampoline experts Legs on the Wall deliver a spectacular and interactive trampoline show in their outdoor trampoline playground on selected afternoons during the festival. Sky-high performances from these four, talented in theatre, dance, parkour, tramp and street art, will showcase their experience in jumping, spinning, flying and falling in a story about overcoming everyday hurdles.

Audience bounce-offs follow the performances. That's right, it's your turn to jump. Kick off your shoes and have a bounce.

There's also Trampowall workshops for ages 8 and over for enthusiastic acrobats in training. Learn the safety basics and some athletic trampoline tricks in the course of an hour. You will need to register (main website link at end of article).

Best of all, this is all free.

Flying Trapeze

Put your circus skills to the test in a two-hour workshop run by the Sydney Trapeze School, featuring an introduction, warm- up and low-level practice before swinging high in the air performing aerial tricks and twirls.

You'll learn to swing this 10-metre high aerial rig, flip and fly into the hands of a catcher in mid-air. Not for the faint-hearted. Minimum age is 6 years but the recommendation is 11 years and over. There are no weight restrictions. A waiver will need to be signed.

The cost is $49, plus booking fee.

Symphony under the Stars

Returning to Parramatta Park is the much-loved event, Symphony under the Stars, with a beloved collection of classical compositions performed by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

It takes place on 20 January, from 8pm-10pm and is free, so bring a hamper and your rug to chill out and settle down whilst enjoying the wonderful music.

For the full program of events on during Sydney Festival with days of operation, timings and ticket information, be sure to visit the website and plan your outings.

(Images courtesy of Sydney Festival event site)
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Why? For loads of fun
When: See website for various days & timings
Phone: 02 8248 6500 (office) or 1300 856 876 (ticketing enquiries)
Where: See website for list of locations & venues
Cost: Free - $$$
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