Australia’s leading LGBTQIA+ arts and culture festival Midsumma returns to Melbourne for its biggest and boldest run yet

Australia’s leading LGBTQIA+ arts and culture festival Midsumma returns to Melbourne for its biggest and boldest run yet

After an incredibly tough year for the arts and entertainment industry, Midsumma has truly exceeded expectations with this year’s lineup of events.

Celebrating LGBTQIA+, diverse journeys, culture-makers and communities across 17 days, Midsumma Festival will present a huge 151 open access events made for, and by queer communities who live with shared experiences around diverse gender and sexuality.

With world-class art and performance, hilarious comedians, spoken word, sport, public forums and dance parties with plenty of glitter sprawled across selected Festival Hubs at Theatre Works, Gasworks Arts Park, Chapel Off Chapel and Arts Centre Melbourne and Midsumma Westside, the event aims to shine a spotlight on preeminent queer arts and cultural festivities with leading international, national and local artists.

Curating an incredibly unique experience, whatever your cup of queer tea, there’ll be plenty for you to enjoy. To give you a head start, here’s our list of the most eye-opening events set to go down.

First up, the Midsumma Festival is taking over the Sidney Myer Music Bowl for two nights of free performances on April 30 and May 1, with a diverse line-up of queer icons (Mama Alto, Reuben Kaye, Johnny Manuel) under the stars. While this event is sold-out, you can get in on the action from home with the performances live-streamed via Arts Centre Melbourne’s Facebook page. The livestream will be an event in itself – except able to be viewed from anywhere – and will provide Auslan interpretation and closed captioning for audiences.

At Collingwood Yards, ‘A Stange Space’ will take over the courtyard and buildings with a stunning open-air exhibition and program of site-responsive projection art, performance, music, dance and online works by LGBTQIA+ artists and allies. Co-curated by Jacob Tolo and Edwina Bartlem, audiences will be encouraged to celebrate resilience and reflect on change through works from artists such as Megan Beckwith, Wesley Dowling, Jenna Eriksen, Susan Maco Forrester, Eric Jong, and Jonathan Homsey.

Over at Seaworks Williamstown, Melbourne will get its first ultimate Queer Women’s Music Festival. Coined The Pier Festival, this multi-faceted event will feature two stages full of entertainment including queer women bands and artists, DJs and comedians, food trucks and market stalls. Designed for queer women and their allies, the festival is all about fostering a sense of belonging by providing community involvement, to providing a safe and inclusive space where everyone is welcome.

For those looking for something that will have you grinning ear to ear, we recommend checking out the Retropolis Roller Disco, featuring the friendliest rainbow family vibes and dance floor favourites you can shimmy and shake along to on your skates. Or, if you’re ready for a laugh, Comedy Republic’s Big City Blowout will keep you going until your cheeks hurt with top queer comedians, cabaret and blindingly bright sequins.

Under 18s can also get in on all the glorious Midsumma action with Night At The Museum, a youth festival party that’s set to take over the Immigration Museum, celebrating the idea of self-discovery, becoming an adult, and uplifting the new LGBTIQA+ generation.

Dive further into the hugely eclectic program with Midsumma’s premier women’s music event Goddess Grooves, the highly regarded Midsumma and Australia Post Art Award exhibition, Dolly Diamond’s Star for a Night during which Dolly will be rescuing contestants from their mundane lives to transform them into their idols, and After Dark, a drag cabaret extravaganza that takes you on a high energy journey through some of the world’s most famous cabaret venues from the roaring 20s to the fabulous 50s. There’s even a riotous bottomless brunch featuring the dynamic duo of Aurora Arsenic & Joslyn Bosoms happening over in Footscray if you’re feeling mimosas and high camp shows to start your day.

We could go on all day about all the fabulous events, but instead, we’ll finish this off with the true highlight of Midsumma every year: the triumphant Pride March in St Kilda. An event that usually sees nearly 50,000 colourful people lining the streets with colours, glitter and more, this year it’s looking a little different. Showing that marching for pride is more important now than ever before, the parade will still go ahead on Sunday 23 May with audiences only able to view it from either a participating Fitzroy Street venue, or by tuning in virtual from home via livestream.

Alongside the Midsumma Pride March, Midsumma will further foster LGBTI pride and celebrate our diverse communities by augmenting live activities across the festival through livestreams in a committed effort to enhance accessibility for those in the community who are unable to attend.

Bringing a kaleidoscope of pre-eminent queer arts and cultural festivities, Midsumma Festival takes place from now until May 5 2021 across Melbourne. You can check out the full program here.