Australia’s Hottest Winter Arts Festival Reveals First Shows For 2022

Darwin Festival, Australia’s hottest winter arts festival, returns from 4-21 August 2022, serving up 18 gorgeously tropical days and nights in venues across Darwin with a program brimming with music,  theatre, comedy, dance, cabaret, visual arts and family fun.

Your first taste of 2022’s hot August nights has arrived with a sneaky reveal of some of the stellar shows on offer this year. There’s cutting-edge theatre, provocative cabaret, high fashion, Indigenous ballet, some of the hottest live music acts in the world and even a Grammy-nominated international artist in the mix.

Experience the ancient songlines that inspired Gurrumul’s album Djarimirri (Child of the Rainbow) at the Santos Opening Night Concert, Buŋgul on Thursday 4 August. This free, open-air event will see Darwin Amphitheatre at George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens transformed into a meeting place of dance, song and ritual in a live performance by Yolŋu dancers, songmen and the Darwin Symphony Orchestra. Created on country in North East Arnhem Land with the Yunupiŋu family, Buŋgul is a ceremonial celebration of Gurrumul’s seminal final album, a landmark in Australian music. This will be the first time the work has been performed in the NT, as well as its first time performed outdoors and for free. A spectacular not to be missed!

The National Indigenous Music Awards, one of Australia’s most important music events, returns IRL on Saturday 6 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. With Thelma Plum and King Stingray just the tip of the live performance iceberg, the night is set to be a true celebration of what has been a huge year of First Nations music.

The 16th Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair is also welcoming people back in person to experience the rich diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, design and culture at the Darwin Convention Centre from 5-7 August. One of the highlights of the Art Fair each year is Country to Couture – where First Nations textiles and fashion collide in a colourful showcase of wearable art. Building on the growing textile design movement in remote Indigenous communities, this extremely popular runway event presents innovative collections from Indigenous designers and artists across Australia, as well as unique collaborations between Indigenous communities and well-known Australian labels. Country to Couture takes to the catwalk for two shows on Tuesday 2 August.

The Playhouse at Darwin Entertainment Centre is transformed into a tennis court for the heart-warming story of Wiradjuri Australian tennis legend Evonne Goolagong, in the theatrical work Sunshine Super Girl on Friday 12 and Saturday 13 August. Written and directed by Yorta Yorta/Gunaikurnai theatre maker Andrea James, Sunshine Super Girl is a celebration of the triumph of spirit and passion over adversity, and a tribute to a woman whose sporting prowess continues to inspire a nation. In a unique theatre-going experience, audiences can get up close to the action with exclusive on-stage courtside seats.

Wuŋa, on Friday 5 and Saturday 6 August, sees NT Dance Company fuse traditional lore with contemporary movement to share poignant experiences of grief and joy. Choreographer Gary Lang’s personal response to the sadness of young lives lost in remote Indigenous communities comes together in his own unique style of contemporary ‘Indigenous ballet’. Philip Glass compositions performed by Darwin Symphony Orchestra underpin this moving dance production that captures both the pain and relief of a spirit’s passing and the welcome it receives from those that have gone ahead.

AutoCannibal is a gruesomely funny work by circus firebrand Mitch Jones (aka Captain Ruin) that explores environmental destruction through the metaphor of an individual body. Mesmerising, poignant and terrifyingly hilarious, this unnerving merger of circus, performance art and physical theatre, at DEC’s Studio Theatre from Friday 5 to Sunday 7 August, will have audiences on the edge of their seats as they contemplate our shared fate in a world destroyed by irreversible climate change.

Internationally renowned for their arresting mix of provocation and entertainment, Finucane & Smith return to Darwin with their Travelling Dance Hall. Featuring local luminaries alongside global talent, irresistible music, torch songs and hot moves, festoons and fan-dancing, Dance Hall celebrates the beauty in us all, under a starry sky and the twinkling lights of Darwin Festival’s INPEX Sunset Stage on Friday 12 and Saturday 13 August.

The Australian Ballet’s Regional Tour Ballet Gala will bring the joy of classical dance to the Top End in a dazzling display of ballet on Thursday 18 and Friday 19 August. A highlight of the program will be Swan Lake Variations, a tribute to the beauty of the best-loved composer of ballet music, Tchaikovsky. This never-before-seen piece has been especially choreographed for the Regional Tour Ballet Gala by former Artistic Director David McAllister.

British indie pop sensation Arlo Parks is making Darwin Festival the very first stop on her first Australian tour this August. Having won the UK’s prestigious Mercury Prize and earned triple j Feature Album status, the 21-year-old also recently nabbed herself two Grammy Nominations. Arlo Parks is fast becoming the voice of a generation and one act not to miss on Sunday 7 August.

Portable party ensemble Confidence Man, arguably one of the hottest live acts in Australian music today, are making a return to the Festival on the final Thursday (18 August) as a part of their national album tour. Unstoppable, unquenchable and undeniable, Confidence Man promise a night of outlandish costumes, choreographed routines and bossy lyrics on the INPEX Sunset Stage.

Darwin Festival Artistic Director Felix Preval says, “This is just the first taste of the hot August nights to come and it’s going to get hotter yet, with our full program launching in June.  We are thrilled to invite international acts back into the Festival this year, playing alongside some of the best Australian and Northern Territory talent. We’ve prepared a huge program with pressing themes as well as nights of pure abandon. This year’s program marks the end of an era for me as my sixth and final Darwin Festival, and I can’t wait to celebrate with everyone in August.”

Darwin Festival CEO James Gough says, “This sneak peek of our 2022 program means local and interstate audiences can start planning their Festival adventures now. We know that festivals and events are an important driver for interstate visitation to Darwin in August and we are well positioned to provide an exceptional experience this year. Darwin Festival remains committed to connecting communities through the celebration of culture and the arts, and we look forward to sharing the full program in June.”

Minister for Major Events Natasha Fyles says, “Excitement is building in the Top End for this year’s Darwin Festival, until this iconic event takes over the Territory’s capital. Darwin Festival is the Territory’s biggest festival of arts and culture, and attracts a slew of national and international acts who perform across numerous venues each year, creating a vibe across the city.

“Territorians and visitors will witness a high-calibre program, which really does feature something for everyone, so buy your tickets early or risk missing out.

“The Territory Government is proud to support Darwin Festival, recognising the significant benefits and opportunities it creates for Territorians, local businesses and our economy.”

Darwin Festival is the Northern Territory’s largest major festival of arts and culture. Each August, it combines warm outdoor festivities with a program rich with local, national and international talent over 18 dazzling days and nights, celebrating the quintessential spirit and energy of Darwin, with its laidback, friendly lifestyle.

EARLY RELEASE TICKETS are on sale from 9am Thursday 12 May and can be purchased online at

The full program of cabaret, theatre, comedy, dance, visual arts, outdoor concerts under the stars and fun family events will be announced on Thursday 16 June.  Audiences are invited to sign up as a Friend of the Festival member ( to access an exclusive pre-sale period from 17-19 June, with tickets available to the general public from Monday 20 June.

Darwin Festival is proudly supported by the Northern Territory Government and City of Darwin.

Matt Fraser P: 02 8065 7363 M: 0401 326 007