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Sydney Festival 2022 to inspire and entertain with more than 130 events

The inaugural Sydney Festival program from Director Olivia Ansell has been released with more than 130 events taking place from 6th – 30th January 2022 to include theatre, circus, dinosaur attractions, music, dance and visual arts.

NSW Minister for the Arts Don Harwin notes “as Sydney reopens, the community is eager to get out once again and make the most of the summer. It is fitting that we launch the year with the inaugural Sydney Festival program from Director Olivia Ansell, who will bring her incredible breadth of experience and passion to the Festival.

“The NSW Government has been a proud supporter of Sydney Festival since 1977 and we look forward to the program of new and contemporary Australian and international works..”

City of Sydney Chief Executive, Monica Barone adds “Sydney Festival is a vital part of our city’s cultural fabric and we’re proud to once again partner with the festival.

“The festival contributes every year to the variety and scope of international and local productions, giving new and established artists opportunities to realise their visions and find new audiences.

“The program for 2022 is no exception – through its various new and existing available channels, Sydney Festival 2022 will continue to inspire and entertain.” 

World-renowned Gravity and Other Myths, who brought Backbone to the festival in 2018, return with ‘Pulse’ – a euphoric symphony of strength, sinew and haunting song. Experience 24 acrobats and 26 voices from the Sydney Philharmonia Choir in this vast and intricate epic folding and unfolding before you.

Directed by acclaimed Circus Monoxide Artistic Director, Zebastian Hunter The Construct is a poignant and playful mix-up of circus and contemporary dance, created in direct response to the effects of living in lockdown. Flying, tumbling and contorting across a cube of welded steel, aXis’s elite ensemble reflects who we are in the new normal.

What happens when you throw a fistful of champion skaters, dancers, freerunners, BMXers and a blast of paint powder onto a half pipe together? Dial up the beats and you get DEMO, an exhilarating display of tightly choregraphed mayhem by award-winning physical theatre/street style outfit Branch Nebula, which us set to takeover Century Square in Paramatta.

Propelled by the vivacious Brandenburg String Orchestra and gilded with the physical feats of Circa, two of Australia’s finest creative companies meld music and acrobatics into an exploration of four proud and ancient cities of Italy in Italian Baroque with Circa.  

It’s been a while – 65 million years, actually – since Sydney echoed to the calls and footsteps of dinosaurs. Now, thanks to Erth, Sydney’s world-famous dino-recreationists, it’s like they never left.  Made to spark feelings of wonder, Erth’s Prehistoric Picnic sends Parramatta Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens back to the wilderness of a distant era offering entertainment for the whole family.

An embrace of epic scale and iconic location, THAW will stop audiences in their tracks. This visually arresting work marks a dramatic return to the festival for the renowned, Legs On The Wall. Featuring a 2.7 tonne, intricately sculpted block of ice hoisted 20 metres above the harbour from the foot of Sydney Opera House and a daring, solitary performer, THAW addresses humankind’s impact on the planet in a durational performance that’s part art installation, part slow-drip suspense thriller.

An eclectic survey that strikes at the heart of present-day Australia, this year’s visual arts program unearths the unseen, ponders post-Impressionism and exposes the beauty in the everyday objects we take for granted.

Discover the joy of Matisse through over 100 works spanning six decades at Matisse: Life and Spirit at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. This Sydney-exclusive exhibition offers an extraordinary immersion into one of the world’s most beloved, innovative and influential artists.

Sydney’s multi-arts precincts Carriageworks, will be hosting major new installations by leading Australian artists Karla Dickens, Dean Cross and Cherine Fahd, alongside a world premiere by resident company Marrugeku.

Carriageworks Chief Executive Blair French enthused “we are thrilled to welcome Sydney Festival back to Carriageworks in 2022 and are honoured to be presenting important new works spanning visual arts and contemporary dance by some of the most talented artists in the country. We look forward to welcoming audiences onsite at Carriageworks to experience these thoughtful and powerful works.”

Happy Objects is a celebration of the value of objects in our lives and celebrates a commitment to keeping objects longer, appreciating their beauty and stories, and embracing their function at the Australian Design Centre.

In his new exhibition Iridescent queer photographic artist and costume maker Gerwyn Davies responds to and reimagines the museums, archives, historic houses and gardens under the care of Sydney Living Museums and NSW State Archives. In a series of 12 large-scale photographic works, Davies dramatically transforms each property into a stage on which an extravagant performance is played out for the camera.

Destination Sydney: The natural world sees Manly Art Gallery & Museum, Mosman Art Gallery and S.H. Ervin Gallery collaborate to showcase almost 90 key works by nine important Australian women artists –  Joan Ross, Fiona Lowry, Merran Esson (Manly Art Gallery & Museum), Janet Laurence, Caroline Rothwell, Robyn Stacey (Mosman Art Gallery), and Bronwyn Oliver, Juz Kitson and Jennifer Keeler-Milne (S.H. Ervin Gallery) – with work that celebrates the spirit of Sydney’s natural environment.

Inspired by artist Doug Aitken’s interdisciplinary practice, whose works will be on display at the MCA, Sonic Collisions brings together melodic frequencies of some of Sydney’s most exciting musicians – blending Latin American Rhythms, Electro Soul and Hyperactive Rap. As part of the evening under the stars on the MCA’s Sculpture Terrace with views of Sydney Harbour, audiences will gain exclusive after-hours access to the MCA’s Sydney International Art Series exhibition, Doug Aitken: New Era.

For full program of events go to

Images from top: DEMO – tightly choregraphed mayhem from the award winning Branch Nebula; Erth Prehistoric Picnic Credit Cassandra Hannagan; THAW Credit Shane Rozari; Artist Karla Dickens. Credit Natalie Grono; Artist Gerwyn Davies.

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