Darwin Festival is set to open in a week – the first major capital city event in Australia to go ahead since COVID-19 shut the world down. The DF20 Homegrown program is a celebration of Top End talent with an array of exciting live and virtual events spanning theatre, music, comedy, cabaret, visual arts and more.
Darwin Festival Artistic Director, Felix Preval, says, “Our Festival is officially around the corner, and we couldn’t be prouder of what it’s shaped up to be. We are excited to light up the Darwin CBD with incredible local offerings in Festival Park and to give Territorians the Dry Season good times we’ve all needed. The COVID-19 restrictions won’t stop our interstate friends joining in some of this year’s program with a bunch of exciting virtual events to enjoy.
The response to our program so far has been nothing short of incredible. It only goes to show that there’s a real appetite for local NT talent — and we are so excited to share it with everyone.”
Acting CEO James Gough added, ““It’s so great to be delivering a Festival and we’ve worked tirelessly with the Department of Health to ensure DF20 Homegrown is the best celebration it can be in this very different world. We want all patrons to enjoy themselves while remembering that that being COVID safe is a shared responsibility. There’ll be signage around Festival venues, but the message is pretty simple: Stay home if you are unwell, maintain physical distancing, wash your hands regularly and download the COVIDsafe app. If everybody does their bit, we’ll not only be COVID safe, we’ll have a lot of fun!”
National audiences can get their fix of art and culture with the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, National Indigenous Music Awards, Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (Telstra NATSIAA), and the inaugural National Indigenous Fashion Awards — all of which are heading online!
Lovers of classical music across Australia can also enjoy Morning Music — a free, daily offering of sublime violin and piano from renowned artist, Eric Avery, delivered online to early risers every day from 7am (Darwin time). These pieces were composed specially for Darwin Festival, and can only be enjoyed for the first hour of each day, so don’t miss out!
Another daily delight is GIF of Dance — a free, global project from choreographer Matt Cornell and dancer Kelly Beneforti. Performed, animated and sent on the same day, people nation-wide and all over the world can experience a bite-sized slice of the Territory via SMS. Sign up on the Darwin Festival website to receive a daily gif of a brand-new dance performance, shot around Darwin, for the duration of the Festival (except on Monday 10 August).
Due to the huge success of several shows selling out early, Darwin Festival unveiled extra dates to some of the DF20 Homegrown program’s hottest events – and these were quickly snapped up. Just like tickets to the latest addition to the Festival line-up, Electric Fields. This Australian electronic music duo first rocked Darwin Festival audiences back in 2018 with a sold-out gig. In 2019, the pair placed second in SBS’ Eurovision: Australia Decides competition with their track, 2000 and Whatever. They will join J-MILLA, a rising-star of the hip-hop scene, for a show on Thursday 13 August at the Sunset Stage that sold out as soon as tickets were announced
Another program highlight is Distanced Duets, a series of intimate concerts performed by members of the Arafura Music Collective. It features a range of duets from their catalogue of musical talent — from cellists, pianists, guitarists, and many more — for a spectacular at-home concert experience, just for you and your guests.
The beauty and talent of the Darwin Symphony Orchestra are set to enchant audiences with two concerts of musical magic — Metamorphosis I(Saturday 8 August) and Metamorphosis II (Sunday 9 August) at Darwin Entertainment Centre. Featuring new work by Darwin composer, Cathy Applegate, as well as stunning compositions from classical favourites, the Orchestra will be joined by the rising stars of their Young Artists Program.
There’s no better way to wrap this year’s Festival than with a musical love letter to Darwin. Streets of Darwin will feature the talents of local musicians Caiti Baker, Arran Barker, Broadwing, Tracey Bunn, Ben Evolent, Mandy Garling, David Garnham and Stevie Jean as they perform an original song each, inspired by their neighbourhoods. Backed by a brilliant house band, each singer will also pick a cover from the Aussie canon on the theme of home. Join them at the Sunset Stage on Sunday 16 August for this huge celebratory finale concert. Look out for the series of accompanying videos shot at Skinnyfish Records’ Studio G, set to be released across the Festival period.