Mopoke First 24 hours Event Sydney

Rebecca Varidel
27th Jan 2023

Mopoke is the name of the smallest and most common owl in Australia. Owls are often seen as a symbol of a curious person, seeking the mysteries of life and having the ability to see in the dark, see the unknown.

In 2021, the NSW Government-commissioned a precinct review of Macquarie Street East, led by former Prime Minister Paul Keating and former Greater Sydney Commission Chief Commissioner, Lucy Turnbull. The Review found that the precinct, which stretches from The State Library of NSW to the Registrar General’s Building, has unrealized potential. The Review made recommendations for the heritage buildings and spaces to transform the Macquarie Street East precinct into a vibrant civic, cultural and arts precinct in the heart of Sydney.

Fast forward less than two years to NOW and here you have it!

MOPOKE is a 24-hr arts and culture festival kicking off at dusk and promising to take you on an artistic journey through night & day.

The free festival will launch at 6pm on Saturday 4 February and will run all through the night and until 6pm on Sunday 5 February 2023. From music to live arts, drawings to paintings, storytelling to poetry, native gardens to gastronomy, and art market to philosophy debates; the programming is not only eclectic but unprecedented and unique.


The iconic Macquarie Street will become pedestrian from the Hyde Park Barracks to the State library of NSW. The street will be transformed into an artist playground with live theatre, live music, street art and a giant glow in the dark Playdough Garden where you can express your creativity, play with shapes and create art.

All through Macquarie, 10 food trucks will showcase the diversity and the quality of Sydney’s best street food. From Mexican to Vietnamese, Italian to Spanish, food trucks will create one unique glow in the dark food offering. Expect extraordinary food creations, wine, bubble bars & Espresso martinis to refuel all through the night and day.

Macquarie street will connect each one of the unique experiences whitin the cultural institutions and public spaces from the Hyde Park Barracks to the State Library as well as the Mint, the Domain and the Sydney Eye Hospital. Follow the black light path to unique indoor and outdoor activities.


The large gates of the Hyde Park Barracks will remain open throughout the night. Bordering the gate, the windows of the old booths will open, welcoming and guiding our curious visitors. Play with art all night and day.  Walk your way through the art & design market of the Hyde Park Barracks. 20 Pop-up artist studios will invite you to shop, take part in activities and showcase the 'savoir-faire' of Sydney’s best creators. Meet the artists, take part in intimate workshops, shop, learn & craft. From Tattoo artists to pottery makers, hair stylists to painters, sculptors and more. This space is dedicated to sharing, learning and shopping.


For the first time, The Mint will be transformed into a native garden, showcasing local plants and flowers as they were on the Gadigal land. Expect to be taken on a journey with stories & legends relating to Australia’s native plants. This enchanting night and day flower market will exhibit native blooms from NSW. Did you know that flowers can be photo-luminescent? The Mint and its surroundings will be glowing in the dark. Under the black light, flower sculptures and displays will unveil their mysteries and beauty. At night, the garden will glow in the dark under the blacklight while classical music concerts will enchant the night owls, creating a spectacular and entirely free experience for all.


To enhance the beautiful architecture, Shakespeare’s theatre will be unfolding from the square using no other form of sound amplification than voices. The fountain will be flowing again and glowing in the dark, the building will be enhanced with purple black lights to highlight some of the unique aspects of the architecture. In this setting, the courtyard will be transformed into an Artist Plaza until late at night where artists will be drawing, magicians will be performing tricks and where street theatre performances will engage with our night owls or our daytime visitors. 


Where fire arts meet live piano. Picture this... Walking along from Sydney Hospital, you can see two giant white structures glowing in the night. In between, a white piano is shining through the night. Welcome to Fire in the Domain. Once inside, the garden is a playground of fire artists, twirling the flames to the sound of the piano. Sometimes, a cello or a saxophone may join the party. In the garden large rugs & lounger pillows provide a space to chill and enjoy the performers. Meanwhile, in the background, flaming cooking stations are serving up “flambé” desserts and a bar is creating smoky drinks that will warm up the night in the garden. 


Party and chill. Between the new and old State Library of NSW buildings, enter the black light tunnel and explore Hunter Lane. In this modern triangle, the glass pyramid will glow, the DJ booth will pop under the black lights and if you want to join the dancing, grab a headset and immerse yourself. It’s party time.

Along Macquarie Street, next to the original heritage building, you will find a bar, jazz musicians and an interactive art installation. Chill under the trees, enjoy a drink and listen to some jazz. At night, the State Library of NSW will be illuminated in purple and will create a unique back drop contrasting with the glowing art installation.

Inside the Library, Mitchell’s reading room will stay open late on Saturday to reveal its beauty to the silent curious. Discover Sydney’s best kept secret rooftop bar – The newly renovated Library Bar. Astronomy panel, spoken word poetry and readings under the moonlight, cocktails and finger food. Just like the Mopoke, enjoy the panoramic views from above.