‘It’s quite extreme’: From Mexican wrestling to intense mountainboarding, this Frankston festival is like no other

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‘It’s quite extreme’: From Mexican wrestling to intense mountainboarding, this Frankston festival is like no other

Words by Jacob McCormack

Frankston City Council’s spectacular Waterfront Festival has been the highlight of summer events hosted in Frankston and on the Mornington Peninsula for its near 25 years of running.

Originally home to the Bunurong peoples, it still stands as Bunurong country, unceded, however the Frankston area has acted as a home for a diverse group of people over more recent years.

The Waterfront Festival, in its 2023 abbreviation has expanded the already significant number of offerings that have been jam-packed into the festival in the past. A conscious decision made by Jessica Schuyler, Head of Festivals and Major Events for the Frankston City Council.

The Waterfront Festival 2023

  • Saturday 18 12-10pm and Sunday 19 12-8pm February 2023
  • Frankston Waterfront
  • You Am I, Melbourne Ska Orchestra, The Casanovas, Kylie Auldist, Thndo, The Merindas and many more
  • It’s free to attend – find out more info here

Stay up to date with what’s happening in and around Melbourne here.

“This festival is in its 24th year,” says Jessica. “We took the interruption of not having the festival in 2021 due to COVID, to expand the site in 2022, and to come back bigger and better. Due to popular demand, we have continued with the larger footprint in 2023 catering for more artists, entertainment and people. The conscious decision to elevate the festival’s programming continues to transform the city’s identity, a catalyst for becoming an events, arts and culture destination”.

Not only will there be more market stalls, food vendors and activities and workshops on offer throughout the duration of the two-day festival, but this year Frankston City Council has attracted a notable and hugely talented line-up, headlined by arguably Australia’s most prolific rock band in You Am I.

“We have the Casanovas, Thndo, and a whole bunch more,” says Jessica. “And You Am I are set to headline on Saturday.”

The allurement of attracting a strong line-up has been a focus for Jessica and the events team more recently, with hopes that involving bigger artists in the festival would draw people towards Frankston to experience what the area has to offer and build upon its reputation as an events, arts and culture destination.

“Attracting a diverse range of artists, the festival draws upon Frankston City’s long history in live music. The event is a showcase of what the city has to offer, with an aim to connect people to new experiences through great food, beach sports, live music, street art, brew houses and distilleries.”

However, despite the larger artists leading the bill of musicians set to play, the Council haven’t strayed from their commitment to supporting and providing platforms for local artists. A big component of this year’s festival is the stage allocated entirely to emerging artists, curated by the local government initiative Fresh Entertainment (FReeZA).

“Fresh Entertainment fosters home-grown, independent and local artists,” says Jessica. “It’s a great showcase of talent in and around the Frankston area and the Festival provides a fantastic platform to expose the variety of up-and-coming talent to future opportunities.”

Arguably, the biggest part of the expansion of this year’s festival is the merging of the Ventana precinct with the festival itself. In years gone by the Ventana project has operated as a separate entity that hosts their own events throughout the latter months of summer, but in line with Frankston City Council’s virtues of celebrating culture, for Jessica and her team it seemed felicitous to join forces.

“The Waterfront Festival prides itself on catering for a diverse range of patrons, from families to groups of friends to music and food enthusiasts. With the expansion, it’s meant we have been able to incorporate Ventana precinct, a culmination of culture performances, workshops, market stalls and food, in one very colourful and creative precinct, situated on Long Island Reserve.

In addition to the wealth of musical talent and the diverse cultural showcases, the festival will also feature a Mexican wrestling performance, Australian Mountainboarders, Box Wars and a fundraiser in the form of a rubber duck race.

“The Mexican wrestling is a spectacle in itself,” says Jessica. “The community love it. Australian Mountainboarders will be involved in the festival for the first year this time. It’s basically an extreme sports show. They’ll do demonstrations but there’s also an opportunity to have a go yourself.”

“Fan favourites will be of course the water sports and shoreline activities, such as beach cricket and footy. You can also discover sailing and stand-up paddle boarding through the Frankston Yacht Club or even try canoeing on Kananook Creek through Scouts Victoria

“Box Wars is aimed at children. You get to construct an item out of boxes, which you can take home as well. We also have silent discos, messy play, rock climbing and hatchet throwing.

“The Duck Derby will be taking place on Saturday afternoon run by the local rotary club raising funds. A rubber duck can be purchased and then raced down Kananook Creek.”

Amidst all the fun and entertainment abundant in the festival for 2023 will be a fireworks display, ignited upon the conclusion of You Am I’s set on Saturday night. An apt celebratory marker for what is set to be a grandiose festival. See you there.

For more info, head to The Waterfront Festival 2023 (discoverfrankston.com.au) or follow along for live updates on Facebook and Instagram.

This article was made in partnership with Frankston City Council.