Australia’s aboriginal events and festivals

Ord Valley Muster, WA. © Caleb Davenport.

Australia’s aboriginal events and festivals

Australia’s Aboriginal people celebrate and share their culture at many colourful traditional and contemporary festivals throughout the year. Ervaar het leven van een afgelegen gemeenschap in Arnhem Land tijdens het Stone Country Festival of reis terug in de tijd naar de Dreamtime tijdens Walking with Spirits. Head to Cape York Peninsula for the Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival. Browse a diverse range of Aboriginal art at the Darwin or Cairns Aboriginal Art Fairs. Enjoy everything from concerts to comedy at Queensland’s Dreaming Festival. Catch a performance of Bangarra Dance Theatre, Australia’s leading indigenous performing arts company as it tours city and regional venues across Australia.

Yabun Festival
Yabun Festival

Yabun Festival

Sydney, New South Wales

Yabun is the largest single day indigenous festival in Australia, drawing an audience of between 10,000 and 15,000 people on Australia Day. It is one of the most important indigenous music events in the country reflecting the wealth of indigenous creative talent. Some of Australia's best Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music from around the country is featured, from well established artists to those just emerging on the scene. Yabun also delivers a current and informative cultural program, with discussions and speeches by some of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community's most recognised leaders, academics, politicians and artists.

Saltwater Freshwater
Saltwater Freshwater

Saltwater Freshwater

Taree, New South Wales
January

The Saltwater Freshwater Festival is a nomadic event that moves to a different location on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales each Australia Day providing a range of healthy, family-friendly activities for the community to enjoy. It is the only Aboriginal cultural festival of its kind in New South Wales. The festival features arts, music, dance, workshops and cultural traditions. It provides an authentic Aboriginal experience for visitors, families and local communities wishing to experience traditional and contemporary Australian Aboriginal culture. The 2013 Saltwater Freshwater Festival will be held in Taree on 26 January 2013.

Spirit Festival
Spirit Festival

Spirit Festival

Adelaide, South Australia
February

The Spirit Festival is South Australia's premier Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts and Cultural Festival. With more than 100 dancers and singers from across the country, the festival presents a vibrant celebration of traditional and contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, art, dance and music. A smoking ceremony is performed to welcome all visitors to Palti Yerta (dance ground) in Kaurna country, the traditional owners of the land on which the event is held. The Spirit Festival is a special event of great beauty and cultural significance.

Yalukit Willam Ngargee Indigenous Arts & Cultural Festival
Indigenous Arts & Cultural Festival

Yalukit Willam Ngargee Indigenous Arts & Cultural Festival

Melbourne, Victoria
February

Yalukit Willam Ngargee, Victoria Luister naar Aboriginal zangers en bandjes, bekijk kunsttentoonstellingen en eigentijdse dans van wereldklasse op Yalukit Willam Ngargee. The event is part of Melbourne’s summer St Kilda Festival in February. De naam betekent “bijeenkomst van mensen” en het levendige, gratis evenement brengt een geweldig programma van artiesten samen. Discover new and established Aboriginal performers. Relax in the sun and enjoy the didgeridoo playing and live music on stage. After dark hear bands in a trendy St Kilda pub. Je kunt ook genieten van boekpublicaties en lezingen, korte filmpjes, zwervende artiesten en de Koorie Night Markets waar unieke kunst en andere voorwerpen worden verkocht.

Message Sticks
Message Sticks

Message Sticks

Sydney, New South Wales

Message Sticks is an annual multi-arts held at the Sydney Opera House, celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. It features song, dance, film, discussion and art, fusing contemporary and traditional cultural art forms. Now in its 13th year, the festival is held on the lands of the Gadigal Peoples, at one of the great meeting places, Bennelong Point. Previous festival highlights have included Dancestry - a free modern day corroboree held during sunset. The Black Arm Band Company's highly emotive and stunning closing night performance of Dirtsong, featuring Archie Roach, Tim Rogers and Dan Sultan was also a high point of the festival. Celebrate the rich contribution Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures make to the diversity of the Australian community.

Kununurra, Western Australia
May

The Ord Valley Muster is a two week festival held in the remote east Kimberley region of Western Australia. What began as a fun one night event – a dinner in the outback for local businesses – has transformed into a two week festival of more than 50 events celebrating the spirit, talent and cultural diversity of the Kimberley. The program includes sport, art, music and nature-based events from mountain bike challenges to cooking demonstrations to bush walks and basketball carnivals. There are markets, art exhibitions, and music under the stars; and festive street parties and indigenous events including the Waringarri Corroboree.

Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival
Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival, Queensland

Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival, Queensland

Cape York Peninsula, Queensland
June

Every two years in June, hundreds of dancers and thousands of visitors flock to the tiny town of Laura on the remote Cape York Peninsula for the Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival. Hier krijgen Aboriginal gemeenschappen uit Cape York Peninsula de kans om hun cultuur te vieren en te delen door dans, zang, kunst en optredens. Families komen weer met elkaar in contact en geven verhalen door terwijl de reizigers die overal vandaan komen een cultuur kunnen ervaren die meer dan 40.000 jaar teruggaat. Zet je tentje op het kampeerterrein van het festival op, op heilige grond in de buurt van de beroemde rotskunst van Laura. Laura can be reached on the Great Tropical Drive between Cooktown and Mareeba.

Mowanjum Festival
Mowanjum Festival

Mowanjum Festival

Kimberley, Western Australia
July

Experience the unique art and culture of the Worrorra, Ngarinyin and Wunumbal peoples of the Western Kimberley, in this family friendly, one day and one night event. Held at the Mowanjum Art and Culture Centre, the festival features over 100 Indigenous dance performers, boab tree nut carving, didgeridoo workshops and magnificent corroborrees. Mowanjum Art and Culture Centre is approximately 12 kilometres from Derby along the Gibb River Road in Western Australia’s remote Kimberley region.

Walking with Spirits
Walking with Spirits

Walking with Spirits

Beswick, Northern Territory
July

Travel deep into the Aboriginal Dreamtime at Walking with Spirits, a unique weekend of cultural immersion held in late July or early August. The location is MalkgulumbuItu, a sacred waterfall and lakeside site around 100 kilometres south-east of Katherine. Het Jawoyn volk deelt hun verhalen met een traditionele corroborree en met dans, muziek, poppenkast, film en vurige beelden. Camp amongst the paperbark trees and connect with the spirit ancestors who shaped the land, animals, plants and seasons. Dit is de enige keer per jaar dat je deze afgelegen en prachtige locatie kunt bezoeken. Kaarten voor het evenement zijn beperkt beschikbaar.

Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair
Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair

Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair

Darwin, Northern Territory
August

Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, Northern TerritoryBoomschorsschilderingen, metalen sculpturen, didgeridoos, fiber art en sieraden zijn slechts een paar voorbeelden van de diverse kunstwerken die in augustus te koop worden aangeboden op de Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair. Het is een unieke gelegenheid om direct te kopen van meer dan 40 Aboriginal-kunstcentra in handen van gemeenschappen uit heel Australië. Ook kun je nieuw opkomende en gevestigde artiesten ontdekken, met de artiesten praten en meer te weten komen over de kenmerkende artistieke stijlen van verschillende culturele groepen. Je kunt er geweven mandjes uit East Gippsland of dot paintings uit Alice Springs vinden, of de okerkleurige canvasschilderijen, die door Warmun-artiesten uit de Kimberley-regio worden gemaakt, van dichtbij bekijken.

Cairns Indigenous Art Fair
Cairns Indigenous Art Fair

Cairns Indigenous Art Fair

Cairns, Queensland
August

Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) is a unique three-day event that merges an art market with a celebration of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. It is the only art fair in Australia that exclusively sells and showcases art by Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. There are public talks and forums, including the CIAF Symposium, where leading Australian and international speakers, artists, and collectors discuss Queensland indigenous art. Children and families can get involved in hands-on art activities. There is a program of free indigenous dance and a warm welcome from the traditional owners, the Yidinji.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award
Indigenous Art Award

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award

Darwin, Northern Territory
August - October

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award was initiated by the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory in 1984. Today it offers the highest prize money for any art award in Australia. The award attracts a broad range of artistic talent from around the country presenting a diversity of styles, with more than 150 works on exhibition. It is a showcase for both established and emerging artists and has come to be regarded as one of the premier national events in the Australian indigenous art calendar.

Alice Desert Festival
Alice Desert Festival

Alice Desert Festival

Alice Springs, Northern Territory

The Alice Desert Festival is Central Australia’s premier arts and cultural festival, celebrating the desert and its rich cultural landscape. Every September Alice Springs is transformed with a bold cultural celebration based on the highest quality art and big ideas. The program is diverse, from classical music, literature and theatre to culinary programs. There is also contemporary dance, family programs, traditional indigenous arts and the Wearable Art Awards. The program comprises around 40 performances and over 60 events performed by over 1,000 artists in at least 20 venues each year. It attracts an audience of more than 50,000 every year.

Desert Mob
Desert Mob

Desert Mob

Alice Springs, Northern Territory

The Desert Mob Symposium is an exploration of Aboriginal artists, their art and their Art Centres. The program is the only forum of its kind and provides a window to the Aboriginal Art Centre world. Aboriginal artists from Desart member Art Centres together with interstate guests perform a program of stories, song, images, film and dance about culture, country and art. The Desert Mob MarketPlace is a large indoor-outdoor market with stalls selling affordable Aboriginal art, crafts and products including wood carvings, bush medicine and weavings and refreshments.

Bangarra Dance Theatre
Bangarra Dance Theatre

Bangarra Dance Theatre

National
Year round

Bangarra Dance Theatre is Australia’s leading Indigenous performing arts company. Bangarra is recognised nationally and internationally for distinctive dance theatre performances that combine the spirituality of traditional culture with modern story-telling. Presenting over 110 performances each year Bangarra tours internationally as well as extensively to national, regional and remote centres across Australia. Bangarra is also committed to developing the next generation of Indigenous storytellers through mentoring and training of creative Indigenous young people. The company creates inspiring dance theatre that resonates with people throughout Australia and the world. Catch a performance at one of the city or regional venues.

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