Sydneysiders and visitors know Sydney Festival is the most wonderful summer festival in the world – a claim underpinned by the city's lustre and charisma, making it an ideal showcase for the world's great artists.
In its 36th year, Sydney Festival delighted audiences with more than 1,300 performers in 98 events in more than 30 venues across the city, hosting 11 world premieres and 14 Australian premieres. Claimed a huge success, the Festival attracted audiences of more than 600,000 people to its free and ticketed events.
Over the last five years, Sydney Festival has almost doubled in size, now operating on an AUD$20 million dollar annual budget, and boasting Australia's largest free outdoor program of concerts and events.
Each year, Sydney Festival opens with Australia's largest free outdoor cultural event, Festival First Night, welcoming more than 200,000 people into the city for eight hours of vibrant and exciting entertainment. Headlining Festival First Night 2012 was internationally-acclaimed music superstar Manu Chao, who had 60,000 people dancing to his unique blend of Latin reggae under perfect summer skies.
Sydney Festival 2012 featured works by artists including choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, legendary theatre director Declan Donnellan, the acclaimed National Theatre of Scotland, two-time Mercury Prize winner PJ Harvey and the versatile Mike Patton.
New works included Black Capital, a focus on contemporary Indigenous performance, with the large-scale theatre work, I Am Eora and the power of six divas in Walk A Mile in My Shoes as well as the extraordinary conceptual art of Brook Andrew's Travelling Colony.
A perennial favourite is the Festival Garden, a late night venue featuring cabaret, comedy and music, all presented in a 100-year-old Belgian Spiegeltent. In 2012, Sydney Festival held a Festival-within-the-Festival at Parramatta in the city's west, featuring free and ticketed events, as well as its own Festival Garden.