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Sydney Festival: Plastic balls, synthetic sand used to create event's signature beach

Artistic Director of the Sydney Festival, Wesley Enoch, in the ocean of balls which are part of the festival.
Artistic director Wesley Enoch said a swim through the ocean air-filled balls is all about fun.

ABC: Sarah Hawke

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Visitors to the Sydney Festival can swim through a sea of 1.1 million air-filled plastic balls or lounge on the deck chairs and synthetic sand used to create the event's very own signature beach.

The organisers of "The Beach at the Cutaway", which has been set up at Barangaroo Reserve, hope the cricket ball-sized spheres will provide the public with just as much fun as a swim in the city's most iconic beaches — without the rips, sharks or blue bottle jellyfish.

The festival's director, Wesley Enoch, said the aim of the exhibit was simple.

"To have fun, to spend some time at a different type of beach is really what it's all about," he said.

The 60m x 23m sea of balls is surrounded by a white synthetic "sand" carpet similar to a synthetic lawn.

Umbrellas and "life guards" are also a feature at the event's beach.

Sydney Festival beach ball pit
It's the first time the concept has been featured outside of the US.

ABC News: Sarah Hawke

It is fun but the balls, which have been shipped from the United States, are tough to "swim" through.

"Bringing the child within (you) out, we all love a ball pit," Mr Enoch said.

"We all love to have fun and we all love a bit of aerobic exercise as you are moving through it."

Sydney resident Fion Yau was one of the first "swimmers" to dive into the sea of balls and she said the experience was better then she had expected.

"It's good to have a clean beach, I like that," she said.

It is the first time such a concept has been featured outside of the US.

The idea was initially commissioned in 2015 by the National Building Museum in Washington, when the balls were gifted to artists and other organisations.

The plastic balls for the Sydney Festival were donated by the Vinik Family Foundation in Tampa, Florida, where they were also featured in another event.

Sydney Festival Minister Stuart Ayers in ball pit
Even Tourism and Major Events minister Stuart Ayres couldn't resist a swim.

ABC News: Sarah Hawke

The New York-based design studio Snarkitecture recreated the beach concept for the Sydney Festival after the plastic balls were shipped to Australia in seven containers.

Work is now underway to find a new home for the balls post-festival with negotiations underway between festival organisers and plastic recycling companies.

"They could be used in anything from plastic timber flooring, roof tiles or wheelie bins," producer of Major Outdoor Event for the Festival, Vernon Guest, said.

The Beach is open across the Sydney Festival which runs from January 7 to 29.