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Festival creates a village sideshow in Hyde Park

Ghost Train. Photo: Sarah Walker

The Meriton Festival Village returns to Hyde Park for Sydney Festival from 5–28 January 2018 comprising the Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, food and drink from the best in Sydney, plus the all new Village Sideshow, presented by China Southern Airlines.

Taking pride of place in the Village Sideshow is Ghost Train, a Sydney Festival commission and a virtual reality (VR) experience featuring cutting edge technology developed specially for the ride. Artists Jasmin Tarasin and Jonnine Standish have repurposed an original carnival ghost train into an existential VR voyage. The user wears a Samsung Gear VR headset and headphones, takes a seat in the Ghost Train, and rolls down a train track choosing their destiny along the way. The experience is soundtracked by the electronic producer Mika Vainio and Australian duo HTRK and is inspired by the experiences of asylum seekers trying to reach Australia by boat.

The world’s first Karaoke Carousel spices up Australia’s only double-decker merry-go-round with microphones and a playlist of the all-time greatest karaoke hits for Sydney’s party public. Australian artist Joseph O’Farrell (JOF) condenses a night of partying into ten minutes in his 10 Minute Dance Parties by JOF. For the experience one queues in front of a single shipping container and as bass vibrates through the walls, the doors fly open, haze and strobe lights shoot out and ten minutes of mad, sweaty shape-throwing ensue. Also, the private dance party in public, Glitterbox by zin is back for its second year. A song is chosen and the dancer enters a glowing, glitter-filled rave cube for the duration of the track.

Lucas Abela and the Temple of Din is a hybrid pinball arcade where the aim is to create sound, not score points. Artist Lucas Abela constructed hybrid pinball machines from musical instruments – firing the balls with flippers to send them bouncing off guitar strings, piano strings, sample pads and more, making a glorious cacophony.

Artist duo Jesse Stevens and Dean Petersen, aka Cake Industries, bring two creations to rove across the Festival site. The socially awkward Party Bot, a genuine 1970s party robot, and the wondrous travelling ‘cabinet of curiosities’ Crate Expectations. Their third creation, Heart of Luna is the physical embodiment of an amusement park distilled into a penny arcade machine, lying in wait for Festival-goers to discover. Created by Toby and Pete, the art team behind electronic musician Flume’s Infinity Prism, Continuum is an inventive take on an infinity tunnel. Visitors step inside a shipping container and enter a seemingly endless void of flashing lights. Music is provided by Future Classic’s renowned stable of artists.

Performer Richard Chambers features in Madame Tulalah’s Magnificent Box – a ‘robot fortune teller’ who is part automaton, part drag queen to divine the future. Sydney Dance Company’s (SDC) innovative VR experience Stuck in the Middle With You places the audience onstage in the middle of a performance by SDC. And finally, the Village Pools are shipping containers that have been converted into professional pools offering the chance to cool off in the centre of the city, in between inspired artistic experiences and Spiegeltent performances.

The iconic Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent is back to host a selection of raunchy cabaret, hilarious comedy and intimate live music shows. The risqué boys of Briefs: Close Encounters are joined by the smash-hit Irish cabaret RIOT. Music from counter cultural icon Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, dark-folk star Aldous Harding, Mali’s Bassekou Kouyaté, soul sensation Emma Donovan and Argentinian trio Fémina. Comedy from LORDS OF STRUT, mime Trygve Wakenshaw and cabaret queen Lady Rizo.

The bar features drinks from 4 Pines Beer, Tyrell’s Wines and Four Pillars Gin, and food trucks and stands adorn the lawns from some of Sydney’s favourite feast providers.

Food vendors include:

  • Gelato Messina takes on the classic milk bar ice creams that many Australians remember as a staple of their youth. The range includes decadent Messina variations of a Golden Gaytime, a Splice, a Weis Bar (the Wessina), the Maxibon, Milo Cup and more.
  • The crew behind Porteño and Bodega are serving up South American street food at Bodega Cantina.
  • Sydney’s favourite rock’n’roll burger-slingers, Mary’s, are back again in 2017 to serve up their mouth-watering beef and mushroom burgers and fried chicken.
  • Alpha Restaurant are serving top shelf Greek fare with a modern twist, such as lamb, black olive and feta buns, spanakopita and baklava ice cream sandwiches.
  • Italian experts Happy As Larry are dishing up pizzas and pastas, dessert calzone and cannoli, and sides like beef and pork ragu loaded fries, zucchini flowers and deep fried lasagna.
  • The El Capo Food Truck brings South American fusion cuisine, including empanadas, arepas, churrasco steak sandwiches, and vegan and vegetarian options.
  • And the essential caffeine fix is on hand from the bike-driven coffee stand Brudo’s Coffee.

Source: Sydney Festival

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