Born in Budapest in 1950, János Szikora studied theatre directing at the city's Academy of Theatre and Film Arts under András Békés and György Lengyel. His major examination production was Mihály Csokonai Vitéz's translation of the libretto to The Magic Flute, titled The Witch's Whistle. After graduating in 1979, he signed with the National Theatre of Pécs. The following year, he became artistic director of Győr's Kisfaludy Theatre, where he remained until moving on to direct at the National Theatre of Miskolc in 1983. In 1986, after a year-long stint as director of the newly opened Géza Gárdonyi Theatre in Eger, he took up directing at the Comedy Theatre of Budapest. Back at the National Theatre of Pécs between 1991 and 1994, he first worked as an artistic consultant before taking up a regular directing position there. He served as the artistic director of the National Theatre of Szeged and the Szeged Open-Air Festival from 1996 until 1999, and has been a freelance director ever since. His first job at the Hungarian State Opera was staging Salome (in 1989), which was followed by productions of Carmen, Die Zauberflöte, Norma and the world premiere of Iván Madarász's The Last Waltz. More recently at the Budapest opera house, he has directed Kurt Weill's Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (2009), Der fliegende Holländer (2013), Die Frau ohne Schatten (2014) and Werther (2015).
In 2018, in recognition of the outstanding quality of his work, he was awarded the Officer's Cross of the Hungarian Order of Merit, civil division.