Unmissable Events and Festivals Coming to Parramatta This Summer

Jump into summer with fireworks, cultural celebrations, theatre performances and music festivals in Parramatta.
Joe Rivers
December 14, 2023

in partnership with

The nights are longer, the temperature is rising, and people just seem to be more joyous — it must be summer. While December is mainly focused on a certain event on the 25th, it lasts far beyond that.

Parramatta comes into its own in summer, with something to do all season long. What's more, plenty of these events are family-friendly occasions that won't break the bank. Parramatta has exactly what you need this summer, starting with these seven standout selections.

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Fireworks in Parramatta Park during New Year's Eve.

NEW YEAR'S EVE AT PARRAMATTA PARK

Proving there's more to NYE than the display on the Harbour Bridge, Parramatta Park is giving you the opportunity to see off 2023 with a bang. The family-friendly event on Sunday, December 31, is free to attend and includes food trucks, activities and a musical lineup headlined by ARIA Award-winning group Sneaky Sound System. So, you can get a gozleme and a beer, challenge the family to garden games, see some great music and, to top it all off, stare in wonder at a killer fireworks display at 9pm. You can also bring your own food and drinks, esky and blankets, so make a real evening of it and enjoy the last day of the year without breaking the bank.

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SYDNEY FESTIVAL AT RIVERSIDE THEATRE

Now a summer institution, Sydney Festival always kickstarts the new year with various events throughout the city. Parramatta's Riverside Theatres has a great range of shows in January, which are well worth your time. There's something for everybody, from a multicultural comedy gala to a night of Palestinian memories or an interactive Dinosaur World experience. The highlight of the program is Bananaland, a musical comedy about a failing punk band who accidentally become the next Wiggles due to a viral hit. Scored by Aussie pop royalty Kate Miller-Heidke and directed by Simon Phillips of Muriel's Wedding The Musical fame, Bananaland will surely be the hottest ticket in town.

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William Barton performing the didgeridoo.

SYDNEY SYMPHONY UNDER THE STARS

Any opportunity to see the Sydney Symphony Orchestra is special. This free concert in Parramatta Park showcases a range of works, including classical favourites, familiar film scores and Australian originals. On Saturday, January 20, you'll be able to hear Strauss' The Blue Danube and pieces from Apollo 13 and ET, as well as the kind of thing you wouldn't ordinarily associate with a famed orchestra. Aunty Delmae Barton and Véronique Serret are joined by didgeridoo maestro William Barton, and, on top of that, Anoushka Shankar shows off her sitar pedigree (her father is sitar genius and Beatles collaborator, Ravi Shankar). With all this talent on show, it's probably worth reiterating that this concert is free. Gratis. Zero dollars. You've no excuse not to go down there.

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Three hot-air balloons above a crowd.

BALLOON GLOW

On Thursday, January 25, head to Parramatta Park's Cattle Paddock for the inaugural Balloon Glow event: a hot-air balloon and light display timed to music. The balloons and lights might be the headline act, but it's a free, community-oriented evening with live music, activities and food trucks to entertain and feed you and the whole family. With something different from your standard local fireworks display, Balloon Glow will spread awe and glee to young and old alike.

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A crowd at Jammin Festival in Parramatta.

JAMMIN FESTIVAL

It's long established that summer is where it's at for music festivals. The fact that Europe and the US start the year with freezing temperatures means that some of the biggest international acts get the privilege of coming Down Under. Jammin Festival, taking place on the first weekend of February in Parramatta Park, is Australia's premier reggae festival. Next year's headline acts are true heavy hitters: Shaggy and Sean Paul, two of the biggest reggae and dancehall stars of the 21st century, will be appearing alongside legendary reggae mainstays UB40 and ferocious British MC Stefflon Don. There's also a slew of fantastic Australian and Polynesian artists to keep you entertained, meaning the good vibes will flow all weekend.

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Two lion dancers during Lunar New Year in Parramatta.

LUNAR NEW YEAR

Say goodbye to the Year of the Rabbit and hello to the Year of the Dragon on Saturday, February 10 in Parramatta. Both Parramatta Square and Centenary Square will host festivities and a range of street food stalls, not to mention dancing, lanterns, workshops and performances. You can also catch a dragon art installation by Amigo & Amigo in Parramatta Square for the first half of February. The incredible event will showcase the diversity and inclusion of the local community while celebrating Asian cuisine and culture. There are few better places for you and your family to ring in the Lunar New Year in the state capital.

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PARTYNEXTDOOR and Tinashe.

SOULED OUT FEST

After a successful soft launch in 2023, Australia's only festival dedicated to modern R&B is going supernova in 2024. Before hitting Melbourne, the Gold Coast, Auckland and Perth, it all kicks off in Parramatta Park. Massive international acts including Summer Walker, PARTYNEXTDOOR, Bryson Tiller, Majid Jordan and Tinashe, will be in attendance, and emerging acts showcasing the full spectrum of what R&B means in the 2020s. It's rare to have the chance to see so many of one genre's global big hitters in one place, so be an early adopter and jump on the Souled Out train before everyone is across it in 2025.

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And that's just summer in Parramatta. Throughout the year, the River City has plenty on to keep you entertained, whether it's events highlighting the local community or huge sporting matches at CommBank Stadium and the ever-popular Parramatta Lanes, which offers food, music, arts and entertainment.

Discover other events around Parramatta at the website.

 

Published on December 14, 2023 by Joe Rivers
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