Ah, Sydney in summer. The pavements are blistering, the beaches are pumping and the yachts are out in full force. It's also the time that the Sydney Festival takes over the city, and new director Lieven Bertels assures us the 2015 line-up is one to look forward to. "The festival is going to be one of the most diverse Sydney has ever seen," he says. "We've got over a thousand artists coming from 30 countries, with a very diverse offering including some amazing free projects."
The program, which runs from January 8 to 26, is jam-packed with events spanning musical performances, cabaret shows and installations. But what's in it for the food-lovers? Bertels suggests The Kitchen - a tasty theatrical-musical hybrid from Indian artist Roysten Abel. "During the show there will be amazing drumming," he says, "but at the same time there will be two people that will be cooking a temple sweet involving cardamom, milk and butter… and then at the end of the show the audience actually gets to sample that sweet."
The festival has also collaborated with a number of leading Sydney restaurants to do special Fast Festival Feasts deals over the season at the likes of the hot new Chiswick at the Gallery, Balla, Gowings Bar & Grill, La Rosa, Aria, Red Lantern on Riley, Sokyo or a score of others. And there'll be plenty of opportunities for booze-fuelled fun, too, courtesy of the bar at the Festival Village. "Laurent-Perrier is our exclusive Champagne partner," Bertels says. "Certainly an important aspect of going out and seeing a cabaret or a theatre show or a concert is also to be able to have a nice bite and a good drink."
Here director Bertels shares his pick of the festival's hottest events.
The event Atomic Bomb
What it's all about "It's the music of an African hero of funk music in the '70s and '80s called William Onyeabor. Onyeabor is something of a forgotten figure, but David Byrne rediscovered him and re-released all of his music on his own label in New York. That triggered a live concert which they staged in New York with David Byrne himself singing, and then transferred to London where Damon Albarn from the Gorillaz presented the project. We got Gotye to agree to do it here in Sydney and that's going to be an Australian exclusive."
Catch it at Enmore Theatre, 16 and 17 January
How much Tickets start at $77
The event Tabac Rouge
What it's all about "I'm very excited on the return of James Thierrée, Charlie Chaplin's grandson, who's coming back for the fourth time to Sydney with a new show [his biggest to date] called Tabac Rouge. Tabac Rouge is the French expression for an opium dream. It's a kind of wild hallucination of some of kind of mad king. You don't quite know whether he's in a dream or whether it's happening for real, but he obviously has some weird idea of what his role in society is and it's a big, big spectacle with a giant contraption on stage - a mirror that sort of becomes the 11th character in the show."
Catch it at Sydney Theatre, Walsh Bay, 8-23 January
How much Tickets start at $72
The event Festival Village
What it's all about "The Festival Village is going to be the real meeting place of the festival - a central hub in Hyde Park where you can grab some food, see a show, have your kids run around if you have a family, and where you can see some amazing work including the return of Limbo, the Spiegeltent show that we had last year."
Catch it at Hyde Park, Sydney
How much Free
The Sydney Festival takes place on 8-26 January. Check out the Sydney Festival website for more details.