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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Ten of the Best Sydney Festival Events You Can Hit Up for Under $50

From free outdoor art exhibitions and extravagant stage shows to futuristic raves and a stacked live music lineup — these are the highlights of Sydney Festival you can head to without breaking the bank.
By Concrete Playground
January 04, 2022
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By Concrete Playground
January 04, 2022
  shares

TEN OF THE BEST SYDNEY FESTIVAL EVENTS YOU CAN HIT UP FOR UNDER $50

From free outdoor art exhibitions and extravagant stage shows to futuristic raves and a stacked live music lineup — these are the highlights of Sydney Festival you can head to without breaking the bank.

Sydney Festival is back with a massive 2022 lineup, so clear your diaries because summer is going to be very, very busy. The annual arts, music and culture festival is bringing 133 events to spaces all around the city for 25 days. That includes performances, shows, gigs, installations and more across Sydney's stages, screens, parks, ferry rides, the Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool and at a new 1000-seat pop-up site in Cathedral Square — because a major citywide arts festival should sprawl absolutely everywhere it can around town.

If you're looking to get your dose of art, theatre and live music without breaking the bank, you can score a great deal on Sydney Festival tickets by using your $25 Discover vouchers that the NSW government offered up as part of its Dine & Discover initiative (we know they're still sitting in your Service NSW app). We've rounded up ten of the festival's best events that you can nab tickets for less than $50 using your vouchers, from free outdoor art exhibitions and extravagant stage shows to futuristic raves and prehistoric picnics.

  • 10

    This month, things are about to get a touch noisier here in Sydney, thanks to the arrival of a brand new outdoor pop-up space dedicated to live music, DJs and street art. Taking over the corner of College and William Streets from January 5–30, Speakers Corner is set to deliver a giant dollop of al fresco summer entertainment. It’ll play host to a stellar and diverse lineup of performances, with openair gigs from artists including Brisbane singer-songwriter Jaguar Jonze, punk hip-hop trio Shady Nasty, drill trio Sydney Yungins, Melbourne’s Sunshine and Disco Faith Choir, and stacks more.

    Catch indie rockers King Stingray fresh off the back of their Triple J 2021 Unearthed Artist of the Year win, settle in for the serene tunes of Gordi or rock out to legendary punk rockers like Tropical Fuck Storm and Amyl and the Sniffers. Also in the mix you’ll find a healthy sprinkling of comedy, cabaret and art to liven up your summer nights. Meanwhile, the onsite bar promises to keep you hydrated with sips from the likes of Squealing Pigs, Gordons, Atomic Brewing and Heaps Normal, while culinary options include bites like spiced beef kofte and mango curd tart.

    Image: Cash Savage and the Last Drinks by Naomi Lee Beveridge

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  • 9
    Airship Orchestra

    Some days, we all just want to want to wander through a vibrant, inflatable, lit-up dreamscape filled with billowing shapes. Sydneysiders, the time to do that is now with this collection of colourful inflatable characters popping up at Tumbalong Park as part of Sydney Festival. Created by Melbourne-based art and technology studio ENESS, Airship Orchestra is bringing sixteen bulbous shapes that glow, reach up to six metres in height, and come complete with a choir score. You’ll be mesmerised by their appearance and their sounds alike.

    ENESS are the team behind the previous occupant of Tumbalong Park, Sky Castle. Both of these inflatable activations previously amazed Brisbanites as part of Brisbane Festival in 2021, with Airship Orchestra also being displayed in Melbourne, Shanghai and Washington D.C. Now in Sydney, the outdoor exhibition is free and running in Darling Harbour from Thursday, January 6 until Sunday, January 30.

    Image: Ben Weinstein.

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  • 8
    Demo

    Head down to Parramatta’s Centenary Square between Thursday, January 13 and Sunday, January 16 for a collision of skateboarding, BMX riding, dancing, free-running and performance. Demo is free public exhibition best described as controlled chaos. The exhilarating performance will take place on a half-pipe and feature a team of professional athletes and dancers pulled together by award-winning physical theatre company Branch Nebula. The unlikely group of performers will exhibit their unique skillsets in tandem as part of the show which will pop up for free six times over four days in Parramatta. On Thursday and Friday, Demo will begin at 6pm, while Saturday and Sunday will be treated to two show each, with performances at both 4.30pm and 6.30pm.

    Image: Mark Metcalfe

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  • 7
    Yung Lung

    Looking to be transported to a world of hypnotic dance music, hyper-coloured visuals and extravagant dancers? Yung Lung has you covered with its futuristic rave.  Australian choreographer Antony Hamilton is pulling together a dance party like no other with bass-heavy and experimental techno music soundtracking the event centred around a colourful giant head placed among the dance floor. Put on your dance floor-ready outfit and head to Eveleigh to discover an otherworldly experience of music, art and fashion.

    Pulling together this immersive rave experience is a collection of boundary-pushing creatives. In charge of the music is Melbourne electronic musician Chiara Kickdrum, while costumes are being created by P.A.M and videos by Kris Moyes. All of this can be found in the expansive halls of Carriageworks between Thursday, January 20 and Sunday, January 23. Tickets are $60, however if you’re under 30-years-old you can nab yourself a youth discount and half-priced tickets.

    Images: Eva Otsing and Peter Tarasiuk

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  • 6

    If January 26 finds you looking for a thoughtful way to reflect on the impact of the arrival of the First Fleet and Australia’s colonisation on its First Nations people, you should join the folks from Sydney Festival the evening prior. For the fourth year running, Sydney Festival will be running a vigil at Barangaroo Reserve from dusk on Monday, January 25 through to dawn on Tuesday, January 26. There will be contemporary ceremony, song and fire led by First Nations artists, as well as performances and reflections from members of the Indigenous Australian community throughout the night.

    You can drop by at any time or stay all night — if you’re in it for the long haul, make sure you bring warm clothes. Feel free to take some mates with you, but the event is also a good opportunity to meet new people and have conversations around the anniversary of the country’s invasion and what it means for all Australians. The Vigil is free, but you must register your interest before attending in order to aid with COVID safety.

    Image: Victor Frankowski

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  • 5

    A nearly three-tonne block of ice will be suspended above Sydney Harbour, slowly melting over the course of the day as part of Sydney Festival‘s free arts program. On this huge block of water? A series of performance artists utilising it as a temporary stage before it disappears. Thaw will take place above the harbour over three days between Friday, January 14 and Sunday, January 16. Each day at 10am, a new block of ice will be suspended and the performers will ascend into the sky accompanied by a score from Alaskan composer Matthew Burtner. Come 8.30pm each night, the performance comes to an end when the last piece of ice returns to water.

    Making powerful statements on climate change and sustainability, Thaw has been created by local theatre and arts company Legs on the Wall in collaboration with Sydney Opera House. Each performance is free to view from Circular Quay for the duration of the day, however to witness the thrilling conclusion, its recommend you head over around 7.30pm. You can also view it via live stream as part of the Sydney Festival’s digital program.

    Image: Shane Rozario. Image courtesy of the artists and Mona Foma.

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  • 4
    Set Piece

    Local theatre mainstays Nat Randall and Anna Breckon are back with Set Piece, an inventive and captivating multimedia production exploring queer relationships. Pulling from 1950s pulp fiction and weaving in pieces of improvisation, the 70-minute stage show will combine elements of film and theatre into a witty couples drama.

    This show marks the return of Randall and Breckon after their marathon performance of The Second Woman which saw the lead actress perform the same scene with 100 different counterparts repeatedly over a 24-hour period. Always looking to push the boundaries of independent theatre, the duo’s new production incorporates live camera which brings a fresh form of performance and expression to the theatre piece. Set Piece will be performed five times between Thursday, January 6 and Sunday, January 9 at Carriageworks.  Tickets range from $45 for concession through to $60 for full priced premium seats.

    Image: Robert Catto

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  • 3
    The Reckoning Talk Series

    What a couple of years it’s been. Bushfires, floods, a global pandemic and responses from those in charge that have been disappointing to say the least. So, where do we go from here? That’s what this series of talks run by Sydney Festival and the UNSW Centre for Ideas is looking to address. The four-part series of talks is pulling together a lineup of change-makers and beloved public figures to discuss the topics of misogyny, climate change, the pandemic and whether we’re at a collective turning point towards a brighter future or a terrifying tipping point.

    On the lineup you’ll find a wide range of speakers. Journalists Sarah Dingle, Peter Hartcher and Stan Grant will be joined by marine biologist Emma Johnston and comedian Dan Illic for a discussion on the future of Australia. Presenter Yumi Stynes, ABC reporter Louise Milligan, law expert Gabrielle Appleby and former MP Julia Banks will discuss political misogyny before women’s advocate and musician Jaguar Jonze performers her single ‘Who Died and Made You King’. And, Benjamin Law will host a discussion on the multifaceted impacts and costs of COVID with guests economist Richard Holden, business leader Sam Mostyn and youth advocate Yasmin Poole.

    Image: Jaguar Jonze

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  • 2
    Erth's Prehistoric Picnic

    Erth, the creators of the immersive plant and sculpture exhibition currently running out of Royal Botanic Garden’s The Calyx, is winding the clock back 65 million years with a series of dinosaur-heavy picnics in two lush Sydney spots. Popping up at the Royal Botanic Gardens and Parramatta Park, Erth’s Prehistoric Picnic will bring a series of huge dinosaur puppets and inflatables to these green spaces for an hour of dino wonder. These dinosaur recreations will stretch their legs and wander their way around the picnics to the delight of adults and children alike. Included in the roster of millennium-old creatures is the newest edition to Erth’s repertoire: a set of three-metre tall thunderbirds that will be strutting their stuff across the prehistoric events. Sessions are running from Saturday, January 8–Friday, January 14 at Parramatta Park and from Saturday, January 15–Sunday, January 30 at the Royal Botanic Gardens, with 9am and 11am time slots available.

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  • 1

    Listen to a selection of hundreds of personal and revealing voice messages left in the middle of the night at this new exhibition being hosted by The National Art School as part of Sydney Festival. With The Nightline, audio theatremaker Roslyn Oades, sound artist Bob Scott and their collaborators have collected more than 600 voice messages left by nightshift workers, insomniacs and late-night revellers — all between midnight and 6am.

    Attendees at The Nightline will be welcomed into a low-lit room full of old-school telephones and switchboards. Then, you’ll be granted access to these soul-baring messages, with each visitor to the exhibition given an entirely unique set of voices over your 40-minute slot. All you need to do is pick up the phone and tune into snippets of lives lived while others are asleep. Running from Wednesday, January 12–Sunday, January 23, The Nightline is hosting three to four sessions each night, starting from 9pm.

    Image: Sarah Walker

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