Apollo Bay’s boundary-pushing dark arts festival, WinterWild, returns this August

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Apollo Bay’s boundary-pushing dark arts festival, WinterWild, returns this August

Victoria's answer to Dark Mofo is back for 2021

Far from your average festival, WinterWild is returning to Apollo Bay this August, igniting the Otways with an immersive, boundary-pushing program for the fourth time.

The festival – wrapped in the darkness and elemental power of the Victorian winter – will take place over two wintery weekends, August 13-15 and August 27-29, with the festivities kicking off around large ocean-side bonfires before moving in to explore the town of Apollo Bay that’ll be transformed with roving performers and projection art.

The key takeaways

  • WinterWild is back over two weekends August 13-15 & August 27-29
  • The festival will feature a program of music, performance, feasting in a celebration of dark winter energy centred in Apollo Bay.
  • The full program is available online now

Keep up with the latest festival news via our website.

A thoughtfully curated program, WinterWild focuses on the idea of peering into the darkness for inspiration, revelations and surprises.

The first weekend is about music and comedy.

Keeping Apollo Bay’s live music tradition running, WinterWild boasts a program of powerful, unfettered live music in the much-loved oldest venue in Apollo Bay, The Mech Hall, headlined by a reunion of Apollo Bay hometown heroes The Vasco Era, returning after 10 years on Saturday night, supported by coastal afro-beat rhythm kings Bananagun, female psych queens Parsnip, Melbourne-based garage quartet Bad Bangs and homegrown heavy hitters The Refuge.

Coastal psych-blues quintet The Murlocs head up another band night with doom-fuzz label mates ORB, support sets from lo-fi garage rockers Sledgehammer, local favourites The Fillmores and a rare solo set from Sid O’Neil.

For the first time, WinterWild will feature comedy across the weekend, with rising stars of Melbourne stand-up, including Charlie Zangel, winner of Best Newcomer in the 2021 Melbourne Comedy Festival.


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The second weekend is worth braving the cold for, celebrating food, theatre and surf.

Revel in the beauty of surfing in the Southern Ocean with Whispers Of The Sea for an evening of art, live music performances and local films; or grab your dancing shoes and your friends as Moira Finucane’s unleash the both Diva Dive, a heady cocktail of low-cut, high art, gothic queens, butoh and burlesque, all to a soundtrack to die for, and Salon de Danse, with torch singers and fan twirlers, bottle walkers and chair balancers!

Leading the food program is a gluttonous, Wild Feast on Saturday, August 28. Here you’ll find roaring fire-pits and char-grills, bubbling cauldrons and giant smokehouse barbeque cooking up local seafood bouillabaisse, smokehouse style meats, fresh-caught char-grilled seafood, and seasonal local veggies buried in the coals. Warm your hearts and hands further with a mug of mulled wine, a range of Prickly Moses dark ales, and an Apollo Bay Distillery whisky or gin.

There will also be a week-long, experimental field trip exploring and amplifying the hidden, microscopic and mycorrhizal aspects of The Quarry and its surrounds via large-format projection, an outdoor cinema and a series of intimate audio-visual installations; as well as a food trail, community dinners, Quigong, yoga and other workshops.

Both weekends will give punters the opportunity to walk among the dead with the Apollo Bay Cemetery tours, where you’ll learn about the lives, shipwrecks and trials of these pioneers with a world-class view.

Of course, at the throbbing heart of WinterWild is fire. And nothing embraces, sculpts, worships and glorifies fire quite like the festival’s centrepiece ‘DogWatch’. Guided by the mythical theme of ‘Sirens’, DogWatch features free outdoor performances leading up to the lighting of a huge bonfire on the foreshore. Going down each Saturday night, this is the event that the festival begins and ends with – that defines it, energises it, enflames it.

Lighting a fire under winter with a multi-artform fusillade to rip through the darkness, WinterWild is Victoria’s answer to Dark Mofo, and it’s well worth travelling down the Great Ocean Road for.

WinterWild will run across two weekends, from August 13–15 and from August 27–29. To see the full lineup and to purchase tickets, head to www.winterwild.com.au