The 2022 Midsumma Festival is holding one of the biggest and most spectacular range of festivities to hit Melbourne in years, and it’s kicking off in less than two weeks, running between January 23 and February 13.
The incredibly exciting program features awe-inspiring performances, exhibitions, visual arts, live music, theatre, spoken word, cabaret, film, parties, sport, social events, and public forums. The sheer size and scope of the festival really has to be seen to be believed.
Now a whopping 34-years-old, Midsumma Festival is focusing on queer arts and cultural festivities across its 198 events this year, with the stated aim of showcasing arts events for everyone in every body.
The three-week festival will span 119 venues, with over 500 culture-makers performing across metro Melbourne and regional Victoria. 161 of these events will be open-access; showcasing shared experiences around diverse gender and sexuality.
Stay up to date with what’s happening in and around Melbourne here.
Unmissable annual FREE Midsumma Festival highlights
23 January – Midsumma Carnival: A fun-fuelled 11 hour day party held in Alexandra Gardens, the opening event of the Midsumma Festival kicks off the three weeks of partying, arts and culture with a bang. Over the decades this celebration has become an iconic date on the Australian LGBTQIA+ calendar, and promises to be a cathartic explosion of the love, passion, artistic talent and positive energy that Midsumma Festival is famous for. With fun in the sun all day and late into the evening to celebrate the beginning of another fabulous Midsumma Festival, enjoy performances, picnic with friends, and see the iconic Dog Show. With stalls, food, and live entertainment galore leading us into a warm summer evening of T Dance – the biggest dance party outdoors this year!
6 February – Midsumma Pride March: A parade and party in vibrant St Kilda that features more than 8,000 marchers – but with a whopping 45,000 people total in attendance – making it one of the best attended, most colourful, riotous and generally sensational street events on the Australian calendar. The Midsumma Pride March turns Fitzroy Street into a sea of colour and celebration from 11am. Join the revellers or cheer on the marchers from your balconies or the footpath and come early to see the traditional Dykes on Bikes, followed by the Boon Wurrung Elders and a Rainbow Aboriginal Float. Enjoy the post-march celebrations in Catani Gardens with local food, stalls, bars and performances until 4pm.
13 February – Melbourne Pride: In its inaugural premiere , Midsumma will deliver Melbourne Pride on February 13, commemorating 40 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Victoria with a full day and night street party (Gertrude St X Smith St, Fitzroy/Collingwood) 9am – 10pm FREE. The large number of events on this day will take on special resonance in the continued path towards equality, and as always it will be a recognition of the strength and values of the LGBTQIA+ community through an inspirational array of arts, community involvement, food, and culture.
As part of the event, Melbourne’s Smith and Gertrude streets will be transformed into block parties with full stage set ups, featuring live performances from Yorta Yorta woman, composer and educator Deborah Cheetham; singer-songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, Vetta Borne; Australian newcomer, KYVA; multi-award-winning cabaret company, YUMMY; art experience creators, All The Queens Men; multi-disciplinary artist and musician, Kira Puru; two of Australia’s hottest award-winning drag duo, Jawbreakers; the quintessential cabaret performer, Reuben Kaye; Australian electronic musician, Alice Ivy; and headlining the event will be electronic music duo, Electric Fields.
Midsumma Presents’ 2022 focus: AND / OR
As always, Midsumma Presents is the specifically curated aspect of the festival program, which focuses on a particular subject each year and unpacks it through an unparalleled range of artistic performances and discussion forums. Midsumma Presents’ 2022 program is focused on disabled communities. Its title, AND/OR, refers to the wide-variety of people the queer and disabled umbrella terms encompass; those who are queer (and/or LGBTQIA+, and/or rainbow people, and/or…) and disabled (and/or Deaf/hard-of-hearing, and/or Blind/low vision, and/or neurodiverse, and/or autistic, and/or living with chronic illness, and/or…)
AND/OR is the festival’s major project, so Midsumma 2022 will feature a range of disability-led performances showcasing the diverse experiences of Melbourne’s disabled communities. Simultaneously, the Midsumma Presents program will show 34 events highlighting the unsung heroes in Australia’s queer communities, shining a spotlight on the intersectional nature of modern life, the limitations of labels, and the boundless array of shared cultural experiences.
“AND/OR is a program of works that are disability-led and from multiple perspectives, ranging from unapologetic to vulnerable, celebratory to questioning, reflective to riotous,” Midsumma Festival CEO, Karen Bryant, said about the festival’s 2022 focus.
“The artists in the program include leading companies and solo practitioners, emerging artists and iconic ensembles. There is so much variety to see within and beyond the broad umbrella labels of ‘queer’ and ‘disabled’. After such a challenging few years we are thrilled to once again deliver such a broad range of events that highlight the talent and diversity of our artists, and our communities, in such a vital way.”
Beat’s picks for 2022 Midsumma events
12 February, Fringe Common Rooms, Free
CEO of Arts Access Victoria, Caroline Bowditch and a panel of exceptional artists; Irene Zhong, Jax Jacki Brown, Sam Martin and Gemma Mahadeo of The Disabled QBIPOC Collective, all form a keynote discussion panel to discuss the intimate relationship between their experiences as both queer and disabled people.
28 January – 10 February, Federation Square, Free
Australian photographer Soraya Zaman brings their incredible photographs of trans-masculine communities from across the USA to Melbourne’s Fed Square, where they’ll be presented in stunning fashion. “The binary days and the antiquated stereotypes of what it means to be born a girl or boy, are finally coming undone,” Zaman says, and you’ll be able to experience that transition in its full artistic glory.
29 January, Pride of our Footscray Community Bar, $20-25
For the self-described campest, draggiest & most ridiculous drag bingo night, head to Footscray to see the likes of Aurora Arsenic, Abril La Trene, Tequila Mockingbird and Freddie Merkin pull out all the stops, with loads of prizes to be won.
A list of 2022 Midsumma Festival key dates and events
- Multi-Tony Award-winning musical, Fun House, will take centre stage at Art Centre Melbourne – Music by Jeanine Tesori. Book and Lyrics by Lisa Kron. Based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel
- Queers in Science – on Neurodiversity from AND/OR, Midsumma’s major program will spotlight the day-to-day experience of neurodivergent individuals at The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health on 27th January.
- International comedians and much-loved Melbourne performers Thomas Jaspers and Kyle Minall will return to Midsumma Festival for two nights only on 27th and 30th January at Comedy Republic for their hilarious show “An Intimate Evening With Granny Bingo”.
- Midsumma’s much-loved Bowie Ball is back for an anything-goes extravaganza. Hosted at The Night Cat, the one-night-only David Bowie celebration brings together the best in music, art, fashion, and entertainment.
- Hilarious cult indie choir sensation and winner of two Melbourne Fringe Awards, Seamen! The Sea Shanty Spectacular, will add a modern pop spin to a bounty of seafaring songs at The Curtin.
- The Toff in Town will host the long-time running and beloved cabaret show, .CHURCH. from 3rd – 6th Showcasing some of Australia’s queerest and dearest cabaret, circus and burlesque treats, the spiritual experience will leave you dripping in sin.
- Perfect for gin lovers, The Seven Gins of Pride will host a 2-hour gin masterclass with a twist on 12th February at The Laird, which will guarantee you will learn a new cocktail or two.
- A party for grown-ups inspired by Mini Beast Disco’s research play, Composting Cabaret
- Award-winning comedian, Charlie Lewin, will bring his ever-so popular show Cockatiel to the Comedy Republic for a belly full of laughs.
- An all-star cast of queer artists will have you singing the most beloved queer anthems for a night of Queer-aoke.
- Collingwood Town Hall will host the Coming Back Out Tea Dance. Perfect for the older LGBTQIA+ communities, it will feature stunning constellation of rainbow and allied performers from Naarm.
For further information about Midsumma Festival and its exciting 2022 program, visit www.midsumma.org.au