Safe bet: SIX

Described as being like Six Beyonces, the leads in SIX reinvent the story if Henry VIII’s wives in a musical that grabbed great reviews from the Edinburgh Festival and Broadway. Sydney Opera House, January 4 – March 5

Challenge yourself: I’m a Phoenix, Bitch

British performer Bryony Kimmings turns the worst year of her life – losing her partner, her house, her mind and, nearly, her baby – into a high-octane one-woman musical. Sydney Opera House, January 14-17

Wildcard: Truthmachine

This sounds, frankly, terrifying. Would you take a lie detector in front of a live audience? Perhaps one to go to without your partner in tow. Carriageworks, January 11-24


Safe bet: Archie Roach

It feels a little unkind describing one of our greatest living artists as a “safe bet”. Roach is only safe in that you know he will deliver a compelling and supremely moving performance. City Recital Hall, January 24

Challenge yourself: Iron in the Blood

Jeremy Rose’s sublime work inspired by Robert Hughes’ Fatal Shore receives a very welcome second performance. The saxophonist/composer’s eclectic music is combined with narration from the book and brilliant projections. City Recital Hall, January 23

Wildcard: Orville Peck

Who was that masked man? Orville Peck, apparently – a mask-wearing Canadian crooner who gives “Classic American country music a fabulous queer theatricality”. What’s not to like? Spiegeltent, Hyde Park, January 10


Safe bet: At The Illusionist’s Table

With rave reviews from, among others, The New York Times, Mr Silven’s considerable reputation as an illusionist/mentalist precedes him. Grab a tickets for this dinner show before they disappear (see what I did there?) QT Sydney January 8 – 26

Josh Quong Tart, right, pictured with Sydney Festival director Wesley Enoch, is reimagining Betty Blokk-Buster.

Josh Quong Tart, right, pictured with Sydney Festival director Wesley Enoch, is reimagining Betty Blokk-Buster.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

Challenge yourself: Betty Blokk-Buster Reimagined

Betty Blokk-Buster was Reg Livermore’s revolutionary cabaret show from the mid-1970s. Here, Josh Quong Tart reimagines Betty for the 2020s. Spiegeltent, Hyde Park, January 7 – 26

Wildcard: Triple Threat

Maybe not one for your church-going favourite aunt, Triple Threat is Brit Lucy McCormick’s X-rated all-out assault on convention as she delivers her “trashstep-dubpunk” retelling of the New Testament. May include purple dildos. Carriageworks, January 15-19

Visual Art

Safe bet: Dodecalis Luminarium

One for the family, Dodecaris Luminarium is sure to be the most Insta-friendly show of the festival. Composed of massive, inflated fabric rooms and tunnels lit with radiant colour it will be in Darling Harbour’s. Tumbling Park for the duration of the festival. Tumbalong Park, January 8 – 26

Challenge yourself: Video Works

Indigenous artist Daniel Boyd will display his vast video installations on the walls at Carriageworks. There’s music, too. Prepare to feel pretty insignificant in the face of the endless cosmos. Carriageworks, January 8 – March 1

Wildcard: Three Views

A group of site-specific installations in a series of Hidden military chambers at Georges head, Mosman. Created by First Nations artists Blak Douglas, Karla Dickens and Jason Wing the works don’t shy away from the irony of the military purpose of the sites – to repel invaders. Georges Head, Mosman, January 15 – 26

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