A Message from the Artistic Director



40 years. The big four oh. 2019 is a big year for Darwin Festival and to celebrate we’ve put together a program that is big in every sense – big shows, big ideas, and more than a few big nights out. It’s been an absolute pleasure curating this year’s Festival program. Many of the incredible shows coming to you in 2019 have been years in the planning and we know you’re going to love them all just as much as we do.

We kick off the festivities tonight with a very special Santos Opening Night Concert. Getting the party started, we have two incredible opening acts; Darwin’s own queen of soul Caiti Baker, and one of the most original and uplifting new voices around, Adrian Eagle. Headlining artists Yothu Yindi are arguably the most important band in Australian music history with their home-grown fusion of traditional culture and blazing rock – it’s going to be epic. And of course, it’s FREE! Be there.

Our opening weekend events continue to position Darwin in August as the most significant gathering of Indigenous artists and arts lovers in the country, with keystone events the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, National Indigenous Music Awards, 36th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards and Salon Art Projects bringing thousands of artists and arts lovers to town. Indigenous music icons Mojo Juju and Archie Roach will set the tone for a huge three weekends of live music at the Lighthouse in Festival Park, and Torres Strait Islander triple-threat (dancer, actor and comedian) Ghenoa Gela looks set to sell out her run at of the funny and insightful My Urrwai at Brown’s Mart Theatre.

Some of the most thrilling and challenging Indigenous theatre from across Australia continues in the second week of the Festival, starting with Leg’s on the Wall’s astounding production Man With The Iron Neck, starring Darwin’s own Ursula Yovitch in her final stage performance. Bighouse Dreaming, by Alice Springs born and raised Declan Furber-Gillick, lays bare the tragic cycle of youth incarceration and will certainly make an impact, while multi-award winning theatre work Blood On The Dance Floor explores identity, memory and the search for love in a deeply personal work by Jacob Boehme.

First Nations artist from around the world join the conversation this year from as far afield as Canada, Taiwan and New Zealand. Our sophomore First Nations Exchange artists Leela Gilday (Canada) and Emily Wurramara (Australia) are set to enchant audiences with their folk-inflected tunes, while multi-talented Māori musician Troy Kingi brings a fresh blast of roots-reggae vibes to his show in a rare musical treat for Darwin Festival audiences.

Look out for our special 40th Anniversary commission Parade Days, screening nightly at Festival Park, and our big closing weekend community spectacular Drumming Up the Storm, you’ll certainly hear it!

What else to expect? Visual arts galore. Exciting new installations at Festival Park. Pop up performances and surprises a-plenty. Dancing. Music. Wonderment. Mayhem. Delights for every sense. Few could have anticipated 40 years ago that this is where we’d be today, and I wonder what Darwin Festival will look like in another 40 years – guaranteed, though, if it’s anything like 2019, you’ll want to book your tickets quick!

See you at Festival Park!