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Circus, Comedy, Cabaret… And Beyoncé Darwin Festival Announces Massive 2017 Program

June 23, 2017 Whats On No Comments Email Email

Running over 18 tropical days this August (Thursday 10 – Sunday 27), Darwin Festival today announces a program of over 80 events, jam-packed with breathtaking performances, laugh out loud shows, immersive experiences and family fun.

The Northern Territory’s biggest cultural celebration brings together the very best in local, national and international talent for an action-packed season of performance and play. Highlights of the 2017 season include: Rock legends You am I, who will open the Festival; The Project’s resident funny man Tommy Little with his new show, Good Talk; the powerful new theatre piece, HART, detailing Australia’s treatment of the First People; A Beyoncé dance workshop and stellar music line-up that includes indie-darlings Dappled Cities and Felix Riebl, as well as award winning hip-hop duo A.B. Original..

Following sold out seasons at London’s West End, Brisbane Festival, Adelaide Fringe and the Sydney Opera House, 2017 Darwin Festival will also play host to Strut & Fret’s saucy new production BLANC de BLANC. Featuring the finest cabaret and acrobatic talent from around the world, BLANC de BLANC will play for the duration of the Festival in The Aurora Spiegeltent on Darwin’s Parliament Lawns.

Acting Artistic Director Felix Preval said, “We know people come to the Festival because they’re looking for experiences that are unusual and that they won’t find anywhere else. From intimate circus works to large cultural experiences, the programming for this year’s Darwin Festival is a reflection of the spirit of the Territory and the people who live here: cheeky, challenging and inventive.”

The Minister for Tourism and Culture, The Hon Lauren Moss said, “The Northern Territory Government is proud to support Darwin’s premier festival.

“The program this year is exciting and demonstrates the Festival’s broad appeal, and I encourage all Territorians to book their tickets without delay.

“Darwin Festival is a highlight on the annual major events calendar and always brings in large numbers of interstate and international visitors, providing a windfall for the tourism industry.

“I look forward to attending as much of the program as I can”

Tickets for the Darwin Festival are on sale 12 noon Thursday 22 June at

Matt Fraser: Publicity Manager E: M: 0401 326 007
Amber Forrest-Bisley: Publicity Director E: M: 0405 363 817


Celebrate the opening of this year’s Darwin Festival with an unforgettable evening of Australian music at the Santos Opening Night Concert. Kicking off the evening is Tiwi Islands group B2M with their unique pop R’n’B sound. Headlining the Opening Night are Australian rock legendsYou Am I. After 25 years together, 10 studio albums, 10 ARIA Awards and hundreds of sold-out shows, You Am I are making their way back to the Darwin Festival! Promising an evening of epic rock ‘n’ roll tunes, this is a party you do not want to miss. The FREE night of fun begins 6pm,Thursday 10 August on the Little Mindil Lawns.   

This year’s Darwin Festival boasts a fantastic musical line-up featuring the very best artists and bands from Australia and overseas.  Hip-hop duo A.B. Original are set to storm The Lighthouse stage bringing powerful rhythms and unapologetic lyrics that pack a political punch. After releasing her stunning solo album Pool late last year, Sassy diva Clairy Browne is bringing her infectious edgy pop and sultry R ‘n’ B tunes to Darwin. Watch the Moschino-loving boss bitch bring the house down on Saturday 26 August.

Also igniting The Lighthouse stage are Sydney’s indie pop veterans Dappled Cities and Cat Empire’s charming singer and percussionist Felix Riebl. Yirrmal and the Miliyawutj will bring inspired songs about identity, spirit and connection to the land.

The Darwin Railway Club will stage some incredible musical acts this year. Ali Barter brings sweet vocals and delicate harmonies to an intimate set at The Rails. Hear radio favourites ‘Please Stay’ and ‘Girlie Bits’ on Friday 11 August.

Critically acclaimed Cambodian Space Project will deliver an eclectic combination of ‘60s Cambodian rock ‘n’ roll and trippy psychedelic Khmer soul. See this wonderfully unique performance Saturday 12 August.

Electronic beat makers Tijuana Cartel are sure to get you dancing with an innovative tapestry of intricate soundscapes, pulsating rhythms and luscious vocals. Dance the night away on Friday 25 August.

Keep those party vibes going til morning with Club Awi. Every Friday and Saturday night of the Festival, Happy Yess will host dance parties that bring together the slickest electronic dance DJs from Australia and overseas. Get ready to party in style with the likes of Femme FUNKALE (NT)and DJ Total Eclipse (NYC).

The 2017 National Indigenous Music Awards (NIMAs) celebrate the best in contemporary Indigenous music, dance and culture. Presented byMusicNT, the NIMAs will feature artists like Apakatjah, Emily Wurramara and the legendary Paul Kelly. Bring the whole family along for a fantastic musical evening under the stars on Saturday 12 August at The Amphitheatre.


Noongar man Ian Michael delivers a powerful piece of verbatim theatre in HART. Using testimonials from the Stolen Generations alongside his own story, Michael’s award-winning performance is a compelling recollection and poignant reminder of Australia’s treatment of the First Peoples. Raw and harrowing yet enlightening and uplifting, HART is a must-see production at Brown’s Mart Theatre from Tuesday 15 – Friday 18 August.

Roslyn Oades brings her charming and beautifully warm hit show Hello, Goodbye & Happy Birthday to the Darwin Festival. Using her ground-breaking ‘headphone verbatim’ technique, the show celebrates and reflects upon two major transition points of adult life: an 18th and an 80th birthday party. See this wonderfully playful and vivid production at Darwin Entertainment Centre on Friday 11 & Saturday 12 August.

Mean, foul-mouthed, provocative and utterly damaged – these are the women of SHIT. Written by Patricia Cornelius and directed by Susie Dee, SHIT is a hard-hitting production that uses brutal language to portray three dynamic female characters rarely seen on the stage. SHIT is vital piece of theatre that sees audiences confront their own prejudices and preconceptions. This poetic and humorous production runs Tuesday 22 – Sunday 27 August at Brown’s Mart Theatre.

You’re invited on a journey to the bottom of the ocean to discover the demons lurking beneath and to salvage some hope for a better future in Sea Sick. Award-winning Canadian journalist and author Alanna Mitchell is bringing her bestselling book about the state of the global ocean to the stage in what promises to a powerful and deeply unsettling event at the Darwin Entertainment Centre, Friday 18 & Sat 19 August.

Darwin Festival 2016


Returning to Darwin Festival is the much loved City of Darwin Teddy Bears’ Picnic. Bring along your family, a picnic and favourite teddy bear for a fun day out filled with music, magic, food, dance and crafts. With the beautiful seaside Darwin Cenotaph as the perfect setting, the picnic is sure to be a hit for the whole family. This wonderful day kicks off from 9am on Sunday 13 August.

Family favourite emBARK! returns bigger and better to the year’s Festival with three action-packed evenings for the little ones. Kids can explore the world of science, robotics, arts and culture with educational and fun activities created especially for them. emBARK! will run from Tuesday 22 – Thursday 24 August at the Darwin Civic Centre.

Have you ever wanted to be a rockstar? Well, now is your chance! Join multi award-winning comedian Tessa Waters in a high-octane hour of wackiness that teaches youngsters How to be a Rockstar. This fun physical comedy show promotes body positivity and killer rock ‘n’ roll style. Air guitar like a pro and dance like a rock legend at Brown’s Mart Theatre from Saturday 12 &Sunday 13 August.

In A Dark Dark Wood is an imaginative retelling of the classic Hansel and Gretel. Audiences aged six and over are in for a real treat with magical animals, fast-paced storytelling and spooky puppets. This brilliant theatre production runs from Thursday 24 – Saturday 26 August at Studio, Darwin Entertainment Centre.


Bron Batten brings the awkward and thrilling experience of online dating to the stage with Onstage Dating. This live dating experiment pushes the conventions of modern dating, delivering a genuine and hilarious reflection of modern courtship. If you or someone you know is looking for love and laughs at the Darwin Festival, come down to Happy Yess on Thursday 24 – Sunday 27 August.

Comedian, musician and star of ABC’s Playground Politics Sammy J tells an unbelievably true coming-of-age story in Hero Complex. From an unlikely friendship with his school gardener to the birth of his daughter, the award-winning show is a reflection of how life can take us on a wild ride. Jam-packed with new songs and real life photos and videos, this not to be missed performance will be held Wednesday 23 August at The Lighthouse.

Tommy Little delivers big laughs with his brilliant new show Good Talk. Little’s unique sense of humour and punchy jokes has made him one of Australia’s hottest rising stars. Give yourself a good talking to and get down to The Lighthouse on Wednesday 16 and Thursday 17 August.

If you’ve always wanted a taste of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle then you’re in luck. The multi award-winning Uta Uber Kool Ja is hosting the wildest hotel room after-party to ever hit the Darwin scene, and you’re invited! Get ready to drink champagne, exchange fascinating stories and dance like a maniac.  Party hard with the debaucherous diva at the H Hotel, Smith St on Friday 18 –Sunday 20 August and Tuesday 22 – Wednesday 23 August.


UK cabaret legends Le Gateu Chocolat and Jonny Woo celebrate the glorious genre of musical theatre with A Night at the Musicals. From The Lion King to Les Mis, these fabulous drag divas promise a night of unadulterated musical theatre filled with shady shenanigans and ballsy ballads. Head on down to The Lighthouse, Tuesday 15 – Wednesday 16 of August.

Follow the glittery path from Festival Park to The Aurora Spiegeltent’s pop-up address on Parliament Lawns where, for the duration of the Festival,BLANC de BLANC will serve up the finest cabaret and acrobatic talent from around the world.  Immerse yourself in this sinfully sexy world of vintage glamour and high end spectacle from Thursday 10 – Sunday 27 August..

21st century cabaret and circus icons Anni and Maude Davey, invite you to the coolest post-apocalyptic after-party in town Retro Futurismus.The show features zero-gravity circus acts, siren songs, boutique burlesque and breathtaking performance art.  Retro Futurismus is set to blast offSaturday 18 – Sunday 20 August at The Lighthouse.


See the streets of Darwin in a whole new light with Bodies over Bitumen, an outdoor circus experience where three interdisciplinary circus-makers illuminate and destabilise the city environment. Performers lead the audience on an intriguing journey through the city and use what’s on, around and above the bitumen to perform death-defying acrobatics. This daring work is on Wednesday 23 – Sunday 27 August and starts at theMitchell Centre.

From virtuosic circus tricks and comedic routines to extraordinary acrobatics and aerial work, Circa’s action-packed Troppo is an energetic show that is sure to thrill the whole family. This explosively funny beach party takes place at the Darwin Entertainment Centre on Friday 18 & Saturday 19 August

Perhaps Hope is a compelling and honest take on the stark reality of climate change. This wonderful collaboration between award winning artistRockie Stone, acrobat Vincent van Berkel and kinetic sculptural artist Callan Morgan delivers a circus performance like never before. Armed with extraordinary physical skill and humour, this breathtaking eco-apocalyptic work will leave audiences with renewed optimism and perhaps, hope. Perhaps Hope runs Friday 11 – Sunday 13 August at Brown’s Mart Theatre.


Watch as Phnom Phen’s Erak Mith and Darwin’s Aaron Lim bring the raw, wild energy of breakdance and skilful contemporary choreography inBetween Tiny CitiesChoreographed by world-renowned Nick Power (CYPHER), the show is an intimate dance conversation bringing two very different worlds together. Watch the b*boys battle it out Wednesday 23 – Saturday August at the CDU Theatre.

Melbourne-based Bey Dance brings the Beyoncé dance love to Darwin Festival with a Dance Like Queen B Flashmob Workshop. Join Queen B devotees at the Adina Vibe Hotel for an inclusive and bootylicious dance class where you’ll learn some iconic Beyoncé moves before trying them out flashmob style in Festival Park! Get ready to unleash your inner diva and make Queen Bey proud from Thursday 24 – Sunday 27 August.

Sydney Dance Company hits the stage with two beautiful dance masterpieces.  Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela’s critically acclaimed Frame of Mind sees dancers perform with intense passion and breathtaking precision. Choreographic prodigy Gabrielle Nankivell’s smash-hitWildebeest is an animalistic dance work showcasing the power of dancers as individuals and en masse. Witness this double bill of powerful, personal and poetic dance at the Playhouse, Darwin Entertainment Centre on Saturday 26 August.

Man Made is a reflective dance piece presented by Tracks Dance that follows the journey from boyhood to manhood. Combining hip hop and contemporary dance, the show is an insightful exploration of the social pressures, attributes and challenges that make a man. See the stellar cast of male dancers aged 16 to 70 perform from Friday 11 – Sunday 13 August and Wednesday 16 – Sunday 20 August at Frog Hollow Park.

Put your best foot forward and get ready for a massive three nights of dance and fun for the whole family at You Should Be Dancing Darwin.This all out celebration is an exhilarating non-stop party experience where you can salsa, can-can, and twerk til’ you drop! You Should Be Dancing Darwin is your invitation to glam up and party with the city’s dancing legends and diverse community groups. Dance your heart out from Friday 11 August – Sunday 13 August on the Sunset Stage in Festival Park.


This year, Darwin Festival presents two captivating Asian Rock Documentaries that provide an insight into the unique rock music scene of Cambodia and Indonesia.

Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten is a powerful documentary that captures Cambodia’s booming rock ‘n’ roll scene during the ‘60s and ‘70s. From twangy guitar beginnings to psychedelic tunes, the film celebrates talented Cambodian musicians and the incredibly unique music they produced before a violent war nearly destroyed their country.  Directed by John Pirozzi, Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten presents Cambodia in a fascinating new light. Watch this brilliant documentary at Deckchair Cinema on Monday 14 August.

Critically acclaimed Jalanan (Streetside) is a stark and honest reflection of Jakarta’s poor and marginalised street musicians. Join director Daniel Ziv as he documents the lives of Boni, Ho and Titi for five, tumultuous years. The film is a striking, intimate and often humorous portrait of a never before seen Indonesian sub-culture. Jalanan screens at the Deckchair Cinema on Monday 12 August.


Love, scandal and hilarious antics abound in a brand-new production of Mozart’s timeless classic The Marriage of Figaro. Opera fans and first timers alike will be delighted by the beautiful music, stunning period costumes and a cleverly constructed set. Bring the whole family along to the Downton Abbey of opera – but a whole lot more fun! The Marriage of Figaro is showing at the Playhouse, Darwin Entertainment Centre onThursday 10 August and Friday 11 August.


This year’s Words & Ideas program features an incredible line-up of academics, artists and experts from around the word. Join an orchestra with a difference at the Darwin Laptop Orchestra Workshop. Learn how to collaborate, compose and perform live – all with the use of a laptop.

Learn more about the history and future of Darwin with Talking Through Walls. Led by locals, architects, commentators and residents, three inspiring and educational excursions will encourage you to see the city you love in a whole new light.

Discover the gastronomic delights of the Top End with Tropical Kitchen.  Indulge your senses, learn from local market celebrities and explore Darwin’s hidden flavours with a market tour and a hands-on cooking class.

Charles Darwin University delivers an inspiring afternoon of provocative questions and stimulating ideas with Sunday at CDU. Join the likes of academic Curtis Roman and Senator Malarndirri McCarthy in a thought-provoking panel discussion about the most important questions facing Australia today.  Listen to Robyn Williams from Radio National and Alanna Mitchell (Seasick) as they discuss the art of turning complex science into compelling stories. Be inspired by fascinated by international artists who call Darwin home, Ionnis Michaloudis, Christian Bok and Nicolas Bullot, as they discuss the places where science and arts overlap. Don’t miss out on this fantastic free event in the CDU Theatre on Sunday 20 August.

Festival favourite SPUN returns with a celebration of life in the tropics in SPUN: HOME. Laugh, cry and be awed as Darwin locals reveal true personal stories about their experience of ‘home.’ This fascinating live storytelling event runs at The Lighthouse on Tuesday 22 August.


Experience the best in Indigenous visual art, film, fashion and conversation at the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair (DAAF). Highlighting the vibrant and evolving Indigenous art scene, this annual event celebrates the works of emerging and established Indigenous artists in Australia. The extensive program also features a panel discussion, the From Country to Contour – DAAFF Fashion Show, and the DAAFF Indigenous Film Gala.

Behind the Wire is an opportunity for Northern Territory prisoners to exhibit and showcase their works of art to the public. Be awed by the amazing depth and creativity of their works from Friday 11 – Sunday 27 August at Fannie Bay Gaol. Deborah Wirrkidj, Jennifer Wurrkidj, Susan Marawarr, Helen Lanyinwanga and Melba Gunjarrwanga showcase their incredible artistry in Karridjowkke Kunronj – Crossing Streams.These established female artists from the Kuninjku homelands of Western Arnhem Land combine traditional art-making methods with contemporary imagery to reflect the life of the land.

The 34th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (Telstra NATSIAA) celebrates and showcases the work of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. Engage in the wonderful works of up and coming artists and enjoy the major works of Australia’s most revered artists.  This year’s awards ceremony and opening night is filled with incredible live performances, music and dance.

Darwin’s very own brand of Salon des Refuses SALON17 is back popular demand. Featuring a selection of the boldest contemporary Indigenous art that were unsuccessfully submitted for the prestigious Telstra NATSIAA, SALON17 is a vibrant and diverse showcase of the quality of artwork being produced in Australia today. SALON17 runs from Thursday 10 August – Saturday 30 September at the CDU Art Gallery. 

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