The Darwin Festival is returning this August with a huge lineup of incredible performances and shows, immersive experiences and fun family-fun activities spread over a jam-packed eighteen days (Thursday 10 – Sunday 27).

The festival marks the Northern Territory’s largest cultural celebration, bringing together some amazing local, national and international talent to create an unforgettable event, including headline acts such as rock music legends You Am I, The Project’s resident comedian Tommy Little and award-winning hip-hop duo A.B. Original.

“We know people come to the Festival because they’re looking for experiences that are unusual and that they won’t find anywhere else,” says Acting Artistic Director Felix Preval.

The programming for this year’s Darwin Festival is a reflection of the spirit of the Territory and the people who live here: cheeky, challenging and inventive.”

The Darwin Festival spans a wide array of events, including music, theatre, cabaret, comedy, dance, film, opera and visual arts. With so much to see, we’ve provided a quick rundown of some must-see shows happening across each area of this action-packed festival.


This year’s festival kicks off with the massive Santos Opening Night Concert, a free night of fun featuring ARIA Award-winning Australian icons, You Am I, and plenty of other fantastic artists. This event starts at 6pm on Thursday 10 August on the Little Mindil Lawns.

The Lighthouse stage will also play host to some of the best artists Australia and the international community has to offer, including hip-hop locals A.B. Original, pop/RnB artist Clairy Browne, indie pop veterans Dappled Cities and Cat Empire frontman Felix Riebl.

After her breakout hits ‘Please Stay’ and ‘Girlie Bits,’ Ali Barter will grace the stage of Darwin Railway Club on Friday 11 August, while electronic outfit Tijuana Cartel will bring their intricate soundscapes and luscious vocals on Friday 25 August.

One of the festival’s biggest events, the 2017 National Indigenous Music Awards (NIMAs) will be celebrating the best in contemporary Indigenous music, dance and culture on Saturday, August 12 at The Amphitheatre, featuring a lineup of artists like Emily Wurramara and the legendary Paul Kelly.


Brown Mart’s Theatre is bringing some powerful, original plays and acts to the festival. Noongar man Ian Michael delivers a powerful piece of verbatim theatre in HART,  a compelling recollection and poignant reminder of Australia’s treatment of the First Peoples. It will play from Tuesday 15 – Friday 18 August. Then, from Tuesday 22 – Sunday 27, SHIT, a play written by Patricia Cornelius and directed by Susie Dee, will confront audiences with their own prejudices and preconceptions through the portrayal of three dynamic women.

Finally, Perhaps Hope is a compelling and honest take on the stark reality of climate change through circus performance. This wonderful collaboration between award winning artist Rockie Stone, acrobat Vincent van Berkel and kinetic sculptural artist Callan Morgan features extraordinary physical skill and humour; running Friday 11 – Sunday 13 August.

SHIT, written by Patricia Cornelius and directed by Susie Dee. Image: Supplied

Following sold out seasons at London’s West End, Adelaide Fringe and the Sydney Opera House, Strut & Fret’s saucy new production BLANC de BLANC will also show at the Darwin Festival. Featuring the finest cabaret and acrobatic talent from around the world, the show will play for the duration of the Festival in The Aurora Spiegeltent on Darwin’s Parliament Lawns.

In one of the festival’s most fun events, Melbourne-based Bey Dance brings the Beyoncé dance love to Darwin Festival with a Dance Like Queen B Flashmob Workshop at the Adina Vibe Hotel from Thursday 24 – Sunday 27. Learn some iconic Beyoncé moves before trying them out flashmob style in Festival Park!

Choreographic prodigy Gabrielle Nankivell’s smash-hit Wildebeest is an animalistic dance work showcasing the power of dancers as individuals and en masse. Witness this double bill of powerful, personal and poetic dance at The Playhouse, Darwin Entertainment Centre on Saturday 26 August.


Love, scandal and hilarious antics abound in a brand-new production of Mozart’s timeless classic The Marriage of Figaro, featuring beautiful music, stunning period costumes and a cleverly constructed set. This incredible opera is showing at the Playhouse, Darwin Entertainment Centre on Thursday 10 August and Friday 11 August.


Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten is a powerful documentary from John Pirozzi that captures Cambodia’s booming rock ‘n’ roll scene during the ‘60s and ‘70s. From twangy guitar beginnings to psychedelic tunes, the film celebrates talented Cambodian musicians and the unique music they produced before a violent war nearly destroyed their country.  Watch this brilliant documentary at Deckchair Cinema on Monday 14 August.  

A jam-packed art show, Behind the Wire is an opportunity for Northern Territory prisoners to exhibit and showcase their works of art to the public. Be awed by the amazing depth and creativity of their works from Friday 11 – Sunday 27 August at Fannie Bay Gaol.

For even more artistic pieces, the 34th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (Telstra NATSIAA) celebrates and showcases the work of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. Engage in the wonderful works of up and coming artists and enjoy the major works of Australia’s most revered artists.  This year’s awards ceremony and opening night is filled with incredible live performances, music and dance.


The 2017  Words & Ideas program features an incredible line-up of academics, artists and experts from around the word.

Learn more about the history and future of Darwin with Talking Through Walls. Led by locals, architects, commentators and residents, three inspiring and educational excursions will encourage you to see the city of Darwin in a whole new light.

Then, Charles Darwin University delivers an inspiring afternoon of provocative questions and stimulating ideas with Sunday at CDU. The panel will feature academics Curtis Roman and Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, radio personalities Robyn Williams (Radio National) and Alanna Mitchell (Seasick), and a myriad of international artists who call Darwin home. This free event will run  in the CDU Theatre on Sunday 20 August.

To see the full program, or to get tickets to the Darwin Festival, visit the site here.  

Feature image supplied.