Sydney Festival Top Five 2023

Rebecca Varidel
28th Dec 2022

“There is nowhere better than Sydney to experience an exhilarating summer of art. Made possible by over 1,000 local and international participating artists and the rich diversity of stories and cultures shared. Please join us this January to see the city anew – from proud First Nation stories, inspiring international collaborations and remarkable one-off events to underbelly immersive experiences that only a city like Sydney could conjure” exlaims Sydney Festival 2023 artistic director Olivia Ansell.

All the Sydney Festival 2023 events are available at with 748 performances traversing 54 venues this can be a bit daunting even to the most ardent Sydney arts audience so we've sorted through to give you our view what's best of what's on at Sydney Festival from 5 January 2023. Although we do recommend you attend many more than five.

9 January Asko|Schönberg in concert with Ensemble Offspring

In 2022 the highlight of the many many events we attended at Sydney Festival was Ensemble Offspring -barra. Later in the year I delighted in the Ensemble Offspring new music micro-festival Listen Up. Did I read something about learning the rules then breaking them? What an extremely talented bunch they are. But more than talent, they push the boundaries, and pioneer new musical territory.

For Sydney Festival 2023 Asko|Schönberg in concert with Ensemble Offspring will see the world’s finest new music champions honour the late Louis Andriessen, a leading twentieth century Dutch composer, by celebrating the diversity of voices he influenced from David Lang through to Australian composers Mary Finsterer, Damien Ricketson and Dutch Australian Kate Moore. The famously uncompromising and quirky sound of Asko|Schönberg (who will also perform Antarctica) is perfectly matched with Australia’s own innovators, Ensemble Offspring, as works from Andriessen and his most celebrated students are expertly performed.

19 to 21 January Kairos

Three remarkable Australian talents – composer Elena Kats-Chernin (AO), choreographer Meryl Tankard (AO) and visual artist Régis Lansac (OAM) – reunite for a thrilling deep-dive into the human experience of here and now in a new work produced and commissioned by FORM dance projects. A Sydney Festival world premiere production at Carriageworks, Kairos will encompass a vast lexicon of human experience and human movement: the dark and challenging; the ugly and beautiful; the humorous and joyful. We've been following the rehearsals as a long time Meryl Tankard fan on her instagram account. This is one to get very excited about.

6 to 8 January Sun & Sea

Transforming Sydney Town Hall, the award-winning Sun & Sea is far from your average day at the beach. A sell-out at the 2019 Venice Biennale where it was awarded the Golden Lion, this durational English-language opera work in-the-round –also in-the-sand – confronts themes of climate emergency with humour and power. Written and created by Lithuanian artists Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė, and Lina Lapelytė, Sun & Sea also enlists Sydney clubs, choirs and real sand to localise the performance to Sydney’s audiences and beaches. A bona fide hit of the international festival circuit, Sun & Sea arrives at Sydney Festival for its exclusive Australian presentation 6 to 8 January 2023.

28 January Latitudes

Traversing movement, music, and art, Latitudes is a series weaving the stories and voices of Western Sydney. Nine artistic commissions explore themes of distance, audibility, and perspective–drawing inspiration from the Powerhouse collection across three distinct films available free and on demand. Premiering at the historic Blouza Hall in Granville, an iconic former cinema and one of the many locations from the films, the program's launch event will also be broadcast live, bringing the artists, cast, and collaborators together for a night of film, live performances and music.

13 to 21 January Message Bank

Director and Writer Nick Atkins who brings Message Bank, his immersive digital theatre experience and the only of its kind in Sydney Festival 2023, to Parramatta Square and it's free.

Message Bank combines location-based media and binaural audio with a story of intrigue, paranoia, and mischief. For 45 minutes, audiences will be immersed into the story of Charlie, a recruit responsible for listening in on the secret lives of others. Reunions, breakups, and conspiracy theories sprinkled with truth – the audience must decide who is innocent, and who is there to disrupt the peace!

Technology meets theatre for this new piece of work, and it’s an epic way of engaging audiences who may not be traditional theatre goers.