King Street Carnival promises brilliant weekend of community and culture

Sydney Park Amphitheatre in full swing in 2021. Photo: Elena Wewer/Facebook.

After nearly two years and two rescheduled sets of dates and line-up changes amidst the pressures of Covid-19, the inaugural King Street Carnival (KSC) will rock Newtown, Enmore and Erskineville from 11 to 13 March, 2022.

Supporting the local community while boasting a fantastic selection of live music acts, the central attraction of the KSC will be performances at over 30 venues by more than 300 groups and artists, including the likes of Yothu Yindi, You Am I, Cosmic Psychos, Tropical F**k Storm, Middle Kids and Horrorshow.

While most of the larger acts will perform at three ticketed outdoor stages, the remainder of the KSC’s participating venues will accommodate emerging bands at free gigs.

Above: Some of the acts set to perform at King St Carnival.

The KSC is the brainchild of The Music & Booze Co, who also organised the King Street Crawl, which the carnival evolved from. In pre-Covid times, the King Street Crawl, which began in 2015, was a fun and diverse one-day urban takeover that filled every King Street venue with memorable bands and thirsty punters each September.

With the crawl now in the past, and the indefinite cancellation of the Newtown Festival, the King Street Carnival comes as a triumphantly sweet release after recent months of lockdown and restrictions. Most pandemic restrictions were scrapped in NSW from Friday, 18 February, with NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet scrapping a raft of measures ten days earlier than expected.

This means singing and dancing can resume at live events again, the two square metres per person rule is no longer active in pubs and most check-in requirements have now been dropped – although for obvious safety reasons, the carnival will still be adhering to a proactive Covid plan under guidance from NSW Health.

Erskineville Rd’s Imperial Hotel, one of the KSC’s participating venues, in ‘Crawl mode’.
Photo: Facebook.

Maintaining the carnival’s giving spirit, the KSC hope to donate some funds to the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, which organised the Newtown Festival for nearly 40 years.

“We want to create an event that supports the local communities, businesses, and creative sector of the Inner West,” states Matt Rule, a KSC promoter and owner of The Annandale Hotel until 2013.

“When we started the Crawl, we did it for free every year [and] we never made any money out of it [so] we had to find other revenue streams to, to make it worthwhile and able to grow.”

The new carnival has now been announced as a massive three-day party weekend that takes in King Street, the neighbouring roads and the outdoor venues of Sydney Park and its Brick Pits, and Camperdown Memorial Rest Park.

Enmore Road, one of the streets involved in the King Street Carnival’s urban takeover. Photo: Facebook.

“I think we’ll be around the 50,000 mark [for audience numbers] …which is something we’ve been really working on for a long time,” Rule explains.

“We always had a long term goal with it. Covid has been so devastating to our industry, but at the same time it’s giving us the opportunity to upscale and to do this event.”

The seven major music events of the KSC will be loosely categorised by genre, starting with a hip-hop oriented opening night at Sydney Park Amphitheatre on Friday, 11 March, ending with a reggae all-star showcase in the Brick Pits on Sunday 13 March, and topped off with a rock extravaganza at the amphitheatre on the same day, headlined by You Am I.

Elliott from The Delta Riggs crowd-surfs at Waywards in Newtown, during 2016’s King Street Crawl.
Photo: Facebook.

On Saturday, 12 March, the Sydney Park Brick Pits will flourish with the sounds and colours of the Heaps Gay Party in the Park, another iconic celebration from LGBT+ events group Heaps Gay. For the duration of the carnival, the KSC’s neighbouring precinct of ‘Fabtown’ will occupy another area of Sydney Park as an outdoor food and beverage area running from 12PM to 10PM each day, representing some of the city’s best breweries and eateries. Fabtown will also be the only festival area to offer entry via donation and not through a paid wristband.

A handful of acts will travel across Australia to perform at the KSC, such as the predominantly Indigenous groups Yothu Yindi and King Stingray who will cruise in from the Northern Territory, while Cosmic Psychos and Tropical F**k Storm will travel from Victoria.

“To be honest, we’re really proud of the line up we’ve managed to put together,” Rule explains. “It’s incredibly diverse, there’s something for everyone and we’ve got some wonderful Australian artists at the moment, it’s such a strong scene.”

For more information on the King Street Carnival, including ticketing, prices and acts, visit https://kingstreetcarnival.com.au.

Corin Shearston is the youth editor of the Sydney Sentinel.

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