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Five Impressive Festivals and Events to Check Out in Parramatta This Year

Concerts under the stars, world-premiere theatre shows and colourful food festivals — Parramatta's cultural calendar is more and more exciting every year.
By Concrete Playground
December 23, 2019

Five Impressive Festivals and Events to Check Out in Parramatta This Year

Concerts under the stars, world-premiere theatre shows and colourful food festivals — Parramatta's cultural calendar is more and more exciting every year.
By Concrete Playground
December 23, 2019


in partnership with

Concerts under the stars, world-premiere theatre shows and colourful food festivals — Parramatta's cultural calendar is more and more exciting every year.

Parramatta has long been considered Sydney's second city for quite some time now. Of course, the abundance of outdoor activities, cultural hotspots and restaurants and bars are pretty good excuses to spend a day in Parramatta. And in recent years more and more events and festivals have chosen to launch in western Sydney rather than position themselves in the east. It's a sign of good things to come for the 2150 postcode.

Yep, this city knows how to put on a party. We're talking free music concerts under the stars, cultural festivals taking over the streets and world premiering plays — and that's all just within the first two months of 2020. To help you map out your next couple of visits to the area, we've rounded up some of the most exciting things happening over the next few months. Get planning — many cultural adventures await.

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    Parramatta Park is serving up another jam-packed lineup of international and local musicians for its annual Crescent Summer Series this season. Now in its fourth year, this collection of festivals, concerts and parties — many of them free — is a great opportunity to take advantage of the warm days and balmy nights across summer (and beyond).

    The 2019 happenings will wrap up with a free New Year’s Eve bash on December 31. The all-ages event will include rides, food trucks and performances across three stages from the likes of local indie rock group Jackie Brown Jr and five-piece group Soul Movers.

    Next up, flute-playing diva Lizzo and modern-day boyband Brockhampton will take the stage as part of the highly anticipated FOMO 2020 on Saturday, January 11. If you missed out on tickets to Lizzo’s Sydney Opera House gig (which sold out in minutes), this one-stage festival is your saving grace — but you’ll need to nab tickets ASAP.

    The following week, on Saturday, January 18, the park will shift genres for Sydney Symphony Under the Stars. Part of the city-wide Sydney Festival, this free concert will see Sydney Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Benjamin Northey, perform compositions by Beethoven, John Williams and Tchaikovsky.

    On Saturday, March 7, the park will host electronic music festival Ultra Australia featuring the likes of Afrojack, DJ Tigerlily and Markus Schulz. Finally, the series will wrap up with epic rock carnival Under the Southern Stars on Saturday, April 4, featuring Bush, Stone Temple Pilots and Live.

    Image: Zennieshia Photography.

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    British India

    Taking over Parramatta Park on January 26, a free live music gig brings Aussie indie rock band British India to Parramatta.

    On stage before them is 2012 Triple J Unearthed winner Asta and local husband-and-wife pop duo Jess & Matt. The event all goes down on the Crescent Stage, kicking off at 5.30pm with a Welcome to Country and it rolls all the way through till 9pm.

    There’ll also be plenty of food trucks to keep you going, plus some rides dotted around the park. And, wrapping up the day, will be a huge firework display. Did we mention it’s totally free to attend?

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    Not only is 2020 the start of a new decade (in the traditional Gregorian calendar) but it’s also the Year of the Rat in the Chinese zodiac, which marks the start of a new 12-year cycle in the Chinese calendar. And you can celebrate these new beginnings on Friday, February 7 at Parramatta’s Centenary Square.

    The program features a range of dance performances, live tunes, a block party, dance classes and craft workshops. The pop-up cocktail bar, Lunar Lounge, is set to return, too, and there’ll also be plenty of food trucks.

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    Black Cockatoo — Ensemble Theatre

    Whether you’re a sports fanatic or not, it’s hard to escape chat about the cricket at this time year. But among the in-depth analyses of certain plays and team strategy, comparison of players past and present and reliving of legendary moments in the sport’s history, there is one tale that has long been ignored.

    In 1868, a group of Aboriginal Australian cricket players became the first Australian sports team to travel and play overseas. Beyond all expectations, the team did extremely well — they won as many games as they lost — and one particular player, Johnny Mullagh (born Unaarrimin), was lauded for his performance, which included scoring 1698 runs across the tour. The tour was a pretty remarkable feat, particularly given the climate of Indigenous affairs in Australia at the time, but the history books have, for the most part, failed to recognise it as such.

    That’s exactly what this new play by screenwriter Geoffery Atherden (Mother and Son, BabaKiueria) and director Wesley Enoch (Black Diggers, Sydney Festival 2014 and Sydney Festival artistic director) aims to rectify. Black Cockatoo begins with a group of activists sneaking into a museum to hunt down (and expose) the story of Mullagh and his team. The play then shifts its focus onto that very story — it tracks the team’s journey from regional Victoria to Lord’s Cricket Ground and reveals the travesties that were unfolding at home while the team were away.

    This poignant play is premiering at Kirribilli’s Ensemble Theatre as part of Sydney Festival 2020, before a five-night run at Parramatta’s Riverside Theatres in February. It’s part of Riverside Theatre’s jam-packed 2020 schedule, which also includes Aboriginal musical comedy Bran Nue Dae (January 16–February 1), Les Misérables (February 14–29), Monty Python’s Spamalot (March 19–22), Sydney Theatre Company’s No Pay? No Way! (April 1–4) and the Sydney Comedy Festival Gala (April 22). To see the full 2020 lineup, visit the Riverside Theatres website.

    Image: Christian Trinder.

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    Parramasala 2020 — POSTPONED

    Western Sydney’s Parramasala Festival is back for its tenth year — and it’s set to be the biggest and most diverse event yet. The free annual festival, which celebrates and showcases Sydney’s many cultures, will take place in Parramatta across three action-packed days. Expect a colourful combination of music, dance, food, film and theatre, all spread throughout Prince Alfred Park, the Parramatta riverbank and Riverside Theatres.

    The full program will be released in February, but if previous years are anything to go by, there’ll be dancing workshops, parades and live performances. There’ll also be a huge variety of food options — think curry, dumplings, gozleme and more.

    Image: Salty Dingo.


To discover more festivals and cultural events happening in Parramatta in 2020, head this way.

Image: FOMO 2019 by Jordan Munns.

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