High flying start as festival of art and culture swings into action in Newcastle 

22 Sep 2023

A captivating contemporary circus performance inside the iconic Christ Church Cathedral 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 experiences across the city centre, New Annual will deliver a diverse program of dance, circus, visual art, music, and theatre by local and nationally renowned artists.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said locals and visitors should expect the unexpected as New Annual transforms Newcastle into a hub of arts and culture from 22 September until 1 October.

"New Annual will surprise and delight audiences as it uncovers a new side of Newcastle and its creative community while also providing a platform for national artists to showcase their work in the city," Cr Nelmes said.

"Festivalgoers will discover new performance spaces this year, while familiar landscapes such as Civic Park and Museum Park will be transformed by large-scale installations and pop-up stages.

"There is so much to see and do throughout the city during the 10-day festival period, with free, ticketed and family-friendly events allowing everyone to experience the festival atmosphere of our flagship event."

World-renowned Circa Contemporary Circus will get New Annual off to a flying start tonight and Saturday night with awe-inspiring feats of physical daring.

"It’s a great pleasure to be performing Circa’s What Will Have Been as part of New Annual," Circa's Associate Director Ben Knapton said.

"It’s particularly special to be able to perform in the stunning surrounds of the Christ Church Cathedral – no doubt this location will create a very special event for audiences.”

Spectacular aerial manoeuvres will also be a feature of the decadent cabaret-style show taking over Civic Park throughout New Annual as the Spiegeltent returns with Blanc de Blanc Encore, while Newcastle's Catapult Dance Choreographic Hub will transform the fifth floor of a car park into a performance space with radical new dance work, Rhapsody. Both shows have their opening performances tonight.

The festival will also feature a striking exhibition by internationally renowned South Sudanese photographer Atong Atem, which will be activated by a series of fashion, music, discussion, and storytelling events to celebrate African culture including a late-night dance party CLUB SURAT, which will be held at Newcastle City Hall tonight.

Newcastle's Civic Theatre will host a dynamic range of performances and events throughout New Annual, with award-winning pop icon Kate Ceberano taking to the iconic stage tonight accompanied by the George Ellis Orchestra, while the moving production of Good Mourning by Tantrum Youth Arts will be at the Civic Playhouse today and tomorrow.

Popular folk rock five-piece Boy and Bear will also bring their national album tour to the Civic Theatre on Thursday, while the untold inside story of Newcastle rock royalty Silverchair will be shared with the official launch of the memoir Love & Pain by drummer Ben Gillies and bassist Chris Joanou on 30 September.

Other opening weekend highlights will include Ngiarrenumba Burrai (Our Country), which will see Museum Park play host to a program of First Nations dance, workshops and performance that centres Awabakal cultural practice, people and stories.

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