Castlemaine State Festival unveils 2021 program, feat. Josh Teskey, Archie Roach and more

Castlemaine State Festival unveils 2021 program, feat. Josh Teskey, Archie Roach and more

Josh Teskey and Ash Grunwald
Words by Talia Rinaldo

One of Australia’s most important regional arts festivals is back.

Returning for its 23rd event, the Castlemaine State Festival has unveiled its expansive 2021 program, promising a stacked festival of music, physical theatre, circus, dance, literature, visual art, film and free events.

What you need to know

  • The biennial festival returns to Castlemaine for its 23rd edition
  • This year’s event will run for 16 days across March and April with a Victoria-strong program
  • Tickets are on sale now

For more festival news as it breaks, head to our festival section.

Hailed as Victoria’s pre-eminent regional arts festival, the biennial event will return to the creative capital of central Victoria from March 19 to April 4, expanding by six extra days and signifying one of the state’s first major cultural events to run amidst the COVID chaos.

Now spanning 16 days across several locations in the city, the bright and colourful program of visual arts, performance, music, talks, workshops and other special projects is truly shining a light on the diversity and culture of the region.

Alongside an enlarged digital access offering, the festival will bring to life the likes of iconic swimming hole ‘The Res’, Castlemaine’s spectacular historical site Buda House and Garden, The Town Hall, Western Reserve and its beloved Botanical Gardens.

Venturing into Bendigo for the first time, the festival will also host events at The Capital, Bendigo Art Gallery and Ulumbarra Theatre, further connecting people within the regional community.

To the festival program and a vibrant lineup of acts is set to ignite a spark for starved music lovers, delivering experiences from classical to contemporary.

Taking to many performance spaces across the neighbouring cities, the star-studded lineup includes the revered Josh Teskey and Ash GrunwaldJess Hitchcock, Liz Stringer, and David Bridie. AllaraTeeny Tiny Stevies, LiorThe MaesRichard Narroway, and the esteemed Josh Cohen will also appear performing Radiohead for Solo Piano.

Ensembles including the Melbourne Mandolin OrchestraOmega Ensemble, the Goldner String Quartet, the Inventi Ensemble and artists from the Australian National Academy of Music will also feature, while The Marala Trio will broadcast their binaural concert from Spain. Opening night also promises to be a must-see with a free event featuring Ajak Kwai and the Bendigo South Sudanese Women’s Ensemble.

The festival theatrical program strikes gold with the debut live reading of local Wamba Wamba man Brodie Murray’s Soul of Possum, alongside new play Finding Fanny Finch which will transport audiences to the goldfields of the region based on the research of local historian Kacey Sinclair.

For the families, Melbourne’s contemporary circus troop One Fell Swoop promises to excite, while Otto & Astrid play the ‘Greatest Rock Concert You’ve Ever Seen’. YUMMY Unleashed, which blends drag, burlesque, costumes and choreography with funny and surreal performances, is also set to turn heads; alongside the awe-inspiring One Sky Many Stories, featuring Indigenous storytelling of our wonderous night skies.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by YUMMY (@yummytheshow)

Looking at the visual arts program, this year will see an iconic celebration of ’60s pop-cultural fashion icon, Mary Quant, at the Bendigo Art Gallery. Art lovers will also witness Melinda Harper’s first major survey in regional Victoria at the Castlemaine Art Museum, while local artist Cameron Robbins will be collaborating with prestigious winemaker Gilles Lapalus.

INSIDE OUT Castlemaine is a series of large-scale portraits pasted up around town, inspired by the work of French street artist JR. Three community groups will communicate a common message through black and white self-portraits of the group’s participants, focusing on hope in the wake of the pandemic.

To cap off the festival highlights comes the festival’s thought-provoking Dialogues program featuring the likes of Helen GarnerDon Watson, chefs Rosa Mitchell and Carlo GrossiMichael Rowland, Archie Roach, Gareth Evans, Dan Kelly and Reverend Tim Costello, among many others. These guests will discuss a range of contemporary topics covering themes of environment, history, climate change, and society, encouraging us to reflect on the world around us.

As one of Australia’s great arts festivals, the Castlemaine State Festival is one for everyone, with a program filled with heart and soul that will stir imaginations and create memories for years to come.

Castlemaine State Festival runs from Friday March 19 to Sunday April 4. Tickets are on sale now via the festival website.