Bold, beautiful, and frequently hilarious, this season’s circus-meets-cabaret-meets-vaudeville extravaganza should take top priority on your arts festival must-do list.
Taking over Lahey Square Park in Barwon Heads this summer, the enchanting Wonderland Spiegeltent returns from December 26 with more than a month of world-class live entertainment.
A favourite among locals year after year, the beautiful 1930s nostalgic wooden mirrored travelling European circus tent will become home to performances of all kinds, ranging from kids shows and live music to raunchy up-late cabaret and circus extravaganzas. Packed with glittering, thrilling, mesmerising and heartwarming entertainment and inviting audiences to step back in time and recapture the magic from the Golden Age of circus and travelling entertainment, the glitz and glam flow on to the outside with Spiegeltent surrounded by a stunning Ferris Wheel, a food van and a licensed garden bar, so you can keep the party going.
The live music is always a highlight of the program and this year they’ve not disappointed, curating one of the best music lineups we’ve ever seen. Here are six must-see gigs we’d recommend getting yourself to over the summer.
Joe Camilleri & The Black Sorrows
Taking to the stage on Thursday, January 6, Joe Camilleri & The Black Sorrows will celebrate with Barwon Heads the September release of their 19th studio album – and Joe’s 50th album – Saint Georges Road.
As one of Australia’s most prolific and enduringly popular bands, Joe Camilleri & The Black Sorrows are renowned for their high-energy live shows, musicianship and infectious, rootsy rhythms – the kind where you find your foot tapping before you even realise.
Camilleri himself has been at the forefront of Australian music for decades as leader of Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons and The Black Sorrows, and a writer of radio anthems Hit & Run, Shape I’m In, Chained To The Wheel, Harley & Rose & Never Let Me Go. One of Australia’s hardest working musicians, his 50th album and regular touring schedule is a testament to Camilleri’s long-lasting career and his burning desire to keep working at his craft.
In this one night only performance, you will see Joe and The Black Sorrows in full flight performing the classic soul, blues and country hits that span Camilleri’s multi-platinum career along with a selection from Saint Georges Road. Prepare for a wild night with the rock’n’roll lifer.
See him at Wonderland Spiegeltent on Thursday, January 6. You can purchase tickets here.
For those who love their cabaret, YUMMY: Selects will return to Barwon Heads, taking the troupe’s acclaimed first show YUMMY to a whole new level.
If you haven’t seen it before, YUMMY is a powerhouse cabaret of Melbourne drag, dance, circus, and live music that has been serving smash-hit events across numerous festivals since 2015. Known for its cult following and wild aesthetic, YUMMY has become legendary in the underground club cabaret scene, and now presents feature-length shows that transverse both entertainment and contemporary performance art.
Back this year due to popular demand, YUMMY: Selects will be a feature-length spectacle of outrageous drag conventions with fascinating and complex contemporary choreography as well as funny, surreal and touchingly raw performances from a whos-who of widely acclaimed drag artists, including all the audience favourites we know and love, and brand spanking new surprises.
Bringing a vibrant, queer, and subversive audience experience, it’s a high energy show that celebrates the feminine in all its forms and one that promises to sell out.
Expect Yummy’s unique brand of salacious cabaret on the main stage.
Please note, patrols need to be 15 years and older to see this show, with all minors requiring adult accompaniment.
Yummy: Selects will be running from Tuesday, January 4 until Saturday, January 8. Tickets here.
Since forming just two years ago, Australian country act Darlinghurst have quickly made a name for themselves as a ‘must-see’ act on the touring circuit. The country-pop harmony band comprises Jason Resch as guitarist, singer and songwriter, along with singers and songwriters Cassie Leopold and Pagan Newman, and guitarist Matt Darvidis with all four members sharing vocal responsibilities, blending together in sumptuous harmonies to create a fifth voice – Darlinghurst.
With a Golden Guitar nomination for New Talent Of The Year, six singles that have all landed in the Top 5 of The Music Network’s CountryTown Hot 50 airplay chart hits, a critically-acclaimed debut album, and festival appearances at Groundwater Country Music Festival, Deni Ute Muster, Gympie Music Muster, and Live & Loud Stage Tamworth, as well as support slots with Jimmy Barnes, James Blundell, The Wolfe Brothers and The Black Sorrows, the Melbourne group continue on an upward trajectory, placing themselves among the nation’s hottest country music exports.
With all four members combining their different musical influences and experiences, Darlinghurst have created a fresh sound in the Australian country sphere that’s as accessible as it is unique. Witness the magic of this band live in January as they take you on a journey through their debut album release.
Catch them on Sunday, January 9 from 7pm. Tickets here.Catch them on Sunday, January 9 from 7pm. Tickets here.
Made up of three brothers and two mates, no other Australian band sounds like the mind-blowingly refreshing Vaudeville Smash. Described as an explosion of funk, flute, sax, synth and groove, the dance floor is always packed at a Vaudeville Smash gig, the crowd goes wild.
Since their first gig at Fitzroy’s Bar Open, Melbourne’s Vaudeville Smash have carved their own niche, building a formidable following in Australia and around the world. Their national and international adventures have seen them tour Japan and the Sapporo Jazz Festival, grace stages in New York, South by South West in Austin, Singapore, Toronto, Spain, Italy, as well as numerous Australian festivals, including Woodford Folk Fest, Secret Garden, St Kilda Music Fest (Main Stage), Blues On Broadbeach & Bello Winter Music to name a few.
Their catalogue so far features three full-length albums, three EPs and an international viral sensation with their song ‘Zinedine Zidane’, featuring the late, great Les Murray, which has garnered over 16 million YouTube views.
Not bad for five mates from Melbourne!
Their most recent album, The Neverending Glory, saw them team up with Nashville’s Grammy award-winning producer Bobby Holland, and explores the band’s love of funk, soul, 80’s boogie and Italo disco and encompasses over three years of writing, recording and touring.
Expect a massive stage presence, huge vocals and an epic disregard for genres.
They’ll perform in Barwon Heads on Friday, January 21 from 8.30pm. Tickets here.
Happening on the second last weekend of January, Aussie music legend Ella Hooper will take to the Spiegeltent with a performance packed full of original acoustic rock renditions and unreleased material from her upcoming album.
With a career spanning 20 years as the distinctive frontwoman of Killing Heidi (who stormed the Australian music charts with their hit song Mascara from their debut album Reflector back in 1999), a dynamic solo artist, occasional DJ, TV presenter for Rockwiz and former regular on Spicks and Specks, Hooper has been branded everything from a pop sensation to the ultimate rock chick.
Melodic and anthemic, Ella’s songwriting and colourful image cut a swathe through the mainstream, winning her a stack of awards (ARIA’s, APRA, ACRA’s) many of which she was the first female and youngest person to receive.
A Forte favourite over the years, Ella Hooper is a true music chameleon that does not fit any mould and we love it!
You won’t want to miss this. She’ll take to the stage on Sunday January 23 from 8pm. Tickets here.
If spending the evening with an Aussie soul singing legend tickles your fancy, lock in Saturday, January 29 when Multi ARIA award-winning artist Kate Ceberano comes into town.
Having been in the business for more than 35 years – writing and performing both jazz and pop music – with multiple Platinum and Gold albums to her name, Kate’s work, craft and vision are now imbued in our collective DNA.
From her beginnings in the mid-’80s as a 15-year-old sensation fronting pop-funk band, I’m Talking, Ceberano has barely drawn breath since, racking up 28 albums now with the recent release of her new record, Sweet Inspiration. Conceived during the Melbourne pandemic lockdown and released back in February, the new album features two new original songs and 10 covers, originally performed by artists like Dolly Parton, Leonard Cohen, Carole King, Paul McCartney and John Lennon.
After a couple of year’s pretty much devoid of live music, this Barwon Heads show will be particularly special for the effervescent Ceberano, who will showcase Sweet Inspiration, live to Victorian audiences.
Kate Ceberano is a bona fide national treasure, possessing one of the great voices of her generation – it will be a night of nights to finish off the Wonderland Spiegeltent season.
She’ll perform on Saturday, January 29 at 8pm. Get your tickets here.
Still want more? There will also be performances award-winning Australian artist Fanny Lumsden on January 14; INXSIVE, the INXS Tribute Show on January 22, and The Big Bash Band on January 25.
Check out the full program for the Wonderland Spiegeltent in Barwon Heads here.