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Always a summer highlight, the epic Sydney Festival is back with an even bigger bang in 2014, presenting a plethora of new Australian works that will have both Sydneysiders and visitors eager to get in on the action.

The festival bonanza, held from 9 to 26 January, consists of 106 electrifying events held across 33 indoor and outdoor venues. And with 375 dance, music, theatre and opera shows – performed by an astounding 724 artists – there’s something for everyone.

The world premiere theatre performance of Black Diggers presents the touching, never-before-told stories of 1,000 Indigenous soldiers who fought in WWI, while The Shadow King is a poignant and thought-provoking Indigenous re-working of King Lear, performed through a mix of live rock music using both English and Kriol (an Indigenous Australian dialect).

Other noteworthy performances include the visually astounding opera Dido & Aeneas, where Berlin choreographer Sasha Waltz takes the audience into a phenomenal underwater realm for a unforgettable portion of the performance. Above ground, the fabulously funky Q Brothers will perform their hip hop-rap act Othello: The Remix.

Another interesting addition to the festival is the usage of The Great Synagogue, a majestic space where the instrumental Apollo Ensemble will perform Baroque chamber music that was originally composed for Jewish liturgical services. The historic building, located on Sydney’s central Elizabeth Street, has never before been used as a performance venue.

Spreading the Sydney Festival throughout the city, Kaldor Public Arts Projects, an Australian arts organisation that transforms spaces with emotive art, has taken its most recent project to Parramatta Town Hall in the western suburbs. For Project 28, Slovakian artist Roman Ondák will showcase three interactive and participatory art pieces.

Even further west, the suburb of Mount Druitt will turn into a thriving family entertainment precinct with the implementation of FUNPARK. Developed together with the local community, the impressive theatre-installation project will have everything from interactive arcade cinemas to hula-hooping marathons and rock opera performances.

The Sydney Festival 2014 is made up of both ticketed and free events. A complete event guide and tickets are available online.

Tatyana Leonov is the Sydney Localite for BBC Travel  

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