Sydney Festival 2018 is in full swing and I’m pleased to say there are lots of wheelchair accessible events which are free. If the budget allows, there’s also a long list of wonderful shows to see at various locations around the city. We’ve been checking out a few and today I’m sharing Sydney Festival 2018’s free and wheelchair accessible events.
KATHARINA GROSSE: THE HORSE TROTTED ANOTHER COUPLE OF METRES, THEN IT STOPPED
Have you ever wanted to truly immerse yourself into a piece of art? Well, you can at Carriageworks until 8 April.
Renowned German artist Katharina Grosse has been commissioned to create a monumental, site-specific installation to suit the unique industrial architecture of Carriageworks.
Grosse is celebrated internationally for her works of immense scale and kaleidoscopic colour which create sublime and otherworldly environments. Painting directly onto existing architecture, interiors and landscapes, she incorporates reams of fabric, mounds of earth and slabs of concrete.
It surprised me to see how much BJ enjoyed this experience. He seemed to love the idea of finding a slit in the canvas to wheel on through to the more than 8000 square metres of suspended fabric. It’s draped, knotted and hung through the architectural elements of the building. Younger kids seemed to delight in playing hide and seek in the draped fabric.
As a friend said to me, it’s a good place to go on the way to another Sydney Festival event as it doesn’t take long to explore.
Accessible stand-alone unisex bathrooms are available at the venue.
A café is onsite and three disabled parking spaces are available if you take the Carriageworks Way entry.
You can read more about this event on the Sydney Festival website.
If you visit on a Saturday you’ll also be able to visit the Eveleigh Farmer’s Market which has an amazing range of food available to purchase to prepare at home or you can eat from one of the food vendors.
Last night we headed to Prince Alfred Park in Parramatta to watch the show Highly Sprung. The atmosphere at Circus City was fantastic with a range of street performers, music and lots of families soaking up the Sydney Festival.
BJ thoroughly enjoyed watching the high energy performers who use a mix of theatre, dance and amazing trampoline skills to entertain the audience.
Pathways and matting link most of the areas in Circus City but the viewing area for Highly Sprung is grass. It was a little tough going with the wheelchair. We arrived a little later than intended so I worked my way around to a good spot for BJ to be able to have an unobstructed view. The majority of people remained seated for the event so it was easy viewing. For someone as easily distracted as BJ it would be better to be close to the stage.
Prince Alfred Park has stand-alone unisex accessible portable toilets.
Street parking is available with many accessible spaces in the surrounding streets. I suggest arriving early if you need an accessible space.
You can read all about the event on the Sydney Festival website here.
Dates for Highly Sprung –
12, 13, 19 & 20 JANUARY AT 3.30PM & 6.30PM
14 & 21 JANUARY AT 2PM & 5.30PM
16 JANUARY AT 6.30PM
17 JANUARY AT 5PM
18 JANUARY AT 6PM
BJ went to Jurassic Plastic with a support worker but this week we returned to see it with AJ. This is such a clever and interactive event. You can read my full review of it here.
Jurassic Plastic has a dedicated quiet zone if anyone needs some time out from the stimulating environment. There’s also a stand-alone unisex accessible bathroom.
FOUR THOUSAND FISH
When Four Thousand Fish was originally described to me I wasn’t sure if BJ would enjoy it but he did.
Located at Barangaroo Reserve this is a tricky one access-wise so make sure you check the Sydney Festival website for tidal times
In 1790 British colonists hauled in an excessive four thousand fish in one day, disrupting the delicate ecosystem that the accomplished Aboriginal fisherwomen of Warrane (Sydney Harbour) had preserved for millennia, and undermining the women’s status as the main food providers for family and community.
The large scale art installation to celebrate fisherwoman Barangaroo, the influential and resilient Cammeraygal woman after whom the place is named. On 10 special days across the Festival, Four Thousand Fish invites visitors to visit Nawi Cove to create your own frozen fish using sea water and a cast mould.
Ramp access to the water’s edge is affected by the tides so it is best to visit on one of the days with a higher tidal level so the ramp isn’t as steep.
BJ found it quite tricky to get the water with the bucket and having his wheelchair near the fence opening gave me the heebie-jeebies so I would suggest making sure wheelchair brakes are on and children are closely supervised at all times. Sydney Festival staff are on hand to assist and we’ve always found them to be wonderful.
Across each weekend of the Festival, visitors can symbolically help to return the ice sculptures to an artist’s modern interpretation of a traditional nawi (bark canoe) with a fire lit inside, where the heat and the setting sun will slowly melt and return the frozen fish to the Harbour.
The nawi fire installation without the ice fish sculptures can be seen every day during the Festival between 7pm-10pm. However, to make the most of this experience and take part in the returning of the fish, you’ll need to schedule your visit to coincide with sunset on a Saturday or Sunday or 26 of January.
You can read more about this installation on the Sydney Festival website here.
HAVE A SWIM AT THE SYDNEY FESTIVAL VILLAGE
Dance like no-one’s watching but be warned, they are!
Glitterbox is a one-of-a-kind party experience in the Meriton Festival Village in Hyde Park in Sydney. BJ and AJ hopped into the box to test out the access and you can actually fit two wheelchairs into the Glitterbox. You pick your favourite song and put your dance moves to the test in the glitter-filled cube. Just be warned the public on the other side of the one-way-mirrors can see it all.
Glitter is still coming out of BJ’s chair!
Ramp access is provided.
Meriton Festival Village has stand-alone unisex accessible bathrooms.
You can find out more about Glitterbox on the Sydney Festival website here.
The free events above are just a small sampling of what’s on offer this year. Check out the full Sydney Festival guide here.
ACCESS & INCLUSION
As with previous Sydney Festivals, Australian Companion Card is accepted and the Festival offers a variety of access services including Auslan interpreted performances, tactile tours, quiet areas, sensory friendly/relaxed performances and more. The full guide to access and inclusion at the Sydney Festival can be found here.
I feel incredibly proud to live in Sydney and to see the access and inclusion of the Sydney Festival. They do a fabulous job.
These last two activities are not free but I like them so much I feel they are worth a mention.
What could be more fun than riding a carousel and singing karaoke? I guess it depends on who is singing but I think this is a fun addition to the festival. It’s $5 to take a spin and belt out a tune like Let it Go from Frozen or Bohemian Rhapsody.
You do need to be able to transfer to a seat on the carousel.
For dates, times and themed evenings check out the Sydney Festival website.
I’m not a fan of scary stuff so I didn’t take a seat on the Ghost Train but I wanted to share this with you because I’m so impressed the operators of this ride have managed to modify this 1970’s ride to make it wheelchair accessible.
A lift takes wheelchair users from ground level to the ride.
Once on the platform there is one carriage which has ramp access so wheelchair users may remain in their own chair.
The ride takes you on a trip through the inner workings of your mind on a VR-enhanced ghost train that looks nothing like the fright rides of the past. Nostalgia meets modernity on a remodelled fairground ride by musician Jonnine Standish (HTRK) and filmmaker Jasmin Tarasin, with a multi-sensory journey that ultimately invites you to choose your own destiny. Will it be purgatory or bliss?
Tickets are $10 for those game enough to give the ride a go.
You can read more about this on the Sydney Festival website here.
So that’s my round-up so far. We hope to get around to a few more events while the festival is running. We’d love to hear your experiences if you go.