Art, music and cultural festivals 2016: The coolest places to hang next year

1 VIVA FRIDA

Social media went a little loco when the Art Gallery of NSW announced it will show work from two of Mexico's most intriguing 20th-century artists – Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera – who married each other twice (Frida and Diego runs from June 25-October 9). Most of the collective joy is about the prospect of seeing Kahlo's powerful, surreal self-portraits that put her emotions (and mono-brow) front and centre. Since her 1954 death, Kahlo's stature has soared – she's now seen as a feminist icon. The show pairs photographs of the non-conventional couple with 40 artworks from a collection amassed by patrons Jacques and Natasha Gelman​.   

www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au

2 HENDRIX'S HOME

From 1968-69, Jimi Hendrix lived in a Mayfair attic flat neighbouring the home of Baroque composer George Frideric Handel. On February 10, the Handel House Trust will open the doors to Hendrix's home, which it's transforming into a period time capsule complete with woodchip wallpaper and a replica of a distinctive chair captured in photographs of the incendiary guitarist. After the Seattle-born musician moved into the flat with girlfriend Kathy Etchingham​, he gave interviews, wrote songs and prepared for his 1969 concerts at the Royal Albert Hall. When he learned Handel lived next door two centuries earlier, he bought recordings of Messiah and Water Music. 

www.handelhendrix.org

3 WHAT A DAME 

My Fair Lady comes full circle when Dame Julie Andrews directs a re-creation of the Broadway musical that catapulted her to fame 60 years ago. The showbiz veteran, now 80, last month [November] heard auditions for the production, which opens in Sydney on August 30 (until September 25). Andrews memorably played the Cockney flower seller Eliza Doolittle who is transformed – in a classic Cinderella tale – into a "lady" when she takes elocution lessons from Professor Henry Higgins. The musical's most memorable numbers include I Could Have Danced All Night and Wouldn't It Be Loverly? 

www.sydneyoperahouse.com

4 HOMEGROWN STARS

There's nothing like seeing our own star actors in the flesh. Rose Byrne, Golden Globe- and Emmy-nominated for her work in the TV series Damages, will tread the boards for the Sydney Theatre Company towards the end of 2016. She stars in David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow, which tackles the behind-the-scenes world of showbiz (November 8-December 10). Colin Friels (currently starring in Belvoir St Theatre's Mortido until December 17) will headline David Hare's Skylight for the Melbourne Theatre Company (June 18-July 23). The drama examines what happens when a woman's former lover – a wealthy married man – re-enters her life. 

www.sydneytheatre.com.au, www.mtc.com.au 

5 MA'AM'S FROCKS

To mark Queen Elizabeth II's 90th birthday next year, three of her residences will show off her sartorial style with separate fashion exhibitions. Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen's Wardrobe opens on the Queen's birthday, April 21, at Edinburgh's Palace of Holyroodhouse​ with an exhibition highlighting Her Majesty's love of tartan.  From August, the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace will feature royal couture worn at some of the biggest events in the Queen's life, including her wedding and coronation. From September, Windsor Castle will display evening gowns and day ensembles, as well as the young Princess' wartime pantomime costumes. 

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www.royalcollection.org.uk

6 DOUBLE MAPPLETHORPE 

Two LA institutions – the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Getty Centre perched atop the Santa Monica Mountains – will simultaneously show Robert Mapplethorpe exhibitions. The photographer, who died in 1989 at age 42, is renowned for stylised, mostly black and white photographs of everything from celebrities to nudes and flowers. LACMA's show (March 20-July 31) will explore the artist's fascination with New York's sexual and artistic undergrounds and experimentations in different media. The Getty Centre's exhibition (March 15-July 31) will focus on his studio practice and obsession with classical forms. 

www.lacma.org, www.getty.edu 

7 SEDARIS SPEAKS

Self-deprecating American author and satirist David Sedaris has sold more than 10 million books (including Me Talk Pretty One Day and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim). For his latest Australian tour, he will swing around the country – Newcastle (January 17), Sydney (January 18-19), Brisbane (January 20), Melbourne (January 21-22), Hobart (January 23) and Perth (January 24) – reading new, unpublished work and diary entries (the author makes daily diary entries). Sedaris cuts an unlikely figure as a recording artist but he's also earned Grammy nominations over the years for Best Spoken Word and Best Comedy Album.

www.davidsedarisbooks.com

8 TO PARIS, WITH LOVE

Those who have their hearts set on returning to Paris to support the city can now explore one of the world's best anthropology museums. Musee de l'Homme​ – the Museum of Man – has reopened following a six-year, 92 million euro ($135 million) facelift that revealed an 1878 glass-and-steel ceiling from the architect who added those iconic swirls to Paris's benches, lamps and signposts. Displays might showcase ancient history but the museum's recent history is dramatic. Former French president Jacques Chirac siphoned half the collection – including African masks that inspired Picasso and other surrealists – into his legacy project, the Quai Branly museum. Musee de l'Homme's new wholly scientific focus includes the skull of philosopher Descartes. 

www.museedelhomme.fr 

9 SOME SATISFACTION

Exhibitionism, a show devoted to all things Rolling Stones, will open at London's Saatchi Gallery on April 6 (it runs until September 4). It's taken three years to collate the exhibition, which includes more than 500 items from the band's own archives, as well as dressing-room and backstage paraphernalia, iconic costumes, rare guitars, stage designs, unseen video clips, diaries and correspondence, and original poster and album artwork. The show, which spans the band's 50-plus-year history, will take over the Chelsea gallery's entire two floors before heading off on an international tour. 

www.saatchigallery.com

10 FLIP OUT 

Do you realise that one of the world's most entertaining bands, psychedelic alt-rockers the Flaming Lips, will hit The Domain on January 9? The best part about this open-air Sydney Festival gig is it's free. The second-best part will be seeing what antics frontman Wayne Coyne pulls from his bag of tricks (past shows have featured inflatable bubbles, confetti cannons, fake blood and back-up dancers in animal onesies). The band's time in Australia includes a gig at Melbourne's Palais Theatre (January 8) and a January 15 headlining slot at MONA's MOFO – an annual music and arts festival curated by the Violent Femmes' Brian Ritchie. 

www.sydneyfestival.org.au, www.ticketmaster.com.au, www.mofo.net.au 

11 PROMS DOWN UNDER

BBC Proms is an institution in London where the summertime orchestral classical music concerts have been heard since 1895. Australians can experience the iconic festival when BBC Proms heads to Melbourne for a limited season (April 13-16). The program showcases orchestras from three Australian states. Fittingly, it is the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra that opens proceedings with the world premiere of Nigel Westlake's Dream of Flying, which expands a score written for the 2014 Australian movie Paper Planes. The Queensland Symphony joins forces with beatboxer Tom Thum and also pays homage to naturalist Sir David Attenborough. Two Classics for Kids sessions will round out the program. 

www.artscentremelbourne.com.au

12 DEGAS' DANCERS 

An exhibition of 200-plus Degas works follows the National Gallery of Victoria's intriguing dead-and-alive pairing of Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei (December 11-April 24). Degas: A New Vision (June 24-September 18) draws from dozens of collections to showcase the breadth of the French Impressionist's practice, which ranged from painting, drawing and printmaking to sculpture and photography. The show highlights Degas' fascination with certain motifs – ballet and theatre, racecourses and boudoirs, work and industry. Key pieces include The Arabesque from Paris's Musee d'Orsay and The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer – a bronze statue with a cotton skirt and satin ribbon – from the Museu de Arte de Sao Paolo.   

www.ngv.vic.gov.au

13 ROCKIN' ROD

Do we think he's (still) sexy? Hell yes. Like Maggie May, Rod Stewart may be starting to show his age (he's 71 next month [January]) but that won't stop diehard fans from flocking to his run of shows – sandwiched between Celine Dion and Elton John - at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas from March 19 until April 4. Between kicking soccer balls into the auditorium, Stewart can be counted on to deliver his biggest hits - You Wear It Well, You're in my Heart and Tonight's the Night – as well as a few numbers from those five albums showcasing the Great American Songbook.  

www.caesars.com

14 HEY MAMA

Move over MONA, there's a new art space on the Australian landscape. MAMA – the catchy nickname for the Murray Art Museum Albury – opened in October following a $10.5 million redevelopment and expansion of the heritage building that housed the gallery's former incarnation. The idea was to give the border city a space large enough for blockbuster shows – and the first international blockbuster to arrive explores the legacy of Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn: Celebrating an American Icon (February 12-May 8) includes 100-plus paintings, prints, photographs and videos from the likes of Andy Warhol, Cecil Beaton and Henri Cartier-Bresson that illuminate different aspects of the screen goddess's personality. 

www.mamalbury.com.au

15 PET SOUNDS

Hot on the heels of the Beach Boys' recent Australian tour with Mike Love comes news that Brian Wilson is heading down under to perform the band's seminal 1966 album, Pet Sounds, in its entirety.  Wilson will perform what many consider one of the greatest albums of all time – tracks include Wouldn't It Be Nice and God Only Knows – as well as other hits at Bluesfest Byron Bay on Easter Monday (March 28). He will also perform the next night at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall at 8pm. The Bluesfest schedule also features Tweedy (Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy and his son Spencer) playing on March 24-25, and Steve Earle and the Dukes on March 25-26.

www.bluesfest.com.au

16 DIVA ANTICS

It's the very definition of irony. Montreal-raised singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright composes an opera called Prima Donna for the Met in New York, only to have the collaboration fall apart when he refuses to translate the libretto into English. His French-language opera went on to premiere in Manchester in 2009. Three months ago [September], Wainwright revised the work to include a video starring photographer Cindy Sherman as the aging prima donna preparing for a comeback in 1970s Paris. The new version airs at the Hong Kong Arts Festival on March 1; Wainwright performs his hits in the program's second half.  

www.hk.artsfestival.org

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