Sydney / Lifestyle / Sydney Festival 2021: Everything to See, Do & Experience this Festival Season

Sydney Festival 2021: Everything to See, Do & Experience this Festival Season

Mark your calendars! Sydney Festival 2021 has arrived and this quintessential summer festival is set to be more epic than ever.

Spirit: A Restorspective 2021 (Photo credit: Lisa Tomasetti)

Call us biased, but Sydney is one of the most amazing cities in the world – and it shines brightest in the summertime.

Every year, like clockwork, Sydney Festival reminds us of just how culturally diverse and lively this city is – and 2021’s edition is set to take it up another notch, with COVID-safety measures firmly in place.

The three-week festival kicks off on Wednesday 6th January, with a steady stream of music, theatre, dance, opera, visual arts, ideas and family events, alongside the annual Sydney Film Festival and Sydney Writers' Festival. It’s going to be big. There’s a whopping 130 events across 38 venues, with nearly 40 of the events being completely free! In true Sydney Festival style, the schedule features an exceptional line-up of talent, which not only introduces new names to the world, but boasts some serious star power.

To help curate your Sydney Festival itinerary, here is a round-up of the best events and things to do.

Sydney Festival 2021: Theatre

H.M.S. Pinafore
H.M.S. Pinafore

A funny, smart and sexy take on the Gilbert and Sullivan classic, this new production of H.M.S Pinafore is a must-see for theatre-lovers!

13th-23rd January

$49-$59 (+BF)

Riverside Theatres

Sunshine Super Girl (Photo credit: Jamie James)
Sunshine Super Girl

Transforming into a tennis court, Sydney Town Hall is set to host a theatrical celebration of tennis legend Evonne Goolagong. Told through humour and humility, Sunshine Super Girl creatively illustrates Evonne's life story and considers the injustices of the past.

8th-17th January

$69-$79 (+BF)

Sydney Town Hall

KENNY (Photo of Ben Wood, by Christian Trinder)
KENNY

Portable toilet engineer Kenny Smyth is proud of his job, despite what his dad and the public may think of him. In this big-hearted and hilarious salute to decency and hard work, KENNY (adapted for the stage by Steve Rodgers from the hit film of the same name) reminds us that all that glitters is not necessarily gold.

15th-27th January

$74-$79

Ensemble Theatre


Sydney Festival 2021: Music

E^ST
E^ST with Jaguar Jonze

After the launch of her debut album last year, E^ST can finally celebrate I'm Doing It, with a live gig! A collection of pop tunes about relationships and heartbreak, expect to be wowed. Taking the stage alongside E^ST, the enigmatic Jaguar Jonze will be bringing her full rock band and catalogue of killer tunes.

16th January, 8:30pm

$45 (+BF)

Seymour Centre

The [Uncertain] Four Seasons
The [Uncertain] Four Seasons

Antonio Vivaldi's irreverent work is given a 21st-century review with The [Uncertain] Four Seasons. For this special performance Australian composers, designers and scientists have collaborated, in consultation with climate prediction data, to give Vivaldi's Four Seasonsa 2021 reimagining. 

12th-13th January

$25 (+BF)

The Headland at Barangaroo Reserve

Thandi Phoenix
Thandi Phoenix + Becca Hatch + Ella Haber

For a fun night of party vibes, book a ticket to see pop and house star Thandi Phoenix, alongside up-and-coming RNB and soul singers Becca Hatch and Ella Haber.

23rd January, 7:30pm

$30 (+BF)

Club Parramatta

Sydney Festival 2021: Dance

Spirit: A Restorspective 2021 (Photo credit: Lisa Tomasetti)
Spirit: A Retrospective 2021

Bangarra Dance Theatre is returning to the stage with a series of performances under the stars at Barangaroo's pop-up outdoor theatre The Headland. Drawing upon over three decades of performative works, Bangarra Dance Theatre's retrospective aims to celebrate the company's rich, diverse history and the perpetual bond of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to the land. 

20th-24th January

$25 (+BF)

The Headland at Barangaroo Reserve

The Last Season
The Last Season

The world premiere of The Last Seasonis a headline event for Sydney Festival 2021. Provocative and daring, this new work of dance theatre by Force Majeure explores human survival and environmental destruction. Inspired by Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, The Last Season features stage icons Pamela Rabe, Olwen Fouéré and Paul Capsis alongside a cast of 15 young performers. 

6th-10th January

$55-$65 (+BF)

Carriageworks

In Situ
In Situ

Audiences are invited to take a stroll through Parramatta Park to discover In Situ, a collection of site-specific dance works telling First Nations stories. This roving project was conceived by Western Sydney’s Dance Makers Collective (The Rivoli ‘20) with the cultural consultation of Darug elders Peta Strachan and Julie Webb.

21st-24th January

$29 (+BF)

Parramatta Park

Sydney Festival 2021: Visual Arts

Janet Laurence, ‘H2O Water Bar’ at the Paddington Reservoir, 2016. Image courtesy the artist and Dominik Mersch Gallery, Sydney. (Photo credit: Nikki To)
Requiem

Curated by artist Janet Laurence, Requiem combines art, music, poetry, performance, literature, science, philosophy and environmental advocacy to craft a time-space for people to acknowledge and mourn the loss experienced in the summer bushfires of 2019-2020.

16th-24th January, 11am-7pm Daily

Free

Paddington Reservoir Gardens

Lindy Lee: Moon in a Dew Drop

In the most comprehensive survey exhibition of Australian Chinese artist Lindy Lee, Moon in a Dew Dropbrings together over 70 works across her career. 

From now until 28th February

Free

Museum of Contemporary Art

Isolate Make
Isolate Make: Creative Resilience in a Pandemic

In response to COVID-19, Australian Design Centre invited 10 makers to participate in their Isolate Make project. In this exhibition, you don't only see the finished product but you get an understanding of the creative process when the artist is forced to shift as a result of social isolation and/or production changes. Throughout the exhibition, there are various workshops and talks so you can upskill too!

From now until 27th January

Free

Australian Design Centre

Sydney Festival 2021: Film

High Ground
High Ground

Selected for Berlinale 2020 and inspired by true events, High Ground depicts the aftermath of a brutal massacre of an Indigenous community. Starring Simon Baker, Jack Thompson and Jacob Junior Nayinggul, this powerful film is a must-see for all Australians.

16th January, 3:30pm

$24 (+BF)

State Theatre

Girls Can't Surf
Girls Can't Surf

Girls Can't Surfis a documentary that highlights the incredible achievements of the first female pro surfers and their fight for recognition. In telling this story, the film features archival footage and interviews with surfing icons Jodie Cooper, Frieda Zamba, Pauline Menczer, Lisa Andersen, Pam Burridge, Wendy Botha, Layne Beachley and more.

17th January, 2pm

$24 (+BF)

State Theatre

Minari
Minari

Surrounded by Oscar buzz, Minariis a thoughtful film about a Korean-American family and their journey towards achieving the American dream. Having already secured the Grand Jury and Audience Awards at Sundance, you will quickly see why everyone is talking about this beautiful movie.

16th January, 8:30pm

$24 (+BF)

State Theatre

Sydney Festival 2021: Talks & Workshops

The Art of Entrepreneurship

A part of UTS Open's Big Thinking Workshop series, this 90-minute conference is all about helping you harness your creative talents and business ideas, into turning them into opportunities in this everchanging technologically disruptive landscape.

19th January, 5pm

Free

Livestream (Attendees will receive an email link to join prior to the event)

Chris Reason
Chris Reason: Terror on the Ground- Lindt Café Siege

As part of the Walkleys Live series of eight biographical talks with Walkley Award-winning and/or recognised journalists, Chris Reason delves into his experience of the Lindt Café Siege direct from the Channel 7 studio in Martin Place and what it is like to report major breaking news as it is happening.

23rd January, 12pm

$25 (+BF)

Sydney Town Hall

Recommended Reading

To help you select your next best summer read, Sydney Writer's Festival has assembled some of Australia's most avid readers to curate an essential book list. Guests including Jennifer Byrne, Michael Mohammed Ahmad and Benjamin Law will each discuss one classic, one obscure International read and one local favourite from the past 12 months for you to add to your reading list.

16th January, 2pm

$25 (+BF)

Carriageworks

Sydney

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