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Nick Cave and PJ Harvey at Sydney Festival

AAP logoAAP 26/10/2016 Danielle McGrane

Nick Cave and PJ Harvey will lead the musical performances at this year's Sydney Festival.

It will be Harvey's first performance in Australia in four years and she'll be on stage with a full 10-piece band playing music from her critically acclaimed album The Hop Six Demolition Project.

Cave, Warren Ellis and the rest of the Bad Seeds will be playing the band's 16th studio album Skeleton Tree, recorded in the aftermath of the tragic death of Cave's 15-year-old son Arthur last year.

"As an Australian he (Cave) loves to pop in to the festival and do a whole range of things. This is one of those opportunities where we can pay back to him and give him an opportunity and a place that can look after him too," Sydney Festival director Wesley Enoch told AAP.

It was Cave's idea to perform the album at the festival.

"Through his promoter they reached out to us and said 'we really want to be in an arts environment to do this and we really want to be thought of in a different way to do this album' ," Enoch said.

Cave has also announced an extensive tour of Australia and New Zealand, incorporating the Sydney festival dates.

Harvey performs on January 22, just one night after Cave's two-night stint, with fans hoping the artists may take to stage together.

The festival will also host the return of music in the spiritual space of the city's St Stephen's Uniting Church with performances over two weekends in January from buzz artists including singer-songwriter Moses Sumney, electronic musician Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, UK-Australian experimental trio Szun Waves and folk artist Dori Freeman.

Australian singer Nick Cave © Provided by AAP Australian singer Nick Cave

Other highlights at the festival will include theatre and art focusing on the senses, including Scent of Sydney - an exhibition created by conceptual and olfactory artist, Cat Jones, which explores whether you can really know a city by the way it smells.

Deaf-blind artists Heather Lawson and Michelle Stevens have teamed up to create Imagined Touch, which allows audiences to experience storytelling through touch and tactile communication.

With music from Crowded House's Tim Finn, the Helpmann Award winning musical Ladies in Black will come to the festival.

This year, for the first time, a stage will be set up in Hyde Park in the festival village with free performances over 21 nights, close to the Spiegeltent, which also makes a return.

* The Sydney Festival runs from January 7 - 29

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