Hyde Park will be transformed into a hub of food, drinks and quirky carnival-style entertainment when Sydney Festival’s Village takes over a corner from January 5 to 28.
“It will be a relaxed summer playground for those who love their art in the outdoors,” says the festival’s major outdoor events producer Vernon Guest.
The city park has been the chosen destination for the festival’s outdoor program for a number of years, but Guest says the layout for 2018 program has been reimagined. This year they have introduced the Village Sideshow, a space filled with wild, wonderful and bizarre attractions, including Ghost Train.
Commissioned for the festival, it will see punters take a seat in a repurposed original carnival ghost train, don a VR headset and headphones and go on a journey. The jaunt will be sound-tracked by electronic producer Mika Vainio and Australian duo HTRK and is inspired by the experiences of asylum seekers trying to reach Australia by boat.
It’s likely to be rowdy at Karaoke Carousel, Australia’s only double-decker merry-go-round with microphones and a playlist belting out karaoke hits.
For 10 sweaty minutes, Sydneysiders will be able to dance like people are watching with 10 Minute Dance Parties by JOF. JOF is Australian artist Joseph O’Farrell, and he will turn on the party in a shipping container, complete with thumping music and strobe lights.
Likewise at Glitterbox. Those game can choose a song and then enter a glowing, glitter-filled rave cube for the duration of the track for a short-lived private dance off.
“This was so successful last year we have extended the opening hours and developed a new ‘sneak peek’ cover so Glitterbox can now operate before sunset,” says Guest. “Once the sun goes down, the covers come off and you can cut shapes for all the world to see.”
There will be roving performers, including the socially awkward Party Bot, an authentic 1970s party robot, and an inventive take on the infinity tunnel. Created by Toby and Pete, the art team behind electronic musician Flume’s Infinity Prism album, Continuum will have visitors stepping inside a shipping container to enter a seemingly endless void of flashing lights, with music by Future Classic’s stable of artists.
As in previous years, the Village will host the regal Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent where a selection of raunchy cabaret, comedy and intimate live music shows will take place. There’s music from counter-cultural icon Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, the risqué boys of Briefs, comedy from Lords of Strut and the smash-hit Irish cabaret Riot.
The bar will be serving some local favourites including 4 Pines Beer and Four Pillars Gin, and there will be food trucks and stands selling Mary’s burgers; South American street food by the crew behind Porteño and Bodega; and Greek fare by Alpha Restaurant.
Meriton Festival Village happens at Hyde Park North January 5 to 28, 4.30pm until late (closed Mondays). Entry to the village is free but some shows are ticketed.