Bolder Than Ever: Sydney Festival Returns For 2024

Bolder Than Ever: Sydney Festival Returns For 2024
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine

The mainstay of Sydney’s high summer season, Sydney Festival, sails back this January with a first-class line-up of World Premieres, extraordinary immersive experiences, cutting-edge public art, Australian exclusives, free events, trailblazing First Nations programming and an epic live music offering.

Once again, Sydneysiders and visitors are invited to rediscover their city differently – from parks to beaches, harbour inlets to retro fun parlours – proving there’s nowhere else but Sydney to experience an exhilarating summer of art. From 5-28 January get ready for 24 days of music, performance, theatre, art, fashion, circus and dance right across Greater Sydney. Featuring 26 World Premieres, 29 Australian exclusives, 15 co-commissioned works and 43 free events amidst an expansive program of local and international highlights, Sydney Festival will host more than 1,000 artists and over 150 events.

This year, Sydney’s iconic harbour will take centre stage, with works and events presented on – and in celebration of – water throughout January, including Puccini’s nautical one act opera, Il Tabarro, performed aboard the Carpentaria lightship, and live music from global roamers, Arka Kinari, whose bespoke sailing vessel serves as both their touring van and stage.

The 2024 event will kick off with a groundswell of luscious sound at Sydney Festival’s own mid-city music fest, Summerground in Tumbalong Park. International headliners, much-loved local acts and discoverable world music gems will turn up the heat as Summerground ushers in the festival’s opening weekend from 5-7 January across three big nights of deep soul, dirty funk, reggae, alt pop, indie rock, roots, R&B and plenty of beats, bleeps and horn sections to rattle the ice in your cup.

Nearby, the historic Hungry Mile of Walsh Bay will evolve into The Thirsty Mile, a full swing festival takeover by the water in a cheeky nod to the wharves’ working history and a fierce nod forward to what audiences are thirsty to see change. This new summer hotspot and festival hub includes theatres, bars, exhibition spaces, cabaret speakeasys and a dedicated late-night club. And for the first time ever, all eight venues in the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct will be activated, with dance, art and performance showcased both on stage and around the theatres themselves.

A bumper Blak Out bill, curated by Sydney Festival’s Creative Artist in Residence Jacob Nash, will present three World Premieres alongside a packed wider program of powerful First Nations work, including the much-anticipated rock n’ roll Warumpi Band story, Big Name, No Blankets.

Meanwhile, the weaving of intergenerational, intercultural and interpersonal stories will be embedded in the very fabric of the festival, from the likes of Broome’s early pearling industry in Marrugeku’s dance piece Mutiara, to extraordinary First Nations stories of Brazil with Lia Rodrigues’ Encantado through to Night Songs at Coney Island, an immersive choral experience balancing darkness and light at one of Sydney’s most iconic attractions.

Sharing her third program as Festival Director, Olivia Ansell, said: “Saltwater stories, freshwater stories and the weaving of over one thousand local and international artists. Get ready for a blockbuster summer that speaks to the heart and soul of Sydney – the best harbour city in the world. With an explosive music program and the biggest to date, 2024 also offers spellbinding theatre, exquisite dance, electrifying circus and immersive experiences that lift Sydney’s underbelly – see you in January at the Thirsty Mile!”

“Sydney Festival brings our city to life in Summer. It opens a new year with a burst of cultural expression and artistic activity full of diverse ideas from around the world alongside a deep commitment to First Nations expression and a championing of the multicultural force we have become in NSW,” said The Hon. John Graham, MLC, NSW Minister for the Arts, Minister for Music and the Night-time Economy.

“The sounds, tastes and emotions of the communities the Festival interacts with kick off any year with great joy. It is why you are in Sydney in January. It is why so many people from around the country and the world want to be here too”.

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