Now or Never Festival drops unmissable program

CoM-Now-or-Never-Theatre-of-ThunderThis August, Melbourne will be transformed with art trails, sculptural illuminations and projections, a 360° pop-up dome cinema and a non-stop weekend of gigs, as the City of Melbourne debuts its spectacular new festival, Now or Never.

Now or Never is an unmissable addition to our enviable events calendar this winter – cementing Melbourne’s reputation as Australia’s cultural capital while also boosting our local economy through a traditionally quiet time of year,” said Lord Mayor Sally Capp

“This inaugural festival will showcase Melbourne as a place to discover, learn and play – with daytime programming seeping into late-night culture, digital musings, adventurous performances, one-of-a-kind culinary experiences and more.”

“We’re expecting more than 200,000 people to flock to the city to make the most of Now or Never‘s free and ticketed events and experiences – boosting business for our city traders,” said the Lord Mayor.

Now or Never is a 17-day festival in August designed to attract more visitors to Melbourne during a previously quiet period – invigorating the city and boosting the local economy.

The event will bring together more than 300 local and internationally-renowned artists, composers, change makers and innovators – with a vibrant program of events, featuring 18 Australian premieres and 20 festival exclusive commissions.

More than 200,000 people are expected to fill venues and precincts across the city – from late-night club spots to the Docklands foreshore. Now or Never will also incorporate daytime events to attract more people to the city on weekdays.

With more than 70 ground-breaking music performances, immersive digital art installations and daytime talks, Now or Never ‘s cutting-edge program will explore possibilities found where art and technology converge.

Now or Never program highlights include:

  • A larger-than-life Art Trail, curated by renowned art and technology organisation Experimenta, will ignite a 1.2-kilometre promenade in Docklands. The free, family-friendly installation will feature works from seven leading contemporary artists including Michaela Gleave, Jarra Karalinar Steel and Jon McCormack, as well as works by Theatre of Thunder, Georgie Pinn, Universal Everything (UK) and Justine Emard (Fr).

  • A giant pop-up dome coined the Neversphere will immerse audiences in a bustling program of film, projected across a 360° screen in the Melbourne Museum forecourt.

  • One of Melbourne’s most popular restaurants will present a multi-sensory, one-of-a-kind dining experience in the Neversphere, as part of 360° Dining with Supernormal. Diners will enjoy a menu of delectable dishes and a Four Pillars Gin welcome cocktail, with matched Mitchelton Wines, while immersing themselves in the multimedia works of artists including Ryoichi Kurokawa, Pantha du Prince and Natalia Stuyk.

  • A world premiere by Hungarian artist and 3D-mapping pioneer Laszlo Bordos, whose work has enveloped some of the world’s most renowned buildings, bringing the Shrine of Remembrance into motion like never before. A series of sculptural illuminations and projections will highlight the cultural significance of the iconic building, marking the 100th anniversary of the Shrine’s design competition. With an accompanying sonic landscape designed by Czech composer Ond?ej Skála, the work will highlight the iconic architecture of the building and the significance of the Shrine as a place of commemoration.

  • NONSTOP WKND, which will bring audiences two days of leftfield music, cutting-edge audio-visuals and boundary-pushing performances. This curated, revolving door of back-to-back shows will see 70 industry leading artists from home and abroad perform 12 unique shows across six iconic Melbourne venues including Miscelania, Sub Club, The Toff, Section 8, John Curtain Band Room and Max Watts.

  • An exclusive event at Melbourne Museum’s IMAX in celebration of National Science Week, with world renowned environmentalist Dr. David Suzuki live streamed from Canada in conversation with multi-award-winning ABC journalist and presenter Natasha Mitchell. Discussions will centre on the current state of our planet and the importance of human intelligence.

  • The return of large-scale live music to the historic Royal Exhibition Building for the first time in 20 years, with a cutting-edge line-up of local artists and international headliners.

  • Never Permanent, presented by the internationally acclaimed design festival, Semi Permanent – a one-of-a-kind series of talks and panels celebrating and exploring the rich intersection of creativity and technology in the modern world, headlined by Roman Coppola.

“We know events attract new visitors and inject hundreds of millions into our economy. This year’s Moomba Festival drew a record 1.4 million people to the city, while our Christmas Festival pumped an estimated $130 million into the local economy,” said City Activation portfolio lead Councillor Roshena Campbell.

Now or Never will become another major drawcard – supporting and creating new jobs, while bringing more customers to the city,” said Ms Campbell.

Now or Never will take over Melbourne from Thursday 17 August to Saturday 2 September 2023. For more information and to see the full program, visit: for details.

Image: Theatre of Thunder (supplied)