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SXSW Sydney Is Taking Over Tumbalong Park in October with a Free Eight-Day Festival Hub

Everyone's invited to this free festival hub with pop-up bars, cooking demonstrations, surprise performances, tech demos, an outdoor cinema and Dr Karl.
By Ben Hansen and Sarah Ward
September 19, 2023
By Ben Hansen and Sarah Ward
September 19, 2023

Eight days of free festivities are coming to Darling Harbour as part of SXSW Sydney. Whether you're a Platinum Badge-holder, just heading along to the music or screen festival, or sans-SXSW tickets entirely, you're invited to head down to Tumbalong Park between Sunday, October 15–Sunday, October 22 for the festival's huge program of free events.

Sydneysiders and visitors will be given the chance to dip their toes in the many different aspects of SXSW at the vibrant inner-city hub. Leading the program is Adam Spencer's Big Questions panel with special guest Dr Karl Kruszelnicki. Yiying Lu and Chef Martin Yan will also be appearing on stage, teaming up on World Food Day to conduct a live cooking class.

Young Henrys is the official sponsor of SXSW Sydney's music festival, and the beloved Sydney brewery is getting involved in the Tumbalong Park activation in a couple of different ways. Firstly, you'll be able to get your hands on a Newtowner at the Young Henrys pop-up bar. Plus, the YH crew is pulling some strings with a few acts on the festival lineup, running the Rock n Roll Circus where mystery artists will be appearing on stage to cover iconic rock songs.

Vivid 2023, Destination NSW

The first day of the festival, Sunday, October 15, will feature a jam-packed program featuring an opening ceremony, a presentation from the music festival featuring performances from artists on the lineup, an augmented reality demonstration, a break-dancing activation and an opening night party for SXSW Sydney's screen festival.

Elsewhere on the lineup: an outdoor cinema screening classic films that have premiered at SXSW Austin over the years, an afternoon of esports, a live broadcast of FBi Radio's Arvos with Jaimee Taylor-Nielsen, a robotics demonstration and a live playthrough of the murder-mystery game Blood on the Clocktower.

On top of all of this, there will also be food trucks, plus pop-up activations from Suntory -196, CommBank, Channel Seven, Snapchat and Uber.

Tumbalong Park during the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, Destination NSW

SXSW Sydney is the first time that the world-famous festival is popping up anywhere outside the US. The festival will boast a 700-plus strong bill of talent, covering over 300 sessions. The event will feature more than 300 gigs across 25 venues, too, and has been dropping its music highlights and must-attend parties since earlier in 2023. Its dedicated gaming strand will include a tabletop game expo. And, the SXSW Sydney Screen Festival will open with The Royal Hotel, and host the world premiere of Hot Potato: The Story of the Wiggles.

The entire event — the festivals within the bigger fest, exhibitions, talks, networking opportunities and streetside activations — will happen within a walkable precinct in the Sydney CBD, Haymarket, Darling Harbour, Ultimo, Chippendale and more, with the SXSW Sydney's footprint operating as a huge hub. Other venues named so far include Powerhouse Museum, ICC Sydney, UTS, Central Park Mall, the Goods Line Walk, The Abercrombie and Lansdowne Hotel.


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A post shared by sxswsydney (@sxswsydney)

SXSW Sydney's free festival hub will take over Tumbalong Park, 11 Harbour Street, Sydney between Sunday, October 15–Sunday, October 22

Top image: Tumbalong Park, Vivid, Destination NSW.


If you're keen to make the most of Australia's first SXSW, take advantage of our special reader offer. Purchase your SXSW Sydney 2023 Official Badge via Concrete Playground Trips and you'll score a $150 credit to use on your choice of Sydney accommodation. Book now via the website.

Published on September 19, 2023 by Ben Hansen
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