Sydney Fringe Festival

Sydney Fringe Festival

Arts and spectacle transform Sydney into a parallel universe in Australia's biggest spring party:

The Sydney Fringe Festival

The Fringe is the city's independent festival for the visual and performing arts and it is also the largest alternative visual and performing arts and culture event in NSW. The festival showcases a myriad of disciplines such as arts, film, digital arts, comedy, music, theatre, musical theatre, circus/physical theatre, dance, cabaret, books, kids and family shows, poetry and special events.

The three-week festival challenges the eye of the visitor to take the risk and escape to a world of discovery and adventure, of beauty and oddness, in the form music, comedy, theatre, cabaret, visual arts and burlesque. The festival's disciplines also dance, music, sports, games, film, digital arts, books, poetry, kids and family shows and special events.

As they venture into that fascinating world of the arts, people can also satisfy their palates with food and drinks offered at restaurants and bars located at the venue.

Even though there was a previous Sydney Fringe Festival from 1994 to 2002 in Bondi, the present one follows the festival that commenced in September 2010 in the inner west of Sydney and was conceived as an open-access festival that gives everyone the opportunity to participate.

The Sydney Fringe takes place in multiple locations all over Sydney which include Leichhardt, Parramatta, Oxford Street and the City. Fringe Central –the largest one- covers the Inner West, Inner East and CBD and includes the Newtown/Marrickville/Enmore area, which enjoys the highest concentration of independent theatres and live performances spaces in Sydney and the largest artist population in Australia. Fringe Local takes in all other parts of the city.

The Fringe offers a large number of events. In 2012, 250 events across more than 70 venues took place. There is large number of events that are free, but for the ones that are priced, tickets are usually under AUS$30 and an additional $2.20 booking fee is applied per ticket. These are available to all shows on the official website or by phoning their box office on 9020 6980. If you want to attend, online registration for 2013 will begin in March.

Leap into Dark Shadows

Leap into Dark Shadows

A transoceanic leap into Dark Shadows

Pretty Aussie faces keep flooding Hollywood's screens. Famous directors seem to find Down Under the ideal talent for their particular characters.

A recent discovery may have changed an Australian actress' career forever. The surprise came when legendary director Tim Burton offered newcomer Bella Heathcote a role in his latest film Dark Shadows.

The macabre comedy -an adaptation of popular American soap opera from the 70s- tells the story of the Collins family, whose lives are permanently, altered once their dead relative, Barnabas Collins –a vampire- comes into their lives. After all, every family has its demons.

My name is Barnabas Collins. Two centuries ago, I made Collinwood my home… until a jealous witch cursed me, condemning me to the shadows, for all time, the voice in off starts the movie.

Tim Burton carefully chose the cast to interpret each peculiar, odd character that were really Dark Shadows' material, at the time he tried to find actors who would have a strong chemistry on set, as they are related in the story. Mythical stars in Tim Burton's films such as Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter –Burton's wife- feature in this film. Depp plays the main character, Barnabas Collins, while Helena Bonham Carter plays a secondary humorous role: the alcoholic psychiatrist.

We've done about 15,000 films together, Helena and I, said Johnny Depp. I don't how many times I've killed Helena on films. Tim constantly has me killing his wife in his movies… I wonder what that means.

To play the head of the family, Burton chose Michelle Pfeiffer, whom he worked with in Batman Returns. Catwoman was one of my favourite performances of anybody I've worked with, Burton said.

With this stellar cast, Bella Heathcote's career promises to be outer space, and following Burton's casting, she will most probably appear in his next movies. In Dark Shadows, the 24-yeard old plays two characters: Victoria Winters –the ghostly governess- and Josette Du Press –Barnabas' lost love. Bella looks like a person who has been reincarnated, Tim Burton explained his choice. That is why she was just the right person for Victoria.

Talking about the challenge of interpreting two characters in the same film, Bella explained: I've been fortunate enough that I haven't shot Josette and Vicky on the same day. But it's kind of great, because the look is so different. It makes it a lot easier to play the two separate characters.

He's coming… He's coming… the ghostly figure of Josette alerts Victoria and the plot begins. Bella's characters develop a romantic attachment with Barnabas –Depp- in different centuries. Depp promised Josette they would spend eternity together, but little did he know that his jilted lover was a witch and would compel Josette to jump off a cliff. Josette reincarnates in Victoria and the love story begins once again.

Isabella Bella Heathcote was born in Melbourne and is best known for playing Amanda Fowler on the Australian soap opera Neighbours. She began her career in 2008 and in 2010 was a recipient of a Heath Ledger Scholarship.

Santa Claus to run through Sydney

Santa Claus to run through Sydney

Santa Claus to run through Sydney in City2Surf

New year, new race… or at least that is the philosophy for many of those who are taking part in the 43rd year of City2Surf. It's not a surfing event like its name hints, but a running race… on the beach- which sparks some Baywatch flashbacks.

In the heart of the cosmopolitan city of Sydney, the emotion is starting to build up in anticipation of City2Surf. The long-distance running event -that takes place this year on August 11th- will make contestants run, run and run for 14 kilometres from Sydney CBC to Bondi Beach.

Even though Sun-Herald City2Surf presented by Westpac falls short from being a marathon - with an official distance of 42.195 Km-, it is the largest timed running race in the world. With 85,000 registered participants in 2012, City2Surf has more competitors than the London and New York Marathons combined.

In consonance with the city's vibrant yet bohemian lifestyle, contenders mix their competitive spirit with their sense of humour. Thus, it is not rare to spot Santa Claus and Michael Jackson running around Sydney. No, Australians don't celebrate Christmas on August nor do they have a Dragon ball or a time machine; it's just that to add some fun to the event, runners wear crazy costumes and celebrity look-a-likes.

But not everything is about sports and fun in City2Surf. Actually, there is a Gold Charity entry –now available- which allows participants to choose from a list of high profile Australian charities, to run and raise funds.

Since its beginnings the event has been owned and organised by The Sun-Herald (formerly The Sun), a Fairfax Media publication. Accordingly, inspiration came through a note from Fairfax's US correspondent, who sent a newspaper clipping in 1970 about San Francisco Bay to Breakers event to the editor of The Sun newspaper, Jack Tier.

And so The Sun City2Surf was born on September 5th, 1971. Subsequently, it became acknowledged as Australia's premier road race. Since 1973, it has been celebrated on the second Sunday in August, except for the race held in 2000, when it was moved to July when the Sydney Olympics took place in August.

Fireworks Australia Day

Fireworks Australia Day

Fireworks will light up the sky on Australia Day

Australia Day is the official national day of the country, which takes place every 26 January. The day sparks community festivals, concerts and citizenship ceremonies in cities and large and small communities across Australia. Under a colourful sky decorated by fireworks, Australians enjoy community barbecues with family or friends. There are also sports competitions and other type of festive activities.

Sydney's harbor is a focus and races are held, such as a ferry race and the tall ships race. To salute the multiple races and culture –as it is a nation of immigrations- that compose Australian population, Melbourne's events focus on multiculturalism, featuring the People's March and the Voyages Concert.

The celebration takes place every year on 26 January in remembrance of the landing of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788 and the proclamation of British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of Australia, which was known as New Holland back then.

It took a century for the that date to become officially named Australia Day, yet records of celebrations on January 26th started back in 1808, with the first formal celebration of the formation of New South Wales in 1818.

Nowadays, Australia Day is an official public holiday in every state and territory of Australia and is marked by the presentation of the Australian of the Year Awards on Australia Day Eve, announcement of the Honours List for the Order of Australia and formal speeches from the Governor-General and Prime Minister.