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Darwin’s Winter Festival Is Going Ahead For 2020 So You Can Escape This Winter Hell

Darwin’s Winter Festival Is Going Ahead For 2020 So You Can Escape This Winter Hell

It will look and feel a little different this year, but Darwin’s winter festival is forging ahead with a slew of homegrown talent performing across live and online events.

Right when we all need it most, Darwin Festival returns as Australia’s hottest winter arts festival with DF20 Homegrown, running from Thursday August 6 to Sunday August 16.

Organisers have had to reimagine this year’s event for obvious reasons, but DF20 Homegrown will include Australia’s first music festival since lockdown; a line up that celebrates Northern Territory life, arts and culture, with a focus on local talent; and a diverse program offering everything from cabaret and comedy to visual arts and storytelling.


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“We have reimagined the scale and scope of this year’s festival to deliver something special and unique for 2020,” says Darwin Festival Artistic Director Felix Preval. “This year has provided an exciting opportunity to get back to our roots and program a local line-up”.

It’s fitting the NT are leading the charge, seeing as they’re still the most successful state or territory in Australia during the whole COVID-19 fiasco. They’ll re-open borders to interstate visitors (except for Victorians, sorry) on July 17.

What’s changed?

Firstly, the festival will run over a shortened 11-day period (instead of 18) with a focus on Australian and NT talent.

The new Sunset Stage replaces the lighthouse at Festival Park, and is where you’ll catch all the hottest homegrown acts – from storytelling events, to stunning musical performances from the Top End’s best, including: Caiti Baker, Serina Pech, and Stevie Jean in Settle Down Sisters; Arnhem Land all-stars, Yilila and Ripple Effect Band; as well as huge album launches from Kuya James and David Garnham and the Reasons to Live, just to name a few.


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The Browns courtyard will be transformed into a live arts precinct with a number of works for intimate audiences.

The much-loved City of Darwin Teddy Bears’ Picnic finds a new home at Festival Park for a morning full of food, entertainment, games, and of course, Big Ted.

For the very first time, national audiences will be able to get in on the fun with the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair and the National Indigenous Music Awards, which are both going virtual. We’ll also be able to attend ceremonies for the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (Telstra NATSIAA) and the inaugural National Indigenous Fashion Awards, also available online.


What hasn’t changed?

The festival is running in Darwin’s dry season, which is constantly touted as the best time to visit. It’s a tropical and balmy climate without the ridiculous humidity. Think mid to high 20s.

Opening night is still a free concert – this year includes a performance from Gary Lang’s celebrated NT Dance Company, and musicians Eric Avery, Mandy Garling and Hotel Red, and much more stellar local talent.

The program is jam-packed and diverse, with the festival still feeling like a festival despite virtual offerings. There’s enough live acts to really bring the city to life.

“Our 2020 Festival program features a line-up of Top End superstars, spanning 48 eclectic events across over 10 Darwin venues,” explains Preval.

“Get pumped for fresh musical collaborations, intriguing theatre and dance performances, roaringly funny comedy and cabaret, stunning backyard concerts, and experimental music from dusk till dawn”.

As always, DF20 Homegrown is an invitation to learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and immerse yourself in the offerings from excellent Indigenous talent.

What are the COVID-19 measures in place?

“Our top priority has, and always will be, ensuring the health and safety of everyone attending Darwin Festival. As such, we’ve worked tirelessly with the Department of Health to ensure DF20 Homegrown is a celebration that fits into this different world we live in,” explains Acting CEO James Gough.

“We strongly encourage all patrons to exercise COVID-safe principles at the Festival – wash your hands, practice physical distancing and download the COVID-safe app. There will be a limited capacity to Festival Park however, entry is guaranteed for those who buy a ticket to a Sunset Stage show for that night. So, book early to secure your night of fun”.

For more information about the Darwin Festival and for a full line up, click here. And for all your Darwin planning, here’s our guide on spending 48 hours in the Top End.

(Lead Image: Provided / Darwin Winter Festival)

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