Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

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Steps swing into history

sydney swings

Sydney will Swing during a new picnic concert series at Fleet Steps this November.

Paul Chesher is no stranger to outdoor concerts in beautiful locations which is why the Trust is delighted that he has chosen Fleet Steps for this special series.  He is the promoter of the sell out Twilight at Taronga Series, Opera in the Vineyards and Mozart by Moonlight previously held in the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney. His concerts bring together a relaxed atmosphere, beautiful setting and good food and wine so all you need is great company for a special experience. 

Paul’s new venture, Sydney Swings will be a series of eight concerts held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights throughout November. Paul’s inspiration for the series is for people to hear world class entertainers while watching the sun set over the trees and picnicking under the stars’. The Trust is proud to host the series which broadens the cultural program with performances from greats such as Kate Ceberano, Grace Knight, David Campbell and James Morrison. When asked why Fleet Steps was chosen for the new series, Paul questions ‘where else can you chill out with a picnic and see such an amazing panoramic view? There is an incredible wow factor that makes the site so special’.

Many people are aware of the large cultural events held in the Phillip Precinct of the Domain each year. However over 100,000 people also experience events at Fleet Steps each year. The season  kicks  off with the worlds’ most televised New Years Eve celebrations. It is closely followed by Open Air Cinema one of the ‘must do’ experiences of the Sydney summer. A breeze or two later, then Fleet Steps plays host to Harbour Party which is a milestone in the annual Sydney Mardi Gras Festival which produces Australia’s second largest international visitation. Soon after the inaugural Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour brought internationally acclaimed artists together for an outstanding production of La Traviata at Fleet Steps. This incredible experience was part of the Trust’s Autumn of the Arts Festival in which over 40 events showcased the inspirational links between the arts and horticulture. 

The Fleet Steps lawns have long been a place for people to celebrate the connection between the Domain, the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney and Sydney Harbour. Before cinemas, concerts and fireworks, the site was first adorned with a grandstand and decorative pavilions for the arrival of Lord Hopetoun, Governor General in 1901. After his visit the beautiful Fleet Steps we see today were constructed from Ultimo sandstone for the arrival of the Great White American Fleet in 1908. In 1954, the adjacent lawns were the location that Queen Elizabeth II first set foot on Australian soil which is commemorated by the Queen Elizabeth II Monument. 

Other notable visitors were  Bill Clinton in 1996 who planted a Silver Quandong tree. The Queen's grandson His Royal Highness, Prince William enjoyed a barbeque at the Open Air Cinema in 2010 and later that year Opera Winfrey was welcomed to Sydney at a Garden party at Fleet Steps.

Many other thousands of visitors stop off at Fleet Steps every year to enjoy the Gardens and the vista.