Neon Fields and a Human Library: South Side Festival is brimming with exceptional events this May.

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Neon Fields and a Human Library: South Side Festival is brimming with exceptional events this May.

Words by Tammy Walters

South Side Festival sweeps through Frankston serving over 45 events and shows, with a cavalcade of contemporary theatre, live music, visual arts exhibitions, immersive experiences, installations and workshops.

Held across ten days from Friday 10 May until Sunday 19 May, South Side Festival is set to thrill, challenge and entertain audiences across the south-east city, satisfying all creative cravings within the contemporary art and performance space. With an aim of delivering events for all entries of art experiences, the festival boasts something for everyone for all ages, budgets, genres and accessible needs.

To help you navigate the long list of events on offer, here is a breakdown of the key performances and activities you must see this year at South Side Festival.

South Side Festival Details

  • When: Friday 10 May – Sunday 19 May
  • Where: Multiple locations across Frankston
  • Program information and ticketing: All program information and ticket purchasing live here.

Stay up to date with what’s happening within the region’s art scene here.

Neon Fields

Centred between High, Yuille, Park and Young Street’s, Beauty Park will get a dose of its own name, transforming into a kaleidoscopic wonderland for Neon Fields. Wander through the colourful corridor of the neon light-illuminated gardens, settle in with a picnic next to the enchanting glowing works or snap a photo in front of the heavenly world-famous Angel Wings. This magical exploration is open to all ages but children under 10 must be accompanied by an adult. Whilst this event is free, bookings are essential and filling up fast. Secure your spot here

The South Side Sea Soak

Another free event, The South Side Sea Soak is for the brave bathers. The Port Philip Bay beachfront city has a rich winter beach culture with locals swearing by cold-water swims. It’s a ritual shared by those in Finland and Sweden so they must be onto something! To celebrate the Frankston Life Saving Club’s centenary, South Side Festival visitors are invited to jump in the deep in, partaking in the physical and mental health ritual of cold-water immersion. 

This collective cold-water swim will be happening on the morning of Saturday 11 May between 8AM and 10AM. Registrations are required, and you can book here

Human Library

Another activity shared by the Europeans is the Human Library. Starting in Denmark in 2000 and now established in over 80 countries, the Human Library offers a space to broaden your perspective through borrowing a person. That’s right, a physical being or in this context, a ‘Human Book’. The idea is to engage with a person through having a meaningful conversation about their life experience, absorbing life knowledge. This event encourages dialogue in the hope to have participants engage in challenging conversations and learn to un-judge, whilst promoting and providing a safe space to share with no topic left on the shelf. This practice takes the saying “You can’t judge a book by its cover” literally, with all of the ‘Human Books’ having experienced prejudice in the past. The experimental and participatory event will be happening on Saturday, 11 May 2024 with sessions running across the day from 11:00 AM until 7:30 PM. Book here.

House of Fast Fashun

About 227,000 tonnes of discarded clothing is sent to landfill in Australia each year. This is the unfortunate cycle of fast fashion. South Side Festival presents the House of Fast Fashun, where the team invite you to rummage through a pile of discarded clothes to make new outfits. Participants will become the designer, the maker and the catwalk model in this interactive event. With all materials supplied and no experience necessary, all you need is a creative mind! Partnered with workshops, the Fast Fashun team will be down at Frankston Arts Centre on Saturday, 11 and 18 May 2024 from 2PM – 6PM and Sunday 12 and 19 May from 12PM – 4PM. More information and bookings can be found here.


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Songs, Stories and Soul From Family and Country

Wildly talented and wickedly captivating, ARIA Award-nominated, award-winning Indigenous sing and songwriter, Emma Donovan is currently on the road for her Song, Stories and Soul From Family and Country national tour. Celebrating her latest offering Til My Song Is Done, the renowned soul and country artist Donovan is sharing her culmination of song, storytelling and culture on stages across Australia and is making a special appearance as part of South Side Festival. Playing Frankston Art Centre on Tuesday 14 May from 8PM, this is a must see event on the South Side Festival program. Tickets can be purchased here.  

Her Sound, Her Story

A story that needs to be shared time and time again is Her Sound, Her Story. From the minds of award-winning music photographers and content queens Michelle Grace Hunder and Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore, Her Sound, Her Story captures the Australian music landscape through the female gaze. With interviews from more than 45 artists including Tina Arena, Julia Stone, Jen Cloher, Renee Geyer, Sampa the Great and Kate Ceberano, the film is a powerful dialogue that extends past the music industry to ask “Where do we want women’s voices to sit in the world today?”. The film will be screened at Cube 37 on Thursday 16 May, and will also feature a post screening Q&A with Director Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore and special guests. Tickets are required and can be secured here

Brenda Bressed

Bringing the glitter, glam and gorgeousness to an already glowing (literally) festival is Melbourne based (drag) queen, Brenda Bressed. In a suite of shows, the dazzling diva will be dressed to the nines for the South Side Gala on 17 May as the evening’s magical MC, with a cast of talented performers ready to entertain with musical acts, side-splitting comedy, dance and much more. The next day she’s doing a double dose of entertainment, for an anything-but-drab Drag Bingo, and then jumping up with Fanny Adams for a show titled Brenda and Fanny do the Divas. Expect the two to embody the diva-energy and vocal prowess of Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, Tina Turner (including the leg action), Cher and more. Finishing off the weekend strong, Brenda Bressed is hosting a Sunday Session, toning it down from the high-octane theatrics for some soulful serenading to close out her time at South Side. Tickets to the shows can be purchased here


“Come sit with me and my typewriter and I shall type a poem for your soul. Shhh…”

The top pick from the 2022 Melbourne Fringe Festival, type-a-poet is equal parts comedy, side show, and arty spiritual reading. A silent one-on-one intimate performance held inside the pop-up Temple of Poetry at Frankston Arts Centre, the ten-minute performance sees award-winning performer/writer Andi Snelling build a meditative experience set where he uses word wizardy to transform you to another realm. Participants will leave the session with their very own inked gift. Sessions on Saturday’s 11 and 18 May are free but require a booking via the website.  

That’s just a taste of the spectacular program offered by South Side Festival this May. To explore more events head to the South Side Festival website, here.