Why Newcastle is the perfect place to visit this week

An intimate art gallery performance by a renowned Australian musician, an augmented reality experience celebrating Indigenous culture and a discussion on women in leadership with Australia’s first female prime minister feature in the City of Newcastle’s inaugural arts festival, New Annual.

Tickets for the 10-day event, which started on Friday night, are on sale now. The full program features more than 50 events that showcase over 100 visual and performing artists.

Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said New Annual provided an opportunity for locals and visitors to discover new work, new perspectives and new performance spaces across the city.

“New Annual represents Newcastle’s time to shine – through our local artists, through our city’s creative spaces and, most importantly, through rich and engaging stories,” Cr Nelmes said.

“Supporting and delivering cultural and community programs, events and live music is key to progressing our vision of Newcastle as a smart, liveable and sustainable global city.

“The festival will feature local and visiting artists sharing music, dance, contemporary performance and visual art, showcasing our community’s journey of self-expression, resilience and recovery, and highlighting Newcastle’s identity as a creative hub with a vibrant cultural heritage.”

Fans of iconic Australian singer-songwriter Paul Dempsey, lead singer of much-loved band Something For Kate, will get to see him like never before during an up-close-and-personal performance at Newcastle Art Gallery, while a range of Indigenous cultural items at Newcastle Museum will be enhanced via an augmented reality experience incorporating music, narration, animation and storytelling.  

Newcastle’s iconic Hazy Cosmic Jive recording studio will provide a musical showcase of homegrown talent, while various street art activations will bring key outdoor locations to life.

An open artist studio trail featuring some of Newcastle’s most dynamic independent art spaces will also offer a hands-on insight into the creative processes of a visual artist.

These events complement major commissions from local artists and companies revealed during the first program announcement in October last year.

Feature performances from Curious Legends and Catapult Choreographic Hub and pop-up venues and installations in Civic Park and Wheeler Place will showcase the best of Newcastle’s creative arts, while visiting artists like Feras Shaheen and Omega Ensemble will deliver a range of compelling works.

With a range of accommodation options available and a thriving boutique restaurant and bar scene, Newcastle is the ultimate seaside destination to relax and unwind while taking in all that the New Annual has to offer.

The Visit Newcastle website has links to accommodation options, visitor information and what precincts to explore in addition to the New Annual events.

New Annual Program Highlights

Newcastle Writers Festival and New Annual present Julia Gillard: Women & Leadership
Join the Newcastle Writers Festival’s first live event of 2021 featuring former prime minister Julia Gillard, who will discuss her most recent book, Women and Leadership: Real Lives, Real Lessons, which wasco-written with economist Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

We Can Be Heroes: Live with Paul Dempsey
To mark the closing weekend of We Can Be Heroes: a backstage pass, Newcastle Art Gallery and New Annual present an intimate gig with Paul Dempsey.

Awkward – Catapult Choreographic Hub
Set at a party, Awkward follows the story of a bunch of characters with distinctive personalities meeting for the first time: the introvert, extrovert, the hanger-on, and the in-lust. What can go wrong?

Hazy Cosmic Jive artist showcase
A celebration of homegrown talent from Newcastle’s iconic Hazy Cosmic Jive recording studio, featuring award-winning local artist Amy Vee and others. Presented as part of the Made in Newcastle project.

Chalk the Walk
A temporary 3D artwork trail installed in key outdoor locations in the city centre to illuminate the streets, featuring internationally renowned Central Coast artist Jenny McCracken alongside a team of Zest Events International artists.

Up & Up street art activation
Create your very own street art across the opening weekend of New Annual with Up & Up as they bring Museum Park to life with artist workshops, DJs and painting walls.

Wylaa Buuranliyn and Veara present Nourishing Waters
Incorporating music, narration, animation and storytelling, this augmented reality experience complements existing Indigenous cultural items located in the Newcastle Museum including a traditional canoe, a traditional spear and a culturally significant fishing tree.

OMG WTF!
An all-new, dynamite, late-night romp with a heady mix of burlesque, circus, drag, sideshow and magic, OMG WTF is a celebration of that weird feeling in your stomach when you don’t know whether to look away or stare on in awe.

Sea, Space and Beyond
Vision Australia in partnership with the Newcastle Museum present Sea, Space & Beyond, an exhibition of artworks from the blind, low vision and sighted community. The exhibition will question how we experience the world through our senses, and open audiences to new sensory experiences.

Does the New Annual event interest you? What events are you thinking of attending?

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Written by Ben

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