Since 2001, Art and About has invigorated Sydney spaces with events and live public-art activations. For the first time the festival has expanded, not limiting its program to one month, but extending it to a full year of events into 2016. Here are the events you shouldn’t miss.

PLAY

Surry Hills Festival
Surry Hills Festival means spring is here. This year’s theme is Stories, Love and Tales. In typical inner-city fashion, there will be laneway and pop-up spaces filled with art installations, interactive activities and performances. Live-music stages will be spread across Ward Park and Shannon Reserve with headliners including Noire, The Stiffys, Sons of East and more. There’s a fancy-dress dog show, a themed picnic and all donations from the day go towards programs run by the Surry Hills Neighbourhood Centre.

Game On
Think pinball machines, ping-pong and foosball. Central Park and aMBUSH Gallery have united to bring ‘80s arcade culture to the inner city, complete with a cinema room, outdoor gaming throughout the precinct and the opportunity to BYO vinyl to play. The interior of the space will be decked out by a group of Australian street and graffiti artists.

AT NIGHT

BEAMS Arts Festival
It’s BEAMS Arts Festival’s fourth birthday and once again it will liven up the laneways of Chippendale with visuals, performance and installation. This year the multi-disciplinary arts festival presents a curated line-up of sculpture, light, live dance and theatre, video works, hands-on art-making workshops and more. Local chefs and eateries will provide food. The one-night festival will this year extend into the Chippendale Green in Central Park and Kensington Street for the first time.

More Human Than Human: Blade Runner
Goulburn Street car park will transform into a dystopian landscape for this one-night event curated by Golden Age Cinema & Bar on February 20. Inspired by Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic Blade Runner, More Human Than Human will have audiences navigating a futuristic terrain brought to life with film, music, art and food. The Blade Runner bar will be serving Chinese liquor Moutai cocktails and the Longrain Noodle Bar will be serving dumplings. This is site-specific cinema at its best, the night concluding with a rooftop screening of the recently remastered Blade Runner.

INSTALLATIONS

Near Kin Kin
Towering at 21 metres high, Near Kin Kin will spring up in the forecourt of Customs House Square this September. The bamboo enclosure harkens back to a time when woodlands covered Sydney, when there were no high-rise buildings and no streets. Inspired by and constructed from the bamboo stands found near a farm outside of Kin Kin, Queensland, Near Kin Kin is a public sculpture project by Sydney-based design collective, Cave Urban.

The Blue Trees
If trees were blue would we think twice before cutting them down? This is the question raised by Melbourne-based artist Konstantin Dimopoulos and The Blue Trees (2015). Altered using a biologically safe, water-based colourant, the living trees of Dimopoulos’ installation force the audience to notice forests before they are gone forever. Trees have been transformed in London and throughout the United States, and for seven days in March 2016, Dimopoulos will colour the trees in Pirrama Park, Pyrmont a shade of blue.

STREET ART

Project 5 Volume 7
Project Five is Australia’s longest-running public street-art event, and it returns for its seventh year this September. On the line-up is Adelaide-based letterform artist, Vans The Omega; Lismore-born muralist, Fintan Magee; typography artist, Gemma O’Brien; and Apeseven, a street artist renowned for his illustration-based and freehand-aerosol aesthetic. Taking the anonymity out of the practice, this year’s program will showcase three public live art and music events, an outdoor exhibition and two weeks of Kids Urban Art Workshops. As always, it will culminate with a public charity auction of the artist’s works.

Scratching The Surface by Vhils
Chisels, acids, explosives and bleach – these are the tools used by Portuguese artist Vhils in his practice. Renowned worldwide for his one-of-a-kind work, Vhils works into the walls carving his realist portraits into the existing architecture. Scratching The Surface marks Vhils’ return to Sydney and an opportunity for the public to see him carve a new work in a yet-to-be revealed location.