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Sydney Festival 2024 Kicks Off With 24 Days Of Art, Music + More

5 January 2024 | 12:56 pm | Jessie Lynch

The music lineup features performances by Rizo, Lisa O’Neill, and Courtney Barnett, as well as a closing night celebration featuring South African DJ Mo Laudi.

Sydney Festival

Sydney Festival (Supplied)

Summer in Sydney just got a whole lot more exciting as Sydney Festival takes over the city for 24 days of art, music, and spectacle.

Kicking off today (Jan. 5) and running until January 28, this year's stacked event is set to be huge, with over 50 venues and hundreds of talented artists ready to rock the stage. The festival will span the city and its surrounds — from Parramatta to Bondi Beach — ensuring a diverse range of events for everyone.

The festival kicks off with a special event at Watermans Cove featuring the Te Aranganui Māori choir and Lisa Reihana's colossal water installation, Te Wheke-a-Muturangi: The Adversary.

Later tonight, the Australian Exclusive dance performance, Encantado, by Rio de Janeiro-based choreographer Lia Rodrigues, will bring about a wild celebration of nature and our place in it, with 11 dancers transforming 140 colourful blankets into shape-shifting costumes.

The festival boasts a diverse lineup, including the cabaret show Smashed: The Nightcap at Wharf 1 Theatre, live music series at Brett Whiteley Studios, and the much-anticipated world premieres like Big Name, No Blankets and Send for Nellie.

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Seymour Centre presents works celebrating the artistry and stories of Australia’s neighbours — from Cambodian circus show White Gold to Indonesia’s Papermoon Puppet Theatre's A Bucket of Beetles, while the outdoor courtyard will come alive with free music, food, and fun with a pop-up Bayan Market.

As the festival progresses, highlights include the Belgian theatre production Are we not drawn onward to new erA, contemporary dance double-bill Skid and SAABA, multimedia murder mystery Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World, and the genre-busting Orpheus & Eurydice by Opera Australia and Circa.

The music lineup continues with performances by Rizo, Lisa O’Neill, Courtney Barnett, and a closing night celebration featuring acclaimed South African DJ Mo Laudi. Free activities and events, including a sustainability-minded fashion parade and outdoor performances, ensure that the festival is accessible to everyone.

For those unable to attend in person, Sydney Festival AT HOME offers specially produced free on-demand and live content, from live streams of Il Tabarro to on-demand performances and behind-the-scenes insights, audiences can experience the magic from anywhere.

Sydney Festival Director Olivia Ansell said amid the festival’s kick-off: “Today’s the day: Sydney Festival arrives to deliver a summer of art for local Sydneysiders, international holidaymakers, visiting out-of-towners and digital audiences near and far.”

“This is a program that revels in the unique talents, cultural precincts and attitudes of our city whilst also delivering some of the world’s brightest stars to Sydney’s doorstep. Drink in The Thirsty Mile at the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct – our newest festival hub, experience spellbinding free opera on the harbour, get into a spot of trouble at Smashed: The Nightcap and stay all summer long.”
Minister for the Arts John Graham, added of the event: “Sydney Festival is part of why you want to be in Sydney in January. I look forward to it each year.”

“The festival opens each new year with a burst of cultural expression and creativity that brings people to NSW and fills our summer January nights with music, dancing, performance, tastes and colour.”

He continued, “The NSW Government has long been a proud supporter of the Sydney Festival – since 1977 – and this year’s program promises to be another great edition, with something for everyone, from the free programs to the late-night performances.”

Sydney Festival runs from January 5 to 28, 2024, and tickets are on sale now. For a complete program and more information, visit