What's On

Everything You Need To See At The 2023 Sydney Festival

By Sammy Preston
19th Oct 2022

A Freda Kahlo exhibition
A Freda Kahlo exhibition
The Sun & Sea exhibition
Afrique en Cirque
choreographer-director Daniel Riley
A Freda Kahlo exhibition
A Freda Kahlo exhibition
The Sun & Sea exhibition
Afrique en Cirque
choreographer-director Daniel Riley

2023 is shaping up to be a massive year for Sydney. Adding to the roster of big-time events taking over the city next year, like South by South West and World Pride, the Sydney Festival has just dropped its brand-new program. 

Hitting town in January, it's the biggest Sydney program since pre-pandemic times and features a mega roster of 100 events, including 18 world premiers and 14 Australian exclusives, set across 54 venues throughout Greater Sydney. 

One of the biggest highlights on the festival program is Layers of Reality, Frida Kahlo: Life of an Icon, a huge multi-sensory Frida Kahlo exhibition, co-created and endorsed by the Frida Kahlo Corporation. It's currently wowing audiences in Auckland (check it out via Urban List New Zealand here), but this will be the first time the exhibition has ever been shown in Australia. There are holographs, 360-degree projections, virtual reality, and traditional Mexican music performed live—all designed to pull you into the life and times of Frida. 

Also on the program is Sun & Sea, a sell-out Golden Lion-winning installation from the 2019 Venice Biennale. It's a durational in-the-round English opera that involves a lot of sand— 26 tonnes of sand, to be precise—which will fill Sydney Town Hall for the performance. Created by filmmaker and director Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, writer Vaiva Grainytė, and artist and composer Lina Lapelytė it's a reflection on climate change via the beach—which should really hit home here in Sydney. 

Headlining the First Nations-led Blak Out program is Tracker, a beautiful merger of dance, ceremony, and text by choreographer-director Daniel Riley that tells the story of  Riley’s Great-Great Uncle, Alec “Tracker” Riley. Old Government House in Parramatta will be transformed into a Dharug place for several days for Dyin Nura (Women’s Place) and the incredible January 25 vigil will return to Barangaroo Reserve as Vigil: Awaken. Created by Jacob Nash and Stephen Page, the all-night ceremony will incorporate traditional Eora stories using smoke, song, dance, and light. 

Bonobo will be in town to play a one-night-only performance in the Sydney Masonic Centre’s Banquet Hall; the basement of the Harry Seidler "spaceship" building in the heart of the city will be transformed into The Weary Traveller, a late-night live music pop-up with 16 nights of intimate gigs to check out from the likes of HTRK, Astral People, and June Jones. 

Tickets are now on sale. To peep the full program, head over here

The Details

What: Sydney Festival 
When: Thursday 5 - Sunday 29 January 2023
Where: Throughout Sydney
Tickets: Online, here

For more great stuff to do in Sydney, check out our what's on guide

Image credit: Sydney Festival

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