Festival of arts and culture kicks off in Newcastle

22 Sep 2022

A mesmerising mass dance performance at Civic Theatre will provide a spectacular start to City of Newcastle's flagship cultural festival when New Annual officially kicks off today.

Promising 10 days of unforgettable performances across the city centre from 23 September until 2 October, New Annual will allow locals and visitors to discover a different side of Newcastle through an immersive program of dance, music, theatre, visual arts and Indigenous workshops.

As part of the New Annual festival, City of Newcastle has also brought the multi-sensory experience of Van Gogh Alive to Newcastle's premier major events space, Foreshore Park. As a major installation, Van Gogh Alive will extend beyond the New Annual festival, running to 23 October 2022.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said she was thrilled to see 12 months of preparation come to fruition today ahead of a packed schedule of events.

"Months of planning and hard work have culminated in a dynamic event that has broad appeal, attracting new audiences to the wealth of talent that exists within our thriving arts and cultural scene while also providing a platform for national artists to showcase their work in the city," Cr Nelmes said.

"There is so much to see and do throughout the city during the 10-day festival period, including a busy program at the purpose-built Civic Park Stage, which acts as the festival hub for the duration of the event and will showcase everything from art-making workshops and dance performances to the National Young Writers Festival and Future Innovators Summit.

"The Civic Theatre will also play host to a myriad of shows throughout the festival, including the incredible spectacle of COLOSSUS, which makes its Newcastle debut tonight and features a cast of 50 dancers performing as one in a hypnotic display created by internationally renowned Australian choreographer Stephanie Lake.

"As with our inaugural New Annual, this year's festival has a strong First Nations program that reflects our rich Indigenous heritage, with the Pavilion of Sand installation providing a base for indigenous cultural expression in Wheeler Place while the landmark musical showcase This Land celebrates the sound, soul, and spirit of the many nations in this country through an incredible line-up of First Nations artists curated by Jacob Ridgeway.

"With its mix of free, ticketed and family-friendly events, New Annual will allow everyone to experience the fun, festival atmosphere of our flagship event and I can’t wait to see everything it has in store for us."

With the Civic precinct at its heart, New Annual will extend across the city to bring a diverse range of locations to life, including iconic sites such as Fort Scratchley, Civic Theatre and The Station, which will become temporary film sets as part of RADIAL, a collaboration between Civic Theatre, Tantrum Youth Arts’ Accelerate Ensemble and the internationally acclaimed Back to Back Theatre.

New Annual will also provide plenty of opportunities for the community to get involved in the action, including workshops by family-friendly favourites Curious Legends that invite festival-goers of all ages to help create a large-scale giant illuminated puppet, culminating in a community celebration on the last day of the festival.

Cr Nelmes said New Annual would provide an important economic boost across the arts, hospitality, and tourism sectors, while also celebrating and showcasing our creative city and was made possible with the support of presenting partners University of Newcastle and Hunter and Central Coast Development Corporation, major partner Newcastle Airport and supporting partners Crystalbrook Kingsley, Foghorn Brewery, Equip Multimedia, Holiday Inn Express & Suites Newcastle and Newcastle Transport.

To check out the full New Annual program, purchase tickets or keep up-to-date with the latest information including wet weather cancellations, visit www.newannual.com