A festival of firsts in Sydney
This month, Sydney’s streets and arts spaces will come alive in a one-of-a-kind festival that celebrates the diversity and strength of Australia’s Aboriginal society, complete with dancing, singing, music and storytelling, as well as parades and workshops.
Held from 14 to 24 November across various city locations, Corroboree Sydney is also the product of nine of the city’s major arts and cultural institutions – including the Art Gallery of NSW, State Library and Sydney Opera House – coming together for the first time in a fusion of culture, history and art.
Not to miss is the festival’s official opening event, Gurung Parade (gurung means “child” in the Gadigal Aboriginal language). From Sydney’s iconic Hyde Park, the city’s primary school students will walk along Macquarie Street carrying hand-made native Australian waratah flowers to acknowledge and celebrate local Eora culture (meaning “the people” or “from this place”). This will be followed by a free concert and picnic on Government House Grounds – the very place where Europeans witnessed the first corroboree (an Aboriginal word used to define ceremonial dance and theatrical performances) more than two centuries ago.
Another exciting highlight is the Elder’s circle morning teas. Aboriginal culture is based on respect, and Aboriginal Elders are seen as the spiritual leaders of their Indigenous communities. The teas, held at various times and locations throughout the festival, offer attendees the opportunity to personally chat with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders in an intimate environment.
Not for the faint-hearted, a modern interpretation of a corroboree will be held in Walsh Bay on 22 November with the adults-only The Bitch is Black. The contemporary drag show features top Indigenous drag queens, musicians and award-winning filmmakers in an eclectic, theatrical performance.
The full programme of traditional and contemporary events is available online.
Tatyana Leonov is the Sydney Localite for BBC Travel