Northcote Rise: Inside the major new festival taking over High Street this month

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Northcote Rise: Inside the major new festival taking over High Street this month

Northcote Rise festival
Words by Juliette Salom

13 years between appearances, the Northcote Rise street festival returns Sunday February 18 from 11am to 7pm with a jam-packed day of music, food, shopping, family-friendly arts and crafts, and more.

From James Street to Separation Street, Northcote’s famous High Street and surrounding roads will be closed to traffic and opened to pedestrians as retail stores, entertainment venues, street vendors and artists take over the suburb.

The festival, which is making an exciting comeback, aims to help revitalise local businesses and reignite the local arts industry with a range of activities and events. With five main stages and five main zones to rotate through, they’ll be something in store for everyone.

Northcote Rise Festival in 2024

  • Local artists. Outdoor dining.
  • Mini stages. Market stalls.
  • From Northcote’s finest local traders.
  • February 18, 176-409 High Street

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

The line-up of entertainment on offer at Northcote Rise will be as diverse as the residents the iconic suburb is home to. From local families and neighbourhood kids, to sharehouse residents and long-time Northcote-siders, the festival boasts a range of activities for both little and big ones, as well as fluffy ones (pets are welcomed!). The festival will also be an accessibility-friendly event, ensuring that every member of the community is invited to participate and celebrate one of Melbourne’s favourite inner-north suburbs.

Northcote Rise lineup

  • Moody Beaches
  • Mature Themes
  • Wadaiko Rindo Japanese Drumming
  • Sanz Mantra (Busking)
  • Amazing Mr Twist (Children’s Entertainment)
  • Little Feet Music (Children’s Entertainment)
  • Savvas (Busking)
  • Ziggy Durling (Busking)
  • Scriv Acoustic
  • Michael Macri Band
  • Jacqui Lumsden
  • Crushed Lavander
  • Fire Roots
  • Gamelan DanAnda
  • Cyclone Mavis
  • Carrieland
  • Gusto Gusto
  • STAT (Stella Anning Trio)
  • East of Sunshine
  • Laurel and the Painkillers
  • Wykd Folk
  • Halo
  • Sunfruits

Keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

At the helm of organising the festival is The Perfect Events Group’s Liliana Sanelli and Maddie Davies. Sanelli – a lifelong Northcote local – speaks to the exciting line up of the day’s events. “It’s about celebrating the community spirit, showcasing over sixty talent that comes from Darebin,” she says. Ultimately, as Sanelli puts it perfectly, “It’s to remind people that Northcote rocks.”

Families will be able to spend their time moving between the family friendly stage and a community stage with involvement from St Mary’s and St Joseph’s primary schools, as well having the option to a variety of kids activities. Little ones can keep busy with arts and crafts, face-painting, local sporting club activities, interactive Drag Queen Story Time, or even at the petting zoo – any which way, the festival has been thoughtfully designed to keep Northcote residents of all ages and sizes entertained.

Open air bars, food, live entertainment and more

The adults, on the other hand, won’t be missing out on any fun either. The full road closure, with not even the famous 86 tram whistling its way down High Street, will open up the space and invite local businesses to extend their trading onto the street. Whilst all shops will be operating as normal, some will also be trading from additional external stalls (Mind Games and Rathdowne Records to name a few), giving the chance to festival attendees to browse and buy whilst still amongst the action of the street. There’ll even be two alcohol-licensed stages, with open-air bars, food and live entertainment set up on Bastings St and Hawthorn Road, just off High Street.

A suburb as famous for its band room stages as it is for its open-air beer, Northcote Rise will be showcasing both with a bunch of local entertainers across its five stages. Playing at the festival will be a range of performers, from DJs and bands to school groups and community groups. There’ll be a bit of psychedelic rock (band Mature Themes), a bit of Japanese drumming (drum ensemble Wadaiko Rindo), a bit of flamboyant dance music (band Gusto Gusto), and even a bit of magic (children’s entertainer Amazing Mr Twist).

The festival – Sanelli says – is all about “trying to showcase what’s possible” within the local community.

A welcoming and accessible experience for everyone

Festival attendees will be able to roam the streets freely and safely within the Family Friendly festival, with Northcote Rise also ensuring that there will be security and first aid onsite. There will be a sensory room, too, that will act as a designated quiet area away from all the action, open for anyone to use.

Much of the focus of the festival will be on welcoming and involving families from both Northcote and surrounding areas to participate in the day’s activities. With everything from kids’ entertainment to tools for parents – like the addition of parent pods for nappy changing – Davies points out the importance that families can go about their day whilst “still enjoying the festival and feel comfortable to be there.” With a suburb so people-focused and family-first, it’s no surprise Northcote Rise will be the perfect spot for anyone and everyone to spend a day celebrating local community.

Northcote Rise Festival is happening between 176-409 High Street on February 18. People are welcome to reach out to The Perfect Events Group if they would like to promote or be a part of the festival. For more information, head here.