The origins of Sydney Festival bate back to 1956. That year, the Sydney Committee established the Waratah Festival. The festival was named after telopea, also known as waratah, an Australian-endemic flower which is the floral emblem of New South Wales. The festival began in late October and ran through late November, coinciding with the blooming of waratah. Its program included a parade, beauty pageants, arts exhibitions, and performances.
The Waratah Festival was discontinued in 1974. Three years later, the New South Wales State Government, the Sydney Committee and the City of Sydney established a new summertime festival designed to become its successor. Sydney Festival was scheduled in January to attract people into the city center during the summer holiday season. The three-week festival offers a rich and diverse program of more than 400 performances and events involving over 700 artists from all over the world.
Sydney Festival has an international reputation for its modern, popular and intelligent programming. The program of Sydney Festival covers a wide array of different types and genres of art including contemporary and classical music, dance, theater, visual arts, circus, traditional indigenous arts, cross media, and more. Its kaleidoscopic program is so diverse that everyone will find something to suit their taste, be it Russian theater, burlesque circus, traditional Indigenous arts and crafts, family programs, vintage car races, or anything in between.
The full program of Sydney Festival is always available on the festival website. All events are divided into thematic groups for users to navigate easier. These groups include Free Events, Theater and Dance, Opera and Classical Music, Circus and Cabaret, Family Events, Installations. Besides, you can download the festival brochure or purchase it during the festival.
Sydney Festival uses at least 30 venues located throughout the city, including Sydney Opera House, Sydney Theater, City Recital Hall as well as community halls, parks and city streets. Most indoor events are ticketed, but pricing policies are quite accessible. Besides, there are a lot of free events. This means that Sydney Festival is open to everyone. For instance, the 2001 edition of the festival attracted more than 150,000 people to its ticketed events and over half a million people to free events. Quite impressive, isn’t it?
Many Australian theater companies present their new productions at Sydney Festival because the festival is committed to supporting and promoting local artists. The festival has brought many of the world’s most talented artists to Australia for the first time. Despite having faced criticism about its artistic credibility, Sydney Festival remains one of Australia’s major cultural events.
Photo by Jamie Williams