Sydney Festival 2024

Sydney Festival 2024

Image: Tiddas

The 2024 Sydney Festival, from January 5 – 28, features a line-up of World Premieres, immersive experiences, public art, Australian exclusives, free events, First Nations programming and an epic live music offering. 

Sydneysiders and visitors are promised 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.

Sydney 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 at mid-city music fest Summerground in Tumbalong Park. International headliners, 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. 

Nearby, the historic Hungry Mile of Walsh Bay will evolve into The Thirsty Mile, a full swing festival takeover by the water in a nod to the wharves’ working history and a nod forward to what audiences are thirsty to see change. This new 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. 

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

Image: Lia Rodrigues’ Encantado 

Meanwhile, the weaving of intergenerational, intercultural and interpersonal stories will be embedded in the fabric of the festival, from the likes of Broome’s early pearling industry in Marrugeku’s dance piece Mutiara, to 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!”

The Hon. John Graham, MLC, NSW Minister for the Arts, Minister for Music and the Night-time Economy, said: “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.

“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.”


Image: Il Tabarro 

Presented by Victorian Opera, Il Tabarro sees the first opera in Puccini’s Il Trittico transferred to 1930s Depression-era Sydney and staged aboard the historic lightship, The Carpentaria, in a darkly romantic tale of passion, desperation and heartbreak. This maverick style free night under the stars marks 100 years since Puccini’s death.

At Sydney Opera House, 11 dancers transform 140 colourful blankets into shape-shifting costumes and spirits of healing in Encantado, a dance work designed to re-enchant the world. Over her 40-year career, Brazilian choreographer Lia Rodrigues has worked tirelessly to build synergies between art, activism and social processes. In Encantado she takes inspiration from the very real environmental and spiritual struggles experienced in today’s Brazil to ask: How can we become close to each other and to the world we are a part of once again?

A globally touring music production moved by the wind and powered by the sun, Arka Kinari, is set to drop anchor in Sydney Harbour. By night the vessel transforms into a stage for a free performance from Grey Filastine (US) and Nova Ruth (Indonesia), a multimedia duo who use their music and cinematic visuals to imagine life after the carbon economy, promote resilience and encourage re-engagement with the sea. In collisions of psychedelic beats, Javanese post-folk and analogue synths with video, design and dance, they express a radically different vision of the possible.

Parramatta’s Riverside Theatres raises the curtain on the new musical comedy from Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall and director Simon Phillips. Opening to rave reviews at Brisbane Festival earlier this year and starring music theatre's Max McKenna (Muriel's Wedding The Musical, Jagged Little Pill), BANANALAND follows Australia’s least-loved punk rock protest band, Kitty Litter, as they become an accidental hit on the kids’ music charts. Is Kitty Litter set to become the next Wiggles? (Spoiler: Yes!) Can they buy into their accidental ‘kids’ band’ fame and still keep their heads high? Maybe. 

Savour Cambodia’s heritage with a circus celebrating healing, joy and rice in White Gold at the Seymour Centre. Hypnotic dance, mesmerising music, live painting and circus arts – spanning juggling, tumbling and teeterboard – dating back 1,200 years. Founded by refugees and based in Battambang, Phare, who are soon to debut at New York City’s Victory Theatre on Broadway, is a unique contemporary circus sprung from a non-profit NGO. It provides free education and training in circus arts, theatre, music, dance and design to students, and in turn, infuses Phare’s work with the reality of their own life experiences. 


Image: Are we not drawn onward to new erA

Belgian innovators Ontroerend Goed return with a call to action that stands at the point where visual art, theatre, poetry and political protest meet. Winner of the 2019 de Fringe First Award, Are we not drawn onward to new erA reflects the this-way/that-way tensions of a world on the brink.

Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World is a wild ride down the rabbit hole of Wikipedia and murder mystery podcasts, sorting through the tangle of information available online in a post-colonial world to reveal the limits of search engines in solving a decades old cold case. An investigation into the nature of investigations from Javaad Alipoor, with the unsolved murder of Iranian pop icon Fereydoun Farrokhzad at its centre, at the Sydney Opera House. 

Created by writer-director James Ley, Ode to Joy (How Gordon got to go to the nasty pig party) follows Scottish civil servant Gordon as he attempts to abandon his homonormative behaviour for a sex party in Berlin’s Berghain. One of the succès de scandales of the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe, Ode to Joy (How Gordon got to go to the nasty pig party) is a ribald rites-of-passage queer play about love, hedonism and kinky sex with strangers.

Scotland-based circus artist Sadiq Ali delivers a mix of love and nightlife, performed on Chinese poles and set to a banging soundtrack. Based on Ali’s personal experience and candid interviews with members of the LGBTQI+ community who identify as (ex) Muslim, The Chosen Haram deals with themes of sexuality, faith, addiction and the intricacies of Islam. Stacked with physical humour, pain and joy.

Ireland’s Brokentalkers and New York’s Adrienne Truscott unpack the cult of male genius in a slapstick comedy that stings. Having stormed the Edinburgh Fringe and Melbourne’s RISING Festival, Masterclass is a takedown of the macho artist.

From one of the UK's most prominent trans voices, Travis Alabanza (Burgerz), Overflow returns to Sydney after a 2022 Australian premiere season at Darlinghurst Theatre Company, directed by Dino Dimitriadis.

Yuwaalaraay playwright Hannah Belanszky and Kalkadoon director Abbie-lee Lewis bring Saplings to the stage. A collection of stories born from workshops with young people experiencing the youth justice system, from Marrickville to Moree, set to a rap and hip-hop soundtrack made by young people in the youth justice system, Saplings gives a look into the adult consequences faced by some of our most vulnerable.

Acrobatics meets exquisite opera in a contemporary reimagining of Orpheus & Eurydice presented collectively by Opera Australia and Sydney Festival. Projections integrate surtitles into the action on stage, as singers come together with the circus artists of Circa. Starring French countertenor Christophe Dumaux as Orpheus, performing opposite Australian soprano Cathy-Di Zhang, who makes her role debut singing both Eurydice and Amor under the baton of conductor Dane Lam.


Image: ILBIJERRI Theatre Company’s Big Name, No Blankets,

Curated by Sydney Festival Artist in Residence Jacob Nash, this year’s Blak Out program brings together First Nations artists to share their stories, challenge ideas and set the Blak agenda.

Leading the bill is the World Premiere of ILBIJERRI Theatre Company’s Big Name, No Blankets, a theatrical tribute to the Warumpi Band, who made history as the first rock’n’roll band to sing in Aboriginal languages. This show tells the story of the Warumpi Band and the power their music had in amplifying black voices and stories while unifying hearts and minds. Created in collaboration with founding band member Sammy Butcher and the families of Warumpi Band members, Big Name, No Blankets is co-directed by Dr Rachael Maza AM and Anyupa Butcher.

The Vigil returns for a sixth year to look at the future through the eyes of those who will inherit it. Vigil: The Future is about hope, empowering young voices and giving them a platform to share their messages for the future to the people of Sydney and Australia. On 25 January, a large-scale installation on Barangaroo Headland will spark into life with a choir of First Nations young people singing of their dreams, realities and hopes for the future, joined on stage by some very special guests.

Tiddas follows five women, best friends for decades, as they meet once a month to talk about books, lovers, and dissect each other’s lives. But each woman carries a complex secret, and one weekend, without warning, everything comes unstuck. Wiradjuri author and playwright Anita Heiss’ own adaptation of her novel is paying a visit from its hometown in Brisbane as part of the Sydney Festival Blak Out program and co-presented by Belvoir.

Four mainland-born Torres Strait Islander women as they battle against the rising tide threatening their home, culture and identity in GURR ERA OP (“the face of the sea” in Meriam Mir), a sharing of culture and a call to action in the face of climate devastation. Choreographer and performer Ghenoa Gela presents her World Premiere work, in a culmination of many years of creative association with Force Majeure, presented now in collaboration with ILBIJERRI Theatre Company’s Amy Sole.

Camp Culture is a join-in-the-fun circus show full of games and activities for any age. Dale Woodbridge-Brown can’t use a compass but proves everyone can earn their badge for being their most authentic self. The Faboriginal boy from the bush proves that even the squarest tent peg can fit in a round hole with empathy, understanding and some silly games. 

From Queensland’s Arc Circus Co., the creators of A Bee Story, comes a piece of site-specific acrobatics and physical theatre that fuses First Nations dance, storytelling and contemporary circus. Made in collaboration between Arc Circus Co., Luther Cora and his team from Yugambeh Aboriginal Dancers, and inspired by a famous Dreamtime story, Living Sculptures: How the Birds got their Colours will see living sculptures fly and glide across various outdoor locations, including Bondi Beach.


Image: Alma Zygier

Sydney Theatre Company’s wharf theatres will be transformed into an ol’ fashioned speakeasy as the home of the festival’s cabaret season. 

The World Premiere of Send for Nellie tells the true tale of the most impressive career in Australian cabaret you’ve probably never heard of: the legendary singer and cross-dressing cabaret artist, Nellie Small. Written by Alana Valentine, co-curated by Kween G, directed by Liesel Badorrek and produced by Sue Donnelly, this bnew work unearths one of our great untold stories in song and Nellie’s own words, with Elenoa Rokobaro centre stage.

UK singer-performer Sarah-Louise Young and Russel Lucas’ chaotic cult cabaret rejoices in the artistry of Kate Bush. Far more than an act of mimicry, An Evening Without Kate Bush.

Drawing inspiration from Edith Piaf, Dolly Parton and Nina Simone, laced with Freddie Mercury, the GRAMMY® Award-winning glamour-puss chanteuse Rizo returns after a sold-out season in Sydney Festival 2018. Rizo’s Prizmatism is a cabaret showcase melding vintage pop, rock’n’roll spunk and ridiculous hi-jinks.

New jazz star Alma Zygier brings her American songbook repertoire into the 21st century with raw emotion, velvety nuance and bold gravelly chutzpah. Accompanied by a live band, the daughter of Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier will redefine songs made famous by Ella Fitzgerald, Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday in her show Premarital Sextet

RnB soul songstress Prinnie Stevens (The Voice; The Bodyguard) returns to the Festival with Lady Sings the Blues Volume II. Stevens draws upon her experience spanning music theatre, pop, soul and gospel, with a setlist paying homage to Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner and more.

Michael Griffiths takes audiences on a very personal, funny and sometimes melancholy deep dive into the songs of pop superstars The Pet Shop Boys – musical beacons for gay men growing up and coming out. Directed by Dean BryantIt’s a Sin: Songs of Love and Shame sees Griffiths bring his cabaret style to PSB classics like Rent, Love Comes Quickly, Suburbia, You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk and Go West.

Michelle Brasier’s (Mad as Hell, Utopia, Get Krackin) all-singing, all-joking, all-heartbreaking show – about her experience living in the shadows of a hereditary illness Average Bear  returns to Sydney for two nights only.


Night Songs at Coney Island takes over Luna Park for an immersive night-time experience featuring artists from the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, vocal soloists Peter Coleman Wright AO and Cheryl Barker AO, a children’s ensemble, and chamber orchestra performing music by Poulenc, Stravinsky and Mahler. This playground setting comes to life with Poulenc’s Sextet for Piano and Winds, before the shadow of grief and loss takes over, set against a community’s lament for atonement sung to Stravinsky’s Mass. Woven throughout the evening is Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the Death of Children), performed by Coleman-Wright and Barker. 

Created by the multi-disciplinary Māori artist Lisa Reihana, Te Wheke-a-Muturangi: The Adversary will take up residence in Watermans Cove. Made from more than 1,000 pieces, the giant female octopus sculpture tells another side of the story of the Polynesian navigator Kupe who, it is said, discovered Aotearoa New Zealand. In addition, Sydney-based Maori choir Te Aranganui will share stories of Te Moana Nui a Kiwa (Pacific Ocean) on the first day of the Festival. Festival-goers can also hit the harbour and get up close via a kayak tour from Sydney Harbour Kayaks.

Audiences can create the eco-friendly designer haute couture at Fast Fashun’s workshop-performance hybrid space in Darling Harbour’s Tumbalong Park. Using old clothes and textile waste, artists will be on hand to help budding designers realise their creations with demonstrations, assistance and nimble thimbles, before they then take their wares to the runway. Lampooning the fashion industry, House of Fast Fashun melds art therapy, improvisational theatre and visual art making to create interactive and inclusive installations.

The festival will also invite hands-on participation and learning with a series of workshops and masterclasses, including dance expression with Dalisa Pigram and Rachael Swain of Marrugeku, choreographic methodologies from Dancenorth's Amber Haines, an immersion in Torres Strait Islander storytelling with performers from GURR ERA OP and a Cambodian circus workshop hosted by members of the phenomenal Phare Circus (White Gold).


Image: Bananaland cast Wikki-Wikki Wah-Wahs

Along with BANANALAND at Riverside Theatres, 2024 continues the Sydney Festival's connection with Parramatta with another program of events for festival-goers in the west. 

Join Melbourne-based Palestinian artist, activist and theatre-maker Aseel Tayah at A’amar, a sensory evening of food, poetry, exquisite song and storytelling from her family’s homeland. Guests are immersed in a multi-course Arabic meal, as Tayah and fellow musicians take you on a journey that celebrates and honours friendship, love and new beginnings.

Explorers at Parrammatta’s Riverside Theatres discover a prehistoric world of dinosaurs, including the Tyrannosaurus Rex, a Triceratops, Giraffatitan, Microraptor and Segnosaurus when Dinosaur World Live makes its debut in Australia.

The Multicultural Comedy Gala returnsn with appearances from Nazeem Hussain (Legally Brown); George Kapiniaris (Fat Pizza); He Huang(Australia’s Got Talent); Cameron Duggan (At Home Alone Together); Gavin Sempel (Black Comedy); and triple j’s Amelia Navascues.

Sydney Symphony Under the Stars: Pictures in the Sky at Parramatta Park will showcase William Barton on didgeridoo, joined by Aunty Delmae BartonVéronique Serret and Iva Davies AM, and the sitar playing of Anoushka Shankar. All in collaboration with Sydney Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor Benjamin Northey, who will bring it home with traditional classics and a big sparkly bang.


Image: Snuff Puppets’ Seagulls.

Devised by New Zealand’s Thom MoncktonThe King of Taking delivers a physical comedy that shows what happens when the joint is run by clowns. Mockton’s latest solo performance follows a childish and petulant King who can only tread upon on red carpet and move to the sound of fanfare.

Traditional Korean pansori storytelling and Czech puppetry combine in Sugung-ga: The Other Side of the World, where a turtle must persuade a hare to give up his liver to an underwater dragon king. Live cello music, playful puppetry and storytelling colour this all-ages production from South Korea’s Moksung Theatre Company.

After touring the US, the Netherlands, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore, Yogyakarta’s renowned Papermoon Puppet Theatre heads to Sydney for the first time to present a work grounded in Indonesia’s centuries-old traditions of puppetry. Based on a story told by a four-year-old boy (all of the animal puppet designs in the show are based on his drawings, too), A Bucket of Beetles is a story about the connection between humans and nature, that leaves audience with the question: are we taking enough care of our water, soil and air?

Flocking to SummergroundThe Thirsty Mile, Bondi Beach and Circular Quay this summer in free roaming performances are the Snuff Puppets’ Seagulls. Out and about, in your face and in this case, likely to be rooting around in your shopping bag, flying off with your hat or fighting for that one thing all gulls go mad for – a hot chip.

At The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre, Hive Festival, is two days of hands-on art making, music, performance and play for children and families. Join ‘art walks’ that surprise at every turn, collaborate on a gigantic cardboard-sculpture with designer and architect Noa Haim (Collective Paper Aesthetics) and take an eaudio adventure from Sydney to Blacktown, connecting sounds and stories of big cities, neighbourhoods and dreams.

The Listies present a mixtape of silly songs, zany sketches and classic clowning Make Some Noise. For over a decade Rich and Matt have toured the world doing shows for literally gazillions of kidults (that’s kids and their adults).


Image: Sharon Eyal’s SAABA

Contemporary dance company GöteborgsOperans Danskompani presents a Swedish double-bill at the Roslyn Packer Theatre. In Skid, by Belgian and French choreographer Damien Jalet, 17 dancers battle gravity on a vertiginous, 34-degree slope – sliding, swaying, struggling back to the top as the dancers are quite literally pushed to the edge of their abilities to perform without toppling down the slope.

In Sharon Eyal’s SAABA, a dancefloor with pulsating rhythms sees dancers pushing movements to the extreme. Drawing from the catwalk and club to produce a hybrid choreography, Eyal’s dancers wear flesh-coloured body suits by Dior’s Creative Director Maria Grazia Chiuri and perform on demi-pointe for almost the entire work.

At Sydney Dance Company, two works from Australia and the UK explore class, gender and the fortitude of feminism. A highly physical work somewhere between dance, cabaret and performance art, Emma Harrison’s solo work Wolverine, explores critical notions of gender, power, the pervasiveness of feminine archetypes in our stories, and the repercussions of those tropes on women’s bodies. And in Hope Hunt and the Ascension into Lazarus, the id of the Northern Irish chav is broken down and raised again in Oona Doherty’s choreography.

Directed by Amber Haines and Kyle Page, Dancenorth Australia joins forces with three-time Grammy nominated Australian band Hiatus Kaiyote and sound artist Byron J. Scullin to create a composition evoking pleasure and possibility. In Wayfinder, an undulating sound sculpture condenses and expands this score, immersing audiences in a new sonic dimension. Japanese-Australian visual artist Hiromi Tango provides both the stage design and costumes for this sublime new performance.

Drawing on diasporic connections, Southeast Asian martial art silat, and Yawuru and Minangkabau dance forms, intercultural dance company Marrugeku brings to life the story of Broome’s pearling industry in Mutiara at the Seymour Centre. Marrugeku’s Dalisa Pigram and Singaporeans Soultari Amin Farid and Zee Zunnur co-choreograph and perform, collaborating with Broome ex-pearl diver Ahmat Bin Fadal. Reflecting on both the early colonial racism and the bonds between Malay peoples and First Peoples of the Kimberley, Mutiara is a celebration of the resilience, love and the strength of ancestors.

The Seymour Centre courtyard will be transformed to Banyan Pasar, a Southeast Asian market tucked away in a celebration of the artistic culture of Cambodia and its neighbours, featuring food trucks, tuk tuks, craft markets and live entertainment from local artists and DJs from the Southeast Asian-Australian communities. 


Image: King Stingray

The sounds of summer in the city will beam out from Tumbalong Park with the festival’s three day live music event, Summerground.

“The James Brown of Cuba”, Cimafunk and his band of Havana all-stars, arrive in Australia to headline night one of the mid-city music festival in a mix of funk and hip hop. Earlier in the evening, proceedings will kick off with Tanzanian-Australian singer-songwriter Beckah Amani and her intimate, Afro-tinged R&B. APY Lands rap group Dem Mob, deliver a hip hop sound infused with the ancient Pitjantjatjara language. Electro-pop duo Electric Fields will later share their balance of Anangu culture and modern electric-soul. And the multi-Grammy award-winning Fantastic Negrito, will unleash his fusion of rock, roots and funk.

Saturday evening will see The Teskey Brothers take the headline slot for a run-through of their chart-topping hits. Hailing from New York, by way of Sydney’s inner west, Danté Knows will open the night with his blend of hip-hop, indie-pop and psychedelic rock before Brisbane rockers Full Flower Moon Band hit the stage for a raucous set led by frontwoman and songwriter Kate ‘Babyshakes’ Dillon. Arnhem Land’s King Stingray land in Sydney to perform their Yolŋu surf-rock. And appearing live onstage with her band, The Royal Souls, Trinidad’s Queen Omega will show off her vocal power while spreading her message of unity.

Leading Sunday’s line up is West London acid jazz pioneers, The Brand New Heavies, who’ll perform alongside Sydney Symphony Orchestra in a career-spanning showcase. Earlier on, Western Sydney collective Worlds Collide and folk duo Stiff Gins will open the final night at Tumbalong Park in a joint performance created just for Summerground. Dojo Cuts then give a serve of their i grooves, killer vocals and funky instrumentals. Grammy Award-winning R&B artist Judith Hill dishes up smoky blues, funk and gospel soul. And Tiana Khasi then explores heartbreak and heritage through soul, jazz and pop. 

Nightly resident DJs, including Close Encounters DJs, AROHA and Sampology, will keep the tunes and good times going each evening. 


Image: Courtney Barnett

Beyond Summerground’s live music hub, Sydney Festival presents music menu for all tastes and persuasions in venues, theatres, pop-up hot spots and outdoor spaces right across town.

In Soliloquy, recorder virtuoso Genevieve Lacey subverts the hierarchy of traditional concert music presentation by inviting 32 untrained participants to share a stage with a musician and professional contemporary dancer Stephanie Lake). This untrained chorus will create a performance around Baroque composer Georg Philipp Telemann’s Twelve Fantasias for Solo Flute, working to simple directions.

Nine-times Grammy nominee Anoushka Shankar returns after a standout 2018 tour. A virtuoso sitarist and composer, Shankar and her hotshot quintet – will fill the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall with a dynamic neoclassical approach to Indian music.

Courtney Barnett gives a special two-part performance at City Recital Hall. First, the arrival of a new chapter from Barnett with the release of her instrumental album, End of the Day (music from the film Anonymous Club), performed and improvised with collaborator Stella Mozgawa. Then, Barnett sings tracks from her back catalogue.

Also appearing at the City Recital Hall is Irish folk singer Lisa O’Neill. A powerful storyteller with a strong sense of self O'Neill's voice is raw, evocative and laden with emotion.

Created by Paul Grabowsky AO and starring Australian performers Joe Camilleri and Deborah ConwayEdge of Reality is a tribute to Elvis Presley. With heartfelt, re-imagined renditions of the king’s greatest hits, Edge of Reality celebrates one of the 20th century’s most prolific musicians.

And the Brett Whiteley Studio Sessions are back, offering the chance to hear from some of the festival’s music acts in a more intimate setting, including Anoushka Shankar – who will perform under Whiteley’s portrait of her father, Ravi Shankar – Harold López-Nussa, Judith Hill and Rizo, plus performances from Tim Freedman of The Whitlams and vocalist Jo Davie. Hear how their musical tastes, travels, and favourite place intersect with Whiteley’s own inspirations alongside the accompanying Chapters 1959-1969, an exhibition of Whiteley’s works painted abroad.


The ACO Neilson will play host to a roster of international and local music-makers throughout January, many of whom are performing their only Australian shows exclusively at Sydney Festival. 

Leading the first week of programming at the ACO Neilson is Latin jazz pianist and composer Harold López-Nussa, here from Cuba to share songs from Timba a la Americana, his first album on the legendary Blue Note Records.

Norwegian guitarist and composer LILJA  brings her band and multifaceted musical vision – spanning jazz, folk and an array of rich global influences – to Australia for the first time. Berlin-based trumpeter Konstantin Döben and his band Conic Rose share their compositions of indie-pop, jazz, electronica, soul and ambient, before pianist and composer Amaro Freitas arrives to demonstrate the many ways his unique sound has come to redefine Brazilian jazz. Mid-week sees the Josh Meader Trio take the stage in a special hometown show. Rounding out week one is Indian five-piece Peter Cat Recording Co, led by founder and frontman Suryakant Sawhney. The outfit share their blend of hot club-style jazz, psychedelic art rock, space disco and cabaret.

Week two opens with Irish songman David Keenan’s catalogue charts folk, rock, blues and his own keen-eyed poetry. Then comes Brooklyn-based multi-hyphenate SUO, a spiky, swoony and effortlessly cool performer known for her strutting, androgynous stage energy and comparisons to Patti Smith and Lou Reed. Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier will present a music and words memoir of their rock’n’roll life in Songs From the Book of Life, exploring their four-decade-long musical careers through eight scenes and eight songs. First Nations singer-songwriter on-the-rise Kee’ahn, will share their vocals, melodies and gift for songwriting about heartbreak, healing and vulnerability. Producer and singer songwriter Trophie shares her cross-genre style and three-octave vocal range with the audiences for one night only. Buffalo, New York’s indie-folk hope Julie Byrne brings her songs of searching, grieving and healing to Sydney, playing songs from 2023’s The Greater Wings. Finally, experience the ethereal voice of musician, writer and accessibility advocate Eliza Hull, also featuring roya the destroya, a one legged physical theatre and dance artist who starred in Hull’s recent music video for single ‘Running Water’.  

Temperament – a week-long celebration and deconstruction of JS Bach then takes over the ACO Neilson in the third and final week of the festival to pay homage to one of the most prolific composers in Western classical musical history. Featuring an program of local and international artists and ensembles, each dedicated to pushing musical boundaries some 300 years on, including Bach Akademie Australia, Korkmaz Can Sağlam, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Andrew Bukenya: Bach in Colour, Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, co-curator Benjamin Skepper and Ensemble Apex.


Sydney Festival provides access to a wide range of both new and past programming for audiences near and far with the festival’s AT HOME line-up. 

Enjoy livestreams of the floating opera Il Tabarro, this year’s Vigil: The Future, catch acrobatic and dance performance Living Sculptures: How the Birds got their Colours on Bondi Beach. 

On demand, watch the Australian premiere of Cirque du Cambodia (a documentary that follows two young Cambodians on their quest to join the big tops of Cirque du Soleil), and uncover the story behind the Warumpi Band, in the Big Name No Blanket 2013 documentary. Tune in to concerts from Tim Freedman, Lisa Moore and Hamed Sadeghi and discover the inspiration behind incredible new dance work, GURR ERA OP.

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