10 highlights of YIRRAMBOI Festival

Explore more than 150 dynamic events that celebrate First Nations culture presented by YIRRAMBOI Festival between 6 and 16 May.

Meaning ‘tomorrow’ in the shared local languages of the Boonwurrung and Woiwurrung peoples, YIRRAMBOI Festival is a celebration of the diversity and continuous evolution of the longest living cultures in the world.

The festival features a dynamic program of free and low-cost events spanning genres and art forms including music, dance, theatre, film, exhibitions, markets, fashion parades, family-friendly events, talks and symposiums.

Creative Director of YIRRAMBOI Festival and Boonwurrung and Wemba Wemba woman Caroline Martin said this year’s festival is all about what’s next.

‘When you immerse yourself in the many free and paid events you will be a part of the first live audience that many of our creatives have had in more than 12 months, and we can’t wait to celebrate with you,’ Caroline said.

Here are 10 of the festival’s highlights:

1. Women’s Healing Place
Thursday 6 to Saturday 15 May, various dates and times
Queen Victoria Women’s Centre
Attend a series of workshops led by proud First Nations women that explore identity, culture, trauma, healing and self-care through storytelling, yarning, visual art, song and movement.

2. Arterial
Friday 7 to Sunday 9 May, 8.30pm
Meat Market Cobblestone Pavilion

Marvel at a breathtaking acrobatic performance by the Na Djinang Circus, led by award-winning entertainer Harley Mann, that explores the ancient connections that tie First Nations people together.

3. Barring Yanabul: City-wide Blak Out
Saturday 8 May, 8.30am to 8.30pm
Across the city
See 40 top acts pop-up across the city in this this all-day celebration of Blak culture. Explore the city’s iconic public spaces and laneways to discover art, music, dance, theatre and fashion. Free.

4. Crumbs
Saturday 8 to Sunday 16 May, various times
ArtPlay, Birrarung Marr

Bring kids aged 5 to 10 to enjoy a magical story of a cubby, a sneaky neighbour and a fight for survival. See the epic battle unfold in this hilarious show from writers NazAree Dickerson and Nathan Maynard.

5. Blak Makers Market
Sunday 9 May, 10am to 5pm
Malthouse Outdoor Stage, Southbank

Discover something new, handmade or delicious at this outdoor market. Browse stalls showcasing fashion, jewellery, crafts and bush food – all from proud Blak makers. Free entry.

6. Madhanbaa Mayrra
Saturday 8 May, 8pm
Melbourne Town Hall
Hear traditional-style songs in Yuwaalaraay and Gamilaraay languages infused with techno rhythms and the rich sounds of Melbourne Town Hall’s Grand Organ. James Henry blends unlikely genres in this unmissable gig.

7. BRED
Wednesday 12 to Saturday 15 May, various times
Meat Market, North Melbourne

See the stars of Briefs Factory interrogate First Nations history with trademark drag, sass and performance art at Meat Market. This cabaret creates space to salvage cultural connections and closeness post-lockdown.

8. Deadly Funny Showcase
Friday 14 May, 6.30pm
Malthouse Outdoor Stage, Southbank
Giggle and guffaw and some of Australia’s freshest and funniest Blak comedians. Cheeky and loud, Blak and proud, these side-splitting acts will be welcomed to the stage by your host, Gurindji showgirl Constantina Bush.

9. Blak Fillums
Tuesday 11 to Thursday 13 May, 7pm nightly
The Capitol, Melbourne
Settle in on Swanston Street for three nights of films from First Nations creatives, including a documentary about an Australian company mining in Greenland and a revealing look into the lives of Transblack people.

10. Considerable Sexual Licence
Wednesday 5 to Saturday 15 May, various times
Northcote Town Hall

Take a flirty, filthy and passionate look at the true history of sensuality down under. This provocative performance led by proud Wiradjuri man Joel Bray celebrates country, community, consent and kinship.

Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece said the festival showcases the diversity and creativity of First Nations arts and culture.

‘We’re bringing the buzz back to Melbourne through Australia’s largest and most exciting First Nations festival, celebrating a cultural history stretching back more than 65,000 years,’ the Deputy Lord Mayor said.

‘Melbourne’s First Nations people make significant contributions to our city and we’re incredibly proud to have this opportunity to appreciate and recognise their culture and their talent through the YIRRAMBOI Festival.

‘Not only is YIRRAMBOI Festival a celebration, it also provides genuine economic benefit to more than 200 First Nations people working in the creative sector.’

For bookings and further information, visit YIRRAMBOI Festival.