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The Sydney Opera House will open its doors to the public for its first open day in eight years, welcoming thousands of visitors behind-the-scenes to celebrate the building’s 50th birthday. Supported by the NSW Government’s Blockbusters Funding initiative, the anniversary weekend will also include a spectacular nightly audio visual laser show and a Gold Party at the Opera House’s popular harbourside dining venues, Opera Bar and House Canteen.

The festivities kick-off on the Opera House’s actual birthday, Friday 20 October, with ICON, a stunning three-night audio-visual laser show by visionary artist Robin Fox. Running from 8pm – 11pm on Friday and Saturday and 8pm – 10pm on Sunday, the newly commissioned artwork will be visible on site at the Opera House and from around the harbour, with high-powered beams dancing across the water to trace the geometry and architecture of Australia’s most famous building.

On Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 October, Open House Weekend will welcome thousands of visitors behind-the-scenes to experience and celebrate five extraordinary decades of creativity, including:

Access to the Opera House’s seven performance spaces, including the world-famous Concert Hall
Roving performances by local artists
Special exhibits by the Opera House’s resident companies
First Nations dance performances by Bangarra Dance Theatre and Mornington Island Dancers
Technical demonstrations by the Opera House’s production team
John Coburn’s Curtain of the Sun, which will be hung in the Joan Sutherland Theatre
Open House Weekend is a free event, however registration is essential. Sign-up here.

The Opera House’s harbourside dining venues, Opera Bar and House Canteen, will join the birthday celebrations with a special Gold Party on Friday 20, Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 October. The free event open to the general public will kick-off at 4pm with live music, gold-themed special menus, and roving performers set to entertain against the unbeatable backdrop of the Sydney harbour. To find out more, visit the Opera Bar or House Canteen website.

Sydney Opera House Director of Programming Fiona Winning said: “The Opera House has been a place for culture, creativity, community and connection since it first opened in 1973. So it’s only fitting that to mark the culmination of our year-long 50th anniversary, we’re throwing open the doors so that tens of thousands of people can explore and experience the magic of one of the most celebrated buildings in the world.”

Open House Weekend is part of the Opera House’s 50th Birthday Festival – a month-long program of music, dance, theatre, art and free community events. Highlights include:

What Is the City but the People – a portrait of Sydney through its people, showcasing the story, sentiments and soul of the city (1 October)
Whispers – a monumental public artwork by Quandamooka artist Megan Cope (27 September – 31 October)
Emma Donovan – bringing her celebrated fusion of classic soul, roots and Indigenous songcraft, ARIA-nominated icon Emma Donovan makes her headline Opera House debut (20 October)
Bark of Millions – a one-night-only queer extravaganza in the newly-transformed Concert Hall (20 October)
Message in a Bottle – a spectacular new dance-theatre work set to the music of iconic artist Sting (25 – 29 October)
The Opera House’s 50th Birthday Festival is proudly supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW’s Blockbusters Funding initiative.