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Darwin Festival Returns This August As The Beating Heart Of First Nations’ Culture

March 16, 2021 Events / Whats On No Comments Email Email

Darwin comes alive each August when Darwin Festival takes over the city. And this year from 5 –22, the Festival is excited to be welcoming everyone back – locals and interstate guests – to celebrate uniquely Australian art and culture with 18 hot August nights.

Darwin Festival’s opening weekend of events highlights Darwin as the beating heart of First Nations culture in Australia and this message is being shared loud and proud as part of an exciting interstate marketing campaign to drive interstate visitation to Darwin in August.  Whether it’s art, music or fashion, the Festival has a huge program of world-class experiences and events that shine a spotlight on the contemporary and the timeless in First Nations’ creativity. 

It all kicks off on Thursday 5 August with the Festival’s huge opening night celebration extravaganza. This free, open-air event will see The Amphitheatre at George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens transformed into a meeting place of dance, song and ritual with BuÅ‹gul to open the 2021 Darwin Festival.

BuÅ‹gul  – Gurrumul’s Mother’s BuÅ‹gul, Gurrumul’s Grandmother’s BuÅ‹gul, Gurrumul’s Manikay was created on country in North East Arnhem Land with the YunupiÅ‹u family. It will be a huge ceremonial celebration of the legendary Gurrumul’s final album, Djarrimirri (Child of the Rainbow) and will feature live performance by YolÅ‹u dancers, songmen and the Darwin Symphony Orchestra.

From 6 – 8 August, Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair offers a chance to ethically purchase artwork direct from over 70 Indigenous-owned Art Centres, with 100% of all sales made going back to the artists and their communities. Its companion events, the annual Country to Couture textiles and fashion design showcase (3 Aug) and the National Indigenous Fashion Awards (4 Aug), demonstrate exactly why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fashion is so hot right now.

Music lovers won’t want to miss the National Indigenous Music Awards on Saturday 7 August. Celebrate the biggest names on the Australian music scene and discover up and coming talent in one mega night of music under the stars.

The Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards have been showcasing the best Australian Indigenous art from around the country for nearly 40 years. See a diverse range of work from emerging and established artists as part of the exhibition at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory or at art galleries across the city as part of Salon Art Projects’ SALON 21. These exhibitions encourage a more intimate learning experience about the artists’ culture, country and connections to both.

Darwin Festival CEO James Gough says, “it is a privilege to highlight the breadth and depth of First Nations cultural events in the NT. Darwin is set to come alive this August as the beating heart of First Nations culture in Australia and we are proud to amplify these associated events as part of the 2021 Darwin Festival program.

‘Darwin Festival prides itself on being a leading presenter of First Nations arts and culture. We are committed to supporting First Nations’ voices and artists. It is central to identity of the Festival”, said Gough.

Darwin Festival Artistic Director Felix Preval added, “BuÅ‹gul is just the first announcement of a number of phenomenal works in the 2021 Darwin Festival program that explore the richness of First Nations practice in Australia. ‘This work is a breathtaking celebration of the strength of Yolngu culture and there’s so much more to come in this year’s program that will go on sale in June.’

Darwin Festival Chair Ian Kew noted that Darwin Festival’s interstate marketing speaks directly to the Festival’s strategic vision of creating destinations, driving visitation to Darwin and promoting the Northern Territory.

“We are grateful for the support of the Northern Territory Government and Northern Territory Major Events Company in helping the Festival and other associated events extend their reach into the interstate visitor market.”

There really is so much to see, hear, taste and experience at Darwin Festival, including the very best in contemporary First Nations art and culture inspired by millennia on this land. Visitors are encouraged to plan and book early so as not to miss out on this winter Festival wonderland – tropical Top End style!

Darwin Festival runs from 5 – 22 August 2021. Early release shows will be announced early May, with full program details announced 18 June.

For more information on Darwin Festival’s First Nations showcase campaign visit:

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