Now or Never festival brings the heat this winter with an awe-inspiring program

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Now or Never festival brings the heat this winter with an awe-inspiring program

Now or Never
words by kaya martin

From multi-sensory dining experiences to interactive art trails, this dynamic Melbourne festival has so much to offer.

We know Melburnians get a little antsy if they have to go one whole month without a festival, so we’ve got good news.

Now or Never is here to help us get through the icy month of August, running from the 17th to September 2nd. The sparkling new event has just unveiled a massive program filled with dozens of events, performances and experiences set to take place across 17 glorious days, giving us more than a few reasons to head outside even as temperatures drop.

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

As a fusion of Melbourne Music Week and Knowledge Week, Now or Never nods to its predecessors but is distinctly its own. We’ve been getting sneak-peeks and teasers for a while, but now the festival has finally unveiled its entire program – and it’s a doozy. More than 300 artists from across Melbourne and beyond will come together to transform the city with light, colour and sound.

Visual arts


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One of the highlights of the program is a huge, free art trail that will span 1.2 kilometres along the Docklands promenade. Stroll through the outdoor gallery and bear witness to the works of contemporary artists Michaela Gleave, Jarra Karalinar Steel and Jon McCormack as well as Universal Everything, Theatre of Thunder, Justine Emard and Georgie Pinn. Created by the local art tech organisation Experimenta, the walk will be an illuminating experience for the whole family.

In a historic moment, the Shine or Remembrance will be showcased in a dramatic projection display crafted by Hungarian artist and 3D mapping technician Laszlo Bordos. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Shrine’s design completion, the work will pay tribute to the iconic building and feature musical accompaniment by Czech composer Ondřej Skála.

Live music at the Royal Exhibition Building


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The festival’s musical offerings will have both underground gems and international headliners. The Royal Exhibition Building will be transformed into a venue for the first time in two decades.

The specifically-curated lineup has been chosen to compliment the vast space and features everything from classical to contemporary.

To kick it off on August 24, Orchestra Victoria will perform the works of composer Steve Reich backed by a visual display crafted by New Zealand-born artist Jesse Woolston.

The next night, some of the UK’s finest experimental electronic artists will come together. Hear heart-pumping sets performed by techno duo Giant Swan and producer actor accompanied by stunning visuals. Multidisciplinary artist Max Cooper will perform a live AV/3D set and the spellbinding duo Autechre will perform in complete darkness.

On August 26, Âme, Axel Boman, CC:Disco, Ayebatonye and dameeeela will team up for an energetic night of dance before singer Kelela and experimental musician serpentwithfeet host a night of avant-garde RnB jams the following evening.


From the ashes of the much-loved Live Music Safari comes NONSTOP WKND. 12 shows will take place across multiple venues including Miscellania, Sub Club, The Toff, Section 8, John Curtin Band Room and Max Watts.

The big weekender will bring an assortment of unconventional and experimental acts to some of the city’s most beloved venues. Prepare for late nights, loud music and local favourites and stay tuned – the lineup isn’t far off.

The Neversphere


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For film buffs, the festival offers a viewing experience like never before. The Melbourne Museum forecourt will become the home of a giant dome-shaped cinema with a 360-degree screen, affectionately titled the Neversphere. They’ll be showing a range of films across the month.


Also taking place in the Neversphere will be an immersive, multi-sensory dining experience hosted by the ever-popular Asian fusion joint Supernormal. Guests will dine on elegant dishes with matched Mitchelton Wines while gazing upwards at the works of artists such as Ryoichi Kurokawa, Pantha du Prince and Natalia Stuyk. On arrival, they’ll receive a welcome cocktail by Four Pillars Gin.

Dr. David Suzuki at IMAX

Those looking to balance out the fun with a healthy dose of knowledge can visit one of Now or Never’s talks and discussion panels. To celebrate National Science Week, the Melbourne Museum IMAX will livestream a discussion between Canadian environmentalist Dr. David Suzuki and ABC journalist Natasha Mitchell about the state of the planet and human innovation.

Never Permanent

Presented by the design festival Semi Permanent, Never Permanent will offer a unique series of talks about technology and creativity in our era. Taking place at the Royal Exhibition Building on August 24, the event will be headlined by director, screenwriter and producer Roman Coppola.

It will feature talks by a wide assortment of creative industry gems, including Meta’s VP of Design Joshua To, creative director, musician and photographer Ta-ku and designer and technologist Mindy Seu.

Beat will be front and centre covering Now or Never’s inaugural year from now right up until it all kicks off in August, so make sure you check back in for updates so you don’t miss a minute of this massive event.

To learn more about Now or Never, taking place in Melbourne from August 17 to September 2, head here