Australia’s hottest winter arts festival opens in Darwin for 2023

MF-HEXADECAAustralia’s hottest winter arts festival, the Darwin Festival, has opened for another year with stellar shows, cultural wonders and arty experiences.

Running until Sunday 27 August, an expansive program filled with local talent, renowned national and international performers, and an assorted blend of shows will enchant both locals and tourists alike.

This year’s program is jam-packed with over 80 events, including 280 performances spread across 28 venues and featuring more than 850 artists from the NT, Australia and overseas.

“A feast of the hottest music, theatre, visual art, dance, comedy and wild and daring acts will play at Darwin Festival venues across the city, with delicious food and drink stalls and a party atmosphere served up at Festival Park and Festival Lawn,” said Darwin Festival Artistic Director, Kate Fell.

“Some incredible First Nations music help us kick off the opening week celebrations including gigs from the likes of Arnhem Land’s rising star Yirrmal and ARIA-award-winning Budjerah at our stunning open air INPEX Sunset Stage.”

“The 17th annual National Indigenous Music Awards will light up the Botanic Gardens on the first Saturday of the Festival, honouring this year’s top First Nations music artists with a line-up that includes Thelma Plum, Barkaa, Kobie Dee, Dean Brady and Ngulmiya.”

“Fans of stirring stage productions will also be spoilt for choice. We have the world premiere event The Other Side of Me opening over the first week. This is an international collaboration by NT Dance Company and Northumbria University, UK, choreographed by the Northern Territory’s own Gary Lang.”

“I’m With Her is a theatre work featuring a local cast of eight women sharing stories of extraordinary women dealing with sexism in the age of #MeToo and #TimesUp; and The Barber of Seville will see an Opera Australia finest performers present Rossini’s most famous comical opera.”

“There’s just so much to enjoy, make sure to get your tickets soon, because shows are selling out fast,” said Kate Fell.

The 2023 Darwin Festival continues to Sunday 27 August. For more information and full program, visit: for details.

Image: Hexadeca – photo by Morgan Sette

DF-Festival-Park-by-Helen-Orr2023 Darwin Festival highlights for week one include:

This year there’ll be double the fun as the Festival opens a new space, Festival Lawn, with the return of Darwin favourite Blanc de Blanc Encore in The Spiegeltent, and a new venue – Maho Magic Bar, featuring mind-blowing Japanese magic.

Festival Park comes to life with free performances, the best of Darwin on a plate and a new play space, Kolsen Twilight Playground, where audiences can experiment with light and sound in two interactive installations – Mirror Mirror and Hexadeca.

The 17-year-old National Indigenous Music Awards (NIMAs) celebrate the diversity and achievements of First Nations musicians, fostering careers of many acclaimed artists, and promises another must-see event this year.

Don’t miss the opportunity to experience Yirrmal, Arnhem Land’s rising star, renowned for his captivating storytelling, soulful singing, and powerful, uplifting music that truly touches the soul.

Experience the electrifying R&B sensation and ARIA-award-winningBudjerah. Expect an unforgettable night of soul, gospel and contemporary pop from one of Australia’s most exciting new talents.

Darwin’s favourite year-round music venue, The Railway Club, will once again feature a feast of live music talent every Friday and Saturday night of the Festival. Head out to The Rails on the first weekend of the Festival to experience sets by Out to Lunch Presents Etson and Tek Tek Ensemble.

The Spiegeltent returns to Darwin Festival with the world-class cabaret sensation, Blanc de Blanc Encore, featuring a new all-star international cast that wowed audiences in three sell-out seasons in Sydney. Experience vintage French flair, spectacular aerials, and sparkling comedy in the expanded Festival Park Precinct.

Maho Magic Bar brings a neon-lit Tokyo night to Festival Lawn, featuring close-up magic and captivating performances. This unique experience, part show and part bar, promises amazement, cocktails, and laughter.

Experience the real-life stories of eight extraordinary Australian women confronting sexism, staged by a diverse Darwin women cast. I’m With Her is a thought-provoking demonstration of resilience in the #MeToo and #TimesUp era.

A Simple Space presents seven acrobats pushing their limits in a raw, spectacular display of strength and skill, driven by an original percussive soundtrack. Feel the intensity up close in this stripped-back circus experience.

Join a morning of fun, free artistic activities when the City of Darwin Teddy Bears’ Picnic returns to The Esplanade. Dress up, bring a teddy, and enjoy performances, face painting, and a junkyard band adventure for this fun, free, family outing.

The 17th Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair invites visitors to explore a diverse range of Indigenous art from over 1,500 artists and offers a unique opportunity to purchase directly from more than 70 Indigenous owned Art Centres.

Marking its 40th year, the 2023 Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA) showcases an impressive breadth of works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. Celebrate at the opening night and awards ceremony, then explore the exhibition’s outstanding breadth of works.

SALON Art Projects returns with an array of exhibitions featuring ethically sourced Indigenous art, including paintings, textiles and 3D works. The highlight, SALON des Refusés, presents outstanding artwork not selected for the NATSIAAs, offering a glimpse into the past and future of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. UNTOLD Darwin complements these exhibits with a program of Indigenous storytelling, discussion, and exchange.

The Barber of Seville is a comical opera featuring lyrical acrobatics and lively characters. Wealthy Almaviva and clever Rosina enlist the matchmaking skills of Figaro, the barber, to navigate Rosina’s betrothal. This famous Rossini masterpiece, performed by Opera Australia’s finest and a live orchestra, offers a humorous journey to true love.

Image: Festival Park – photo by Helen Orr