Nobody throws a party like Sydney and next year's Sydney Festival promises to be bigger and better than ever before.

Sydney Festival will kick off on 5th January 2008 with the inaugural Festival First Night. A free night of music and dance will be held throughout the city's parks and streets, celebrating Sydney 's multiculturalism and culminating in a huge outdoor concert starring the legendary Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys.

Sydney Festival, which runs until 26th January, will feature over 200 Australian and international artists performing in a number of iconic locations across the city including Hyde Park and The Domain. Virtually the entire city is being given over to music, dance and celebrations, on a scale never before seen in the city. Organisers aim to further enhance the Festival's reputation as one of Australia's most prestigious and popular annual cultural events and one of the greatest entertainment spectacles on the planet.

The eclectic line up of music, dance, theatre, visual arts, film, forums and free large-scale outdoor concerts will showcase the finest of Australian talent alongside a selection of acclaimed international artists, appealing to every age, genre and passion throughout the three week event. Renowned international singer Bjork will be performing in the Sydney Opera House, alongside talented artists from the musical worlds of jazz, classical, folk and rock. The great Australian artist Paul Kelly will also play highlights from his extraordinary career, as well as a tribute to Indigenous Australian songwriter Kev Carmody. The free outdoor events such as the Symphony in The Domain and Jazz in The Domain attract thousands of music-lovers who come with a blanket and a picnic eager to enjoy a magical night under the stars.

Festival organisers have also included a unique children's' programme, in which hundreds of children will take part in an epic origami project on Festival First Night, creating thousands of paper cranes which will represent their dreams for the city. The cranes will be hung in Hyde Park , setting the stage for a gala concert featuring the Sydney Youth Orchestra and the Sydney Children's Choir amongst other special guests. In addition, many galleries and museums will be offering free entry on this day, giving families a fantastic opportunity to explore Sydney 's cultural attractions.

Dance fans will gather on one of the biggest dance floors ever built in Hyde Park 's Archibald Fountain. Here, revelers will tango, jive, swing, salsa and waltz to the popular Pink Martini, a celebrated ensemble from Oregon, USA.

In addition to the main stages, hotels, bars and restaurants across the city are coming to the party with a huge range of live entertainment on First Night and throughout the Festival.

Irish-born Sydney Festival Director Fergus Linehan believes that the Sydney Festival is: "one of few in the world that attempts to straddle the divide between an arts festival and a great communal celebration”. On the 2008 Festival, he comments: "This one is much bigger than last year’s. It’s huge. There’s a real optimism about it. People seem to be very positive. So you don’t want to miss the opportunity [to push the boundaries], to make a really lasting contribution to this city."

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